Brace yourself – this is going to be a novel… Eeee! That was awesome.
Ok, actually I did not have a great race. And that’s fine, because never once did I let myself think about quitting, and I finished strong. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sunday morning I was up at 4:30 for a 6:20 start. I took the dogs out and it was already warm at that hour – even though it had been cool and foggy every other morning for the week leading up to the race. My body just can’t hang with the heat (not for 16, not for 18, and not for 20). Already doubting whether I had trained enough, I knew it was going to be tough.
Boyfriend got up and drank coffee with me as I prepped two water bottles with Nuun tablets and packed up all my stuff. I was pretty nervous at this point, and really grateful to have a person to talk to; talking to your dogs at 5am probably makes you a crazy lady. Then Dad picked me up at 5:15 (because he is
almost as sadistic as me awesome). He also took just about all of the photos on today’s blog and rode the ENTIRE 26.2 miles.
He was able to drop me off just a couple of blocks from the start line. I headed to the gear check, then hit up the port-a-potties (only waited maybe a minute or two). A quick double-check of the laces,
Clearly it’s too early.
a pre-race selfie with Dad,
Good lighting, no?
and it was time to head to the start.
The start was great. There were pacers up to a 4:40 pace, and an elite wave at the front with the rest of us starting behind. The race was small enough that you lined up at your expected pace on the honor system, and it wasn’t too crowded. The national anthem was sung, then the announcer asked all the first-time marathoners to raise their hands, then introduce ourselves to other first-timers. It was really nice, and there were a lot of people running their first marathon! Then we were off. There was minimal shuffling as we crossed the start line, and people thinned out pretty well.
Miles 1 to 6:
I felt great. The sun was rising, the air was still cool. My pace felt comfortable and I hung with the 4:25 pace group easily. I walked through every aid station (I cannot run and drink water out of a cup at the same time), and sipped my nuun as needed. I needed a quick stop at the port-a-potties at the mile 3 aid station (too much pre-race water) – there was no line, so I was in and out quickly. Most of the aid stations had potties, which I thought was nice even though I didn’t end up needing any more. Just after mile 2, I felt my left calf tighten up. It hurt the rest of the race, but never so much that I was limping. As I passed the mile 6 marker, I remember thinking, ok – just a 20-mile training run left, just four lake laps.
Miles 7 to 13.1:
I kept walking through the aid stations for water, and was able to hang with the 4:25 pace group. By mile 10 it was heating up, but I still felt good. I was fueling with PowerBar Energy Blasts and Honey Stinger waffle halves every few miles. At mile 11, Boyfriend was waiting for me!! Blog world, meet Boyfriend:
The first time I almost cried in this race
Miles 13.1 to 16:
As we made the turn at the halfway point (it’s an out-and-back course), I was suddenly running straight into the sun with no breeze. It was hot, and my pace began to slip. I saw Boyfriend again just before mile 15, then met Dad at mile 15 to swap out my water bottle. At mile 16, I got really dizzy and nauseous. I lost sight of the 4:25 pace group and stopped to walk, and even to bend over and get blood to my head for a minute. My heart was racing. My left calf was still letting me know it was there. I told myself I still had 10 miles to go, and quitting wasn’t going to happen, so I may as well make sure I can finish.
Miles 17 to 20:
Bad. Bad physically and bad mentally. We were still running through Oxnard, and it was hot (not really bad but in the 80s, hotter than my body likes). My calf continued to cramp up, actually seizing up a couple of times. Thankfully, Dad did not show me any of the pictures he took here. I remember yelling at him in mile 17 to stop taking pictures of my lazy butt walking. I had a hard time getting fuel down, spending a lot of time instead focusing on not throwing up. I was running only a few tenths of a mile at a time, then walking a tenth of a mile. At the mile 18-ish aid station, they were handing out salt – I took some, and about 10 minutes later I felt better.
Miles 20 to 24:
I saw Dad at mile 20, and grabbed some Cheeze-its from the emergency stash I’d given him before the race. The salt seemed to be helping. Once I was past the 20-mile marker, I felt better mentally. I knew it was still going to be a long, slow haul, but I knew I could do it. I just had to keep going. There was a lot of walking going on here too.
Miles 24 to 26.2:
I saw Dad again at mile 24, and he gave me a hug. And then I knew I had it. The temperature had dropped and I was able to run for longer intervals than I had for the previous 8 miles.
The reason for that big grin on my face? This:
The ohmygodimightactuallymakeit spot
As I rounded the corner toward the last tenth of a mile, I saw Boyfriend and my brother’s fiancee – and then I saw my brother, waiting for me inside the course to run alongside the last bit with me. That’s when I lost it. He ran with me and I sprinted to the finish, choking down sobs and grinning like an idiot. I heard my name, threw my fist in the air, and crossed the finish. My first marathon, done!
A proper picture
After the race was a bit blurry, but I got a beer asap and then we hung out on the boardwalk area for a while.
Some of Boyfriend’s coworkers had run it too, including the wife of one that I had been running near most of the last 5 miles. The post-race atmosphere was great, with everyone congratulating each other. I love runners, they’re the best. Even if they don’t know you, they’ll cheer for you.
Eventually we made our way to lunch.
Yes, I have a beer, a water, and a diet coke.
Then Boyfriend drove me home, where I showered and promptly passed out on the couch. We went to get Thai food for dinner, and hit up the driving range. I did not have it in me to swing any clubs, but watched Boyfriend. It was a gorgeous night.
Today, my quads are pretty sore and my entire left side is tight – hip to calf. Otherwise, my body feels pretty good. My pride is stinging a little from all the walking I did, but I’m still damn proud of myself. I came in at 4:47:57, which means I met my main goal of finishing in under 5 hours.
Overall review of the Ventura Marathon: really well-organized, really flat, really fun. Also an AWESOME medal.
What I did right: Doing all my long runs and mentally preparing myself. Fueling. Gear (no malfunctions or major chafing issues the entire race!).
What I did wrong: probably not enough midweek miles, and didn’t push myself to train in the heat.
Will I do it again? I’m already looking at spring races (sorry honey!) ; )
What’s next? A 5k in a couple of weeks, possibly, and a half in December with my brother!
I hope that your weekend run or race was fantastic!
What’s the best race you’ve run?