Finisher I Am

I survived! Finished in 3:03:16 (14:00 pace) I think that’s how most first time half/full marathoners feel once they cross the finish.  It’s been a few days now and I’m fully recovered with only a few minor twinges, mostly in my upper back.  Who knew running could make you feel sore in your upper body so much?  I am kind of bummed that there was a snafu with my racing bib and I had to get a new one reissued without my “racing name”….*sad panda* Still, there’s always next year.  The weather was sorta ideal, but that wind was really wearing people down early.  You can see how overcast it was and I truly wanted it to rain but all we got were some sad sprinkles (at least during my race, it did rain a bit later).

Oh yeah, I’m totally doing this one again.  I plan to drop 30 min off my finish time because I’ll actually be running the whole race.  Now that I know what to expect I can train smarter for it.

Some things I’ve learned since then:

  • There’s definitely a technique and difference between running a distance and racing a distance.  I’ll never race at this kind of level, but I can certainly race myself for PR’s each year.
  • My quads need more work.  That’s what got tired and crampy around Mile 9-10 the most.  Really annoying when one of the biggest muscle groups suddenly starts protesting with barely 3 miles to the finish.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t dehydration or an electrolyte defecincy because the cramping wasn’t severe enough to make me stop altogether.  I blame it more on general muscle fatigue.  There were quite a few more inclines than I was expecting on the course (2 BIG ones and then lots of little roly poly hills).
  • Need to refine my morning fueling routine.  Nerves and excitement tend to make my stomach not feel like food until I’m half way out on a run or in this case the middle of Mile 5.  A banana isn’t going to cut it even if I ate well the day before and ate a pack of gummies mid-race.
  • “The Wall” is sucky, but you really can push thru it, and it’s not impossible.  It hurt but it wasn’t like an OMFG I’M GOING TO DIE!!!! feeling.  More like a, omg I’m so f-ing tired how is it only Mile X?
  • I need to train longer (a few miles past 13 should do it) and at a faster pace so I’m not running in the middle of a herd of sweaty humanity.

A little bit about running mid-pack.  I knew that from my previous long run paces I would probably fit somewhere in between 2:45 or 3:00 pace groups.  It still placed me in the dead middle and it was cramped.  This is a national race so there are lots of local folk AND out of state runners.  I can only imagine that this is how running NYC, Boston or LA feels like.  If you’ve run a large race before then you’ll know the feeling and aggravation that can come from having to dip, dive, duck and dodge your way thru a throng of people for the first few miles and even afterwards like at the finish line.

It wasn’t pleasant and I don’t recommend it, but really the only way to avoid this is to become faster so you can start out in a better pace corral so the group thins out sooner.  So it’s something to work towards and maybe next year I can saunter over to the 2:30 pace group and hold my own.

I did get queasy post race after I got thru all the gates of food, fluids and finery and was at last able to just sit (don’t worry I stretched and forced myself to walk after 10 minutes).  I really wish I’d had the presence of mind to snap a picture of what I could only describe as a vast Sea of Foil Wrapped bodies strewn across every available free surface.  Runner carnage.  Alas, I was too busy dying in the grass trying to sip a protein shake without barfing.

Things that were totally AWESOME:

  • Seeing a U2 “spy plane” do a fly over before the Marathon started.  It had a HUGE wingspan.  If I remember right they said it had to drop about 22,000 feet in altitude just to do the flyover.
  • The wide assortment of horrible tattoos.  My favorite was on a lady.  She had a puma on one shoulder and a cat on the other.  It made me grin for about a mile. So random.
  • The FREE BACON kids.  You’re so cruel.  If you’re there next year I’m totally bringing bacon and eating it as I run by.
  • I saw a Beat the Blerch shirt on an old lady. Brilliant
  • The Death Metal band that played at the beginning of the toughest hill.  Thank you!  You gave me an adrenaline push and a good laugh. You were awesome.  Which makes me think maybe I should listen to music when I run (?)
  • Being encouraging to others.  I’ve been told the faster you get the less “talky” things are and more competitive.  That’s fine, but where I was I like to think I was helping others get through those final miles when we were all raging and struggling.  And whoever that full marathon guy was who told me, thank you…I needed to hear that, right before my Mile 12/ his Mile 25.  You made my race feel like something better and I hope you finished strong.

I had a good time and that’s what I set out to do.  I wanted to finish at 3 hrs but 3:03 is still cool.  I finished.  I even sprinted the last 400 meters to cross the finish.  I mean, where the hell did that come from?

And you know what? I’ve got another 5k race lined up for this weekend!

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