Hi! How are you? Me, I’m so great! I can’t believe I finished the marathon! It was a challenge and did not go quite as I expected, but I did really well despite obstacles. More on that in this post.
Leading up to race day
I shared a lot about it but two weeks before the race I got sick. Like, really sick. Like, go the doctor and “give it to me straight doc, am I going to be able to recover and run a marathon in two weeks?” sick. Obviously, the answer was yes as long as I continued to improve, but an entire missed week of activity including a 15 mile long run really threw me off. Other than that snafu, my training was so good all summer and I had no idea what I could do on race day.
I ate a lot of carbs the week before the race. Like, an “I’m over this” amount of carbs. But parts of it were fun while they lasted. 🤤
Oh yeah and I ran a little. Very little. I got a massage too 😉
I would have liked to have run more the week of the race but I had an offsite work meeting as well as an opportunity to meet with my friends from my old job through the week and decided to just do what I could and quit beating myself up. It’s hard for me to remember that tapering isn’t like cramming for a test. It is about giving your body time to rest from the work you put in.
On Friday after work I picked up my bib and had dinner with Mr. Ftof. He works Saturdays DJing weddings so it was good to go to Sports basement together and get my stuff. They were offering a discount to runners if you showed your bib, so we made a dent in our bank accounts. Then he bought me an ice cream cone because he’s the best.
Saturday morning I ran a few miles, ate pancakes with Mr. ftof and then headed back to the expo. I had offered to work the California International Marathon booth at the expo because I had so much fun doing it last year! I’m not an ambassador again this year (I’ll be running though!) but I really like working expos and events like that. It’s fun to talk to other runners.
I had a late lunch with a friend, did laundry, laid out my clothes, did my fancy nails and got in bed around seven and read Deena Kastor’s book for a while before going to bed. 4:30 was gonna come early.
4:30 came and I hit snooze but eventually rolled out of bed. After a quick shower, I got dressed, grabbed my hydration pack (which I had filled the day before with water and fuel), ate a clif bar and left the house. I know many people talk about the value of what you eat race morning and let me tell you- I just can’t stomach anything. I’ve tried. I have been lucky so far to fuel up enough the day before that a clif bar is enough because I still have so much food in my tank. One day that may not be the case but it’s been ok so far.
My husband dropped me off at the start area around 5:30. The race started at 6:30, so it gave me time to use the bathroom (3 times), and write on my arm. These little messages during races have helped me a lot this year. I found a sharpie at bag check and the lady let me use it.
Race day weather was perfect. The forecast said about 50’s to start and 71ish around that time I expected to finish. Last year (I ran the half) I think it got to the 90’s or maybe even the 100’s and the year before (when I ran the marathon), was hot too. We were lucky this year.
At 6:20 I went over to the start area and we were off right around 6:30. I was in corral 3 but they started all corrals at the same time.
The announcer said there were 1,300 runners. There definitely were not. There may have been that many registered but that many did not come out.
The first few miles I was keeping pace with a nice man who told me it was his 115th marathon. He said he used to run them but after back surgery he walks them now but still loves them. He asked if it was my first marathon and I said it wasn’t, and we compared notes on some races. Eventually he broke off from me but it was really nice to talk to someone.
At one point this group of people whizzed by me. Apparently they showed up at 6:50 to the race start and the timing people let them start, so they ran by real fast. I was wondering where the heck they had come from!
Around mile 7-8 (don’t recall exactly), the marathon was going west and the half marathon runners were coming east. It was so cool to see that many fast runners in action but what was even cooler was how many of them high fived me and cheered me on. I’m not particularly sensitive to my slower pace, though sometimes I do find that moment of intimidation when I see others who are just so fast. It was really a heart warming few miles for me. At one point a man called me out by name but there were so many people I couldn’t tell who it was. (If that was you, thanks!). On that path I saw the first place marathon runner with the lead bike. He was already over 20 miles in. I couldn’t even imagine running that fast!
Once you hit about mile 8, you get off the trail where my cows are and hit the road. There, I saw more marathon runners coming in. Such a treat to see those fast runners! Many looked very serious but some high fived and cheered me on. Makes me feel like I’m part of the community when that happens.
As I hit an intersection, I saw a family friend of mine from my young days and high school who was on patrol duty who I didn’t know would be working. It was cool to see someone I knew out there!
Around mile 10 I made it into DeLoach Vineyards. This is one of my favorite parts of the race because you run through the barrel room. I took one of my favorite race day photos with the race photographer there the first time I ran the marathon and tried to recreate it. I hope it turns out. As I ran past he told me “you have the best smile of the day!”, which was one of my favorite boosts I got during the race.
As you head out of the winery they offer you Chardonnay. No thanks! I had a long morning ahead of me 🤣.
Miles 10-14 were a bit of a blur with the exception of hitting the 13.1 mile mark and realizing I still had another 13.1 to go.
Around mile 14 my feet really started to hurt. Like, hurt to the point of me panicking and thinking I had a stress fracture. After getting out of my own head I realized I likely had really bad blisters. I stopped at the medic tent around mile 15 and they gave me some bandaids which helped immensely. From there I took off and felt okay for a while.
Around mile 19 I could feel I needed to stop again. I stopped at the medic tent at the aid station and added some Vaseline to my feet. The bandaids had come off. That helped for a while, until I hit about like 21 and stopped again for new bandaids.
Between that time I hit mile 20, which was magical.
In a delirium I saw a person sitting with a sign for someone. I didn’t make eye contact because I felt awkward… until I realized it was my husband!!! He made the best sign. I cried, gave him a smooch and didn’t linger because I had miles to run.
I was losing the steam to keep my run walk intervals but I knew if I did I would finish faster so I tried to push through the struggle. I was slower but it was good to keep routine.
I was struggling at mile 23. I was ready to be done but I knew giving up was not an option. At like 24 I saw a photographer and thought “who puts a photographer here!!!!” Then, a magical moment happened when I least expected it.
Mile 25!!!!!! I was almost done!
So I pushed and pushed and pushed and finally I hit about mile 26 I hit downtown. And as I rounded the corner I saw them taking down the street closures and panicked. I shouted to the volunteer I WANT TO FINISH NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. HOW DO I GET TO THE FINISH???? After receiving guidance and being told the finish was still open as long as I stayed on the sidewalk, my fire was lit and I had to finish.
On the journey to the finish line I saw someone who had finished who was cheering so loudly for me and pointing me in the right direction. As I turned left onto 4th Street I saw the finish line. Everyone who was spectating was gone, the crowd was sparse but I was determined. And as I neared the finish line it took everything in me not to choke and start crying then, but I had to hold it together until I was finished. As I approached the finish line, the announcer said my name, saying I was a Blogger and runner extraordinaire and that Coach Patrick had sent me a good job 😊. And as soon as I crossed the finish line the photographer took a photo, I stopped my watch and I cried to her. And then I got my medal, and cried some more. And many marathon runners who were still there who said such nice things to me. It was a surge of pride that was well earned and well deserved.
The race results gave me a finish time of 6:45, however I stopped my Garmin at the three medical tents I stopped at and it said my moving time was 6:34! That was a seven minute improvement over CIM (6:41). If I hadn’t had such issues with my feet I would have been interested to see what really would have happened. I think my feet were messed up because I got a pedicure too close to race day so my feet weren’t callused, and I had a new pair of socks on. That combo did not end well.
Unfortunately because I took so long to finish, I didn’t get free pancakes, but it was okay because Mr. ftof got me In N Out Burger 🍔
Which I ate in about seven bites.
Overall, I would have liked to have seen a better finish time because I was capable of it, but that’s the way races go. I’m fired up and proud and ready to crush some training runs for CIM, after today’s experience. Cheers to 26.2 number three!