This was posted on my former blog in October of 2006…(the text in italics was written in 2015)
On Saturday we left Zillah, Washington and drove to Portland, Oregon. We stayed in a suite in a motel with my parents and Rob’s parents stayed next to us. I was really nervous–the marathon was constantly on my mind. My mom kept saying to just walk if I got too exhausted–there was no shame in doing so. Rob kept reminding me I was not competing to win–just go out there and have fun.
Lesson #1: If you want a halfway decent night’s sleep don’t sleep on a hide-a-bed sharing it with your husband and also sharing a room with your parents and your almost one year old. Granted we had just got done with seminary and living for a year with minimal income and we had to live extremely frugal.
Lesson #2: I did not blog about dinner, but don’t eat pizza as your pre-race meal. There are better choices.
I slept better Saturday night, but still woke up too many times. I almost woke up Rob at midnight and told him I didn’t want to run it anymore. It was not worth all the nerves. Somehow I got over those feelings of wanting to drop out. We left around 6:00AM and got lost. I almost missed the beginning of the race. I got to the starting line with only about nine minutes to spare. Thankfully Rob and Hailey got to see me start. I kissed Hailey before I crossed the starting line.
Lesson #3: KNOW how to get your starting line. Have a GPS (granted we didn’t have them back then and had cheapie cell phones), back up directions, and a map. Study your map and know exactly where you are going. Even if someone is driving you and assures you they know how to get there–you need to be responsible and have a good idea on how to get there too. Leave super early and allow time to hit traffic or make a wrong turn. You will not regret getting there early!
What actually happened…I think I still had PSTD from it and didn’t want to blog about it. We had just moved to Oregon and did not know the area at all. I had a map I did not really study and was way too reliant on Rob. He said he knew where he was going, but we got mixed up with the freeways. We thought the 205 went immediately into downtown when it goes around downtown. We were staying right by the airport and got on the I 205 and just kept going. We were supposed to merge on to the I 84 and then the I 5. We ended up in Oregon City and my best guess was we were 17 miles out of the way of where we were supposed to be.
We stopped at a gas station and I am literally an emotional mess. A
gentlemen at the gas station guardian angel read our panic and let us follow him all the way to the starting line. He told us we had to push it and keep up with him. My husband was trying to assure me by telling me I could run the Seattle marathon a few weeks later. But I just wanted to be done with training and both our sets of parents were here from out of town…how often does that happen?
We made it but barely and it was AWFUL. I learned from this incident that I really need to learn how to read maps and be more confident in navigating. I don’t blame Rob. We both were pretty dumb.
It was very challenging–much more difficult than I thought it would be! I was pretty nervous and that might have affected my performance a little bit. I also found it difficult to find a good pace. I felt really good starting around mile five until around mile seventeen. I enjoyed the scenery, performers (there are many musical groups that perform along the race course–my favorite was a harpist), and chatted with runners around me. By mile seventeen we had to run up this huge hill to the Saint John’s bridge. Most of the people around me started walking. I didn’t want to walk at all, but was advised I should. I would conserve energy that way. So I walked up half of it. Running across the bridge was beautiful.
Lesson #4: Have a good idea beforehand what pace you want to go. In training I was doing about 10 minute miles. However I did not use Map My Run back then and I had no GPS watch. Again our money was extremely tight and I only had the bare minimum. I carried an old fashioned stopwatch and I ran to the clock not the distance. I should have run with the 10 minute mile pacing group, but my pace was all over the pace. I was constantly going fast, slow, fast, slow until I hit the wall around Mile #17. It is helpful to run with a pacing group or at least know which pacing groups you are running between.
I started to freak out a little bit by mile 20 because I was feeling really exhausted and I still had six miles to go. I ran a little and then walked a little by that point. Many people were walking by that point. I walked quite the bit the last two miles. I was able to run the last half mile and crossed the finish line! My time was 4:38:00.
Lesson #5: Lower your expectations for your first marathon and don’t beat yourself up if you cannot maintain a pace. I was upset by Mile #20 because I had nothing left. Even though my parents and in-laws cheered for me as I crossed the finish line, I was ticked off at myself. I really thought I failed. I never relished in the idea I completed a marathon and was “a marathoner” until a few days later. I said I never wanted to do it again and “marathons” were not something I could do. If you sometimes have a self defeating personality like me, you need to prepare yourself if things don’t go according to your plans.
There were so many choices on what to have at the aid station–two kinds of sports drinks, water, goo, bananas, bagels, Red Bull, gummi bears, and beer. I think the sports drink might have made me a little queasy at some points because when I just had took the water I felt better. The beer (just a small cup) was nice and I also liked the bananas.
Lesson #6: Figure out what sports drink your marathon is offering and train with it. This goes the same for what food they offer. Or bring your own sports drink and food if you don’t mind wearing it. BTW–this was the only marathon I ran where they offered a variety of food. All the other runs I have run have just been water, sports drink, and gels.
I am really excited that I completed it and experienced it! It was awesome to have both my parents and Rob’s parents greeting me at the finish line. It was wonderful to see them cheering me on.
I was very sore afterwards. I was limping around (my right knee hurt really bad–I could feel it coming on around mile 24) and trying to keep my legs from tightening up. I need to keep doing some walking and elevating my legs. Surprisingly I am not nearly as sore today as I thought I would be.
I will post pics of the whole weekend when both parents come out to Salem later in the week. Both my dad and Rob’s dad took some great pictures of Rob’s examination, the marathon, and some cute ones of Hailey.
After this marathon I did not run much afterwards. I think I felt like I accomplished a goal and was not sure what to do after that. So I did nothing. I did not love the marathon as much as I thought I would and still felt self defeated. I did some running here and there and maybe a 5K. I also had my son about a year later. I did not start training for anything until January of 2009, but by March of ’09 I found out I was pregnant. So I postponed training for anything major until September of 2010 when I trained for my second marathon.
Lesson #7: Just because your first marathon might have been disappointing, don’t assume they will all be that way.
I also raised around $200.00 so far for CRWRC. I am so excited to share these donations and help a family in need in Africa.