March 26th, 2013 will forever be remembered by me as the day I got my MRI test results. Officially diagnosed with stress fractures in BOTH legs. Sentenced to the bench for 6 weeks. Yeah and my marathon was to be in 5 and a half weeks! So yeah, kind of an upsetting day.
So for 5 weeks I didn't run at all and then the Ravenswood 5K happened and I tried to test out my legs. At that point I was 4 and a half weeks into not running. And I ran it and I can't say it was pain free or anything. But it didn't hurt. (Yeah I know that makes no sense.) And I also ran 33:38 which actually wasn't that bad! My last mile was even a 10 minute mile (but it hurt I just wanted to be done).
Right and did I mention that my Mom was already scheduled to fly in to be there for my first marathon. And that she is sort of naive about injuries so she didn't really know it was probably a bad idea for me to go and run the Kalamazoo Marathon. But I did.
AND I FINISHED!!!!
The Borgess Kalamazoo Marathon has this totally cool 50 state program. Basically if you are the 1st person from your state to register then you get a free registration and a free pair of New Balance shoes!
To be honest the shoes are pretty useless to me since my Physical Therapist says they give me NO support and she basically forbid me to do any physical activity in them. Still it's pretty sweet of New Balance to hook us up in a cute pair of sneaks!
Oh have I mentioned that I had NO idea that Kalamazoo was in the Eastern Time Zone?! We left Chicago at 3:30 a.m. in order to get there in time for the 7:20 a.m. race photo. Well we thought we'd be getting there 6ish until suddenly the clock in my car had jumped an hour ahead!! My mom literally dropped me off and I ran into this photo just as they were taking it!
The race started at 8 so just before about 500 of us marathon runners lined up at the start. I lined up at the way way back since I had no idea if I would be able to finish much less actually hold a pace! In the back were a bunch of Marathon Maniacs and Mittens Challenge runners. Even though this was my first marathon I felt an instant kinship with these guys. We would struggle though it together. Maybe one do I'll be a Maniac too!
Usually one way that I count down the miles is by counting down the water stations. They had advertised aid stations at least every 2 miles but I really think they came every mile and a half! There were so many spectators from the town that had set up their own homemade aid stations there was always some sort of support. My faves were the Girl Scouts with cookies and the Boy Scouts with popsicles! And there were at least 3 guys with pickle jars and a lady with orange slices!! There was a homemade neighborhood Baconville and even an Elvis that you could stop and take your picture with!
I don't know the area at all so it's hard for me to describe the course very accurately. Basically we seemed to go from the course start into town and then basically around the outskirts of the whole town. I'm imagining we crossed into nearby towns as well. There were a lot of neighborhoods that we ran through and I always enjoy that. Most of the race I was running behind an older man that had a sign on his back about the many many marathons he'd run in the last year. I wanna say it was at least 50. He was running with two local ladies and they were giving him the tour of the town. He also used a walk/run method so a few times I got ahead of him. And every time he caught up to me. He definitely finished faster than me but I'm not sure what his exact time was.
This was the first race I'd ever run wearing an iPod. Now I am not an iPod user AT ALL. In fact I basically just grabbed my Shuffle and uploaded random songs (for the first time) the night before. So I had no control over my playlist. Thankfully I have a good mix of upbeat Pink songs and downbeat Regina Spektor songs. I really enjoyed listening to the music but at the same time I haven't even used the Shuffle since.
Garmin says I hit the Half Marathon point at about 2:32. I remember thinking that I had a chance to finish right around the 5 hour mark. I like to think that I'm half marathon ready at all times, considering just 2 weeks later I ran the Chi Town Half in 2:27 I'd say I did stay half marathon ready despite not running for 5ish weeks!
After the half way point Garmin says that most of my mile splits 12s and 13s. I'm quite proud that none of my miles were 14 minute miles! And I'm proud of the random mile 2 surge I had (it was the Egg McMuffin I swear!!) that got me a 9:59 mile!
Around mile 24 I was really starting to cramp up in my thighs. For the first time I thought that I might not actually finish the race. I grabbed 2 water cups at this aid station. I can't believe I didn't run with a water bottle during this race actually. This is the moment where I definitely reconsidered whether or not I should have attempted this marathon.
I got pretty delirious from this point on til the end. You can see it in my eyes in the pic below.
At the last .4 mile or so a 10 year old chubby local girl came up to me and asked my permission to run with me. I have to be honest if she hadn't shown up at that moment I don't think I could have gone on. She pushed me til the last turn, then she told me I had to do it on my own.
So I did.
1st Marathon DONE.
Would I do this marathon again? YES. The crowd support and the aid stations were AMAZING. I can't imagine a better first marathon. And of course I have to go back again and obliterate that time. I'm capable of much faster than that!!!!