I crossed the starting mat about two minutes after the gun went off. I was surprised it went that fast actually. And the flow was good. It wasn’t too fast, because I wasn’t in he front or anywhere near. I was making good time. Or I thought so at the time. It turns out I as going out way too fast.
Mile 1: 10:30 — A gentle downhill, through an intersection. It’s deserted, but nice.
Mile 2:10:36 — The path started going uphill a little, but not bad. Still moving along fine.
Mile 3: 10:30 — The gentle downhills seems OK about right here, but I’m starting to feel the burn in my thighs. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m just starting to warm up.
Mile 4: 10:58
Mile 5: 10:54 — Hitting some small hills here. I slow to take a Vanilla Bean Gu.
Mile 6: 10:49
Mile 7: 11:50 — Here’s where the nerves start getting me. I can’t tell if it’s because I did the Gu too quickly or because my stomach is still in knots. But I start to slow a little over the next couple miles. I feel fatigue. I realize feeling tired with 19 miles to go is not good.
Mile 8: 11:46 — Trying to pick up the pace a little, still feeling queasy.
Mile 9: 12:19 – An uphill here. We were heading into Fair Oaks at about this time. It was a cute little area that turned into more up and downhills. People kept saying “Don’t worry, it’s all downhill.” No. I knew there was a difference between “downhill” and “net downhill.” California International Marathon was a “net downhill” race.
Mile 10: 11:28 — The quad burning continues. This was about the point I noticed the 4:55 marathon group was passing me. I decided I, perhaps, needed to slow down. Why? I was thinking I’d finish this around 5:30 in time at some point. I knew, only at that point, I’d gone out to past and not consistent enough.
Mile 11: 13:06 — I hit my half marathon wall here. This is usually when I pick it up, but I was feeling a little tired again. I was slowing. I did another Gu, despite the fact that I was feeling queasy after the first one.
Mile 12: 12:07 — Speeding up a little. There were a lot of people cheering me along here. I started to get motivated more.
Mile 13: 12:45
HALF MARATHON: 2:31:53 (This would be my third best half marathon ever if I was running a half marathon.)
Mile 14: 12:58 — At this point I hit my real metaphorical wall. I can’t describe it outside of panic and insecurity. My feet started to hurt. I slowed a little again. But I kept pushing. I was trying to not get below the 13:45 average that would mean I didn’t finish in six hours. I was really worried about that time limit.
Mile 15: 14:23 — It didn’t help that I decided at this point that I needed to go to the bathroom. I only did so because there were six portable toilets lined up and only four people standing in line. In between the water stop and another Gu, the pack of people I was running with passed me.
Mile 16: 11:18 — I had to pick it up again.
Mile 17: 11:40 — Still moving.
Mile 18: 11:53 — My last good mile. I say that will a lot of pride, but there’s a reason why that was the last good mile. My IT band, which had plagued me greatly when I moved from 5Ks to 10Ks. All of the sudden I was feeling it.
Mile 19: 13:09 — I slowed and walked to try to get back the leg a little. I spent the next few miles using that method. Run, walk, run. When I ran, I was averaging 11-12 minute miles.
Mile 20: 12:52 — “The wall” literally. We ran through an area that was marked by a fake wall. I looked happy, but the smile was masking my pain.
Mile 21: 12:54 — I thought of this mile as a plane descending into the destination point. This was the point where we buckle our safety belts and put the tray table in an upright position. This was also the point my feet started killing me. My IT band wasn’t behaving either.
Mile 22: 13:47 — Run/walk continues.
Mile 23: 13:20 — And more.
Mile 24: 13:07 — This was actually a very frustrating time for me. People were cheering me on from the sidelines. One guy kept yelling “if it was easy, everyone would do it!” I liked that. But it wasn’t enough to pull me out of my funk.
Mile 25: 13:18 — Still moving, but getting more excited. Someone asked me when I knew I’d finish. I didn’t for a long time. When the IT band started throbbing and I knew my feet were blistering, I didn’t think I’d make it. I had four moments where I wanted to stop, cry and call Thomas to come get me. “I don’t need to finish this,” I thought. “I have nothing to prove. I knew, as I started to make my way toward the 26-mile sign, that I’d make it. It took me that long.
Mile 26: 12:46 — And then I really knew. Thomas ran across my path. I felt a huge smile stretching across my face. I had made it.
Mile .2: 3:35 — Here I pushed. I saw the clock reading 5:22:13. I could make it before the clock turned to 5:23, I thought. I picked it up.
Gun time: 5:22:39.
Chip time: 5:20:41
I wish it was like Ironman and someone said “Tara, you ARE a marathoner.” No one did. I was handed my medal and my space blanket, which I really needed at that point if just because I wanted some comfort. I saw Thomas, kissed him and handed him my water bottle (it always gets in my way at the end even though I love it).
Then I teared up a little. I had a moment. I had done it. Less than two years after I set out on my treadmill and started running. I had run a marathon.
I was surprised at how good I felt. My feet hurt, yes. My leg was killing me. And my shins were throbbing. But I felt good.
So good I even opted to get my photo taken at the end. I NEVER do this. I always say “it’s a waste of money.” But I felt compelled to do so. You only run your first marathon once.
I found Thomas and immediately walked over to the merchandise booth and he bought me an awesome shirt that said “26.2 finisher.” I can’t wait to wear it when I run. (I haven’t done any running this week to give my legs a well-deserved rest. I’ve also been eating a ton of food,which I feel bad about, but I also deserve it.)
I didn’t find any of the requisite food that I was told was popular. The food vans were closing down as well. (That was really discouraging, especially when I finished with 40 minutes left for the finish line to be open AND it actually stayed open longer.)
We opted to head to Red Lobster on Howe Avenue after we found the car.
And then we headed home.
I was exhaustion and in pain for about two days. Not a bad pain. A good pain.
And, four days later, I’m still in awe that I did it. I ran a marathon.
Every insecurity that I’ve ever had about my work as a journalist, as an editor, as a instructor and as a person diminished during those 26.2 miles. They say it changes you. I think it makes a person stronger. You have to get mentally past barriers. You have to keep going when you want to quit. And you have to believe you can do it when you’re body is failing under you.
I ran a marathon. And for it, and all those things mentioned before, I’m 100-times better for it then I was the day before.