Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I just ran a marathon! (the short story)

2010 is the year. This was my fourth attempt to train for a full marathon, and it happened. I did it!

I trained for 26 weeks, and I must’ve done something right (in addition to a delicate balance of luck), because I ran my first marathon and it was an amazing, positive experience!

This is the short story. I’ve got a 4-page word document journaling the entire day in full detail – mostly for my poor memory so that I’ve got something to look back on when I forget the little bits and pieces of the day a few months from now.

I took Friday off of work since the marathon was on Saturday. Adam and I enjoyed the day by taking the long, scenic route to Ashland. Once there, I picked up my race packet and bib and head to Phillips where we were staying the night at Adam’s mom’s house.

I had my running clothes and gear layed out and ready to go, and we got to bed early. We woke up at 4 a.m., ate breakfast and hit the road towards Iron River where the start line was. It’s incredible when I look at a map of Wisconsin and see Iron River and Ashland and think that I ran that whole distance!

We got to Iron River, parked and got on the shuttle bus to the start line. I got my timing chip, stood in line to use the port-a-john, then warmed up and stretched. I stood amongst the crowd of marathoners, and slowly it started moving, and by the time I got to the start line I was running with the high hopes of becoming a first-time marathon finisher.

A couple of things stood out in my mind throughout the race. At mile 7 I couldn’t believe that I’d been running for an hour and was feeling as good as I was. I had a little twinge in my hip up to that point, but it was going away.

At mile 13.1 I was half-way there and still feeling good. I enjoyed the fall leaves flittering down along the trail in front of me, and when I got to a road-crossing at mile 13.6, Adam was there to cheer me on! I gave him a quick little kiss and ran on.

The miles were marked on simple, skinny wooden posts about 10-feet high with a small white sign about 12” x 20” or so. For some reason when I think about the marathon, the first thing that pops into my mind is the sign that read “Mile 18 Marathon.” I think at that point it really hit me that I was there -- actually running a marathon. Everything up to that point was busyness in training, preparing and getting into the stride of the race. At mile 18 I realized I was feeling good and finally there. I said a little prayer thanking God for everything I had in my life, and for being with me throughout the process and giving me the strength and determination to do it. I smiled and ran on.

Mile 20 rolled around and Adam was again standing along the edge of the trail to cheer me on. This pushed me happily beyond the farthest I’d ever run. Each time I saw Adam I couldn’t help but wear a huge smile on my face for probably the next mile. It meant so much to me to have him there supporting me.

I started to feel sore around mile 22 and hit the wall. Every runner talks about hitting a wall at some point, and I decided I was just going to be prepared for it. When I realized what it was that was happening, I said out loud to myself, “F*** the wall!”, picked up my speed, bounced along as if I had fresh legs, then slowly came back down to my comfortable speed. That’s all I needed to mentally get through it.

At mile 25 I knew I only had one more mile, and my knee started to stiffen up on me, but I pushed through it, and when I got close to the finish line I took off my headphones so I could soak in the cheers and energy of the crowd. I rounded a couple of corners, and…

…there is was! The finish line! There were claps and shouts and cheers on both sides of the road, and the announcer said, “Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Robin Grapa.” I threw my hands up in the air, cheered and ran through the big, yellow blow-up finish-line archway. I was sore, but I was on top of the world!

I made my way through to get my medal, a bit of food, then met up with Adam. When I saw him I got emotional and cried. I was so happy that I finally did it! Four attempts to train for a marathon since 2005, and finally – 2010 was the year! Adam gave me a huge hug and congratulated me. Then he bought me a beer! :)

I got my finisher shirt, had my medal engraved, got a pickle-on-a-stick, took a shower, watched a few more finishers come in, then we head back to Phillips.

I had runner’s high, and I had it real good. I was a little stiff-legged, but I was feeling awesome. We drove to my parent’s house, and my mom and dad made an amazing celebretory post-race meal for us all. Dad made ribeyes over the fire, and mom put together a fresh garden salad and potatoes. We stuffed ourselves, then decided to go out. Even after the long day I had, I was able to go out until wee hours in the morning. What a great day!

Now it’s Wednesday, and I just started to feel like I was coming down off of my runner’s high yesterday. I started to feel tired, but I had a nice 30-minute massage scheduled with our at-work massage therapist. Today I rode my bike into work, and that is the first “activity” I’ve done since the marathon, and I realized that my legs were still VERY tired. I struggled to pedal the three miles to work and decided I’d continue my rest until at least Friday (silly me -- I was actually thinking about going to kickboxing class tonight!).

I was fortunate to not have suffered any major injuries during my training. There were only a couple of teeny after-affects after the race, but nothing I can’t deal with. I noticed that I had two deep chafe marks on my chest from my sports bra, but they will heal up just fine. I also have a darkened big toenail on my right foot. I think that with the surface of the trail during the marathon and my toenail already being kind of goofy (I lost it about six months ago, and it was almost fully grown back), it must’ve rubbed funny on my shoe. I didn’t feel either the chafing or the toenail during the run – so for that I’m really thankful! But I do think I will lose that toenail again… oh, well. Who needs toenails anyway!! That little sacrifice is so worth it!


My goals going in and results:

Goal #1: Finish the marathon
Goal #2: Run the whole marathon without slowing to a walk
Goal #3: Finish in 4:22:11 or under. That's a pace of 10 minutes/mile*
* I actually wanted to finish uner 4:09, which was a 9:30 minute mile, but I set my time goal low because I didn’t want to stress myself over a particular time, having no idea what it would be like to run past 20 miles.

Final Results:
Chip time: 3:59:02
Pace: 9:07 minutes/mile

301/682 total
23/50 female age group (30-34)
80/247 division (female)

1 comment:

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