a.k.a My First Marathon Race report :) Where to start???…..Oh and its a long one!!! :)
At the start of 2011, I decided I was ready try the marathon distance! There were plenty of options to choose from from, but the biggest decision was whether I wanted it to be road or trail. Once I set my mind on trail, it was easy…Free State Trail Marathon here I come! 16 weeks of training later It was here!
The day before, I had taken a half day at work, picked up my packet, done the usual day before long run routine that I typically do.
I was doing pretty well…until about around dinner time. My stomach had been out of sorts for a day or two, but I was starting to feel really queasy while sitting down for a pasta dinner. I managed to have bread, some pasta and chalked it up to nerves. Finished up dinner, felt a little better, we had to pick up some items from Allison for the race next day and then headed to bed around 10.30pm. I knew something beyond just nerves were going on. Tummy was not happy and I simply tossed and turned for the next 2hrs. Finally I moved over to our second bedroom and within about 10mins proceeded to throw up everything I had eaten that day :( Yeah…not good at all. At least after that I managed to fall asleep and got about 4hrs of sleep. Thankfully my sleep had been great through the week.
Next morning woke up at 5am, showered, grabbed two waffles and could barely keep one down. We headed towards Lawrence, stopped by grabbed a bagel and managed to eat about half of that. Food was not wanting to stay down this morning either! We picked up fellow first time Marathoner Katie and headed to the race. Chatted with the other Mudbabes, grabbed some pre-race pictures. Hubby by my side always :)
Met the awesome Hannah from More than A Marathon who gave me the tightest hug ever! She had strict instructions to represent Beka and Kristen on this one..and I felt the love! This was the first time I’ve met her although it felt like we’ve known each other forever! Her hubby rocked the Half Marathon, his first trail race!! Awesome job Scott!!
We made our way to the start and after some pre-race instructions from ‘Bad’ Ben, our Race Director, we set off!
The first 3-4 miles are through the cross country course which is pretty much through an open grassy area, not my favorite! Katie, Lisa and I stayed together through this and kept chatting about all sorts of things and all the while wishing we would get into the trails soon :) We took nice and easy. I knew this was when my shin issue would crop up and of course it did. I stretched a few times, but it was certainly not as bad as it had been in the past and we kept moving on. Hubby was able to grab some pictures while were crossed what seemed like endless grass.
Finally we looped back to the start and headed into the single track trails….as you can see we were pretty happy about that!!!
My legs were feeling pretty good at this point and I was not feeling any weird pains. However, I knew my stomach was going to be a different story! It was definitely not settled. I managed to get half a pack of GU Chomps down and we kept moving. I wish I had some pictures to share, but I’m not coordinated enough to attempt taking pictures during a trail race. The trails were perfect!!! We had all wondered what they would be like given the steady rain that had come through in the past 36hrs, but while there were some muddy spots by the creek sections, most of the trail was soft and perfect!! Any little mud we had would get washed away whenever we went through a little water! It was the perfect day for a run through the woods with friends. Cloudy, around 50F and a light breeze coming off the lake. Every once in a while the sun would peek out and you’d feel the humidity rise up, and the clouds would shoo it away! This is why I Absolutely prefer running trails over road!!! Although I’ve run parts of this trail before, given where we started, most of this was unfamiliar territory. All I could hear was my music playing softly, our conversation, squirrels scurrying about and the now in bloom trees being rustled ever so lightly by the cool breezes! PERFECT!!!
At some point, I told Katie and Lisa to go on ahead. While I felt good, I knew my pace was slower than theirs and didn’t want them to lose any time if they felt like they could pick it up. Katie was doing so great on her first marathon, so off they went. While I love running with a group and friends, I also absolutely love running with my own thoughts for company. I kept moving..and even found myself singing along to the songs that were playing in my ear at times :) I finished off my other half of my GU and kept drinking water, watched where I stepped and kept moving. It was just me and the trails now!!
Clinton has three separate trails. Most of the race is on white, which is harder and blue which is a little easier and then there is the Red Shoreline trail shown in red below. I’ve never run on this section and it was certainly the section where I was most careful, but also the most beautiful and exhilarating section to run on. You had to run over giant slabs of rock that were strewn across the shoreline. Thankfully it was pretty dry and I was able to kind of trot/run through this section. Really wish there were some pictures I could share, but its not a place where you want to drop a camera phone :)
Just before entering the Red Trail, I had attempted to take more fuel in and almost threw it up! I was really hoping for an aid station soon to where I could get something else I my other than what I was carrying which did not want to stay down. As I got out the Red trail, I hit the Land’s End Aid station. I told them that my stomach was not feeling good and they immediately gave me some coke. I also grabbed a handful of Pringles and a banana. The coke tasted so incredibly good right there!! I’ve never had coke on a run before and usually don’t drink pop at all..but it stayed in and made me feel much better. I thanked all the great volunteers and moved out munching on the banana, followed by a few Pringles.
Somewhere in here, David Wakefield went by me on his second loop and on his way to the winning the 40mile race. He said “Good Job’ and ‘Keep it up’ and sprinted away his long runner’s legs bounding with ease. I wished him luck and thought to myself…hmmm…he actually knew my name :) I know that was a weird thought at that point, but made me really feel like I was truly part of a awesome group of runners! A little while later Darin Schneidewind who kicked butt and won the 100k in an amazing time went by me and said the same. Trail Runners Rock!! For the next little while I contemplated the commitment and heart it takes to be a runner of that caliber while I kept on running and tried not to think about my lack of energy and fuel at this point. My energy was starting sink…I figured I was around the halfway point and stopped real quick to send a text out to my hubby and the girls to let them know where I was at and that I was moving despite tummy not being happy!!!
Now I was getting into some familiar areas. I know I was getting closer to the aid station and hopefully turn around point!! I came out of the trails and onto a road section where I saw a familiar face coming towards me. It was Katie. She was looking strong! I knew she’d do great!! Never a doubt! She said they had some food up ahead and that she’s see me at the finish line. Two words..food and finish line made me haul myself up the hill where I turned and saw Lisa coming at me. She said the aid station said we only had 9miles to go…I was super thrilled!!! Her allergies were acting up, so she said she slowed down a little. She went on ahead and I headed to the woods and did a little jaunt around the trails and it spat me right out onto the what looked like a buffet of an aid station :) They even had burgers cooking!! Gotta love aid stations at Ultra races. I had felt a twinge in my calf, so on the volunteers gave me an S! cap. I downed two small cups on Ginger Ale, some peanut M&M’s and 2 tootsie rolls. I figured I would try to munch on those for awhile. I came out of the aid station and got back on the road to head to the trails and heard honking. I looked up and it my hubby! I was so happy to see him at that point. We hadn’t planned this at all..so to see him right now was just what I needed!! He asked me if I was ok. I told him tummy was not good, but I’m ok and that I can finish. I let him know it was another 9miles to the finish line and that I had this. He said good luck and I went back into the trails.
I grabbed a tootsie roll popped it in and sucked on it for some time. Then did the same with the M&M and hoped at least that would help get me through. Knowing that I was on the back end made me feel tons better. I kept running and came into some pretty rocky areas where I ran, but was slow and careful. There were several 40mi and 100k runners that went by me at this point. I knew this area a little better, so tried to move a little quicker, but then would suddenly feel my stomach starting to turn and would slow my pace just a little. Then I was back at the Land’s End aid station where it said 3miles to main aid station..and finish line!!! I was almost there!!!! I drank more ginger ale. Grabbed a piece of watermelon and some orange pieces and kept moving. These Volunteers are so awesome!! This section was very rocky and seemed like it had a lot of loose rocks. A few minutes after the aid station it I passed by the stairs that cross the trail and for split second lost my focus, flipped a rock over and took a dive. I know I hit both knees and my right palm, but nothing was bleeding. BUT I felt my left calf immediately seize up and cramp on me. I tried stretching it out and it was stupidly painful. I was so mad!! I remembered that Matty Mullins had told me once that someone told him to slap his calf muscle if its cramped up…so I yelled at it and slapped it silly and kept walking. I stretched and slapped it, walked and slapped for about another 1/2mile or so I think and it finally started easing up and feeling better!! Thanks Matt..not sure if the slapping did it, but sure felt good to do it at that point :)
Those last 3miles were probably the longest 3miles EVER!!!! I kept seeing little open areas and thought is that it?! But then the trails would wind away and I’d be like…damn!! More to go…I knew looking at the Garmin would do little good since it was off by quite a bit. It was so close I could taste it…all I wanted to see was the finish line!! There were twists and turns, I had no idea how much more I had…but then one last turn and then onto where we first got into the trail and I knew I was there!!!
Yes, you saw that time right on the clock. 6hrs and 45mins and I finished my first Marathon!!! I did it!!!!!
As much as I tried to before the race to imagine how I’d feel…what I felt crossing that finish line was nothing compared to that!! I still can’t believe it and it all seems kind of surreal!!!
My goals for this race was to enjoy the experience, finish between 6-7hrs and finish injury free! I’m happy to say Mission Accomplished on all three!! I would have liked to not have to have dealt with the stomach issues, but to know that I could push through and finish despite it gives me a lot of pride and confidence!! Finishing my first Marathon was Amazing!! But even more amazing was the pride and support and love from my hubby!!
To all my wonderful friends and family who I know had me in their thoughts all day Saturday, know that those thoughts kept me moving!! Not finishing was never even an option here. I’m incredibly blessed and ridiculously lucky to have you all in my life and this is all made so much better because I get to share with such special people!!
I can now call myself a Marathoner!!!! and it feels pretty damn good if I do say so myself :)