My First Marathon, Part II: The Run

Continued from yesterday….If you missed the first installment of My First Marathon Series, you can read it HERE.

My First Marathon, Part II: The Run

vermont city marathon logoI don’t think I slept much, I never do before races. I was even up before my alarm went off. If only I could do that for work! Looking out the window, I realized it was STILL raining! What’s a Colorado girl to do!? I had no idea how to dress for a rainy day, let alone a rainy RACE! Ok, that’s a little exaggerated. I wasn’t worried about the cold, I could stand that, and frankly it wasn’t that cold, temperature wise. I was worried about the wetness, my shoes and socks being soaked and getting blisters in addition to regular chaffing from moisture. I ended up in nylon shorts, my omni heat long-sleeved shirt under a race shirt and my normal socks and shoes. I added a cheapo rain coat I had bought at a Good Will earlier in the week thinking I would need it on a boat ride in Maine. I ended up wearing that for a majority of the race and then tossed it in the trash when I was done with it since it was super cheap.

I loaded some bags into my car. On my way back into the hotel to grab the rest of my stuff, I grabbed a cup of the hotel’s coffee. (That’s all they offered us. 80 bucks a night, and we get foldier’s coffee. I’ve stayed in cheaper places that had a full supply of breakfast foods! Can you tell that I did not like my choice of hotel) But, hey, I can’t run a race without my cup of coffee!

Anyhow, I drove to the race start. The start and finish were super close, so I parked in that area. I would have taken the shuttle if my hotel would have let me check out late, but no way was I paying for an extra day! I stayed warm and dry in my car for as long as possible while I put together my bag for the drop filled with what I would want immediately after the race. Finally, I was brave enough to get out of the car to face the cold and the rain as well as the CROWD! I knew it would be overwhelming again. And it was. Everyone seemed so superior to me! I know it’s all in my head, there were plenty of first timers there in addition to me, but still! I was just gawking at people, walking around aimlessly.

Caught on camera! I found this on the facebook page. That's me in the pink....looking like a little kid!

Caught on camera! I found this on the facebook page. That’s me in the pink….looking like a little kid!

I huddled under the only covered area to stay as dry as possible before the race and then dropped off my bag and then carefully walked through the wet grass to the starting line. I waited there and chatted with “Paul,” a random local running the first leg of the marathon relay race. We talked about how similar Denver people and Burlington people were, and I was tending to agree: the atmohphere of the two areas were very like-minded. He told me he loved the event and wished my luck on my first marathon!

Then, after a moment of silence for Boston and the national anthem, we were off. My thought was, “well, here we go, there’s no turning around now.”

I tried to remember my friend’s advice: “Mind over matter…mind over matter” and the advise and Good Lucks from my fellow bloggers on twitter!

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And….it actually wasn’t that bad! Well, it was hard, and it was painful. But OVERALL, less scary and less hard than I thought it would be.

So, it rained almost the entire race. The sun peaked for literally 5 minutes on two separate occasions. I felt really good for the first half. Minor hip and knee pain that would come and go and switch between joints, but it was stand-able. I tried to just zone out for most of the race and concentrate on anything but the pain and the remaining miles. I watched the runners around me and watched the crowds cheering us on from the side. I sung along to my music and thought about my nutrition…. well, really thought just about ANYTHING other than running.

I couldn't get a good pic/screen shot of the course map, but only the top is missing. Click HERE for the course map.

I couldn’t get a good pic/screen shot of the course map, but only the top is missing. Click HERE for the course map.

The race course was set up as a series of different length loops that all met back in the middle. This made it very easy to track your progress and there was constant crowds to cheer you on. I liked it a lot!

Screen Shot 2013-07-08 at 2.12.24 PMThe first loop: miles 1 -3 – I was getting a feel for running in the rain while running through a historic part of town. Nothing too eventful happened during this loop.

The Second Loop: miles 3-9 – A nice down and back along side a river. Just before the turnaround point, a group of drummers to entertain the runners. You could hear them a half a mile in each direction. A great beat to keep pace to and keep your feet moving. Also along this loop, there was a spot where the fence ended and there was a steep drop off down a hill. Well apparently this was the most ideal place to….urinate! Indeed, a whole line of men, backs turned toward the other racers, peeing off the side of the drop off. I shook my head and literally laughed out loud (slightly jealous that I didn’t have that convenience). Realizing that this was the “pee” zone, I thought about my nutirion and hydration. Sure enough, I had to pee too! Running for 26.2 miles sure does entail a lot of other eliments…like bladder functions, that I never really thought about! I, however, waited for the porta-potty row farther down the loop.

ugh, i look exhausted already! Miserable in the rain!

ugh, i look exhausted already! Miserable in the rain!

The Third loop: miles 9- 15 – This was the “hilliest” part of the course…maybe for most. The “biggest” hill awaited at the end of this loop. Another out and back; this loop offered a tour of the residential parts of town and view of the lovely Lake Champlaine. Clearly, this was the point where I passed the half way mark. Only having competed in half marathons, passing the 2 person exchange and half marathon finish was an interesting feeling. I still had 13.1 miles left to go. The end of this loop was the trickiest part of the course…leading into the next loop……

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 2.16.11 PMThe fourth loop: miles 15 – 26.2: The start of this loop was THE hill. The only real hill. The hill that everyone was freaking out about. I heard chatter about it in the staging area, lining up before race start. And I heard talk about it as we came closer to it on the course. I wasn’t worried about it pre-race. I looked at the course profile and didn’t notice any significant hills. But the more I heard people freak out about it in the race, I started to get worried. I came around the bend at mile 15.

There is was, the hill…….REALLY? That’s what you all were worried about….Come with me to Colorado, I’ll show you a hill!

Needless to say, I charged up that hill! I remember looking over to the left side, right before starting the climb. I locked eyes with some random, energetic, crazy redhead. He instantly started cheering me on! “Go get it! You got it! Do it!!!! This is hill is yours!!”  in a fake deep, drill sergeant voice. I let out a laugh and with a huge smile I ran up that hill!!! Great crowd!

At least I'm smiling!

At least I’m smiling!

The rest of this loop wound through neighbors hoods filled with people supporting the racers from their houses. In addition to the race aid stations, these lovely citizens set up their own water and fruit aid stations. They had music playing for us and crazy men waving giant american flags (this was the day before memorial day).

We passed through an aid station (I have no idea what mile) where the sun decided to peak it’s head out. I even commented on it to a race volunteer and decided, even if it starts raining again, I think it was time to ditch the rain coat. I wouldn’t have much farther and I wanted the lesser weight.

We rounded the corned at mile 22, and followed the shore of the lake again.

Look at that hair!! WOW!

Look at that hair!! WOW!

The Last 3 or 4 miles: As we came to mile 24, I was finally passed up by the 4:00 pace group. Can you believe that!? I was ahead of them a majority of the time. But, at last, this is when I really started struggling. Picking up each foot became a chore and planting them down began to hurt with each step. I was really struggling. I was on the verge of tears. I was so painful that I didn’t even want to reach around into my fuel belt and dig out another energy chew, maybe I should have. I was then passed up by the 4:30 pace group. But I wasn’t admitting defeat! No! I kept running, walking on and off.

Vermont City Marathon pro photoSometimes I still think how I, and others, do it. I remember being in so much pain. My hips, both of them, were extremely tight and painful. My knees were throbbing. My ankles hurt and my arches felt like they were going to explode. ALTHOUGH, my energy felt great! For real, my heart, lungs, etc felt fine! If it weren’t for the pain and tightness, I could have ran for forever.

Knowing I didn’t have much farther to go, I just kept talking to myself. “you got this.” “Just keep running.” “You’re almost there.” “For real, we have to get to our car some how, you might as well just finish the race!” (Apparently there’s more than one “me” in my head at times).

In the zone! BAM!

In the zone! BAM!

At one point along the course, as the crowd got thicker, and a bystand saw the look in my face, she read my name off my bib and shouted, “You got this WHITNEY! You’re soooo close!” That really did help me make it to the end.

The crowd kept growing thicker and thicker and I knew I was almost there. I ran the remaining mile. Those portable, metal fences started boarding the course…OH…..soooooo close!!

The side walk ended, and grass began. I rounded another corner. I don’t even remember what was on my ipod. I had taken one ear bud out so that I could hear the crowd! I don’t even remember if there was other runners around me. Apparently there was, I found out, after watching the video of me finishing.

The last 0.1 of the race! The end was in sight!!!!

The last 0.1 of the race! The end was in sight!!!!

I concentrated on not falling on the rain soaked, muddy grass and my eyes saw the finish line.

I ignored my pains and cranked my legs into full gear. I was going to finish this strong!

I crossed over the line, threw my hands in the air and plastered a huge grin on my face.

I did it!

I ran my first marathon!

26.2 miles!

(Don’t worry. There’s a Part III. It’s scheduled to post tomorrow)

My First Marathon – Part I, Pre Run

The post you have all been waiting for.

My First Marathon, Part 1: Pre Race

“Whitney, what is your plan for tomorrow; like what’s your strategy?”

“Uh…run? I plan on running. That’s all.”

And run I did! It’s kind of amazing really. After passing the 20 miler sign, every step was the farthest I had ever run. Every. Single. Step. 6.2 miles more than I have ever run actually.

And now, I’m officially a marathoner. And yes, I put the sticker on my car.

First thing I did the following morning

First thing I did the following morning

Let me just start by telling you everything from the beginning…

Saturday morning, I reloaded up my car after letting the bridal party use it to transfer stuff to and from the island (sounds pretty fancy  eh? I know it’s been awhile, but remember, I was out in that ares for a friend wedding originally). I took my time getting ready, then set my phone to navigation and hit the road. I drove from Portland, Maine northwest through New Hampshire and into Vermont. It was a beautiful drive even though it was raining the whole time.

Part of the drive was through White Mountain National Park…someday I want to go back there and camp and hike around. Through the fog, it looked gorgeous and I saw signs for waterfall hikes. Maybe when I do my New Hampshire race, I’ll have to make a pit stop back there.

IMG_20130525_140721Anyway, I arrived in Burlington, Vermont around 3pm, drove straight to the race expo and pretty much had a panic attack. Ridiculous, I know. I was so overwhelmed by the experience, it was silly. I’ve been in big events like Race for the Cure and the Bolder Boulder, but those aren’t as goal-minded and racing oriented as this event was. This was the biggest, most serious, event I had been too. EVERYONE running around seemed to know what they were doing and where they needed to be. They all looked like they were in excellent shape. They looked like they knew where they were going. They all looked like they had company and knew everyone. Mostly, they looked like they belonged. I felt so out of place. So lonely.

I picked up my packet and my t-shirt. I bought a 26.2 sticker as a motivator to finish the race. I breiefly walked around the booths, gawked at Jeff Galloway as he greeted others and as quickly as I arrived; I quickly left, almost running, to a less crowded place. The expo was at a hotel, not the one I was staying at, and I found my way to a deserted lounge area and plopped myself in a chair. I desperately searched for my phone and texted one of my best friends: “I really wish you were in cell phone range because I’m officially freaking out.” Then I texted another close friend who called me and comforted me. He chilled me out.

The one and only walk/run guy, Jeff Galloway

The one and only walk/run guy, Jeff Galloway

It wasn’t just the crowd that was freaking me out. It was also the 26.2 miles that awaited me the next morning. My last month of trianing wasn’t what I wanted it to be, and not gonna lie, I spent the previous week drinking and eating myself silly – What!? It’s what you’re supposed to do at wedding events; hello…bridal luncheon, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, then the acutal wedding! Plus, every time during that week that I tried to run, it was raining – and I had no running in the rain clothes (minus the little bit I packed for the race – which barely qualified for running in rain). I got in one run that week; around the island that my friends got married on. It was a lovely run, but I was also worried about the minor knee and hip pain that was developing over the past month. I was seriously worried about finishing this race, but I wasn’t going to back out. A) Thats not like me and b) I was already out there and not going to waste my time, my money or my hard work.

I left the comfy chair of the foreign hotel and mapquested my way to my hotel. I checked in to the crappy Motel 6, where I was given nothing as to what I requested, but had no other option, and promptly fell asleep in the smoke smelling room. I took a good long nap, fully clothed, on top of the covers. Once I woke up, I found the closest grocery store, purchased my nutrition for race day morning and devoured lots of pasta at a local italian joint, Juniors; which was all the rage that night.  Luckily there was a quick, takeout side in addition to the fancy dining area. I opted to eat in the take out side (same food, just not fancy settings). It was actually quite delicious. Maybe I was desperately hungry.

racing, training, marathon, mizuno

Got my bib pinned and my Mizuno’s Ready!

After stuffing my face, I went back to the hotel room, keeping to myself, and prepared my outfit and bags for the next day. Always worried about sleeping through my alarm or my phone shutting off, I requested a wake up call for the next morning. I glanced out the window as the trees and rain smacked against it and fell asleep to the noise of the storm.

Stay tuned for Part II: The Run!

Tuesday Newsday – 4/9

Oh man guys, it must be official…I FINALLY purchased my plane tickets for this big trip today!!!! Guess I can’t chicken out now (not that my friend wouldn’t kill me if I didn’t go to her wedding). There was also a Facebook post says the marathon is 40 days away!!!! Anywho…

vermont city marathon logoWeek 11 Vermont City Marathon Training:

Monday: Rest Day. I took a nice long time to foam roll and stretch on my lunch hour.

Tuesday: 5 miles Which only ended up being 3.36. I was testing out a new running app on my phone and it failed me…so I didn’t run as far as I thought. In school that night we learned some advanced fitness tests; which was fun and interesting and got me moving again.

Wednesday: 8 miles Kickboxing. My co-worker talked me into do his kick boxing class since I didn’t go on monday. I told him that I’d only go if he got out heart rates up and used a lot of leg work. Boy was the other class goers mad at me!! BUT, my butt was sore the next day! He did good work.

Thursday: 5 miles. CLOSER… I got in 4.8. I just turned around too soon on my lunch run. SO glad it was warm last week to get off the dreadmill and outside for my lunch runs.

Friday: Rest day. 5 make up miles.

Saturday: Rest Day. Ahhhh…sleeping in….

Sunday: Then this happened (CLICK IT – READ IT!). 15.6 miles done – grudgingly.

I hope everyone’s week is going better than mine!! (Corporate bullshit sucks). : (

Tuesday Newsday – 4/2 – The Last Two Weeks

So, I was on spring break this last week, and I decided to take a spring break from well, everything, except for extra-curricular activities! SO this update is the last two weeks together.

Training has been going well.  Now that the midweek runs are getting longer, I’m having to split them up almost daily. Except over spring break, I got to wait ’til after work and run my runs altogether. It was lovely.

vermont city marathon logoWeek 9:

Monday: Rest Day. I didn’t even do my kick boxing class at work because I was studying for my final.

Tuesday: 4 miles. 1 accomplish at the gym. I did not feel well AND I had forgotten my I-pod. The dreadmill is torture enough; without an I-pod, it’s brutal. I did, however, get to do a 45 min kettlebell workout in school. One of our instructors led it, and I do have to say, the women did way better than the men! 😉

Wednesday: Pushed my 4 miles to today. I did 1 mile at the gym, which was not going well again. I’m thinking I’m just getting god awfully tired of running on the treadmill. When I got home, I finished the 3 remaining miles around my house, nice and easy. I did discover that my slow pace is my old fast pace, and that, my friends, is a wonderful feeling.

Thursday: 7 miles. I did 6 total. 3 at work and 3 at home. After school… I was officially on SPRING BREAK!!!!!!!!!!! I started off my break by enjoying wine and cheese with my wonderful friends.

Friday: Usually a rest day, but I did the 4 miles I needed to do at home, after work. It’s nice not having to go to a second job!


Bitter cold day! But it's snowboarding, so, the bitter cold is negligible.

Bitter cold day! But it’s snowboarding, so, the bitter cold is negligible.

Sunday: Half. I’m not sure if most of you realize how crazy the weather is in CO, but that previous Friday, we got a random, horrible snow storm, which was why snowboarding was bitter cold. However, I still needed to get in a half marathon distance run. I decided to brave the cold. I chose to run the lake loop around my house, just in case I did get too cold and needed to escape. I brought my water bottle and tucked it in a snow bank along the lake. Every time I passed, I was able to get some water (the sidewalk path loop is about 2.5 miles). This was the first time I was doing a run on ice/below freezing conditions. And actually, it wasn’t that bad…at least when the sun was out. I was dressed warmly, and I was doing great.  The only issue was that snow and ice kept building up and sticking in the groves in my shoes. Then the evil clouds rolled it. THEN it got bitter cold. I only made it 3 loops and I decided I needed to run home. With the to and from, my total run was a little over 9 miles. Not too much below the intended run, but not 13. Oh well.

Total Miles for Week 9 of Marathon Training: 24 miles

Week 10: Officially halfway done with training!

Monday: Rest. Finally, I got to do kickboxing again! Love it! My co-worker, the kick boxing instructor, is excellent! I also, FINALLY, got to go climbing with Shay from /skin/ /ˈpōətrē/I hadn’t been climbing in a long time and really enjoyed it, although I got tired pretty fast. I also came pretty close to peeing my pants when using the auto-belay device for the first time! Not sure what I’m talking about? Check it out here. The gym we went to is the Boulder Rock Club gym. That facility is very nice! I’m considering applying there when I’m a trainer. In addition to the massive amount of climbing space, there is an actual lifting/cardio gym in addition to class rooms for yoga and other group fitness. Sounds like a fantastic place to me!

Tuesday: 4 miles. I’m telling you, I’m getter super tired of running on the treadmill. I only lasted for a mile at work. I had to complete the remaining 3 at home when I got off. For this day of spring break, I enjoyed dinner and a movie with my friend Amanda.

Wednesday: 8 miles. I completed about 7.2 miles on the trail system near my house.

Thursday: 4 miles. I only completed 2 miles as I only had time for this on my lunch. BUT, I didn’t do it on the treadmill, I stepped out my gym’s doors and found a trail. Now I know how to get to it!

Friday: Rest day…but since I only did two the previous day, I took a 3 mile run between a facility gym visit and date night. : )

Saturday: Rest day….it involved beer. Lots and lots of beer. Carb loading, right? It was actually quite fun. It involved a pub crawl with bands at each bar. Music + beer + a gentlemen = good time.

bar crawl

Sunday: 17 miles. Complete. Done and done. I felt fantastic on this run! I just made sure to take it easy to avoid injuries (this is about the time during last training program that I became injured). Other than a tiny bit of stiffness, I felt great afterwards, and even the following day. I’ve really been trying to be proactive when it comes to stretching/foam rolling, so I took a few minutes before my run to foam roll my hamstrings because those are my most over-active muscles. Once I returned from my run, I replenished my electrolytes with gatorade and my glucogen stores with a protein-meal bar, foamed rolled and static stretched.

Then was time for Easter dinner up in Longmont at my mom’s house. Oh AND SEASON FINALE OF WALKING DEAD!! Now, I have to wait until fall for it.

Total Miles for Week 10 of Marathon Training: 30 Miles