Picking up my packet at the Iowa Events Center the day before the IMT Des Moines Marathon.
These were my map notes for my cheering section to use to follow me along the race route. This helped everyone to predict where I would be and at what time, during the 4 hours and 19 minutes it took me to finish the race. I was only 9 minutes off my finishing time. I had planned for the race to take me about 4 hours and 10 minutes, and I finished in 4:19.
About 30 minutes before the marathon started. It was a cold start, 40s, but it warmed into the 50s pretty quickly.
My awesome Road ID, purchased with a gift certificate I won as a door prize from a race I ran this past summer.
My cheering section along the sidelines.
Even my brother Nick made it to Des Moines. It meant so much to have him, my parents, Josh and the kids, and my friends Brandi and Kate and their families there to support me. It really helped me to know that every few miles I had someone looking for me, replenishing my spirit (and empty water bottle), along the way.
My sweet Hazel.
Even little Wally got into cheering!
Kate's stepdaughter Arielle cheered me on too. I loved her sign so much that I kept it!
I think this was around mile 12 or 16.
Around mile 20.
Crossing the finish line!
Carb reload directly afterward! In about 5 minutes I ate two sugar cookies, a piece a pizza, a turkey sandwhich, a granola bar, a banana, 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter, a chocolate milk... and maybe more!? I grabbed everything I could and gobbled it down as fast as I could. I was starving. Oh yeah, and then an hour later I ate an entire meal at a restaurant.
My dear friend Brandi.
I forgot to stop my workout until a few minutes after the finish line, but this was a screen short of my MapMyRun app. No wonder I was starving after I burned all those calories!
This wasn't a sign from the race, but it was an inspiration that I used throughout my training to keep me motivated. The sign along the route that was most memorable for me (besides the adorable ones my cheering sections made for me of course) was the one that said, "For all the girls picked last in gym class." Wow- was that me. Last every time. I think I may have teared a little when I saw that one (I was clearly an emotional wreck!).
I met all the goals I had set for myself. I wanted to finish without walking, and did that. I wanted to finish under 4:30 hours, and I did that. I wanted to not have any major physiological issues (AKA GI system), and with a few days prior of careful eating and hydration, I did that too. I did have to have an internal conversation with my guts around mile 19 and told them to "hold it together," and I must have been convincing because by mile 20 they were back in check.
I started getting emotional around mile 5, when I first heard a stranger cheer, "Good job Traci, you can do this!" At first it threw me off- did I know this person? And then I realized that my name was on my bib. After that, I heard many crowd members and volunteers cheer me on personally. It was amazing. The support that strangers gave me during this race was incredible. A couple of times I had to choke back tears, thinking about how I was actually accomplishing the goal of running a marathon.
The most physically difficult part of the race for me was around mile 6-7. There was a HUGE incline in a hilly neighborhood. It was literally near vertical. And it definitely hurt. But, about halfway through, the theme song from the movie Rocky started blasting. It was powerful. The song lifted my spirit, and the spirits of those around me as we all chuckled together and kept moving forward. Did I say that this race was the most supportive race I have ever run?
As an adult I think we sometimes forget to do things for ourselves. Life becomes demanding. The needs of our spouse, or our kids, or our work, or heck even our need for sleep some days, is overwhelming enough. Setting the goal of, training for and then actually running this marathon took an incredible amount of sacrifice not only from me, but from all of those categories above. It is sort of surreal that after having 3 kids, and at the age of 33, I actually did it. I ran 26.2 miles. And, I actually did pretty good. My results were really commendable.
I was pretty conservative throughout. Mile 1 I made the decision to take my time and run around 9-9:30 minute miles. Only a few of my miles were under 9, and I planned it that way. I knew that the last several would be difficult if I pushed myself too hard early on. I did hit a wall, as we call it in running, around mile 22-24, but I never gave in and never stopped running. It was hard- everything in my head told me to stop- but I refused. I had trained too hard to walk this thing. But, I did run pretty slow those two miles... both were in the 10s... But I just kept going. Once I hit mile 24 I was fine, and I started seeing my cheering section again, so that helped a lot! I ended up finishing in the top 40% of all women my age (I was in one the largest race groups- apparently many women run in their mid thirties!). And, I finished in the 25% of all women in the marathon.
I was only sore a few days, but whew... I was sore. Good thing I had planned to cancel class the next day- I could barely walk, let alone go to work. Icy Hot, foam roller, Motrin, baths... You name it. I needed it.
But, a little over two weeks later, the pain is all gone. I took about 5 days off from running afterward. And I have only been running 3-4 miles every 3-4 days since. It feels so weird not to run 6-8 miles every other day, like I have been doing the last 6 months. Or to not have to plan my weekends around getting a 12-22 mile run in (pending on where I was at in my training schedule). I am actually caught up on grading for work, which hasn't happened in a few months. I am sleeping more- and really liking not getting up at 4:45 to run. And I am spending more time with my family. It helps too that the weather is getting colder- I don't like running in below 40 degree weather.
But, I don't need to run so much right now. I'm not training for anything. I should slow down to prevent burn out. Over the last two weeks I was okay with taking it easy, but I have noticed this week I have the urge to run more again. I don't plan to do another race until the spring, hopefully the Garmin Half again, and then I hope to run the I 35 Challenge next fall (the KC half on a Saturday, and the DSM half the next day). I do want to run another marathon, however, I am not committing to when. Probably in a few years when the kids are a little older and I can really focus on training and maybe set a more ambitious finish time goal. Right now, I am happy with half marathons.
And who knows... Maybe I can talk Josh into running a race with me this next year too? He did just buy his first real pair of running shoes this week- not cross trainers- but real Brooks running shoes. He insists that no spandex pants are in his future though. We'll see ;)