Today I ran my first marathon, the Raleigh City of Oaks marathon. My legs are absolutely dying right now, and I want to go to bed real bad, but I figured I’d write while it’s fresh in my mind.
We drove up yesterday, since the race had a 7 AM start time and I needed to pick up my packet Saturday. Gabe only slept 30 min on the way, but he wasn’t too cranky. We checked in the hotel (The Velvet Cloak Inn–not exactly fancy but only a quarter mile from the start so you can’t beat that!), then headed to packet pick-up. I was #852 which was sweet since I’m an ’85 baby 😉 We then drove the course route so I could check it out. We drove the first 10 miles, then it went on the greenway, so we couldn’t drive miles 10-24. The last two miles were on Hillsborough Street, and it started/finished at the NC State Belltower (similar to the Krispy Kreme run). So, in my mind, I broke the race into 4 phases: the 10 miles of downtown running, 7 miles out to Shelley Lake on the greenway, 7 back, and the final 2.
Back to yesterday: we drove the course, then headed to the Marbles kids museum for Gabe to blow off some steam. Unfortunately he was completely overwhelmed with the many things to do there, so he was all over the place (not very relaxing for me). I met up with an old friend, KWS and her fam, so that was awesome. Javi’s old friend MP met us also, and we all headed a few blocks away to Sono for a delish–and carb-loaded–dinner. I wanted Asian so I could have white rice. I didn’t train with pasta and I wasn’t going to take any chances the night before a huge race. I made sure to drink tons of water and eat tons of rice. I had to ask for extra 😉 Grilled chicken and a few veggies completed the meal. And Gabe loved hanging out with his 6-month-old pal Blake, so he actually halfway behaved himself (Kelly’s Fisher Price app certainly helped too! lol)
Headed to bed nice n early (8!) and thanks to daylight savings time, had an extra hour… to toss and turn and have weird dreams, of course. That always happens to me the night before a big event, sadly. At least G-man slept soundly. I woke up at 4 AM to eat “breakfast:” half a plain bagel with honey, a Greek yogurt, 8 oz of Gatorade and 8 oz water, and 3/4 of a banana (I couldn’t finish it). Headed back to bed, stuffed, and managed to fall back asleep (yessss!) Woke up pretty well rested, had another 1/4 of a bagel with honey + Gatorade. Thankfully, my stomach didn’t act up at all during the race, so my nutrition plan was a good one. Thanks to Runner’s World last month, I knew what to eat beforehand–otherwise I would have just had PB with toast and probably would’ve been starving!
I ended up bringing my fuel belt so that I would have a place to stash my 8 packets of GU Roctane. 1 packet was for pre-race, and then 6 during (1 every 4 miles). The 8th GU was a “just in case” GU… if I ended up taking forever. Luckily I didn’t need it. I brought 32 oz of Gatorade with me, and that lasted me until about mile 18.
Clothing: I knew it would be cool but not cold, so I wore my compression capri’s with the tank that says “This one’s for you Grandma”. All my family members signed the back, so it made it really special–and I knew they all had my back 🙂 I also wore arm warmer/sleeves, but ended up taking them off somewhere around mile 21.
Pre-race: Javi & Gabe walked me to the start but left at 6:45. I did a quick warm-up, then got between the 4 hour and 4:30 pace groups. My A goal was 4:20, B goal of 4:25, and C goal of 4:30, based on what I figured was feasible after the Salem Lake 30K. Roughly 10 min miles. I was hoping to average 9-something, but in the end I ran 4:26ish (don’t have the exact time because my watch was still going, even though I swear I stopped it!). I know beat Oprah Winfrey’s best of 4:30:15 😉 so competitive…. The crowd buzzed with excitement and nerves, and suddenly a lone, clear, beautiful voice started singing the National Anthem. As I have for the past few years, my mind jumped to friends who are deployed, like JC, and friends who passed away because they were KIA–namely my 3 company-mates, Daniel, John, and Dimitry. As the clock on the belltower struck 7, and the anthem finished, a single cold tear rolled down my face. I had self-doubts until that point, but it was then that I thought–V, you will not only be able to run this for your grandma, but you will also be able to run it for these strong young men who didn’t have chance to see their 30’s. Stop feeling sorry for yourself that you’ll be in pain later. Grandma and your West Point friends certainly suffered thru more pain than you will today. Let’s do this. And with that, the gun went off, and we were on our way.
Miles 1-10 (downtown Raleigh): a little cold, yet enjoyable. I repeated “conserve” to myself so that I wouldn’t run too fast. People passed me like crazy (but the joke was on them when I passed them back much later in the race). Lots of fun crowd support. Here’s a pic Javi took outside the hotel–right after the start:
Miles 10-17: Greenway, and mostly downhill. Lots of crowd support at the relay exchange points. Otherwise several long lonely miles. Luckily KWS and her fam came to cheer me on out there, so I saw them at roughly miles 16 and 18. Here’s a pic from her:
Miles 17-24: This is where it started to hurt. Specifically at mile 21. It was mostly uphill, and I had to walk about 4-5 times up some of the hills. I just focused on getting to the next mile, or the next water point.
Miles 24-26.2: Back on Hillsborough, the pain had numbed for the most part, and I knew I was close. My friend AW came to watch, even on her birthday, which was awesome! And Javi had scouted out a very close spot to the finish, so I got these shots from him: