I had to dig deep for this one. On Saturday, May 21st, I ran my first full marathon and it definitely did not go how I pictured it. Running 26.2 miles was one of the hardest things I've done. The weather on race day was unrelenting—just raining from the get-go and it made it hard to run the race I wanted. I was soaked for the majority and my hands and feet were numb up until the end. I felt like I didn't ever fully warm up. There were so many times midway through the race that I felt like it would be easier to quit, but I wouldn't allow myself to do that. I worked for every single one of my steps and it took every ounce in me to keep going. Since the race was long and I can't remember exact details throughout the course, I'll just summarize a few points.
• Check the weather forecast beforehand and make sure to bring the appropriate clothing. I wore a tank, long sleeve and crops. If I were smarter, I would have brought a lightweight, water-resistant jacket or a disposable poncho. And some gloves. That could have made all the difference. I envied every single person out on the course that was properly dressed!
• I opened the portapottie door twice on two different people. Whoops. I guess they forgot how to lock the doors.
• I taped up my right IT band with KT tape for the race and wore my ITB strap to help prevent any issues with it. I felt good up until mile 13, when my left knee began to start giving me those sharp pangs of pain. Yes, my left one—it's so weird how it switches between legs sometimes (it was my right that was getting tight at the Dino Half the previous week, which is why I taped that one up). I really need to make it a priority to strength train more. I'm beginning to think I just don't have the power in my hips and glutes to take me the distances I want to go. I need to get stronger!
• The Ogden Marathon printed our names on our bibs. This was my first bib ever with my name on it and it was so encouraging to have volunteers and spectators yelling "good job Valerie!" as I was running. That really gave me a boost when I needed it, especially down the finishing chute.
• This was hands down the toughest race I have ever run. Not just because of the distance, but because of how hard I had to fight for every single mile. Every step after 13 miles was a struggle. I had to alternate running and walking for the last half. I've never walked that much in any race. The conditions were also the most difficult I've ever had to race through. We were standing outside in the rain for 1.5 hours before the race began. My socks were already wet by the time the gun went off, and then it only got worse from there. It turned into a downpour and was so windy. There were reported gusts of 20-50 mph. It's hard to not be able to feel your body because you're going numb. It was extra hard to open my nutrition packets and tie my shoelaces. I was using more energy than I would have liked from shivering so much. A policeman gave me a mylar blanket around mile 16 and that was a lifesaver. It helped my body warm up as I headed toward Ogden Canyon. I ran with that tied around my torso and I was able to get up to a decent temperature and tossed it during the last few miles through Ogden River Parkway. It rained for about 20 of the 26 miles. Every single volunteer was incredible for staying out in the cold, soggy rain and I appreciated them so much. After the race, I heard that a bunch of runners had to be taken off the course due to hypothermia symptoms. So scary!
• Geof and I planned to run this together, aiming for around a 10:00 minute/mile pace. We had no idea how we would do for our first marathon, so a 10:00 pace seemed safe and manageable. We were doing just that until the halfway point when my ITB pain started and I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I didn't want Geof's race to be ruined because of me and told him to run ahead. He jetted off at mile 16 and did great, finishing with a time of 4:36:25.
• I actually had tears welling up in my eyes after I crossed the line and was walking through the finisher area collecting my medal, ice cream bar and water. I truly wasn't sure if I could finish this race once my ITB started flaring up, knowing that I still had 13 more miles to go. I've really realized now that running gives me so much courage and determination. We're all capable of so much more than we believe and allow—and this was proof. The human body can do such amazing things if you set your mind to it. It was a battle and it was hard but I can officially say I'm a marathoner.
• Final chip time—4:56:45.
• Pre-race good decisions: getting a massage a few days before, taking an Epsom salt bath the night before. Post-race good decisions: Indian food for lunch, snuggling and a taking a nap with my dog.
• Don't worry, I've already signed up for my next marathon. I have to redeem myself and run the race I know I'm capable of. I'll be meeting the marathon distance again in October. In the meantime, I'm going to cross train more religiously, eat smarter and possibly hire a running coach. I'm going to come back stronger than ever.
Does anyone else have a first marathon story? How did yours go?