June 06, 2006

Marathon Report

Disclaimer: This post is really really long. Also, I really really had a good time, so if you don't want to hear me gloat and go on about how good it was for me, don't read this.

Well, I’ll begin by restating what I’ve said all week. I can’t understand how anyone who lives in San Diego would not be a runner? The weather is perfect for running and there are so many places to run. It is just a shame to think that there are actually people who live there, get up in the morning, go to work, and then retreat home to never experience the outside beauty that is San Diego. I did find a sign in the Convention Center that said “San Diego: You never have to go home.” Troy said they weren’t talking to me. So, here I am. Back in lovely Macon Georgia.

Also, I want to give a big thanks to Anne for setting up the Saturday lunch. It was great to put faces with some of the bloggers that I’ve been reading so much of lately. And also all those tips that Anne gave about the course were so helpful. She was right on target about everything! Thanks for setting it up Anne!

On to the race report. Getting up at 3:30am on a Sunday to shower, eat a peanut butter and jelly bagel and get to the airport shuttle in time was surprisingly easy. I kept wondering when the nervous jitters would start. When would I have to make that trip to the bathroom? The one that I hear everyone talk about? I thought…great, it will happen at the park where I’ll get to share a nasty porta-potty with 20,000 of my closest friends…nice.

Well, everything went off without a hitch. We got to the park, checked our gear bag and proceeded to sit and people watch. Troy asked if we should be stretching or jogging or doing any of the other stuff that people were doing around us, and I said “no…this is what we do on a long run…sit on the couch and watch tv while I heat my ankles…this is just another long run”. So, that is exactly what we did. Sit…while I heated my ankles with disposable heating pads. Then it was time to go to the bathroom for a last minute potty break and off to the starting line. Or starting mob, I should say. I just didn’t realize what it was going to be like with 20,000 people all trying to get on the same stretch of street. It was crazy and exciting and I made Troy hold my hand so we wouldn’t lose each other. We were in Corral 14 so it took us about a good 3 minutes to get to the actual starting line. Troy and I had driven the course the night before so I knew that after the start line we would go down a hill and then back up another hill. It was about 10 minutes into the race before I even realized that we had been up a hill! There was so much excitement that I just totally forgot where I was running and just ran.

Miles 1-3 were pretty much a blur. I thought I would get tired, out of breath, hate it like I usually hate the first 3 miles…but none of that happened (oh, and coincidentally I never got the stomach jitters! Ever!). I remember coming around the park and seeing all the people fleeing to the bushes to pee. It was hilarious as they all darted about to find a good bush to go in. I remember the guy on his balcony with the megaphone yelling out “You are my hero…You are in the top 1% of the country…You can do this…I love you”. That was great! I remembered to take my walk breaks, although it wasn’t exactly timed very well. I remember just feeling like I could run forever. T and I made small talk…laughed…people watched while we ran…and just had a great time.

I remember not ever really knowing what mile marker we were at. We both wore a 5:00 pace band, although I had only hoped to at least make it in 5:21 (a 13 minute mile), and I remember looking at the mile markers and then at my pace band and being about 5 minutes behind the 5:00 schedule the whole time (T and I combined spent about 15 minutes in the bathroom.) But I didn’t care, because I knew the whole time that I was going to make it.

The weather was perfect as well. It was overcast the entire time. The sun came out after we had crossed the finish line…it was just perfect.

Mile 10 was where I started to feel some pain. It was downhill on the freeway, and like Anne said, the road was paved at an angle the entire time. My ankles were killing me and regardless of which side I moved to I couldn’t make them feel better. I just kept thinking that Mission Bay was coming up shortly and that it would be a beautiful site to see.

So, basically Mile 1 through 17 were a huge running blur. The bands were great. The spectators were great. I was passing people. People were passing me. Troy and I were having great time. It just seemed like a fun way to pass a Sunday morning.

Mile 17 was the Clif shots area. I’m a Gu girl, so I decided not to partake in Clif shots, but I did grab one Clif gel block. I’m not really sure why because I had told myself that I wouldn’t try anything new while I was out there (but that didn’t preclude me from wearing new socks purchased at the expo…Feetures…I took a chance by wearing them but I’ve been having so much trouble with blisters, I just did it. And I’m so glad I did. They were the best. Highly recommend them!!!!) Back to the Clif block. I’m not really sure what happened. But Miles 17-20 were the best. I’m not sure if it was the Clif block, or the fact that we realized that we could make it in less than 5 hours, or the amount of spectators (who weren’t TNT…sorry TNTers but sometimes it just go aggravating to hear "Go Team" over and over again) but something just made me want to run…and run fast. I imagine that Troy and I probably passed 500 to 1000 people between those miles. We were both kicking our legs high and pushing up those hills and laughing and having a great time and I just never wanted that feeling to end. We realized (later) that the hills were actually working to our advantage. They weren’t the same as the hills that we were used to running on. Our hills in GA are short and incline very rapidly, while those hills out there were gradual and actually made our quads feel great.

And then Mile 20. There was a huge brick wall. Literally. Maybe they do that at lots of marathons? But I saw it and ran right past it. And about 1 minute later started to feel not so good. My face felt funny…like my cheeks were flapping in the wind. I’m not sure if it was the Clif wearing off, or the fact that I didn’t know what was going to happen after Mile 19, but whatever it was it was slowly pulling me back…or at least that’s what it felt like. In hindsight, I realize that we never really did slow down. We were still about 5 minutes behind the 5:00 schedule. And Troy was great. I told him I wasn’t looking at my watch anymore. That he would have to pull us in and tell me when it was time to walk. It was just killing me to realize that we were so close to a sub 5 but that my legs just didn’t want to go any faster. And I just wanted to walk. But secretly, I didn’t want Troy to let me walk. I knew if he said it was okay to take a break that I would be disappointed and mad at myself. Luckily, he never let me slow down.

This is the part where I get all emotional and tell you how wonderful Troy is. From about mile 22 to the end he pulled me the entire time. Literally, he would stick his hand out and pull me closer to him as we ran and he would say things to motivate me. Like to remember what it was like when we ran our first 4 miles. And that we were almost there. And that I had quit smoking and could do this. And that I was light and could run forever. When it was time to walk he would rub my shoulders and my neck. And tell me to focus on the back of his head when we would start to run again. We passed Runner Susan and Anne at about Mile 24 and I told him that I didn’t want to get passed, so he told me for the last 2 miles that they were right behind me. Right on my heels. I was scared to look back and I never did, so I never realized that he couldn’t really see them. He was, and still is, truly a perfect boyfriend. I couldn’t have asked for a better running partner. I’m sure that his feet hurt, or his legs, but he never led me to believe that anything was wrong with him. He made me feel like this whole race was mine, even though it was his first as well.

When we got into the Marine camp I was a little disoriented. Anne said to be prepared to run for a while more once inside. I didn’t know how long it was going to be. Troy said we had a ½ mile left. I never saw that sign. He said it was time to walk and I said “I’m through with walking. I’ll never walk a marathon again.” And I was serious. We wound our way around and then Troy said that once we passed under the bridge we would see the finish line (how did he know that????) but he was right. We saw the finish line. I knew we had made it over 5 hours but still had about 25 seconds before my watch turned to 5:01. So, I held Troy’s hand and we sprinted to the finish line.

I don’t remember much after that. I was disoriented and all I wanted to do was cry. That I had made it. That I had trained and sacrificed and persevered and done everything I thought was possible to be ready. And I was. And I did cry.

For about a minute. Until I realized that I was thirsty and that my shoes had to come off!!!!

There was so much that happened on Sunday. So much that I want to tell everyone. So much that I’ve forgotten. Just so much happened. But I did it. We did it. We did it in better time than I ever expected. There was nothing that I would change about it. It was a perfect first marathon, on a perfect day, with a perfect boyfriend. Who could ask for anything better than that?

Here are our times:
10k: 1:14
half: 2:36
20mi: 4:05
26.2: 5:00:49

By the way, we shaved off 5 minutes in the last 3-4 miles!

Overall I placed 8,897 (Troy was 8,896) and 1,054 for my age group which put me at 46% for my age grade.

And yes, I will run another one. And another one. And another one. I’ll never be able to recreate those feelings that I had yesterday and I don’t know that I would want to. But I’ve found something that it fun for me. Something that I enjoy doing. And something that I want to do for the rest of my life.

When I first started this blog, I wrote about my first 4 miler with Troy.

“And I ran. All 4 miles. And I wasn't dying. Or kicking myself. Or feeling bad that I didn't finish. Because I did. I finished. And on Tuesday I'll do it again. And on Thursday, again. And before I know it I will be at the finish line of my first marathon.”

Before I knew it…no, before we knew it…we were at the finish line of our first marathon.

You can see pics from the lunch at Anne's blog. As soon as race pics are posted I’ll post those as well!


Anne said...

Ok I have been "lurking" since the beginning of time! I felt like now was a good time to drop you a line and let you know what a great job you did in SD!!!! YOU KICKED BUTT GIRL!!!!!

I have run 5 marathons and cant break that 5 hour mark....but I will in Vegas in December!

Keep on running! I'm impressed with how far you have come!

lauralohr said...

You are AWESOME Amy (and Troy too:-))

BTW, that guy on the balcony saying, "I love you," etc.....that is our coach from San Diego Track Club.

I am so glad you had such a great race. I look forward to meeting you guys again at another marathon!

Thanks for the note you left me.

Anne said...

It's another Anne here, the one you met in San Diego. I had so much fun meeting you and Troy at Sammy's and was thrilled to see you on the course, even if it was as you passed....

The guy you mentioned telling everyone he loved them -- that's our track club coach, Paul Greer. You saw him on the flood channel near SeaWorld too. He's amazing, isn't he? (Oh, I just noticed Laura said the same thing. I really need to pay attention.)

Guernsey Man said...

Congrats that was a great report!!!! You guys ran sooooo much faster the second half. That is simply amazing. I bet out of all the people who ran it only a couple dozen could claim that. That is the way to run a marathon!

pinaypower said...

many many congrats!! i've ben dying to read how it went for the two of you and couldn't be happier! seriously, truly inspiring :)

jeff said...

dangit, after reading that now i really wish i'd had a chance to meet you and troy at lunch, but we were late and things were sort of a whirlwind at that point.

congratulations to you and troy on a fantastic race. i really hope you guys make it out this way again sometime. i'd like to meet troy...he sounds like a stellar guy. i'd say keep him. =)

ShoreTurtle said...

Congratulations to you both! Your recap is great.

jeanne said...

now THAT was inspiring!! and that's how to run a marathon! Lend me your strategy for the MCM in october please!
Great, great job! Congrats!

Running by.... said...

You did great! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! What an accomplishment! I'm so happy for you. ~Jenn in Korea

John said...


a.maria said...

hey, congrats to the both of you, you ran an amazing race!!! you're a lucky girl to have such a supportive boyfriend!! ;)

turnip said...

AWESOME!!!! Congrats on a great race! You've come a long way, you can so do another one!

runnergirl said...

Sounds like you had an amazing race. That is so great to read about. My first marathon will be Chicago in October. I only hope it turns out as great as your's did. Sounds like you have a great boyfriend, too! :)

april anne said...

It was nice meeting you and Troy. Great race! One down, many more to go!! :)