Category Archives: Marathon

2012 Vermont City Marathon Recap

So here it goes – my fifth marathon race recap. When I ran my first marathon in 2009, I never thought I’d have five marathons under my belt by 2012. I guess you could say I kind of got addicted. I suppose there are worse things you can be addicted to though.

So here it goes. The 2012 Vermont City Marathon Recap. Hubby and I drove up to Albany on Friday night and stayed with my parents. We woke up early on Saturday and ran our very last training run – an easy two miles at a very slow pace. Hubby (Bill) had been dealing with an injured Achilles for the past few weeks and still felt a slight twinge after our run. But we headed out to Burlington around noon.

We arrived around 3 p.m., hit up the expo for about an hour and then headed to our hotel. We decided to stay at the Hilton, which is literally 1/10 of mile from the start and finish of the race–making it super convenient. We checked in and lounged for about an hour and then headed to the pasta dinner.

We walked from our hotel to the pasta dinner at Champlain College – it was about a mile away. On the walk there (all uphill), Bill was dealing with some major leg pain. It was making us both nervous for the race the next day.

We carb loaded at the pasta dinner. It was pretty standard at pasta dinners go. I was surprised they only had one pasta option – spaghetti with either marinara sauce or meat sauce. We ate our pasta, salad, and bread and then finished up dinner with some desert. All in all, it was a decent event. After we finished, we started the walk back to the hotel and Bill flinched with pain in his leg most of the way. Not good.

When we got home, we started to prep our gear for the next day and Bill was doing everything he could think of to make his leg feel better. I lay down for a few minutes around 9:30 and fell asleep. I woke up at 10:00 p.m. and finished getting my stuff ready and then really went to bed. Surprisingly, I slept like a rock.

Race Day
My alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. and the prepping began. I fashioned some sort of oatmeal concoction for us using the hot water from the coffee machine. Then I also made some coffee and hydrated with NUUN. I looked outside our window and saw a gorgeous view, as well as part of the course right down below.

People were heading to the start area pretty early. Bill and I began finishing up our prep and Bill snapped this pre-race photo of me.

Ready to go! And we were off. We walked to the start, which was literally right around the corner and made our way into the corral. We decided to start near the 3:45 pace group. It was super crowded. We found some space and waited for the start. The wheel chair racers went off at 8:00 a.m. and we began at 8:03 a.m.

With such a crowded start, it took us a while to really find our pace. Bill and I stayed together in the beginning as we ran through the town and then up into some neighborhoods.

Mile 1 – 8:42
Mile 2 – 8:22
Mile 3 – 8:32
Mile 4 – 8:24

About mile four, we headed into an out and back stretch down a long road. There weren’t too many spectators along this section. It was nice to get to see some of the leaders and elite runners pass by as they made their way back to town after completing the out and back.

Around mile 6-7, we both took water at a station and Bill seemed to pick up his pace a bit. I tried to stay with him, but he was just moving a little bit too fast for me. I kept him in my sights, but I knew that our joint running time together was pretty much over. I maintained a decent pace just a little bit behind him.

Mile 5 – 8:30
Mile 6 – 8:20
Mile 7 – 8:14
Mile 8 – 8:21

As we came back into town around mile 8-9, we had some spectators again and it got me pumped up. The people cheering really did help give me motivation. As we headed down one of the main streets of Burlington, a local photographer snapped this shot of me.

(source)

I’m actually looking pretty happy right?! Well, mind you, it was only like mile 9 or 10 at this point. I continued along, maintaining a decent pace as we moved out of town and into a neighborhood. I took my first Gu around mile 11 and actually really needed it.

Mile 9 – 8:29
Mile 10 – 7:59
Mile 11 – 8:19
Mile 12 – 8:41

At about mile 13, we made a sharp turn onto a bike path. Around this time, there was also a lot of switching going on with the relay teams. I had been aware of the teams switching in the race before, but this was the biggest switch. The race had two kinds of relays 1) a two person relay where they each ran half, and 2) a 3-5 person relay with all different lengths for various legs.

So as we hit halfway, there were a lot of relays changing and it was actually kind of frustrating. Here we are (the marathon runners), getting into a groove of sorts with our pace, surrounded by people going our approximate speed, and then all of sudden a whole new group of people fly into the mix all nice and fresh and some of them absolutely take off. It kind of messes with your pace. Or, on the reverse, some of the new runners are going much slower and then you find yourself matching their pace. It was a confusing time. I tried to maintain some kind of consistent pace, but it was tough.

Mile 13 – 8:12
Mile 14 -8:12

I think we came out of the bike path around mile 14.5 and then I knew what we ahead of me. The dreaded hill. This is the Battery Hill that our hotel is on. I was going to run right by the hotel – how tempting. It’s one long hill for almost half a mile (or at least that’s how long it felt). I dug in and got started.

Thankfully, the city also has these awesome drummers playing at this section and their beat totally carries you up the hill. I waved to them to thank them and kept on trudging up. It was tough.

Mile 15 – 8:28

Then, when you reach the top, you get to move on to run on a main road, with no shade that seems to go on forever. This might have been my least favorite part of this race. I kind of hated this road. As we neared mile 18, my pace slowed considerably.

Mile 16 – 8:53
Mile 17 – 8:43
Mile 18 – 8:37

Between mile 17-18, we went into a neighborhood, but then we came right back out to the road. Then we went into another neighborhood between 18-19. It was a lot of turning in and then back out.

In this second neighborhood, there were more spectators and random water stops. There was also a random lady mowing her lawn and spitting grass into the road. Why she chose that day/time to mow her lawn, I will never know. After her, we encountered a guy beating a homemade drum with hard rock music playing in the background, and then a few more houses down was a lady playing classical music – not the best “pump up” music. I was kind of happy to exit the weird neighborhood, but then found myself back on the main road that I hated so much. ARGH!

Mile 19 – 8:53
Mile 20 – 9:06
Mile 21 – 9:00

Luckily, we turned off the main road around mile 21-22 and back onto the bike path. The bike path meant fewer spectators, which was a negative, but no more main road and blaring sun, which was a positive. I took my second Gu around mile 21 -22. I had been feeling the fatigue since about mile 18, but it really started to hit.

Plus, then I started worrying about Bill and how his leg was doing. I hadn’t caught up to him, so I wanted to think of that as a good thing, but I also kept scanning the people walking or being helped on the sidelines, thinking that his injured leg could have taken him out.

From mile 22-24, it was just playing the willpower game with myself to put one foot in front of the other. I had passed the 3:45 pacer a while back and when I saw him pass me around this time I got a little sad. I didn’t really have a goal time, but 3:45 sounded nice.

The pacer passed me and then I had that chat with myself about less pressure to finish in a certain time. I reviewed the whole “if I can only run 10 minute miles for the next few miles, that’s okay, because I will still finish in under 4 hours.” You know those chats if you’ve run a marath0n – you make deals with yourself to get to the finish.

Mile 22- 8:57
Mile 23 – 9:16
Mile 24 – 9:14

And then miraculously, at mile 25, it was like something clicked. I knew I was going to make it to the end and finish in under 4 hours. So my speed began to pick up again. And then I heard someone yell, “way to go 2049 – way to finish strong.” And I knew that I WANTED to finish strong, so I pressed on.

Mile 25 – 9:04

And then finally we hit mile 26 and there were crowds of people everywhere. I started to pick up my pace even more and hurdle myself to the finish.

Mile 26 – 8:55
.33 – 2:31

Final time: 3:47:10

I finished and immediately chugged a chocolate milk they handed me. It was amazing. And then I got nervous about Bill and went to find him. I instinctively looked for the medical tent, but then I spotted a Team Chief shirt a few feet away. And there he was, just hanging out chatting with some guy from his hometown. He finished his very first marathon in 3 hours and 41 minutes! He was feeling sore, but his leg was fine! I was so relieved and happy for him.

We headed to the runner’s food area and grabbed some pizza, ice cream, yogurt, etc. and parked our aching bodies under a tree. After downing some much-needed food, we headed back to our hotel. We climbed a huge hill to get there and a hotel never looked so amazing to me.

Here we are post-race!

We did it!! It was a very fun race in gorgeous Vermont. Now on to the NYC Marathon in November!

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Counting Down to the Vermont City Marathon

Ok – so I took a short blogging hiatus, but trust me – I was still running. The Vermont City Marathon is less than two days away and I am getting nervous excited. I have one measly little two-mile run left for training and then that’s it my friends – go time.  My current total mileage is resting at 518 miles. Here’s a quick snapshot of the past few weeks:

Yup – as you may have noticed, there was a total slacker week in there – it was called the week of my 30th birthday. Yikes! I felt I deserved to go a little crazy and depart from my plan a bit to live it up.  Hubby and I had a busy weekend attending the Manhattan Cocktail Classic and then another friend’s birthday party on Saturday night. It wiped me out. But we had soo much fun and we got to try on funny hats!

But now it’s time to get serious. There is marathon happening on Sunday. I will be running it. It will be my fifth marathon and it will be Hubby’s first. He had a leg injury issue earlier in the month, but now he’s pretty confident that he’s ready to do it. Also, he’s raised almost $1,500 for his charity efforts in honor of his father

That is very impressive. I tried to do a charity thing at the end of last year and struggled to raise even $500. He did awesome – his father would be so proud.

So the obsessive weather checking has begun and I have to stay that things are looking okay as of right now…dare I say almost perfect? According to weather.com (both friend and foe depending on the day you talk to me), the forecast for Burlington, VT on Sunday is mostly cloudy with a high of 73 and low of 55 degrees. It couldn’t sound much better to me. Knock on wood, cross your fingers, say a little prayer and all of that. If that forecast can just stay in a holding pattern for two days, we will be all good.

I’m also super excited that Hubby and I will be running as a “team” – meaning we will be wearing matching shirts.

Realistically, we may start together, but I have a feeling he will leave me in the dust. He’s much faster than me. But I love that we will be wearing our matching “Team Chief” shirts in honor of his father. A small team, but a passionate one. So if there’s anyone else out there reading this that’s running VCM – look out for Team Chief!!

Ok – that’s pretty much all for now. The next post will be the big one – the marathon recap. Wish us luck!! See you on the other side!

My 2011 Boston Marathon Memories

As  my Twitter feed was blowing up today with Boston Marathon updates, I got to thinking about my 0ne and only Boston Marathon experience last year. Humor me for a moment as I share my top 2011 Boston Marathon memories and tips…

2011 Boston Marathon Memories & Tips  

  • The excitement in the air was tangible – I cannot recall another race I’ve run where the whole city was buzzing like this (note: I haven’t run NYC yet, but I expect it will be the same way).
  • I wish I had spent more time in Boston. It was a quick in and out trip for  my best friend and me. We took the train up on Sunday, checked in, went to the expo, ate dinner, ran the race, and checked out and took the train back right afterwards. It felt rushed. If you make it to Boston – don’t rush it. Enjoy it!
  • Make reservations for 2013 like NOW!! No seriously. I tried to make reservations like a month or two in advance and was laughed at. Apparently people start like 6-8 months in advance. We did ok – we tagged along with a smart friend who had made reservations and was able to add two more people. Thankfully!
  • Don’t overeat at the Expo: I did. All the tasty goodies to try and free stuff being given out. Another bite of a yummy bar – sure don’t mind if I do. But then oh – 30 minutes later after all those random snacks are mixing in my tummy and it did not feel good. Enjoy the expo, but don’t enjoy it too much with your tummy.
  • Getting a ride to the start is AWESOME! Our friend’s father was running Boston last year and his wife was driving him to the start. He offered us a ride and at first I declined. Being the paranoid planner that I am, I figured the standard race-issued ride to the start was the safest way to go. My friend convinced me to be a little daring for once and take the ride and it was the best decision ever. We got to sleep in a little  late, didn’t have to wait for hours in the runner’s village and got dropped off super close to the start. Do it if you can!
  • I’ve never been so cramped running – I mean as in having people around me at ALL times. All my other marathons have been pretty small – 2,000 runners or less – so the amount of runners kind of overwhelmed and terrified me.
  • I don’t really remember heartbreak hill. I know that sounds crazy, but I think after all my training on the Central Park hills and the fact that I had NO clue where I was in the race made that hill seem less than intimidating. I saw the sign that said I was over the hill before I even knew I hit it. I wish I was always so lucky when it comes to hills – I’m  not. But heartbreak really isn’t as bad as a lot of people make it out to be – so don’t worry yourself sick about it.
  • I DO remember the Wellesley girls and the deafening roar they made as I was coming around the corner to their section of the race. I was dumbfounded. It was the loudest thing EVER.
  • I wish I had written my name on my shirt. With all those spectators, you really can’t go wrong writing your name on your shirt. My friend had a shirt on with the name of her charity and literally EVERYONE kept cheering for her. I, however, did not hear a single “go girl with the pink shirt.” Names matter. I made sure I had my name on my shirt for my next marathon and it was pretty fun. You feel like you have so many friends. Or you’re a celebrity.
  • I ran with my phone. And it was weird. I wore a spibelt and I’m not quite sure how I was okay with that. I’m a less is more kind of person when it comes to running accoutrements. Most days I want to fling my water belt out the window. So how I managed to run 26.2 miles with a spibelt on that held not only my phone, but two Gus, I will never quite understand. I guess it’s a testament to how comfortable the spibelt is. Kudos spibelt – well done.
  • I ate two huge candy bars after the race. I guess this goes back to my last post and my sugar issues. Obviously this sugar thing has been going on for a while. I remember first housing a snickers bar and then I think it was a Twix. I didn’t even buy the candy bars. My friend had four candy bars for some reason and was kind enough to share them with my hungry eyes. Good planning Lauren – well done. She even convinced me that a snickers bar is like an energy bar because it has so much protein. She didn’t need to sell me – I was gonna eat it no matter what. 🙂

So those are just a few of my Boston memories. What about the course, you ask? Was it hard? Did I hurt? How did I do? I supposed the course was hard, the race was hard, I was in some pain, and I did okay. But for me, the Boston Marathon was so much more than that stuff. It’s an experience I cherished and so maybe I tend to remember random things from that day more than the actual course and race details. So what.

But of course, you can get all of the nitty gritty race details in my recap from last year if you’re really interested.  Happy Marathon Monday!!

Fabulous Weekend and Superbowl Win!

So yes, I know it’s already mid-week and this post is pretty late, but I’ve been a busy woman the past few days. How it is already the END of Wednesday is truly beyond me.

But anyway, last weekend after my long-ish run, the Hubby and I met up with some of this family who were in town. We checked out their fabulous room at the Waldorf Astoria, then walked to Central Park to check out the iceskating, and finally headed to P.J. Clarke’s for a relaxed quick bite to eat. I had a very delicious turkey burger and the tater tots. If you are ever at P.J. Clarke’s, the tater tots are a must. So good.

After dinner we walked just a few blocks downtown to O’Neill’s, an Irish pub that was having live Irish music playing. I enjoyed a Blue Moon and a Smithwicks, and we all had a really good time.

Here we are, I’m in the pink…

And suddenly it was Sunday and it was the Superbowl! Hubby and I decided we wanted to stay home this year and just have some appetizers and snacks while we watched the game.

We started with a fruit and veggie platter – yum!

And we also snacked on crackers and cheese with pepperoni.

And then for the main event – homemade nachos! I have a serious nacho obsession…

At first I had shrimp cocktail on our menu as well, but the store Hubby went to was all out of shrimp, so we scrapped that plan and we were both worried about having enough food. It was MORE than enough. We feasted.

And then just as suddenly it was Monday (don’t you hate how that happens) and it was back to the grind. And back to training. I was able to squeeze in 3.3 miles on Monday night outside, 5 miles last night outside, and 3 miles on the treadmill tonight at the gym. Somehow, I need to get in 5 miles tomorrow morning, which pretty much means I need to plan a very early morning run – it’s going to be painful. But, knock on wood, I’ve stuck to the training plan almost to the “T” this time around.

What about you – do you TRY to stick to your marathon training plans or really just use them for overall weekly mileage?

I like being able to log my numbers and see them match what was planned…or even exceed it…which is rare. And then again, it feels like every training session is different. Things one is feeling particularly hard – even though I’m managing to stick with it.

One new twist is that I’m going to start adding in Yoga! I got a LivingSocial deal at the Yoga place right down the block, so I hope to take two classes this weekend. I think I’ve taken only one yoga class in my life (more a Pilates gal), so it should be interesting. I will be that girl in the back who is completely lost and falls all over the place. At least I’ll be entertaining. 🙂

What about you? Yoga, pilates, hot yoga – do you take any of these classes? What’s your favorite?

Happy hump day!

And I’m (We’re) Back!!

Hello 2012, hello blog world! Wowza, I’ve been gone for a while. Okay, it’s quite obvious by now that I’m a fickle blogger. But something about starting to train for another marathon gets me back in blogger mode. I think it’s partially to help me stay on track, and also because I like being able to look back on all my training.

So as you may have already guessed, I’ve got another marathon coming up. If that wasn’t good news enough…my husband is also running it!! Hurray! This is going to be the best race ever.

Of course, I probably won’t spend more than 2-3 minutes actually running with him during the marathon because he’s so speedy. But at least we’ll get to run some training runs together, start together, and meet at the finish.

The Race
So what race are we running? The Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, Vermont.

It’s taking place on May 27, 2012 (Memorial Day Weekend). We’ve heard some really great things about this race, how scenic it is, generally flat, and overall lots of fun. We booked a hotel about a block from the start/finish, so hopefully the logistics will be easy and smooth.

Another great thing about this race is that my husband is raising money for a charity through his training efforts. He set up the whole charity page and all the details himself, and I’m really proud of his efforts. It will make running his first marathon even more special for him.

So, if anyone is looking for a spring marathon – you should sign up! We just completed our first official week of training. We are doing a 16-week training plan. Here’s what the first week looked like:

Monday: 3 miles on the treadmill
Tuesday: 4.5 miles outside in the morning (I know crazy!!)
Wednesday: 5 miles after work outside with Hubby
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 3 easy miles outside after work
Saturday: 9.25 miles in Central Park in 45-degree weather (nice!)
Sunday: Will be  a rest day
Total: 24.75 miles

Not too shabby for the first week. Hopefully I can stay on track for the next 15 weeks! Now it’s time to clean a bit, get a hair cut, download my next book club book (and maybe start it), and then hopefully have a nice date night with the Hubby tonight – dinner and movie! Hope you all have a great weekend and get out to enjoy the sun!

How to Run a Marathon When You’re Undertrained

Before I start, let me just say that I do NOT think you should purposely not train adequately for a marathon. In the ideal world, everyone should train appropriately and for weeks in preparation to run a marathon. But sometimes, as we all know, life gets in the way and training gets bumped to the side.

So with that initial disclaimer out of the way, now I will tell you how I was able to run a marathon injury-free without a lot of training – in the hope that it may help someone else if he/she ever faces a similar predicament. Again – I’m not encouraging you approach running a marathon in this manner. Just saying, worst case scenario, here are some things that helped ME. These tips may not work for everyone, but I think they helped me finish my fourth race in one piece.

Here we go with my tips for the undertrained:

  • Run Consistently: Even if you can’t manage to stick to your training plan in the least and it’s pretty much a joke to reference it at all, you should still try to run as much as possible. My schedule wouldn’t allow me to run 40-50 miles a week, but there were definitely a few weeks in the 30 mile range. Basic idea – even if you can’t train to the level you want, you should be running. I would NEVER encourage someone who hadn’t been running at ALL to try a marathon. You need a base. My base was 240 miles.
  • Get in Some Long Runs: So for this marathon, my longest “long” run was only 16 miles. That’s not long at all. For my last marathon, I ran a 20 miler and 22 miles. But I did get in a few long runs this time around: 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 miles – that was the extent of my long runs. But imagine if I hadn’t at least run those?!! Get in as many as you can. That’s the basic point here.
  • Eat Well: Even though I hadn’t been running a TON over the past four months, I can say that I’ve been eating very healthy. I was probably watching my foods even more BECAUSE I wasn’t running. I knew that if my activity level went down, my weight could go up. So I was careful not to overeat, and to be sure that most of what I was eating was natural, not highly processed, lower in fat, etc. All that good stuff. I don’t care what people say – what you eat DOES matter when marathoning. I went into this marathon at a good weight, and knowing that I had nutrition on my side.
  • HYDRATE: I took hydration to a new level with this race. Early in the week before, I was sipping on coconut water and hydrating like CRAZY. Then a day before the race, I started using nuun tablets in my water for an extra boost of hydration and electrolytes. I also took a nuun tablet in my water the morning of the race. Hydration was never an issue for me during this race.
  • Go Slow & Take Breaks: I fully admit that I am that girl that busts out from the starting line at full speed, fueled by adrenaline and excitement, feeling invincible and ready to eat the marathon for breakfast. This time around, I was NOT that girl. I knew I needed to start off slow. And while my first few miles were still a little faster than what I had intended, they weren’t insane. They were manageable. And I continued to keep it slow. And then finally, when things got really tough at the end, I walked. It was a first for me, but my main concern was to finish the race and finish it injury free. I knew that walking would help get me there. Slow and steady and breaks when necessary. That is perhaps my best advice to someone feeling under-trained.
  • Don’t Stress: Lastly, try not to stress yourself out (and potentially psych yourself out) before the race. Yes, so you’re not as trained as you’d like. Well there really isn’t much you can do about it now. So if you’ve made the decision to run the race, then don’t second guess it or freak yourself out. Remind yourself that if things get really bad, you always have the option to stop completely. A DNF is not the worst thing in the world – your health is certainly more important. Stay calm, keep your head in a good place and just run it as best you can.

 

 YAY happy finish photo! And then after you’ve finished the marathon (undertrained perhaps), my final piece of advice is to foam roll, stretch and rehydrate like crazy!! After doing that, I was pleasantly surprised to not feel that sore the next day.

And that’s it. Those are my fairly obvious and not-so-groundbreaking tips to help someone undertrained run and finish a marathon injury-free.

What about you? Have you ever run a race with fewer miles logged than you would have liked? What was your secret for survival?

 

 

2011 Mohawk Hudson River Marathon Race Recap

Well, I did it! I ran my 4th marathon on Sunday, October 9 in Schenectady/Albany, NY. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was pretty nervous about this race because I was admittedly under-trained.  I had run about 240 miles in training and my longest run was 16 miles. I had good reason to be nervous.

Things that were in my favor: I ran the Boston Marathon in April, so I hoped some training maintenance had carried over; I’ve been running pretty consistently; I’ve had a bunch of long runs recently; and I have been eating very well over the past few months.

But don’t get me wrong, I know this wasn’t a smart decision. If I didn’t think I was in decent enough shape to do it, I would have bowed out. But deep down, I just knew I’d be all right.

I woke up the morning of the race a few minutes before my alarm with a nervous stomach. Not unusual for me. I got up, ate a giant bowl of oatmeal, had a cup of coffee, and then started hydrating. I tried nuun for the first time for this race and I’ll write a separate post about that.

I ran this race with my friend Lauren – we ran this race together back 2009 as well – my very first marathon. We headed to the start around 7:45 and immediately got in the bathroom line. We took the requisite pre-race photo…

Then we headed to the start, chatted with a few people we knew, and then we were off! It was a very quick start.

Our goal was to keep our pace pretty easy and consistent in the beginning. The adrenaline and the crowd tend to tempt me to pick up my pace. And I knew that especially in this race, with not much training, that could not happen. Our first few miles were still a little faster than we intended:

Mile 1 – 8:47
Mile 2 – 8:37
Mile 3 – 8:30
Mile 4 – 8:34

My parents were around the 4 mile mark cheering and taking some photos. At this spot, they only really got our backs…

We look like we were chatting away. At this point, we both felt great. And as we should, it was the first few miles. We had a gorgeous day for our race, but maybe a little too gorgeous. The beginning temps were perfect, but as the race went on, it got a little bit hot.

We began to try to slow things down after about mile 5:

Mile 5 – 8:32
Mile 6 – 8:50
Mile 7 – 8:51
Mile 8 – 9:01

When we hit our 9 minute mile, I decided that this pace seemed somewhat sustainable and I wanted to try to keep it there for a bit. I was starting to feel a tightness in my left foot and I worried that anything faster would start to take its toll on my body. We also started taking either water or Gatorade at every stop – which was every 2 miles.

Mile 9 – 9:03
Mile 10 – 9:13

A little bit after mile 10, I took my first Gu at the water stop there. I decided to take it around 10 and 20. My body was needing it at the 10 mile mark and I prayed that the caffeine would kick in quick. From mile 10.5 – about 13 we had a few uphills, and it was starting to get hot.

Mile 11 – 9:43
Mile 12 – 9:41
Mile 13 – 9:52

A little bit after mile 13 we saw my parents again, cheering with a big crowd. My mom snapped a few pictures.

We look so cheery! But I think at this point, we were both really feeling a little weary. We knew we were only halfway with a lot more running to go. We said hello and goodbye to my parents and trudged on. We saw Lauren’s whole family at mile 14 and she decided to stop and stretch a bit. She told me to keep moving.

Mile 14 – 9:33
Mile 15 – 9:03

Just after leaving Lauren and around mile 15, I had to deal with the two most annoying marathon runners. The first was a woman who decided to stop and “turn around because she started out way too fast” and apparently had some issues. She turned around to run with (and to my mind torment) two apparent colleagues. How did she torment them (and everyone around her)? By singing screaming  songs on her iPod and random cheers/jeers every 10 seconds. Literally, she did not stop. She was trying to “pump up” these two guys, but really she was just utterly obnoxious. A huge part of me wanted to tell her to shut up, but my better judgement prevailed. However, I passed two other runners who said I should do it because they had wanted to tell her to zip for a while as well.

Thankfully, I was able to pass the obnoxious girl in about a mile or two and get out of earshot, so I didn’t want to rip my hair out. I made it to 16 and then saw my parents again at 17.

Mile 16 – 9:04
Mile 17 – 9:02

I was actually feeling pretty good still… even though the photo makes it seem otherwise. Just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the pain to set in. Oh and I said there were TWO annoying runners. Well, the second was really a group of runners. There was an Asian team of runners, whose apparent Captain seemingly kept them all “motivated” by randomly screaming “WHooo HAA, Whhhoo HAA” in an extremely loud voice. The first time he did this, I thought it was a signal that they wanted to pass so I got nervous and moved over. But no, just randomly every few minutes this guy did this and scared the beejesus out of me. The obnoxious woman and the Whoo-Ha crew actually overlapped their stay in my run for about a mile, and I thought for sure I was being punished for something. Looking back, now I think it was the motivation I needed to keep up my pace and pull away from them. I ditched Screaming Lady and the Who-Ha Crew and trudged on.

Mile 18 – 9:00
Mile 19 – 8:57

After mile 18, we moved onto the main road in Watervliet and it was HOT! No shade, running on the streets with traffic, inhaling some awesome exhaust. My parents were there around just before mile 20, and they said they could tell I was totally faking my smile this time around.

Yeah, I was starting to feel the pain. I’ve got my Gu in my hand here, ready to throw it back at the next water stop, which came just after this photo was taken. I downed my Gu and tried to keep my pace up, but it became tough. By the time  I hit mile 21, I was running smack into “The Wall.”

Mile 20 – 9:24
Mile 21 – 9:38
Mile 22 – 9:58

I told myself I needed to make it to the water stop at mile 23 and then I would do something I’ve NEVER done in a race before – I would walk. Desperate times people, desperate times. I know myself. I know my body. And I knew that walking may not be a helpful thing for me because I may NEVER start running again.

I grabbed a water and Gatorade at 23 and started walking. It was a strange new experience, and I fully admit I felt embarrassed. I didn’t want to walk. I wanted to run. But I just couldn’t. I hadn’t trained hard, I needed a break. And I knew I needed to do this to be able to finish at all. But it also HURT. Walking isn’t an immediate relief. It’s just a new kind of pain – maybe a little less intense – but still pretty awful. After about 1/4 of a mile, I tried to start running again, and OH LORD, that was pain.

I managed to get moving and told myself I was allowed ONE MORE walk break.

Mile 23 – 9:58
Mile 24 – 10:53

I decided to take my next break around mile 24.4. This time around, I was prepared for the pain, but again not the embarrassment and even anger I felt at myself. I know people walk in marathons. I’ve run a few, I see it happen. But I didn’t want to do it.

As I was mulling over my guilt, one of the guys handing out water said: “Great job guys. Remember, it’s totally fine to take a break right now. You just have to look good from mile 25 to the end.” I wanted to hug him. I knew he was right. I knew that in the thick of this race, out on the bike path with no spectators, it was completely my time to deal with my pain however I needed. I had every right to walk or even stop if I needed to.

I walked for a little bit longer and then decided around 24.75 I wanted to start-up again.

Mile 25 –  11:43

I started running again at mile 25 and decided that was it. I was going all the way to the end running. I had to force myself not to check my Garmin because it felt like it was taking forever. But finally, I could feel the end and knew I’d see it soon. I tried to pick up my pace and push harder.

As I rounded the last .2 miles, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief very close. And every time this happens in a marathon I want to cry. So as I passed the family and friends lining the final .1 of a mile, I fought back my tears and tried to smile. And then I was crossing the finish!!

Mile 26 – 9:40
.25 – 2:10

Final Time: 4:04:59

It was my slowest marathon so far, but I didn’t care in the least. I wasn’t fully prepared and was happy to just finish it without any injuries. Not every race is going to be your best, and not every race will allow you to prepare like you want. But I was extremely proud of my will to power through the pain and finish strong.

And I can NOT say enough thank yous to my family and friends cheering during this race. My parents were literally everywhere, and even at mile 20 when I didn’t want anymore photos and could barely crack a smile, I was still so happy to see them.

And that’s all folks – my fourth marathon is done! Hurray! 🙂