You obviously already know that I DID IT! I finished my first full marathon!
I also managed to do it without crying, puking or peeing myself (all of these were fears going into the race).
Race day started with a brightandfreakingearly 3AM wake up call. SarahOUaL crashed our guestroom so I at least had someone else to share the pain of pulling myself out of bed at a time that most people our age are just getting to sleep.
I’ve pretty much decided she’s the greatest person ever – besides helping me calm my prerace jitters and offering amazing marathon advice, she brought me this:
Yes, that is an freezable gift bag. Amazeballs.
We hit the road and got up to Ventura pretty quickly. The race was a point-to-point so we had to hop on shuttles at the Fairgrounds in Ventura to take us up to the start in Ojai. We were lucky we took off early because I later found out that they ran out of parking space in the Fairgrounds lot and my Dad and Michael had to park further from the finish line and almost didn’t make it to the start on time.
First (and maybe only) mistake by the race – no porta potties or open bathrooms at the shuttle pick up. We ended up walking through the grounds and finding an open bathroom between some airplane hangars. Luckily, we were able to actually use the bathroom before security showed up and informed us we weren’t supposed to be in there. WTF Compete Green? Runners need to pee A LOT pre-race!
After the bathroom adventure, we hopped on the shuttle and had a 20 minute ride up to Ojai. The entire shuttle ride I kept thinking “Oh my God I need to run this back. Holycrapholycrapholycrap.”
We got to the start, I peed like 3 more times (nerves? or optimal hydration?) and then it was go time.
I actually managed to find my Dad and Michael as we lined up at the start line. Michael stuck with us for the first maybe .6 mile and then took off (like I said… 3:17 finish… I was surprised he stuck with us that long!).
After about 3 miles I started to feel pain in my right knee. This seemed super weird because of all the pains I’ve experienced during the last year of running, I’ve NEVER had knee pain. Not at all. It actually got to the point where I was running while keeping that leg as straight as possible because it hurt so bad to bend it. Around mile 6 I stopped at the aid station to pop a couple of advil. Luckily, the advil did the trick and the pain quickly became less noticeable.
Mile 1 – 10:24, Mile 2 – 10:09, Mile 3 – 10:27
Mile 4 – 11:23, Mile 5 – 11:30, Mile 6 – 10:59
I took my first gel at Mile 6 and felt a surge of energy despite the knee pain. I also started looking forward to hitting that 10-mile mark. One of the best pieces of advice Sarah gave me was to split the race up into smaller distances by giving myself things to look forward to. Mile 10 = iPod time.
Mile 7 – 11:12, Mile 8 – 10:51
Mile 9 – 11:15, Mile 10 – 10:56
I finally hit play on my iPod and started focusing on the next mini tasks ahead. Besides trying to take in all the scenery (this course was beautiful) I also decided to start looking forward to each water station as my small “break”. I told myself I could only walk through the water stations – no other time – until I hit the 20 mile mark. After all, once I hit 20 miles, I only had to run a 10k. I kept telling myself how easy that would be. “Just get to 20 and then press the restart button. After 20, it’s just a 10k. That’s all.”
I also started focusing on looking for the cowbell guy. This guy managed to show up EVERYWHERE along the course. He was great! He just rang his cowbell, cheered everyone on, and told us how great/strong/awesome we are. My Dad also enjoyed telling him each time we passed “Hey, I saw your brother back there!”
Mile 11 – 10:56, Mile 12 – 11:05, Mile 13 – 11:38
I definitely started to fade once we hit mile 13. As hard as I tried to not let it happen, that one little thought crept up into my head and I couldn’t let it go for quite a while.
“13 miles. If this was a half marathon, I’d be done. I’d be celebrating. I’d be drinking ice cold water. But it’s not a half marathon. I have to do that again.”
That was brutal. I knew crossing that 13 mile mark would be a bit rough, but I didn’t realize how much my mental attitude would affect my running.
Mile 14 – 11:36, Mile 15 – 11:27
Mile 16 – 11:40, Mile 17 – 12:50
My Dad and I did about a half mile of walking during mile 17. I also took my third gel and after a few minutes I felt a lot of energy coming back. My Dad’s feet were really bugging him so he told me to take off whenever. I run/walked the next couple of miles, really feeling the pain all over now. My feet hurt, my ankles hurt, my knee was stiff. But I kept pushing. I started running again after Mile 19 and that’s when I realized something big – I COULD DO THIS.
I could seriously finish this. I could be a MARATHONER. No joke. I got so excited when I realized this. I guess I always had that little bit of doubt, and the knowledge that if I needed to just stop running, I could. But I wasn’t going to and I didn’t need to. I decided that no matter how bad it hurt and how slow I was running, I was going to just keep doing it. Just keep running. My feet were hurting me more than anything and I knew that the sooner I finished the sooner I could get off my poor dying feet.
Mile 18 – 11:45, Mile 19 – 12:48, Mile 20 – 10:40
Mile 21 – 12:04, Mile 22 – 11:47, Mile 23 – 11:40
I also met a nice woman named Stephanie somewhere during this realization. She was running O2O as her 40th birthday present to herself. She was awesome and distracted me for about a mile while we talked Ragnar, previous races and our post-race food plans (she wanted a pie, I wanted lemonade).
(Specifically Hot Dog on a Stick Lemonade – which I have yet to go get) [source]
Once I hit 23 miles and knew I only had a 5k left, I made the decision that I was not going to walk at all. I have never wanted to be done with something so badly. I could feel my whole body just plain hurting. Luckily, I got a HUGE mental boost when a car drove by and I heard someone screaming out “GOOOO DANICA!!!!!! WOOO!!” I turned to see Nicole speeding by hanging out the car window cheering me on. Seriously amazing! Thanks Nicole – I needed that!!!
I turned down my music as the finish line came into view so I could take it all. So many people were cheering and at the last mile I saw Jason and Michael jumping up and down and yelling for me. I think Jason offered to run a little ways with me and I think I told him no (sorry babe!) but I was just so delusional and driven and focused at that point that I couldn’t really process anything but the giant FINISH up ahead. I also knew I had a shot at finishing under 5 hours and I didn’t want to miss that.
Mile 24 – 12:27, Mile 25 – 12:27, Mile 26 – 11:35
.2 – 9:36
When I crossed that finish, I was so overwhelmed/happy/excited/exhausted/emotional and absolutely drained. I have never been so proud of myself for accomplishing something so mentally and physically draining. It was definitely a surreal experience. I get chills just thinking about it.
Final Time – 26.2 miles: 4:59:35
#1 – Done.
(Post-race recap coming tomorrow – this post is way too long already.)