Sunday, May 20, 2012

First Marathon Ever - Cox Providence

My first marathon was scheduled to be in mid-October in Newport, RI, that was until I started to feel like I might be ready and made the decisions to go for it in early May instead.  Back in March I started getting the feeling that I might be ready and increased the miles on my long runs just to see.

I was already registered for the Cox Providence Rhode Races Half Marathon on May 6th and all I had to do was switch to the full (easier said than done).  I emailed the race officials authorized the additional charge and thought I was all set.  When the day arrived to check my bib number I was still listed as a half runner.  The change had never been processed and I had not me charged.  The race officials at Eident Sports made the switch for me at the expo and I was officially a Marathoner to be two days before the race!

The weather on race day shaped up to be amazing.  It was in the mid 50s in the morning and climbed into the mid 60s during the race.  I went with my Nuu-Muu dress that I bought at the runDisney Princess Half Marathon back in February.  I wore my Under-Armor compress shorts underneath to prevent any chaffing.  26.2 miles is a long way to go and chaffing would have killed me.

I was able to meet up with another runDisney lover before the race.  Linda Bachand-Doucet is another great Rhode Island runner who I think would go to every runDisney race if she could.  Oh wait...that describes all of us.  Anyway it was great to meet her before I took off for the full and she took off for the half.  

This is Linda's photo.  Her cousin took it for us.  Doesn't she look so cute in her piggy tails!
Thankfully the race organizers had decided to send off the full marathoners half an hour before the half marathoners.  So at 7:30 we were off and there was no issue later on in the course with dividing the field.  It was really nice having the race sub-divided and the number of people out there bumping against each other in the first miles kept to a minimum.  

I was running with my Timex and trying to figure out my splits.  It seemed to be working okay.  Better than I can say for my system.  I was planning on eating my Clif Shot Blocks one every 20 minutes or so.  I think I managed to eat one, maybe two, then I grabbed a Gatorade and felt a bad feeling in my belly.  I was trying to make sure that I did not have system failure so I cut out the Gatorade and put  a call into field support for some Clif drink at the mile 11 rendezvous.  

I was on my hometown course so I was just ticking through the miles on familiar roads.  I felt like I just needed to get the first half finished so I could work on the second half.  The mile markers were a little screwy.  They had altered the course due to some construction that had not been completed in time and the markers were not always where they should have been I think.  Anyway you can't tell me I really ran a 7:30 mile for mile 11.  

Speaking of mile 11, that is where the rendezvous went down.  I was able to switch my water bottle for the Clif lemonade.  I thought "I can always grab water" - wrong!  Around mile 13 the aid stations started running out of cups.  Let me tell you a "swig out of the jug" is not my idea of good race support.  Water stations from that point on were inconsistent in their service.  

My family did a fantastic job supporting me in this race.  The rendezvous at mile 11 was fantastic.  I did not even know my older daughter was running along filming me.  I got my drink, my blocks, and a kiss.  Then I was on my way for more!

I think I hit my first "this is really going to hurt" moment around mile 12.  My next one came after mile 19.  I was able to run for a bit with the whole family in mile 19, even the dog.  But then I was headed up a long slow rails-to-trails grade that I just did not think about.  I did not realize what it was doing it me and my watch reported that that mile took me 19 minutes to run.  Shock and horror!  There was a real hill right after that, but it was one that I recognized as a hill, and I tackled it as a hill recovering to finish that mile in 15 minutes or so.  From that point I focused all my thoughts on getting one mile closer and enjoying my first marathon.  I just kept telling myself I needed to appreciate my surrounding and enjoy the effort I was putting into my first marathon!

With 2 miles remaining we ran through a park by the head of the bay.  Along the path were all of the tribute posters for loved ones lost and well wishes for those battling.  It is always a very moving experience.  I mustered whatever I had left and got myself to that finish line.  I was thrilled I had really done it!  I was there by myself, as I often am at races, standing in a sea of finishers and family on a beautiful day in my home city.  

The first half had only taken me 1:58.  I did not run hard, I did not hold back, I just ran.  The second half took a little longer as my splits began to slide and the effort began to get to me.  In the end I finished in 4:40 and was trilled.  I really had no idea how long it would take.  I thought if I could hold a 10 minute mile it would be around 4:20.  My first half miles were less than 10 and my second were more.  I realized I could not rely on the mile markers and time clocks (only every 5 miles) and I needed to get a better running watch.

Mother's Day was the following weekend and I received a wonderful hug for my wrist from my family!  It came in the form of a Garmin!  But more on that later...

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