26.56 miles (that's what Minnie said) - Avg. pace = 11:49
OMG you guys, it was SO many things...exciting, amazing, exhilarating, excruciating, painful, emotional, inspiring..everything all at once.
The weather couldn't have been more perfect. We started out at about 35 degrees and it slowly warmed up to 68-70ish by the end of the race. Low winds, no rain...just great weather.
And there were a TON of people there. Initially they said 30,000 people - 20,000 for the half and 10,000 for the full. The final tally was closer to 25,000, but let me tell you: there were a LOT of people running.
My brother dropped Sarah and I off at the start drop off and we walked to the start area about 1/2 a mile away. We managed to find our corrals and were anxiously waiting for the national anthem and that beloved start gun. We waited...and waited...and waited...and waited.... They delayed the race by about 15 minutes. Ack! It's freezing here people! Apparently the parking offsite and shuttle service was a complete fiasco and people were waiting an hour for a shuttle bus. So, they delayed the race a little. It did give me a chance to talk to several people in my corral (the super slow one..) There were two people from Ohio who do these races all the time - they're race walkers (AGAIN - the SLOW corral). One girl was actually running IN HER SOCKS! I wish I had gotten a picture of her. I couldn't believe it! Finally we sing the national anthem and one girl next to me starts tearing up over the emotions of the moment. I teared up with her. The mayor of San Antonio comes on and drowns on similar to Charlie Brown's teacher.."wah, wah-wah, waaah, wah-wah, waaahhh...." I mean no disrespect, but seriously we are now 20 minutes late and did I mention, IT'S FREEZING OUT HERE!
BANG!!! The start gun goes off and they start releasing corrals. I'm not sure what the timing was to realse each corral, but I was in corral 20. I didn't reach the start line until 8:15. The race was supposed to start at 7:30. The first half of the race is run through downtown San Antonio. It was good in that it was flat and very scenic. We ran by the Alamo, my niece's school, my sis-in-law's work, and several beautiful neighborhoods. It was bad in that the streets were narrow and uneven - we ran on several brick roads.
Narrow streets, a slow corral and 25,000 runners are not a good combination. My strategy was to pace around 10:30 to 10:45 for the first 13 and then around 11:30 t0 12:00 for the second half to get me in under 5:00. Starting out in that slow corral, I really got boxed in with much slower runners on the narrow streets and could not weave my way around. Plus I had to stop at mile 3 and pee (too much water and coffee!) and then I stopped at mile 9 to hand off clothes and exchange goo with my family. With all this I averaged 11:17 for my first 13 - not really where I wanted to be.
I thought I might could make up a little time on the back 13 and try to keep a consistent pace of 11:30. Umm....WRONG. Whoever said that this course was "relatively flat" should be taken out back, drawn and quartered and then shot. It was NOT flat. There were rolling hills the whole back 13. My quads were burning.
At mile 15ish I saw Sarah. She was truly amazing. Seriously. She's been dealing with an injury that she suffered early in training. She decided to just rest and try her best with this marathon since she already registered. Let me tell you guys - she blew me away. I would have stopped at the half and have been done with it. Not her - she pushed through and completed the whole thing - not having trained for several weeks. She earned every step of that medal.
About mile 18 is when it started hurting. About mile 20 is when it really started hurting. About mile 22 is when I lost all feeling in my left big toe. :) I realized then that there was no way I could come in under 5:00. So, I shot for 5:15.
Shockingly my knees were fine. It was my quads and toes that were killing me. But mentally I just kept telling myself to relax and push through. Physically my body could do this. "Ignore what the brain is telling you and push through." At mile 22 I called Jeff to let him know that I was about 45 - 50 minutes out. I almost broke down in tears hearing his voice. He was so awesome. "You can do it baby!" he shouted over the phone. "We'll be waiting for you at the finish". Let me tell you, it makes such a HUGE difference to have friends and family there. When I saw them at mile 9, I was on a high for the next four miles. And just hearing his voice really helped me push through to the end.
One GREAT sign toward the end was a homemade poster that read "It's painful up to a point and then it doesn't hurt any worse." I don't know - that just made me giggle and realize that I could conquer the pain.
At 25.5 miles we turned back onto Durango and I could see the Alamodome. I'm ALMOST there. I was determined to run that last mile in. I looked at Minnie and she read 26.2 miles....where the HELL is that finish line??? 26.3 miles...still no finish line. 26.4 miles...WTF?? We turned the corner and had to run up this RAMP with a nice steep grade and around the corner to the finish line. You have GOT TO BE &*%$ing kidding me! Then I saw my family all cheering me on and screaming for me. I ran (OK - jogged - my legs were jelly) it in and finished! That medal felt so AWESOME on my neck.
Now today - two days later, I'm still pretty stiff and sore. Again - it's just my quads. My knees are fine, my ankles are fine and my hamstrings are fine. But my quad muscles are screaming at me. So, I'm hobbling around and thank the LORD I get to work from home today.
Funny thing, now Jeff has the running bug. He saw the heavy medal series at the Expo and he REALLY wants the Super 6 one now. So, he wants to start training for the Phoenix half! Sweet. Even cuter thing, my niece (who is 8) has a weekend update every Monday at school where they get to tell the class about something interesting they did that weekend. She wanted to tell her class that her aunt ran the marathon and that she saw the race and that she was so proud of me. When my sister-in-law told me that, my heart completely melted.
Will I do another marathon? Probably - but no time soon. Maybe next year. It was an awesome experience and now I know what to expect and how to train for the next one. But my body needs a bit of a rest. Would I do this marathon again? Umm..probably not. I would do the half in a heart beat, but not the full.
Race summary for San Antonio:
- Narrow streets - I won't start in such a slow corral next time
- Uneven streets
- Rolling hills in the back 13 - not terrible, but definitely not a flat course
- The back 13 was a bit isolated - not many spectators there because it's hard to get to.
- Commemorative race gear was EXPENSIVE! Seriously - $40 for a t-shirt? Seriously?
- Start and finish line organization was a bit off, but I'll give them some slack because it was the first one.
- RUDE runners and walkers on the course. People were pushing and shoving and tripping and there were blocks of walkers in the middle of the road...I could go on and on.
- Maybe I'm a medal snob, but I think the marathon medal should be bigger than the half medal. Again - just my opinion, but we worked twice as hard, so it just should be bigger! (ha - I know...size shouldn't matter, but it DOES!)
- The Expo was big and had plently of vendors
- There were tons of water stations, fuel stations and medical aid stations.
- Very scenic course, there's a lot to see - especially in the first 13 miles.
- The sheer number of people made the start exhilarating
- Even though they were the SAME SIZE, the medals were pretty cool.
I have a ton of pictures that I have to download off of two cameras. So, once I recover a bit, I'll work on posting those. I'm now going to hobble over to the kitchen to get myself some more coffee.
Today I LOVE: that I got to meet Sarah and Ryan - two and the sweetest, funest people on the planet!
Today I LOVE, LOVE: that I got to spend time with my family and that they cheered me on for the race.
Today I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE: The awesome feeling of accomplishment that comes with finishing your first marathon!