Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Marathon Recap

The marathon is over. And I honestly thought I would have marathon letdown. But, I don't.
In fact, I am relieved. I can get my life back and move on to other things now.
Don't get me wrong. I loved it. It was amazing. But, I am happy it's done.

We started our adventure on Saturday morning. Melissa came and picked Janis, Felice and me up at my house at 10 AM. After trying every which way to make our luggage, food, and water fit, we finally made it work, and we were on our way at 10:30.

We decided to drive right to the Marathon Expo. After arriving in Long Branch, and sitting in traffic for a very long time, we finally parked and made it into the expo. We wandered around the expo and then finally got back in the car. 
We found the start line and we practiced our best "starting" poses.

After the expo, the original plan was to actually drive the course. But there was so much traffic, that we decided to head right to the house. The house was fantastic. It was huge and there was more than enough room for 8 of us.
The house
We settled in, kicked our feet up and ate some dinner. Thanks to Gail for making us our pasta dinner!
Here we are - toasting to a good run!
After dinner, we hung out and made final plans for the morning. We decided we needed to leave the house at 5:45. This meant that it would mean waking up at 4:30. Eeeks! So it was off to bed for me. Of course, I couldn't sleep very well. I tossed and turned and when I finally did fall asleep, I kept waking up. Finally at 4:15, I got out of bed and was up for the day.

We scurried around, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and making sure we had our gear drop bags. We made it into the car at 5:55 and we were on our way. It was good that we left early because it took us 35 minutes to get there with the traffic. We arrived and headed right to the bathroom line. As we stood in line, we watched the half marathon racers start their race (which started at 6:50). We cheered them on and looked for our friends Gail and Ginny - but we didn't find them. There were 8,000 runners in the half marathon, so it was hard to find them. 

After our bathroom stop, we dropped off our bags, and wandered over towards the start line and hung out until it was time to line up. 
Here we are at the gear bag drop off.
From left to right - Elisa (in the front), me, Melissa, Janis, Felice, Karen, and Tami.
Before I knew it, it was almost 8 AM, and almost time to start. I honestly don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life. Then, the horn blared and we were off. 

Elisa and I decided to stay in between the 4:40 and 4:55 pace group. This worked out great for the first 12 miles. We trotted along and I was feeling good. I wasn't stopping and I even ran while I took my gels. I was feeling fantastic. At mile 7, I noticed that my leg was twinging and I tried to ignore it. We caught up with Janis at mile 7 or 8 and ran with her for a bit. The miles were flying by and I was happy about that.

We hit the 13.1 mark and I was still feeling okay. But then that's when it all went to hell. My knee really started hurting and I finally told Elisa that I needed to take a walk break. We walked for a minute and then started running again. We did this for a few miles. And then we hit another water stop at mile 17. 

I stopped to fill my water bottle up. BIG MISTAKE! My knee froze up on me and I literally could not walk or put weight on my leg. It was terrible. I stood against a street sign and stretched. I started to walk again and winced in pain. I looked at Elisa and I said, "I can't walk. I don't think I can finish this."

Somehow, someway, I walked through the pain and it went away. We continued walking and hit mile 19. This was a critical point as it was the turn around point to head back towards the finish line. This point also had a medic. We stopped and I iced my leg for a few minutes. Another big mistake. After icing it, I could barely get started again. I looked at Elisa and I said, "I honestly don't think I can finish this." It was so painful. But, again, I managed to walk through the pain and after a few minutes of walking, the pain went away and I continued on.

We walked for another mile or so. And then Elisa found some Bio-Freeze which is supposed to help to numb the muscle pain. I stopped yet again while Elisa rubbed some on my leg. Once again, the pain was terrible as I tried to get started again. (You think I would have learned not to stop!) But, I got through it once again and continued my walking. At this point, I realized that the only way I was going to finish was to walk and walk and walk and not stop until I hit the finish line.

And that's what I did. I walked. Elisa ran a bit and then waited for me. She talked to people on the course. She made friends. She stuck with me. Even after countless times of me telling her to go on ahead - she refused to leave me. She stayed with me and sacrificed her own marathon for me. I am not sure what to say about that. She is an amazing friend.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we hit mile marker 25. And then I started to cry. I realized that I was going to finish this marathon. We kept walking. And finally, finally, we hit mile 26. And then we saw the finish line and we ran the last little bit and crossed the finish line holding hands. 

Elisa and me with our medals!

My time was 5:39:57. 

My goal was to finish under 5 hours. Obviously that didn't happen. The thing that is so frustrating is that I will never know what could have been. If my knee hadn't started hurting, I really think I could have pulled off a marathon under 5 hours. However, that being said, my overall pace was 12:58. I really don't think that was that bad. I mean, considering I walked for 8 miles of the marathon, my pace wasn't terrible. I am also a very fast walker. Once I got going, I was going at a good clip. 

I also now realize that a marathon is no joke. It's a long distance. It's hard. It's mentally challenging. I am humbled by the experience. My friend Meghan asked me if I was glad I did it. Of course I am. I have no regrets. This was something that was on my bucket list and now I completed it. It doesn't matter if I walked, ran, skipped, or crawled. I got to the finish line. I did my best. I earned my medal.

Some friends have asked if I will ever run another full marathon. At first my answer was "HELL NO!"
But, as I write this, I realize that it's hard to say for sure. I am 95% sure that I won't. Yet, I will always wonder if I could have done better. So, maybe I have another one in me sometime in the future. But certainly not anytime soon. For now, I will stick to improving my 15K, and my half marathon time. 

The group!
Back row - Elisa and Ginny
Middle row - Karen, Gail and Janis
Front row - Felice, me, and Melissa
What an amazing group of women! 

The course.


Elisa said...

I am so glad that you are seeing this for what it was.....you finished a marathon!!!!!!

The Happy Runner said...

Yes, you did it! Congratulations, for sure. But, really, we should start planning our next one ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had IT band issues. I'm plagued with them and it hit me at mile 13 during this marathon. I popped a couple Advil and pushed on. Be proud of yourself, you FINISHED A MARATHON... and not just the actual race but also all the training that comes with it!

Sofia said...

Great job Gabby. You did finish and that's all that matters. You really fought your way through despite the pain. It reminded me of my only marathon in New York many years ago. It was a hot and humid day and I was dehydrated from the get go. I was well trained and hoping to do under 4 hours. I ended up walking a lot of it but persevered and made it.
As you said, a marathon is always an accomplishment because anything can happen.

Anonymous said...

A lot of your first marathon experience was very similar to my first! Only, my knee pain plagued me for 10 weeks leading up to my first. It's amazing how we can dig deep and find strength to finish something we worked so hard to complete. My exact words after crossing the finish line of the NYC marathon were, "I don't think I ever need to do THAT again" ... go figure a month later I registered for the NJ marathon :) Thankfully my knee held up during the training (turns out I needed to revamp my whole stride) and I completed the NJ Marathon an hour faster than my first time (which was very close to yours). Something tells me that, in time, you're going to want to conquer 26.2 again because you KNOW you have it in you to do better!
Good luck and congratulations on completing your first marathon :)