RUNNING my 1st full Marathon

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Since 2008 when I started participating in chip-timed events, I have considered myself a “runner”.  At first finishing a 5k without crying is a celebration, then it’s a 10k with some energy to bike home.  After some more training, you complete your first half marathon (13.1 miles) surprised that you still have a smile in you for the finisher photo.  I met some elite running groups, and didn’t get the difference between what I was doing and an elite… until I looked it up:

Run: To move swiftly on foot so that both feet leave the ground during each stride. (Thefreedictionary.com)

Although completing a distance is admirable showing endurance and determination, it doesn’t mean “both feet leave the ground during each stride.” To officially run to age-appropriate ability/potential there is another criteria: How long did it take?

To be able to register to run the Boston Marathon 2014, you must complete one of specific marathons within a specific time: 3h:05m (men -35), 3h:35m (women-35). Since there’s a benchmark, qualifying for this marathon becomes a definition of a dedicated able runner…. almost like a rabbit chasing a carrot on a treadmill. Even if you’ve accomplished the distance in training, every aspect of the race day needs to go just right because you’re chasing the clock.

BK BQI had no interest in running a full marathon, let alone thought I was capable of running more than 30 miles in one week in training. I decided a full marathon would be a great achievement before I turn 30; I’m 28, so ok, why not… Boston Qualify by the time I’m 30!  I soon realized that since I’ll turn 30 in July 2014,  qualifying for Boston Marathon 2014 IS qualifying this year.  Roger and I could race in Boston the same year together! Did I have even have a chance?

According to Roger’s research, you get your best Half Marathon time, double it, then add 10 minutes. (1:41 x 2 + :10 = 3:30). He helped me find a great training plan for my level, but I was responsible for my confidence, and discipline.  I had until Sept 22, 2013 when registration opens. That’s a lot of miles, what do you do for 26.2 miles without going crazy? Roger recommended the local Rock & Roll full marathon in June, “the music each mile and course is awesome”.

Very shortly after buying my entrance to the Rock N’ Roll Full Marathon they changed the course with a mean elevation gain of 800ft!  Since this decision came up suddenly, I’m thankful that I already had ECCO BIOM sneakers, then after volunteering for ITU Triathlon Race I got a free pair of ASICS sneakers, so I had 2 shoes to train in. Happy feet!

Marathon Training collageFast forward 5 months of training on the course, absorbing the mentality & encouraging support of the Take Me To Boston running group, which taught me how to:

  • maintain running form at any pace
  • listen to my breathing as an indicator of how different paces felt just in case my watch broke
  • balance the muscle usage of a hilly/flat course for more than 13 miles
  • turn my brain off, and use my entire body to propel myself forward in each stride

Few days before, I took the advice of the event emails and did a race day simulation: wear the clothes, get up at the race day time using the same method of transport you plan to use on race day, practice nutrition and bathroom sequence to iron out any kinks. That really helped me determine what to adjust for race day!

definition of marathonRace Day

NUTRITION & WATER

For me it only worked exactly in this order but my body is very picky when it comes to not wanting to be rushed.

48 hrs before, I did my pasta night, I’ve gotten used to drinking a glass of water right before bed every night (especially if it’s after my glass of wine, but no wine on marathon week! :-P). {NOTE: Watch Chariots of Fire}
24 hrs before, we ate sushi. It’s a great combo of light carb, sodium and easy digestion with the smoked fish, and miso soup.

  • Woke up at 4am, drank half cup of water, and peed.
  • Sip a 12oz Gatorade bottle with ZipFizz (it’s nutrients, electrolytes, caffeine)  & combination of getting dressed/doing hair. (toilet for 30 mins)
  • 1 GU half, wait few minutes, then 2nd half; then half cup of water.
  • Toilet again
  • Left the house 5am, to avoid crowd parking drama, we decided to take an easy 5 mile bike to Balboa Park. This totally worked out because it was a warm up for our legs without wasting much energy. When we parked, we had time to stretch, pray together.
  • Go pee
  • 6:15am start

RnR_Bessy_M18Using the ZipFizz/water combo, I’d been training to run 6-8 miles without extra water. Plus I had taken a GU in the morning so I was good for 12 miles without need for anything. My GUs on course were Mile 12, 18 & 21, hitting every water station after Mile 18. After 21, I was doing Gatorade and water because I was overheating.

MILES

I had 4 training sessions of 20-23 miles leading up to this moment, but it’s what happens after Mile 20 that determines the race. The mileage with the fun music/bands and weirdo loud crowds were motivating. The best was Little Italy’s bridge to Old Town that had techno with rave lights throughout! What a great way to celebrate 1/3 mark.

Looking closely at the Garmin Results you’ll see I was going great until Mile 15-20 started rolling hills, and less music.  I had to keep my running form, even if I had to slow down – time flies ridiculously faster the slower you go.

I wasn’t being able to speed up physically, then I saw a spectator holding a sign saying “If your legs get tired, run with your heart.” Our Cafe Moto running angel, LJ, who was a run buddy for someone else cheered me on telling me I still had a chance! Soon after I was passed by the 3:30 pacers! If I didn’t stay close to them I’d come into the finish line past the Boston Qualifying time… which meant I’d have to run ANOTHER whole marathon to try for this! I couldn’t think too much about it because I was conserving energy for a steep 2-mile incline coming up on Mile 21-22. Around the corner, my other friend was cheering loudly for me, so I started using the rolling hills to fly down and crank up; looking at my Garmin and groaning. As I flew past some guys, they complained that girls running 3:30s put them to shame… that cheered me up!

When I got to the bottom of the last daunting hill on Mile 25, one of my friends working the water station was looking at the clock and screaming at me to go for it and not give up! A TCSD group saw my TCSD clothes then started cheering for me. I did not know where I was going to get anymore speed from, but somehow it found me. All I said to myself was, “I decide Now, not after the finish line if I could, I can’t, or I will.” Then I just unplugged, and zoomed down the finish shoot, catching the 3:30 pacers who were waving all of us in.

RnR_Bessy_M263:29. Boston.  When I crossed the finish line I was soaked in sweat, and grabbed water, drank a little bit and just peed my pants! Then poured the rest of my water bottle on my head!

Roger crossed at 2:59, and was waiting so anxiously panicking at the finish line for me. I didn’t even see him when I came in. Our friend found me in the refuel tent and then went to call Roger to reunite us! Then we got our finish photo.

RECOVERY

We walked the 1.5 mile back to the house, with first stop being gym for the jacuzzi for an hour. Our celebration tradition: Brazilian Churrascaria! Last stop was picking up our bikes from Balboa Park, but Roger wanted to stretch his legs and ride back downhill. Then we put on sweats, and watched the longest movie we could think of… Cloud Atlas; taking breaks every 45 minutes for a short walk so our legs wouldn’t cramp.

The soreness feels amazing when you reached your goal though.  I’d much rather feel sore, than sorry.

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