I did it! What can I say? I did it! 🙂
Unbelievable, but true! I’m still overwhelmed by my self pride. Hehe…
OK, enough of that. 😉 I ran a marathon, on June 2nd in San Diego, CA. It was my very first one and it went so much better than expected:
The night before, Sophie and I made sure that we would get our typical pasta carb load dinner in. So, we wanted to go to this one good restaurant that I know in Hillcrest. When we finally found parking and got to the restaurant, we were surprised by the amount of people there. It was prom night for the high school kids and of course they had to choose that restaurant for their dinners. Well, we walked back to the car and decided to go for California Pizza Kitchen instead. The only thing is, the whole driving-around-part made us lose so much time. I was planning to get a nice pasta dinner, watch “The Spirit of the Marathon” to get in the right mood and then pack everything together for the next morning. Instead, we got our dinner at 9 pm. Well, no more watching the documentary. Instead, we ate and took care of our stuff for the race. We had to get up at 3 am already, so nothing went according to my plan already then. We plastered our legs and feet with KT Tape and made sure that we had everything we needed.
When we finally got to bed it was already 11pm. Yeah, really nice 4 hours of sleep. I wished… no, instead my stupid student neighbor decided to yell out the F-word all night long. No clue why! At 11.45 pm I yelled out my window and told him: Could you yell F***k a little less, please! He didn’t hear me, so I closed the window and we had to sweat. Nice, now it was just another 3 hours of relaxing sleep.
We got up at 3 am. Man, I hate to get up that early. 🙁 At that point, I realized that I was even still full from my pasta dinner! 🙂 Anyway, we got ready, I made myself my typical pre-run peanut butter-banana sandwich and we left the house at 4 am heading to the Old Town Trolley station. We decided to take the trolley to the starting line because I didn’t wanna have to look for parking at 4.30 am in the morning. And they also had a few extra trolleys for this event that would take us directly to the starting line.
A lot of other people also left from Old Town, so we already had the first few interesting conversations at that point. After a little bit we all realized that the trolley was late, though. It was supposed to leave the station at 4.38 am and arrive close to the starting line at 5.01 am. At 4.55 am the trolley finally came, but it was totally packed. The trolley driver told us, that there was another one coming in 5 minutes. So, we all decided to take that one instead. It came 5 minutes later and we all sat down. After a while, we all started wondering and looking at each other quizzically. “Where we driving in the wrong direction?” Dammit, dammit, dammit!!! Yes, we were! That stupid trolley driver did not go the way he was supposed to. Instead he took us all the way downtown. I started panicking, watching the time. It was already 5.30 am. The race started at 6.15 am! Oh my God, would we be able to make it? If we got there too late, they would downgrade us to the half marathon. I absolutely did not want that to happen!! I trained sooo hard for this!
OK, we decided to not freak out, just switch to the yellow line and drive back up. When we got to 12th & Imperial (downtown), the trolley driver said through the speaker “Guests can switch to the yellow line to El Cajon”. El Cajon?? That’s east inland. What about the other direction?? Nothing! We got off the trolley, and I am talking 40 panicking people here, when we realized there was no trolley back up. Oh shit! What are we going to do? I started running around looking for people to ask. Finally I found a man who told me that there was a shuttle bus approximately 3 blocks down. It was already 5.40 am! I had to hurry! I didn’t wanna miss the race! So, I started running! And if anyone should say, I’m not a leader, they should have seen what happened then. The 40 people behind me, just followed!! 😀 Everybody started running! So, it was me in the front and 40 people following me, running 3 blocks to the shuttle bus! Hihi…
When we finally made it on the bus (thanks, they let us in without the necessary wrist band), it was already 5.45 am. Luckily the bus driver understood our dilemma and drove like a crazy! He snuck past long lines of cars at the freeway ramp and made a right turn from a left turn lane. All that, just to make sure that we would make it to the starting line in time. We finally got there at 5.50 am!!!
Wow, sooo many people! Unbelievably cool! Suddenly I got all excited and was looking forward to the race. All this energy on one spot was just so contagious. Ok, so we ran to the gear check trucks (they took our bags and delivered them to the finish line) and then we had to go to the bathroom. I REALLY needed to pee. No way, I could start the race without going to the bathroom. BUT, there were 3,000 bathrooms for more than 30,000 people! Yeah, you do the math! There were crazy lines everywhere! Well, we picked one seemingly shorter one and waited. And waited… and waited… I kept nervously checking the time. It was already 6.07 am! As I said, the race started at 6.15 am! Then I asked all the half marathoners in that line (they had half hour more time before their race would start), if they let us go to the front and luckily they did. So, we went to the bathroom, ran to the starting line and made it with only 2 minutes to spare! Oh my God! I was already stressed out at that point!
But guess what? As soon as we stood there with all the others runners, the whole stress was gone! We were just excited and looking forward to the race! There were soooo many people, though. We couldn’t believe that we were being part of this. And then we heard the countdown… it was time! We were really doing this! 🙂 Yay!!!
We felt sooo awesome! From my first step on I was smiling and I literally didn’t stop until the end! Hehe… it was just great!
Our plan was first to stick with the 4:25 pacer. We thought that was a good starting pace. It’s comfortable for us and we can still have a conversation. I totally wanted to avoid to get too excited and run like crazy already at the beginning. I wanted to be one of the smart runners that save their energy for the second half. And we did it, we were pretty good at staying at this pace. We didn’t think we would be able to keep that up for the whole time, though. When we first talked about our estimated finishing time, we always thought 4:30 would be really great, but we don’t expect that to happen. 4:45 would still be good, but we would be pretty much happy with everything under 5 hours.
Well, we were in a much better shape than we thought, I guess. The 4:25 guy was the whole time directly in front of us. Even when we walked at the aid stations to get some water or Gatorade, we caught up with him relatively quickly again. It was so easy for us! I felt so good, sooo much better than I felt at the 20-mile training run three weeks before. Soo much better! The weather made it pretty easy, too, though. It was like maybe 60 degrees Fahrenheit and overcast. Just perfect! 🙂
Anyway, we ran and ran and ran… I did feel my knees and feet on and off, but it was really not so very bad. And between you and me, I ran on Tylenol (Acetaminophen). 😉 I have read a lot about how athletes do that before and during a marathon. And since I have had my knee and feet pains already for a while, I didn’t want that to be the reason for not finishing or having to run in a miserable condition. And… hell yeah, I will totally do that again! It didn’t completely prevent the pain, but it took a little bit the edge off. It made it a lot easier for me.
On top of that, I really made sure that I got my nutrition in. It’s very important in long distance running that one refuels the body with carbohydrates, electrolytes and potassium frequently. I drank as much Gatorade as I could, but I also had a total of 400 calories in Cliff Shot Blocks. I really like those. A lot of people can’t chew while they’re running, but the gels like GU are just too gross for me. The shot blocks taste like sweeter gummy bears.
I had so much energy, that made it all so much more fun. But I really have to say that running with such a mass of people and then all the spectators shouting and cheering at the sides of the streets just make the whole marathon experience complete. I felt so motivated and pushed by everyone! 🙂 It made me not even be scared of the part that we would run on the freeway 163 at mile 20, which was going to be one mile uphill! At mile 20!! During the training I have always been so afraid of that part, but once we got to mile 20 during the marathon, all I thought was: OK, now just 6 more miles!
OK, I have to admit the freeway was a killer! Holy cow! That was really exhausting. All the way uphill. Man, man, man… But Sophie and I pushed through and ran the whole way up. We did not walk. I was really proud of us at that moment. We are such tough bitches, aren’t we? 😛
Well, that would not be the only hill then. There were a few more following, but I was so determined to finish strongly that I just ran up all the hills as if they were nothing. Sophie already thought, I must have switched the Tylenol with Speed or some other drug. Once we got to Pershing Drive, we had about 2 more miles to go and from there it was more downhill than uphill. I just wanted to run fast so badly.
Sophie and I have agreed on finishing together already before the marathon. We said, it is the most important thing that we do this together. So, when Sophie’s knees starting hurting really bad on that downhill part I held myself back and stayed with her. I gotta admit that I always ended up getting faster and had to slow down again, though. But I still think, you know, it could have been me, too and I would have totally appreciated not to have to go through that by myself. It was our thing and we would finish together… not matter what!
Once I saw the finish line my whole body was so hyped up that I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I looked at her and shouted: Come on lady, we’ll finish this thing! And then we ran, we ran as fast as we could, we collected every left spark of energy we had and crossed that finish line! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Oh my God! What an amazing experience, the best feeling in the world! I was so overwhelmed, I dind’t know, if I should cry or laugh. And then I was also totally out of breath, so all that came out of me was a weird wheezing whimper-like sound of excitement and exertion, and happiness!! I was the happiest person in the world, for sure!
Oh wow, I just realized, I have been using exclamation marks like a crazy 😉 But how else can express the feeling that I had at that moment? I guess, I can’t. I can just say, imagine yourself reaching the biggest accomplishment you have ever dreamed of, something that makes you feel like you are able to do anything in the world, something that makes you feel so damn bad ass that you think everybody else has no clue!
That’s what it feels like to finish a marathon!!! 🙂
Sophie and I finished our first marathon with a time of 4:28:06! Yes, even better than our highest expectation. 🙂 We are already looking forward to the next one. It’ll probably be the Long Beach Marathon in October. Now I wanna see what I can do, when the whole course is flat. Let’s see how fast I can get. Hehe…