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My First Marathon

I know I promised a race recap yesterday but I was just too busy & tired to put my experience into words and pictures. Now that I’ve had a full 10 hours of sleep and a family celebration let’s get to it…

Quick Facts:

  • Marathon: Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix
  • Shoes: Saucony
  • Hair: French braids
  • Fuel of Choice: Gu packs (Espresso Love and Peanut Butter flavors)
  • Goal Time: sub-4 hours
  • Finish Time: 3 hours 27 minutes 14 seconds
  • Pace: 7 minutes 54 seconds per mile
  • Place: 251st out of 2878 (40th female out of 1238)
  • Pre-race breakfast: plain oatmeal, banana & coffee
  • Post-race meal: Cold Stone Love It create-your-own ice cream –> cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker, Crunch bar & hot fudge. Guilty? Not one bit.

The start line was broken up into waves so that 3000 people weren’t jammed across the 20-ft. start line at the same time. I was put in Corral #1 based on my estimated finish time, so I got to start immediately at 7:50am. Obviously the most important strategy in a 26.2 mile race is pace yourself. And based on my goal time of sub-4 hours, I knew I should be in the ballpark of 8 minutes per mile.

However….. adrenaline + excitement + competitiveness = 6:47 first mile. Oooops.

Marathon start line (stronglikemycoffee.com)

By the 10k mark I was at 45 minutes, still 5 minutes faster than my goal pace. I felt so stinkin’ good though that I just went with it. The first half, the first 13.1 miles, were nearly effortless because of the amount of runners I had around me, the crowds, the mile-marker bands and music and just my sheer excitement to be there!

Did I hit an infamous “wall”?

Absolutely, and a lot earlier than I anticipated. I took my first Gu pack at mile 6, and right away my stomach didn’t like the sudden intake of sugar. I took another around mile 12, and my stomach was really not happy. After mile 16 I struggled mentally, I think realizing that I had 10 miles to go was a bit overwhelming. That was a mental wall. The PHYSICAL wall came around mile 20 when my legs felt sore and heavy. Like I had done 400 squats. My quads and calves were on fire!

Things that got me through:

Slowing down was an option. Stopping at the water station for a sip and a splash was an option. Not finishing the marathon was NOT AN OPTION. Finishing in over 4 hours was NOT AN OPTION. I had a deadline and people at the finish line waiting for me! Mile 24 was a continuous gradual uphill and my legs hurt so bad that I literally just started counting my footsteps to distract myself and force my legs to keep moving. Luckily after the uphill, there was the reward of downhill and some water.

Once I passed mile 25 I knew that I was going to finish in under 3 hours 30 minutes. Thinking about that helped me push through all of the pain and make it to the finish line. There were crowds of people on both sides leading to the grand finish but I had my eyes peeled for my parents and Kerri. I spotted them a few meters from the mat and we all waved at each other :) Ooooh I just got chills.

Marathon family at the finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)I also happen to have the coolest parents who made a whole vacation out of the weekend. We stayed a couple nights in Phoenix, went out to some fun restaurants with my friends Chelsea and Kerri and definitely celebrated afterwards. The best moment was seeing them in the crowd at the finish line waving & cheering. That is the BEST way to finish a race! I owe them the biggest THANK YOU xoxoxo

Marathon friends at the finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

After the marathon was over, the sponsors bombarded us with water bottles, chocolate milk, Gatorade, protein bars, pretzels, fruit. I met up with my parents and friends to bask in my runner’s high (and sweat-soaked clothes haha). I am so grateful to have amazing friends and family that were able to be there with me as I completed one of my biggest personal challenges of my life! It was an unforgettable feeling :)

There is only one post-race meal that I am interested in. You earn a MEDAL, you earn an ICE CREAM:

Marathon ice cream (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Three spoons because I share! ;)

Overall Race Impression: I couldn’t have asked for better weather. We started in 48 degrees, it was sunny but never hot. The course was relatively flat, all asphalt city streets so it was fast! I had no injuries, aches or pains aside from the inevitable soreness that comes with continual cardio activity for over 3 hours. The event was super organized with timers at every mile, plenty of water/Gatorade/Gu stations and nice sets for all 26 bands along the way. Best marathon experience I could have asked for!

marathon finish line (stronglikemycoffee.com)

The best part came from knowing that I exceeded my own expectations. Running a marathon has been a huge goal of mine for a very long time. As I began training, I didn’t want to just finish…. I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. So cutting over half an hour off of my goal time is a pretty successful race outcome for me :) It made all of the training, all of the time committment and sacrifices, quitting my collegiate cross country team and training by myself, totally worth it. I don’t regret anything! I wouldn’t have changed any of my training or pre-race prep. I’m every bit as satisfied and accomplished as I thought I would be and there is no better feeling!marathon finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Marathon Training – Last Month Taper

For anyone training for their very first marathon, I am right there with ya. Everything is an experiment…what pace should I start out at? How often should I fuel? How often should I drink water? What should I eat the night before? How will I recover? It’s all a big learning experience and I have to be confident that my body is in good enough shape for whatever I throw its way!

Two weeks ago, my long run was 21 miles which I covered in about 2 hours 40 minutes. At the end of the 21 miles, my legs were pretty trashed and the next day I was sore to walk. Now that the longest long run is over, HERE COMES THE TAPER :)

Tapering for a marathon (stronglikemycoffee.com)Saturday’s long run was a mere 12 miles….insignificant after weeks of building from 12 to 14 to 17 to 21 miles. I feel like I should be running MORE MORE MORE. As much as I can! Build up the mileage to get ready for the race! But every training program I’ve read says NO. That is a huge mistake. Your body has put in the work, you need to trust that you will not lose your strength & speed, and now is the time to pull back and let your body “recover.”

Apparently feeling anxious during the tapering period (roughly three weeks leading up to race day) is pretty common for marathoners. I felt reassured after reading this article from Runner’s World: It’s Taper Time. I love the part that said the easy runs during the 6 days before the marathon are more for your “head than your body.” Some of my other favorite take-aways:

  • The last week is about feeling CONFIDENT
  • During the end of the taper, you can’t “underdo” – you can only overdo.
  • Nutrition and getting in carbs & fluids is extremely important; don’t look at the scale (don’t worry, I won’t!!)

This period worries me. Reducing mileage translates to one thing for me: weight gain. When I was running 80 miles a week I didn’t need to worry about the ice cream, peanut butter and lattes that I would treat myself to. Once I was injured at school, I had zero physical activity for a few weeks and gained a few pounds. My problem? I have an appetite and love for food that requires 60 minutes minimum of cardio a day to off-set ;)

Banana Split Farrell's Trough

So I tell myself: Trust the taper, follow the plan, have a successful marathon and worry about the number on the scale after the race is over.

With all kinds of extra time as my workout schedule decreases I can focus on getting back to into school mode, making new healthy recipes and finding time for other hobbies like photography or blogging!

Only 11 days separate me from my first marathon. The latest song in the marathon training playlist rotation is… dun dun dunnnnn………

Take It Out On Me by Florida-Georgia Line.

I love country music. When I run I listen to pop, alternative and sometimes hip-hop because it’s got a better beat and more energy to go with exercise. But sometimes country songs are just as motivating and I love this song by the country boy duo. Even though I can’t really relate to the lyrics, it’s grit really ignites my motivation and I usually find I can pump up the treadmill a couple levels whenever this song pops up on my iPod ;)

Conference Championships!

As promised, here is my race recap from the Big Sky Track & Field Conference Championships. Portland State hosted the 2-day meet, but due to their lack of facilities we competed at Pacific University in the adorable farm town of Forest Grove, Oregon.

conference stadium

My 10k took place Friday night, in some pretty humid weather! It was semi-overcast and there was no breeze to cool us off from the warm temperatures. At the start line, we were told that there would be 2 “water stations” on the track for us to take cups of water. I thought, “Psh, I’ve never needed water during a race before, I don’t need any today!” Wrong. I took a cup on the second lap, and every other lap after that. The heat or humidity gave me chills during my run, and I used the cold water to splash myself every few minutes. By the end of the race, I (and all the other runners) was drenched! (I like to think the extra water weight added a few seconds to my overall race time, though I don’t know how realistic that is… ;) )

Thursday’s pre-meet run, Friday’s warm-up and cool-down, and Saturday’s recovery run all took place in the same area around the university. It was one of the most scenic and beautiful places but pictures do more justice than words do:

Conference Run aconference run bconference run cconference run d

My 10k was not my fastest, and I didn’t place as high as I had hoped. But I’m happy with my season and relieved that it is over at the same time. Today marks the first day of my two-week break from training and I plan on thoroughly enjoying my extra time :)

Our Women’s Team placed 3rd in the conference, a position we are all very proud of.  Needless to say, everyone was in great spirits last night as we went out and celebrated!

Conference Team 2013

Conference Team 2013

Some of my best memories of college will be weeks like these spent traveling to new places with a team of 50 amazing athletes, with great competitions and fun celebrations!

After the meet and awards ceremony concluded, we had a special dinner at Monteaux’s Public House in Beaverton, Oregon where we were presented with a special menu just for us.

Conference Dinner Menu (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Eating dinner at 9pm is definitely out of the norm for me, and I was starving by the time my sandwich came! Afterwards we walked through Hillsboro to a frozen yogurt place where they had a super unique toppings selection including “cheesecake balls” (like malt balls), blue cookie crumbles, “zagnuts” and apple pie filling!

Conference Team Dinner (stronglikemycoffee.com)

I now have a full 24 hours of traveling until I am Home Sweet Home. Which will most likely culminate in a post on healthy eating while traveling… ;)

 

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