The Marathon Experience – by the Mile

As today marked another Boston Marathon, my mind of course has been preoccupied with dreams of someday qualifying for the race, as well as flooded with memories with my own experience with the marathon distance.  Even though it’s been almost 3 months since I conquered the big 26.2, I still remember the entire day pretty vividly!  This is literally what was going through my head for the entire race, so get ready for the most self absorbed post ever.  Here’s a little glimpse into what my day looked like (yes I bought the professional pictures because, first marathon) –

Mile 1-2: Holy crap balls it is cold, I am so glad I have this $6 fleece jacket from Goodwill – who decided for it to be the coldest Miami Marathon weekend in the race’s history for the year I ran?  As I’m running around the first curve to begin the ascent over the first bridge of the race, I see the roads lined with men who started ahead of me, relieving themselves… I am shocked!  Not because they were peeing in public, but because we were in the first mile of the race – how can they have to pee already?  This confused me to no end, #rookie.

Mile 3-4: Hallelujah I am warm!  Let me give my jacket away at the next donation table.  I am so charitable.  And warm.

Mile 5 : Uh oh, now I have to pee.  Those stupid peeing on the road guys totally messed with my head.

Mile 6: Crap – I really have to pee, but let me not think about it.  Let me think about how amazing it is that I’m running a marathon! A dream come true!  And the sun is coming up, so beautiful.  So many cruise ships, so pretty.  How is it that I live here?  So much gratitude.

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Mile 7: Still have to pee.  This is not good and not going to last another 20 miles.  Pace is already slowing.

Mile 8: Decide that waiting on the next porta potty line is worth the time with another 18 to go.  In and out.

Mile 9: That stop was the best decision I made during the entire race.  I got my groove back right away and made up for lost time.  A bit too quickly I would come to find later… but at the time I was so thrilled to be on pace for well under a sub4 hour race .

Mile 10-13 – Wait a second, why are all of the runners around me wearing orange (half marathon) bibs.  I should’ve paid more attention to the course map.  Shouldn’t the half course have turned by now?  I am going to get lost during my first marathon.  This is my first high school cross country race all over again.  These 3 miles completely took my confidence and good mental state away from the entire race.  There was a lot of turning around and walking backwards to look at the bibs.  All I saw was orange (full marathon had blue).  All I could think about is my family at the finish line that would never see me get there, because I was lost.  Just as I was starting to break down I see the breakoff point for the half runners.  THANK GOD.

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Miles 14-17: Ok now that I know that I did NOT get lost, I was probably just going way too fast for my own good, now’s the time to get my head straight.  My comfortable speed is waning and I start to get mad at myself for doubting myself for the past few miles.

Mile 18: Terrible glute/hip pain that I was battling a bit during training hits with full force.  It is a shooting pain that vibrates through my whole back with each step.  I walk a bit and try to run but the pain is too bad.  I’m thankful for a water stop that is giving out pineapple.  Also realize that I’m thankful with how well my stomach is holding up, especially after terrible nerves the day before.   A few runners stop and check on me.  How nice is that?!  Some stopped and as soon as I said I was ok and kept going, but one stayed and walked with me for a little while.  I learned that he was from Costa Rica, and this was his second marathon.  He didn’t speak English very well but he was so happy and carefree that it cheered me up and I was able to start running again.

Mile 19-20: Starting to lose the pain, thankfully, and get my pace back on track.  I’ve since lost chance of breaking 4 hours and while I’m slightly disappointed, but I remind myself how hard I’ve worked to get here and I’m not going to throw myself a pity party because of some number on a clock.  Some of those around me are walking, some are gliding right past me with so much left in their tanks.  It’s amazing the type of connection you feel with these people that you don’t know, will never meet, and never see again.  Music’s blaring, Time to get to work and finish this thing.  It’s funny but 6 miles felt like nothing!

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Mile 21 – What? Where’d the music go?  That was my lifeline!?!? That was my connection to the outside world, that and being able to hear the cheers from my Nike+ app.  Apparently running a marathon is too much for my phone, it died at the worst.possible.time.  And ironically, this was the point in the marathon where it got eerily quiet.  It was a section of no people cheering on the streets, no water stop, and the trees lined the road so there wasn’t any direct sunlight either.  In my 21st mile of a marathon delirium it felt like the magic boat ride from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory – total twilight zone.

Mile 22-24: Ok going to really push myself as soon as I finish this mile.  Ok the next one I promise.  Really going to turn on the gas then.  Who the hell puts a gigantic (It probably was not that big at all) overpass at mile 24 of a MARATHON??? Did they not realize that we just ran 24 miles? I have no idea if this was actually at mile 24, but it was definitely very late in the race and I was definitely planning exactly what I was going to write to the race director with my very valuable feedback about this feature of the race course. Oh yeah.  So grateful to be running!

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Mile 25-26: Ok I can do this! Where’s the gas pedal?  I am trying so hard!  I am running and breathing and literally laughing.  I feel no pain, in fact I don’t feel much of anything.  It’s amazing.  How am I moving my legs without feeling them?

Mile 26.2: This is the longest 0.2 miles ever in the history of 0.2 miles.  Where is my family? Did they leave? I am so much slower than I told them.  My phone died.. did something happen?  Oh my god.  Something happened and I am running a stupid marathon.  There they are!  They didn’t leave me and are so happy, even though I was a half hour slower than I told them to expect.  They are the best.  I am so lucky.  Let me wave to them with the arms that I cannot feel.

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I officially became a marathoner in 4 hours, and 24 minutes of pain, joy, gratitude, laughter, confusion, and heart bursting excitement.  I cannot wait to do it again!!

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