Monday, March 18, 2013

Race Report: Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon

I ran my first marathon on Saturday and it was so much fun!!!

I finished the Rock ‘n’ Roll USA Marathon in 3:10:11 and placed 8th! It wasn’t terrible and I didn’t die – I did better than most people expected, so I’m feeling pretty awesome about life right now! (Results here.)

My friend Chris and I signed up for this race way back in November (his third marathon, my first), about a week before I got injured (womp womp). So things were touch-and-go for a while as I pooled through December and into January. But then I started running again, was feeling good, and well, I’d already entered, so why not race?


Here we go, race report time.

Saturday morning I got up at the crack of dawn, Chris came over, and SpeedyKate drove us just a couple miles to the start on the Mall.

Bag check and bathroom lines were UNREAL so we almost missed the gun (things that make me stressed: being late. Things that make me borderline freak out: being late to a race!!!). But we dashed into Corral 2 as they were singing the National Anthem with about a minute to spare …and then we were off!

Weather reports on Friday night promised us 40 degrees and raining, so I dressed appropriately in long sleeves under my singlet, ¾ length pants, gloves, and a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. Turns out that was totally unnecessary because the weather was perfect! Warmer than expected, no rain at all, and not too too windy.

The first half of the race was fun. The nice thing about a marathon versus a 5K (my usual distance), is that there is time to adjust. One or two “off” miles don’t really matter, and it’s not like your pace needs to be perfect from the gun. There were bands along the way and plenty of people to entertain us, and a lot of friends came out to cheer (thanks! I love you all!!!).

We ran very evenly – about 7:20 pace, with Chris telling me to “pump the breaks” at least once per mile for the first half of the race. Good thing one of us is on top of things, because otherwise I would have gone out waaaaaayyyyy  too hard (what can I say? I get excited!). Our splits were pretty even through the whole experience – the second half was definitely faster since my overall average pace was 7:16 – so wooohooo negative splits!
Looking shockingly happy where it was hurting the most.

At mile 13, the half-marathoners had split off to finish and the course got exponentially emptier.

I didn’t hit any so-called “walls,” but the mile markers definitely started to feel further apart around Mile 17. Plus Southwest and Southeast DC are not the most scenic of locations, and that’s where the course got ugly.

Really I just needed food, so I ate some jelly beans and felt a bit better. Actually, hydration-wise and nutrition-wise, oooh I am so bad at that! I ate a gu at Mile 8, and jelly beans at Mile 11 and Mile 17. But every 100-calories is like the most difficult thing ever! If I do one of these marathon things again, I will put more time into practicing eating and running (who would ever have expected me to have a hard time eating?). My stomach wasn’t feeling awesome, so I didn’t want to drink, which is clearly a terrible idea. I managed a few sips of water along the way, but judging by how epically dehydrated I was after the race, it definitely wasn’t enough.

So I wasn’t having much fun at Mile 20 (everything kinda hurt), but it also wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I was mentally prepared for this whole experience to be the WORST and most PAINFUL thing ever ever ever, so short of death and dismemberment, I think I would have said it wasn’t as bad as expected to anything. The hills? Not as bad as expected. My legs hurting? Not as bad as expected. Mentally? Not as bad as expected. Afterwards? Not as bad as expected.

We were passing people the whole second half, especially in the last 6 miles. At about Mile 24.5 I saw another woman up ahead (there were so few women around) and picked up my pace to go get her (sorry I’m not sorry – it’s a race!). The last mile was all within sight of RFK stadium, kinda a tease but also great. I actually had a kick of some variety, and I think my last mile was pretty fast. I crossed the line, didn’t collapse, and then I was DONE!!!

Chris finished just behind me in 3:10:38. We hobbled through the finish area veeerrryyy slowly. Bag check was pure hell, but meh who cares? We ran a marathon!

I am so grateful to everyone who came out to cheer in DC, and to everyone who was supporting me remotely. I had virtual cheering sections in South Africa, Hawaii, California, and Thailand, which is so cool! Getting myself to the start line has been a loooong process (that you all know has been well-documented here on the blog), so everyone who wished me luck and said good job afterwards – seriously I LOVE YOU ALL. (I am just full of love right now haha.)

Will I do one again? Sure, eventually. But not soon. For now I'll just eat all the things, bask in the glory of accomplishment, and wait for my toenails go grow back.