I decided to take on a marathon to show myself what to expect for the running leg of a full ironman that I plan to do in the future, as well as to show myself how far I could push myself once I was on my feet running. Now one would think that if you signed up for a marathon you would be training hard and as fit as possible when you toe the line right? Wrong. I had dialed back my training to swimming a few days a week, running 1-2 days a week, and an hour on the bike here and there after I finished my tri season at young life. Apart from a 20 miler with josh I mostly went for 10 mile runs or so and called it good. This set me up for quite the experience the last few miles of the race.
Race morning, I showed up ready to go. I had run a 5k the night before as usual to give my legs some fatigue. Most runners didn’t understand the concept but my goal was to get an idea what I can do during my ironman when I’ll be a lot more fatigued than just a little 5k the night before. It’s a weird concept if you haven’t felt your legs coming off the bike in a tri but I was aiming to get the slightest taste of the fatigue while not completely killing myself on the first go. I felt amazing race morning and aside from a little tightness from the night before I was pumped to get on course! I did my warmup jog and routine which quickly loosened up any tightness I was feeling and headed to the start line where I met up with mom and dad. I spotted the winner from the previous year and knew he would be running about what I was going for if I had a good day (2:45). We lined up and off we went!
Mile 1: 6:15- feeling amazing. 6:15? This is baby food. I got this. Talked with steffan the winner from last year and saw Jacob henne! Stopped and gave henne a hug before catching back up and chatting with steffan. Learned a lot about him and his racing career. Great guy and incredible runner.
Mile 2: 6:08 -Already?? Man this is gonna be the best! Saw mom and dad and got some powerade. I learned from a few friends that I need to be taking something every time I pass by these
Mile 3: 6:13 – settled in, still chatting and feeling great. Nothing new
Mile 4: 6:15 – right on pace, realizing I still have 22 to go and I start to zone in. picking up the cadence a little to hit my cadence where I feel most comfortable
Mile 5: 5:50 – there was a slight downhill that I opened up my stride on, I gapped steffan just enough to make the adrenaline kick in. I let it take over as I opened up just the slightest of a lead
Mile 6: 5:57 – settled in at around a 40m lead. Feeling comfortable and everything is flowing perfectly. Nothing to complain about here!
Mile 7: 5:44 – feeling on top of the world, opening up a bigger gap as I know I run much better from out in front. Little too fast but trying not to worry about that. Mentality is going to be huge
Mile 8: 5:52. Still a hair fast since I know I didn’t train as well as I should’ve but im feeling great! Stride and cadence are exactly where I want
Mile 9: 5:53 – staying consistent and smooth. Grabbed the first gu packet and washed it down with more water. DON’T MISS AN AID STATION.
Mile 10: 5:54 – would’ve been faster but half marathoners were clueless and running all over in front of me, glad they were because they kept me from going too fast.
Mile 11: 5:43 – feeling great and loving actually having people around me. Cheering for the half marathoners as I go by and getting into the crowd helps morale a lot.
Mile 12: 5:58 – wait…. Im not even half way, cool the jets man. Still strong but im feeling mile 7 and 11 just the slightest. Around here I run by Pastor Bill Crosby. This man is in the process of setting a WORLD RECORD for the fastest half marathon in full American football pads! And an NDSU jersey in UND territory, I like this guy.
Mile 13: 6:10 – well that’s a solid 2nd half marathon ever… now just have to do it again
Mile 14: 5:57 – steady and smooth, alternating powerade and water still. Lead cyclist is helping keep me focused and moving and helping me get the nutrition i need every aid station. cant thank Mr. McDonald enough for helping me throughout this race
Mile 15:6:00 – nothing wrong with 6’s, saw a glimpse of steffan just a few hundred yards back, gotta keep grinding!
Mile 16: 6:10 – hurting a little at this point. Lack of long runs is settling in so I take another gu and wash it down. Seeing mom and dad helps but having no one around the course is hurting at this point.
Mile 17: 6:11- Lead biker on the Harley is smoking upwind of me…. Probably the worst possible thing to smell when running a marathon. Gag in my mouth a bit. Breathing is not normal because of this horrid smell. Talking myself into the fact that 6:11 is still great despite how slow it feels
Mile 18: 6:11-ouch. Last one into the wind. Still all alone and staring to hurt. Mind is wandering and having a tough time keeping stride. I need a couple people to walk by and cheer or something. This sucks
Mile 19: 6:15 with the wind. Insanely hurting and just depleted. No one cheering in this area of the course since mile 15, no other races anywhere near, starting to die, not a fun feeling.
Mile 20: 6:19 – came around a corner to see an aid station and my parents, eyes lit up, stride lengthened, got a huge swig of powerade, a few ugly pictures, and I was feeling a bit better
Mile 21: 6:21 – still a solid pace. Near the end of 21 we FINALLY met up with the half marathon again and WOW does that help boost morale. Feeling confident again until I realize how fast steffan is coming up on me,
Mile 22: 6:24 – the last mile where I can say I was having fun and really loving this, yes it hurt but I was still going alright and felt as if I was moving okay
Mile 23: 6:43 -Everything slows to a crawl, don’t feel like im striding out at all, barely feel like im moving. Can I be done? Steffan is coming up fast and in my mind I hate to admit it but I secede and accept that im done for. Here is where training would’ve been helpful. Learned my lesson the hard way
Mile 24: 6:43 – Still crawling. Walked an aid station to get in as much powerade as possible. Got asked if I was okay and I don’t think I spoke in words… body is about ready to be done. I can see the second place lead bike coming fast with a giant flashing light on the front bars. I get going after the aid station half expecting steffan to come screaming by. Lead biker Mr. McDonald is helping keep my head in this and keeping me from slowing or stopping.
Mile 25: 6:42- still in pain but realizing second place is too. He’s not gaining very fast, I try to keep going, but continue to stop for aid stations to ensure I make it to the finish without blowing up. Drinking powerade like its crack. I think I scared the lady cuz I grabbed it so fast. Feeling optimistic and gaining back morale!
Mile 26: 6:44 – this is where I showed myself what I can do mentally, I hurt all over but mentally kept pushing myself to the edge. Slowly realizing I am going to lead in to the finishing chute and finish my first marathon. Pain goes away for a few minutes and I really start to enjoy everything I am doing. Lead biker is talking to me the whole way keeping me positive and strong
Last .4 – a feeling I can not describe. No pain is felt, just a huge sense of accomplishment, and gratitude, and happiness. God has blessed me with something incredible and every day where I can wake up and accomplish something like this is an absolute blessing. I cross the finish line and I am done, I officially completed a marathon
After i finish all the pain, cramping, and just death comes over me. I congratulate steffan on an amazing race and proceed to take 15 minutes to get to the banana I so desperately need, I try to grab as much food as possible. I stuff my face and find my parents. They help me get up a couple curbs (yes I couldn’t do that on my own at this point) and I finally lay down and drain. It was an incredible feeling to be able to do that on my first marathon but I know I can do much better. Some day I want this to be my IRONMAN run leg time, not just my open marathon time. Thank you to all who cheered and supported me! Huge thank you to mom and dad for driving all over Grand Forks all morning for me and helping me get to that finish line with endless cheering and gu packets!