Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Marathon Recap

Well, I did it.

On Sunday, I ran the Fox Cities marathon, and it was... different than I thought it would be.

Let's start at the beginning...

I woke up on Sunday after a great night of sleep, hopped in the shower, and enjoyed half of a bagel with peanut butter and honey, some Gatorade, and a cup of coffee.

Decked out in the PR purple with my PureFlows, homemade armwarmers, and rufflebums.  

The drive to the start was exceptionally pleasant because I got to ride with my husband and my beautiful friend Kim, who was also running her first marathon.  Side note:  she BQ'd, and I (spoiler alert) did not.  ha.

We met up with a bunch of awesome runners at the start:

Kimba, me, Sarah

It was COLD out.  I'm not sure of the exact temperature, but it was right around freezing, and my Raynaud's was acting up in full force.

I wasn't paying attention to the time, and suddenly everyone was running to the start, and I found my way into the pack around the 5:00 hour pacer, and lost all of my friends.  An even bigger bummer, I didn't get to see my sister-in-law Kathy before the start to wish her luck on her first half (turns out, she didn't need it!  :))

My strategy for the race was pretty straightforward:

  • Divide the race into six parts - five 5 mile chunks, and the last 1.2 miles.
  • Run the first 5 mile chunk slower than any of the others
  • Negative Split
  • Dance, cheer, sing, have a party out there.
  • Come in under 4:30:00

Miles 1 - 5 | 10:12, 10:25, 10:03, 10:19, 10:13 | Total 51:25 | Avg: 10:17

The first few miles just flew by.  Matt and I high-fived at each mile, and it seemed like we were constantly seeing mile markers, which was great.

The not-so-great part was the pace felt hard.  I was fairly steady around 10:15 miles, and I swear, they felt like 8:30s.  My feet were numb, my breathing was a little labored, and I felt... worn out.  Not terrible, just not as fantastic as I had hoped I'd feel.

Miles 5 - 9 | 10:02, 9:58, 9:59, 9:57, 9:52 | Total - 49:52 | Avg: 9:58

These miles went by a little more smoothly - I wasn't checking my Garmin nearly as much as I did at first.  The fear of starting off too fast was slowly fading, and I was regaining feeling in my feet.  

We saw our awesome cheerleaders for the second time around mile 8, and  it was such a pick-me-up.  

They had ridiculous signs, and I loved them:

Kevin, Rachel, hubby Nick

If a Marathon Was Easy It'd Be Called Your Mother 

And my reaction to the sign:

Miles 10 - 14 | 10:47, 10:18, 10:07, 9:56,  10:05 | Total 51:36 | Avg: 10:19

This section was the hilliest portion of the course.  Nothing crazy, but definitely enough long inclines to throw the pace off a little bit.

After the 10 mile mark,  we ran through a gauntlet of middle school cheerleaders who were absolutely frenzied with excitement - it was AWESOME.  I never knew I wanted 30 twelve-year-olds to scream my name hysterically, but as it turns out, I did.  And it was amazing.

Shortly after that, I had to take pitstop number one of the day.  In an out in less than 90 seconds... not too shabby.

As Matt and I neared the halfway point, he let me know he was going to drop back and walk a bit soon.  I was feeling really good and was bummed to lose my buddy, but not worried about going it alone.

I hit the halfway at 2:13:46, and thought to myself,  "I am not ready for this to be halfway done!"  I was having a blast.

Miles 15-19 | 10:07, 9:56, 9:59, 9:45, 9:36 | Total - 49:32 | Avg: 9:54

I really started getting into my groove.  I saw my awesome spectators again at mile 16, and shortly thereafter, we turned west, and into the WIND.  Whoa.  It was pretty windy (I found out later it was gusting to 25 mph), but it definitely gave me something to talk about with other runners!

The main thing I remember from the segment was how many people had already started walking.  I passed dozens and dozens of people, and was feeling really strong.  I tried to pass on encouraging words to the runners I passed, and heard "This WIND!" more times than I can count.

Miles 20-25 | 9:56, 10:05, 12:29 (ha), 9:50, 9:36 | Total - 52:08 | Avg: 10:25

Mile 20 was AWESOME!  I even gave a little flying leap at the aid station (side note: I do not recommend this), and saw my cheerleaders again.  I also saw Amy for the fourth time that day as she was waiting to start her relay leg.  She gave me solid advice, "Hey, Kim!  Go run a 10k!"

Predictably, after mile 20, it got a little rougher.  I started feeling like I was ready to be done, and the miles were dragging.  Right around 22, I had a sudden, urgent feeling.  Yeah.  That feeling.

I went from "Oh, hey, look at that funny sign... man.. I'm kind of tired... I wonder how Matt's doing..." to "Oh my god, I'm going to shit my pants.  I'm going to shit my pants.  I'm not a fast enough runner to get away with shitting my pants during a marathon".

Thankfully, I spotted a lone porta-potty up ahead.

I don't want to get too graphic with you guys, but this was a long, frustrating, fruitless three minutes in the crapper.

I actually laughed for awhile in that porta-potty (probably seriously concerning the passing runners).  There's just something about going from the solid, rhythmic sound of your footfalls for four hours, the wind rushing past your face, to sitting in a hot, cramped little hut trying pretty unsuccessfully to poop that struck me funny.

I saw my awesome mommy at 23, and I told her that I was ok, but ready to be done.  That was a very lonely mile, and it was so great to see her.

Around mile 24, things got rough emotionally.  I was disappointed in my pace, pretty positive a negative split was out of the picture, and tired.

I also had forgotten that the course took us up and over a bridge next to Theda Clark Hospital.  It's where I gave birth to my babies, and where my dad lost his life.

As I ran up the bridge, I could see the Children's Hospital where my littlest guy was stuck in an isolette for the first two weeks of his life.  Just past that, I saw the concrete stairs leading to a little side entrance where my brother, husband, and I spent so much time while my dad was on life support.

I lost it.  The tears were streaming and my breath was coming in ragged gasps.  I felt like I couldn't catch my breath.  I blew a kiss the hospital where I had lost and gained so much, and crested the hill.

I cruised down the backside to the cheers of volunteers and spectators, and spotted Nick, who was such a welcome sight.

 Last 1.2  | Total - 11:47| Avg: 9:49

He ran with me for about a quarter of a mile, then cut across the park to be able to see me  cross the finish line.

As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line a few hundred yards away, I willed it to come closer.  I picked up my pace just a little, and enjoyed the cheers of the crowd.

I raised my arms and took the last few strides of my first marathon.

When I crossed, I didn't cry, I didn't collapse, I just smiled.  I was happy.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted, and so very glad to be done.


 Fox Cities Marathon
10:10 pace
Division: 29/62
Sex: 193/398
Overall: 540/915

I'm still digesting my feelings about this race, but they've been vacillating wildly between disappointment, relief, sadness, and pride since Sunday.  I'm still glad to be done, but I'm already planning my next one.  

Bottom line:  Running 26.2 miles was harder than I thought it was going to be.  

If they could make a bumper sticker that says "26.2 Miles - That Shit Ain't Easy" I'd be all over that.  

Check back later this week for all of the post-race fun and some reflection on my goals - some were met, and some were definitely not.  

But it is important to note... I BEAT OPRAH!!!!!!!!  :)


  1. Congratulations on a great race (and on beating Oprah!)!

  2. Congratulations dearest most wonderful friend! I seriously loved this recap. I felt like you so perfectly captured the essence of YOUR marathon (duh) but also the marathon in general. I don't think I have escaped that distance ever without going through every emotion before, during and after the race! you did wonderfully and I am so glad you had a blast! cant wait to hear what you have planned next:)

  3. I was so happy I got to see you so many times! Even got a shout out in the recap :). I'm so proud of you I could burst! Now I just have to get fast enough to beat Oprah, too. Two tries in 2013! Chicagoooooooo!!!

  4. I was bummed that I missed seeing you before the race - I was thinking about you a lot on the course.

    Great recap - you had me in tears when you blew a kiss to the hospital. So many emotions, and you captured it all beautifully.

    I hope a couple days out you are no longer disappointed with any part of your day. YOU RAN AN AMAZING RACE! Those are splits I DREAM of maintaining. Be PROUD!

    Congratulations marathoner!!

  5. You did so well Kim! You really did! I feel sort of similar to you about Sunday. I did well enough but 2:18 doesn't make me happy. I sort of wanted better than that and didn't think I'd be so off my Oshkosh time. On to the next right? We have a lot of races this fall to make it right at least one of these times :) Still so happy I was there to see you finish it all!

  6. 4 things:

    1. I love you and you are awesome. Great recap.

    2. My glove catching skills are impeccable. Was I ringing my cowbell the whole time I ran next to you guys in Little Chute?

    3. I'm really sorry I bombed all your pictures and videos...

    4. You are awesome and I love you!

  7. #1. I did not beat Oprah. You totally did and that is freaking awesome.
    #2. Kevin's sign is the most hilarious thing I've ever seen.
    #3. There is nothing worse than taking the time to go to the port-o-jon to shit and NOTHING happens. Fuckin a.
    #4. So proud of your fight. I can't imagine seeing an emotional landmark at a time like that. I'd lose my shit for sure.
    #5. I totally copied Rachel's numbering system and it worked well.

  8. SOOO proud of you and glad I could make it out to see you a few times before finishing!!

    Why is it when you really wanna poop, it just doesn't happen? That was my experience right before the race!

  9. Oh crap chick you had me in tears! You should be so super awesomely proud of yourself ... I am & I don't even know you personally xx

  10. OMG, so happy for you!!!!! Great report...and with the video clips, I felt like I got to cheer for you too.

    You should be so proud of your accomplishment. Funny, I remember feeling similarly as my first marathon started to get closer to the finish....I didn't want it to end :)


  11. Congratulations on your first marathon!

  12. Kim! What an amazing first marathon! You hit some rough spots (much later on than I ever do, lol!) and pushed through like a pro! You rock!

    I had to make a porta pottie stop at mile 8 of NYC and was like "come on come on come on!" LOL. :)

  13. Currently crying. Suppose that's a sign of a good recap? I can't imagine passing a landmark like that hospital in the late miles of a marathon- it's freaking hard to cry and run at the same time! I'm stoked you hit your time goal- and with plenty of time to spare, really. Sorry about the poop. It happens to the best of us.

  14. So I'm pondering Falon's Chicago idea like 24 hours a day, and when I was on her blog I saw "First Marathon Recap" in the sidebar and thought that would be interesting since, you know, I am slower than Forrest Gump and I mean his brain not his legs.

    And I click over here and you make me cry. Seriously? I don't even know you. You made me cry and now I have to go look up your name. Should have known one of Falon's friends would do this to me. The good news is, I spend more time in Port-O-Lets than I do on the course, so let me tell you- not pooping is a victory. Not pooping in under 3 minutes is a miracle.

    Awesome recap. I am now leaning in the direction of the marathon. But I am still on a fence with pointy things up my bum.

  15. What an amazing recap! I wish I could think of more to say but I can't... it moved me


Hearing from you makes me happy! :)

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