Sunday, February 20, 2011

Livestrong Austin Marathon Race Recap

I’m not even sure where to begin on recapping this marathon.  This is going to be a long one.  What an experience—one I am VERY proud of. 

I went to bed last night shortly after 9:00 pm so the 4:00 am wakeup wasn’t so bad.  I had been tossing and turning since about 1:00 am so I was ready to get up anyway.  As soon as I got up my belly wasn’t being kind.  Unfortunately, when I’m nervous my belly hurts.  I forced myself to eat a peanut butter sandwich and sip on some Gatorade, but it didn’t sit well. 

Julie and I planned to take a taxi down to the marathon start.  He arrived shortly after 5:00 am while it was still pitch dark outside.  My nerves were basically out of control and I felt bad for being very quiet.  The drive to the state capital was 24 miles (less than the marathon) and took about 40 minutes.  WE WERE EARLY!

capital sdt

capital jkh

We hung out and hit the porta potties two times and then took a “long” walk to line up with the 5:00 hour pace group.  20 minutes before the race Julie started mentioning that she thought she could use the bathroom again.  I was having the same urge but didn’t think we could make it back to the start in time.  With just 12 minutes until the start, we decided to go back to the porta potties.  We were lined up to use the bathroom when the race started.  That made me very anxious, but I knew my time wouldn’t start until I crossed the start mat.  It turns out the 5:00 hour pace group didn’t cross the mat for almost 20 minutes after the official start.  I decided to start just ahead of the 5:00 hour pace group in hopes that I could keep them behind me at all times.

As soon as I crossed the mat I set off to establish a “comfortable” pace.  Turns out that comfortable pace was about 10:20.  I had to force myself to not go out too fast.  I IMMEDIATELY backed down to an 11:00 minute mile.  My goal was to maintain between an 11:00 minute and 11:30 minute mile the whole time.  I had to average an 11:26 minute mile to hit my goal of 4:59:59. 

I will tell you the first 6 miles were bad.  I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t feel good.  I will say, however, that the 6 miles did go by quickly.  I couldn’t believe I was an hour into it.  I also couldn’t believe I had 4 more to go.  I tried to push that to the back of my mind.  All of a sudden around mile 6 (3 miles after my first Gu) I started to just “feel it”.   I felt good, my breathing was good and I just let my pace go.  I averaged about a 10:45 mile for the next 2 miles.  I knew it was faster than I wanted to go, but at that pace I was still holding back so I decided to go with it. 

sdt mile 6

Around mile 8 my left foot decided to fall asleep, mostly in the toe “region”, and it would stay that way for the duration of the race.  It was pretty frustrating but I didn’t know what I could do about it.  I knew I hadn’t tied my shoes too tight so I really don’t know what was going on. 

I honestly don’t remember much about about miles 8 through 15.   I think I was in a decent groove feeling pretty well and trying not to think of all the miles ahead.  I think I might have blocked this portion out because it was the hilliest.  There were hills EVERYWHERE.  I thought I left Pennsylvania and the hills, but apparently Austin brings out the hills for the marathon.  OMG!   I was proud of the way I tackled the hills. I thought of my friend Tracey who always says to tackle them hard and that’s what I did.  Instead of allowing my pace to slow I actually sped up for every hill and enjoyed the “coast” back down.  I was now over two and a half hours into it and it was hard to wrap my head around two and a half hours more. 

Around this time I started to feel bad.  REALLY BAD!  I had told myself I would save my Gu until mile 18, but I started feeling light headed.  My pace was slowly slipping into the 12:00 minute mile range.  I was hitting a wall way earlier than I thought I would.  My dreams of a sub 5:00 marathon were slipping through my fingers.  I knew I would have to Gu leaving only one Gu for miles 15 through 26.    I figured I would just deal with the issues later, well later, and fix RIGHT NOW.  At mile 16 I saw an angel in the form of a guy handing out Honey Stinger Gels.  I took the gel and tucked it away, now confident with 2 more gels-- I had enough “energy” to get me through. 

At mile 18 I really had the urge to walk.  I wanted to walk, but I knew that would just snowball into a walk/run for the rest of the marathon.  I told myself if I still felt bad at mile 20 I would allow myself to adopt a walk/run method.  I would NOT walk before mile 20. 

I decided right then to take that Honey Stinger and I don’t know what the heck was in there, but it was liquid goodness.  By mile 20 where I feared hitting the proverbial wall (like everyone had warned me) I was feeling tired but pretty fantastic.  My pace was falling below 11:00 minute miles and my dreams of a sub 5:00 were back within reach. 

I’m not going to say the last 6 miles were easy, but they were definitely easier than the previous 6.  In fact at mile 21 my foot started to hurt so badly. I knew I was probably forming a blister the whole time and felt like it probably popped at mile 21.  I just pushed it to the back of my mind knowing a marathon is going to hurt.  Despite my physical condition, I felt so confident those last 6 miles.  It turns out a I had a blister that did, in fact, pop AND a lovely blood blister too. It’s rather gross. I’ll spare you any pics. 

To my credit, I think I started off at a consistent pace and stuck with it.  I had a plan and didn’t deviate too far from it.  From mile 10 to mile 26.2 I passed 900 people.  YES 900!!!!  I knew I was passing so many people, but it wasn’t until I read my overall place at mile 10 versus mile 26 that I realized I had passed that many.  Slow and steady definitely paid off.   

I was so excited from miles 20 to 26.  I just knew there was nothing that was going to stop me from meeting my goal.  I just had to maintain an 11:26 or better and I would make it.  Even though I was feeling well, the time went by so slowly.  I was so anxious to get there and get it finished.  Right at the 26 mile marker there was a hill.  I climbed it as quickly as I could and as I did I was welling up with tears.  It was so emotional coming this far, overcoming so much and making it 26 miles. 

I popped out my earbuds and started looking for George and the kids, but I never saw them even though I was looking right at them.  That is so frustrating, but I’m glad they got to see mommy finish her first marathon!

finishfinish2finish3finish4finish5

finish6finish eet wntfinish eetfinish jtt2

finish kids

I crossed the finish line in 4:58:19.  I had done it with a little time to spare.  The journey to my marathon was a very emotional one.  I have endured so much since my accident in June.  There were times I didn’t think this was going to be possible.  I am over the moon about my marathon experience and know this marathon is one I won’t soon forget.   You always remember your first and I know this one will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Thank you Livestrong Austin Marathon! 

24 comments:

Tracey said...

I cried as I looked at the pictures of you finishing. How great you must have felt at that moment. You are just awesome. That's all I can say.

Anonymous said...

OH Susan, you are a wonderful role model for your children. You said you would do it and you did. What a woman you are!! xoxoxo G.

Anonymous said...

Yeah!!!!!
BTW - made me cry too.

xoxo

Angie F. said...

Crying here too... SO PROUD OF YOU and FOR YOU!!! You almost make me want to give running another try. I better stew on that one for awhile. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

XOXO Angie

P.S. Please show us the pics of your jacked up feet!!!

A-Nik said...

More tears here! What a wonderful day for you! Your kids have no idea what you have accomplished today, but when they are older they surely will. I'm so proud of you, your determination, and mental and physical strength. That was just awesome. Love you!
PS - George and kids need some really big obnoxious flag to wave at the finish line so you don't miss them. Like...maybe a Pitt Panthers flag! ; )

Tyly said...

I loooove this recap!!! I got goosebumps reading it, and I love the pictures of you at the end. What a wonderful story!

Timothy Diersing said...

Fantastic writing. I didn't cry but am proud of you. Love the pic of you with your arms raised near the finish line. And I cannot BELIEVE you went to the porta potty with time running so close....!!!!

K cubed said...

I am not even a runner and I am getting teary eyed. congrats. Quite an accomplishment

Ron said...

So proud of my friend from Sam's Club, the girl I teased for her pink bike! I'm with tim, the victory picture of you with your arms up sums up the whole journey!

Whats next? :)

Sarah Schade said...

Way to go Susan! I had tears too....what an awesome accomplishment!! Awesome photos and be proud of that blister!! Congratulations!

the hoppe pad said...

You are freakin' awesome! You inspire me! Congrats!! Loved the recap too...it made me smile!

Shannon said...

GREAT JOB!!! You did it, girl!!!!!!!!

Reese's Runner said...

Awesome job!!! Those first 6 miles sucked for me too!! That is great! Congrats in getting it under 5 that is AWESOME!

Angie Sell said...

Totally crying, too!! You are an inspiration, Susan! I am so nervous about doing my first mini in May, but you give me confidence!!

Amanda @ Diary of a Mad Fat Woman said...

Congratulations! You are such an inspiration to me! I am recovering from stress fractures in my shins, and gearing up to run my first 5k since I was injured, and reading your blog just makes me feel like its something I can do again... and makes me want to push for a 10k and a half marathon within the next year! Thanks so much!

Tri4Success said...

Congrats on your marathon! Great race recap too. You made the right decision to take care of "right now" at mile 15. And yes, Austin has hills. I do the Livestrong Challenge (5k Saturday, bike rally Sunday) there each October. It's a great event as well.

Victoria said...

Found you through the Bling challenge. I love your recap! It made me tear up. what a wonderful accomplishment. congratulations!!

Jan said...

Hi Susan! I came via the Bling Challenge also. I love your race report! What a fantastic experience. Congrats a 1000 times over!

Christine said...

Congratulations!!!! This is a HUGE accomplishment, you should be proud of! :)

Christine said...

Congratulations!!!! This is a HUGE accomplishment, you should be proud of! :)

Angie Sell said...

Totally crying, too!! You are an inspiration, Susan! I am so nervous about doing my first mini in May, but you give me confidence!!

Sarah Schade said...

Way to go Susan! I had tears too....what an awesome accomplishment!! Awesome photos and be proud of that blister!! Congratulations!

Timothy Diersing said...

Fantastic writing. I didn't cry but am proud of you. Love the pic of you with your arms raised near the finish line. And I cannot BELIEVE you went to the porta potty with time running so close....!!!!

Running Mama said...

Just read your race recap and belated congratulations. I got a little teary eyed reading it- thanks!

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