Okay, so here it is, what I can remember of my marathon mostly copy and pasted from an email to my BFFs earlier this week when my brain was a little more fresh. I wanted to get it all down before my brain starts erasing things. Enjoy!
I woke up at 5am to dress, drink coffee, and eat a bagel with PB and 1/2 a fig bar. I ate pretty well the day before (lots of carbs about every 3 hours) so eating was not as fun as it usually is but I knew I would need those calories later. At 6:30 after a few bathroom meditations, we hit the road and drove out to the park where the race was held with about 40 minutes to kill after. We wandered around the park, tied and retied my laces, and checked out the river.
They had a donut eating contest and swag stations already setup, but the sweet treats every where just kind of made me feel a little sick. Then it seemed really quickly it was starting line time. There weren't a ton of people running the marathon and our start time was before all the other races so we gathered, counted down, and were off. The path was a little cramped at first but then thinned out once we hit the actual trail part. Here's what I can recollect mile by mile-ish.
Miles 1-6 were on a flat out and back through pretty farm and vegetable fields. My goal pace (8:50-9:05) was pretty good feeling but I was worried that I was going too fast too soon. I was hitting 8:55 easily and knew that wasn't sustainable if any incline showed up and from my google searches of past elevation of this race, there was supposed to be a hill. I took a gu at 4ish miles. I started following this guy with a pirate hat and inflatable sword. He was super annoying so I stayed far back and used him to pace myself.
Miles 6-10 were on a weird other out and back with just a random sign that said 'turnaround' and no volunteer manning the spot. Kind of worried me, because people were pretty spread apart at that point so I don't know when other people were turning around. I just kind of pivoted around the sign and kept going. I felt pretty good still, hitting the paces and trying to remain chill. but I was starting to get a little bored, like the mental part was getting tough knowing I still had 16 miles to go. I tried to break up the race into a few parts - The First Half, 16 miles, 20, and 22 kind of an a whim. I passed the 22 back side of the 22 mile marker sign on the way out and thought "okay self, you will be really happy when you see that on the way back." I took Gus at 7 and 11 miles I think and walked through the aid stations to get at least a cup of water each time.
10-13 - I made my goal and hit it under 2 hours. I can't remember now how the course was split out, but I think I started the final out and back at mile 12? Pirate Guy was getting increasingly more annoying and I was creeping up on them, so I just hit it and passed them to get away. I had to get out of there. I think this was around mile 14, and was probably the reason that the last few miles of my race felt so terrible but this guy was just so irritating. Plus he was running really nonchalantly and lightly and making it look easy while carrying on this inane conversation with the people around him. No thanks.
13-16 - This course is out on a lovely trail and at one point a beautiful snowy owl swooped in front of me and perched in a tree. The woods opened up into this amazing fairy tale magical scene. the trail got that good packed feeling that was nice to run on. I was following a guy wearing sandals with a ponytail who I had seen pounding some cake before the race started. (he eventually pulled off into a porta-potty) and even though I was going up hill I think I was smiling because this was my jam. Good trail, amazing views, randomly some gun shots in the distance to keep up on our toes. I really liked this part of the race. I was mentally relying too heavily on the downhill that I knew was coming once we turned around.
15.5ish 16 was the turnaround, we ran through a weird short creepy tunnel and I think my Garmin lost its signal for a hot second. I took some more water and Gu and did a self check to straighten up, check my stomach sloshiness, take some deep breaths, refocus for the last 10. Anyone that passed anyone on the out and back was super nice and encouraging so I loved this part. I was seeing faces after a few miles of not seeing anyone or anything but calves and butts.
16-18 - more pretty trail and terrain. I passed people coming toward the turnaround and my legs felt okay. I knew that I was supposed to have saved my energy until mile 18 and I hadn't really, but I still felt like I could finish. Every once in a while I would pass someone which felt good but mostly scary. I wasn't sure if I could keep this up for 8 more miles and it made me nervous for a big crash. I made sure to take a Gu at some point with this exact fear in mind.
18-20 - same. more of the same, getting kind of thirsty.
20-22 - As predicted I was very happy to see the sign I had thought about going out. At this point I was doing tons of mental math to see if I would hit sub 4. This is when I knew I was getting a bit fried and that the last bit might be a struggle. My brain just wasn't working. I wanted to hit 20 miles at 3 hours so I could just do a solid 6.2 miles in the final hour. I didn't hit it right on, so I pushed it a little bit. My inability to do math and my goal were at the forefront of my mind so there was a lot of watch checking. Also, did I mention I was thirsty?
22-23 - Hard. Unhappy. Thirsty. We had rejoined with the half marathoners and 10krs at this point so there was a lot more traffic on the trail and a lot more noise. I was listening to people at the back of their pack struggling to keep going and the same stuff was going on in my head silently. It felt like I was passing a lot of people and I really wanted to ask them for their water. I would eyeball water bottles and think about how I could do it while also avoiding a 10 minute conversation that would take me out of my goal time game. I couldn't get to the aid station soon enough. I felt like I should have taken the electrolyte drinks earlier in the game. My tongue felt thick. Thankfully though my legs seemed to be okay-ish considering how salty my mouth felt.
23-24 - Still so thirsty. The sun had come out and I didn't notice how warm I was until this point. I just kept passing the walkers/joggers and trying to keep it together and remember if there was supposed to be another aid station before the end.
24-25 - I actually said out loud "You can do this!" which was weird and scared me because I didn't think I was actually talking. There was a lot of grunting and heavy sighing through this mile. I knew I was going to make sub 4, and actually my paces were still near 8:55 which was weird because it felt so much harder than before but I couldn't slow down. Like my brain would not let me not hit this goal. It was weird. It felt harder at this point than any other race I have run before, but I also never have pace goals in other races. Some people were on the nice part of the path and I just shouted "on your left!!!" because the idea of shifting any direction and being agile was out of the question. I was very much in a monkey brain mode and could only think of running to the finish.
25 Finally hit an aid station and double-fisted fluid, but I had to keep moving. The paved part was coming and that was a huge mental marker to me that the finish line was near. Also, I thought maybe I'd see the husband.
25.5 - I could hear the finish line and was on the pavement. I eventually saw Dev and he snapped that picture while I was shouting "I feel like a pile of garbage!!" laughed maniacally, and kept on running. I actually did have the tiniest of kicks (probably not, I just felt like it) when I saw the finish line. I could only imagine water, gatorade, and being done.
26- I think the course was short? I found a fence post and just stretched for about 5 minutes after getting my medal. It took my brain a few minutes to process not running anymore. Found the husband and drank my water bottle while warning him I might get hyponatremia because all I wanted to do was drink gallon after gallon of water. He assured me I probably wouldn't get it and so we made our way to more water and snacks.
Under the tree afterward I ate some goopy Clif brand soupy banana packet thing and drank some pink drink. My invisalign are a huge pain at moments like this because I always worry about getting them back in soon enough and that means brushing/rinsing and only clear fluids after that. I'm not running another marathon until I'm done with braces.
3:54:40 - 5th Female / 13th Overall (small races FTW)
The race itself was great. It's on a beautiful course with a super fun theme and lots of treats. I want to do a separate recap of my training since that feels like another monster all by itself, but as far as the race goes, I'm pleased with the results. I definitely felt like I learned on this course more than I have in my previous 2 marathons, but I think that's because I was trying to finish within a certain time frame instead of just running to run and finish like I do all my other races. I will have a million more thoughts on this whole thing, so expect more random mini-recaps.