Most of you probably won’t care about this first paragraph, but I have to say it because it just really made the event so much better for me. My husband was so amazing through the entire event, and if you don’t have a spouse like him, drop what you’re doing and find one. He put out so many fires, and was on 100% Dad duty starting Friday, This allowed me to get extra sleep leading up to the event, as well as following the event. He also took over Snapchat for me, and ran around like a crazy person with our son, finding me on the course and cheering louder than anyone out there. He’s probably so sick of me thanking him, but it really just made the whole race better, including seeing them at the end and hearing him cheer as I was turning the corner to the finish line.
Bib pick-up was in Capitola, at the turn around for the half marathon, and the first turn around for the full marathon. The expo itself was much smaller than I was anticipating, with three booths and a place to pick up your bib. It was a really neat little area but it was windy and FREEZING, which was making me pretty nervous for race day. I had been checking the weather leading up to the race, and I had chosen an outfit based on the projection. Standing at the expo to get the bib I was starting to reconsider my choice. I knew right off the bat that the marathon would be significantly smaller than the half marathon because there was one line with two boxes for the marathon, and four lines for the half marathon. Overall, it was organized well for bib pick-up and getting your T-shirt (which is the only reason anyone signs-up for a race anyway).
Night Before Race
After driving 5ish hours to get to the expo, I was supposed to do a 3-mile shake out run per my training plan. We arrived around 3:30, grabbed my bib and shirt, then headed back to the hotel. After check-in it was already 5:00. I realized on the drive out that I had forgotten my watch charger and knew the charge was low. We decided to just buy a new charger (this is not usually my MO – I hate to buy anything, let alone something I already own!). After calling two places to see if they sell the charger, I lost interest in the project. My husband took over, called a bunch of stores to ask if they sold the charger, then to ask if anyone working there had one we could just use to charge the watch! Thanks to his mayoring skills, we ended up at a running store at 5:30, that closed at 6:00, charging my watch with the wrong charger that we had to ghetto rig up to work properly. If the situation were reverse I’m sure I would have been so annoyed, but he didn’t care at all!
Now it’s 6:00, I have to eat, our son is starving and exhausted, and we are on the other side of town. The two scenarios I have read when researching what to eat before a marathon is the pasta carbo-load or a sandwich and fries. I never eat pasta, so I honestly wasn’t sure if it would make me sick. Same with fries. Instead, I opted for a veggie sandwich. It was large and hit the spot, and I think it worked to my advantage.
After racing around for the watch, getting dinner, and getting our little guy ready for bed, I decided to skip my run. I have never done a shake out run the day before a race. Even though I was looking forward to this one, I did not think it would negatively affect my race. So by 9:00 lights were out, ear plugs were in, and it was time to sleep as much as I could before the race.
Morning Of The Race
I woke up at 5AM to make oatmeal in the dark with my coffee maker, so I did not wake our munchkin earlier than needed. By 5:30 I finished eating 1 Cup of oatmeal, which I ate with a banana (#momlife), for a 7:00 AM race. Around 6:30 we left to walk down to the start line, which was about a mile away. I peed before I left, but of course I had to pee after the mile walk. I had about ½ an electrolyte drink before the race because I did not want to have to pee a ton. I had a belt with regular water, electrolyte water, and 3 gus (I planned to grab more from Pat along the way). I ate my Clif Bar on the way, about 30 minutes out from the race. When we got to the start I had about 10 minutes. I gave my coat to Pat, took a few quick pictures, then went to find a porta potty. At 6:58 the announcer said, “Alright everybody!” And that’s it. SO since the bathroom lines were still there, I figured there would be some announcements and maybe a countdown. Every race I have been to there is usually some indication that the race is about to start. As I was standing in line, the horn went off and the race began!!
The horn goes off as I’m standing in the bathroom line, but I do not have to pee bad enough to wait. I head out, with the walking mass, to get to the actual start line. As I cross over to officially begin I am still behind the pack and behind many walkers. I spent the first quarter mile weaving in and out of people and finding my groove. Normally it takes me about 4 miles to get comfortable in my run during a race, but by mile 2 I was feeling pretty comfortable. I had to make a very concerted effort to slow down. My goal for the first 10 miles was to stay around an 8:30 pace. There were a few times, including in mile 2, where I was feeling pretty good. My breathing wasn’t labored, my legs felt great, then I looked down and was cruising at 7:45. I kept reminding myself to slow it down and pace myself, because this is literally a marathon. Since I had never run one, and my longest run up until the race was 18 miles, I needed to focus on pacing.
The course was an out and back (half marathon) then out and back in a different direction for the full. We ran through Capitola, which was a really cute little town, and most of the run was on the water. I noticed early on that my watch and the mile markers were not lining up. The mile markers were about a tenth of a mile off at first, and about 1/3 mile off at the back of the course. I was starting to think I wouldn’t even run a full 26.2, but ONLY 25.9 instead (spoiler alert – the last 1.2 miles were 1.5).
The first half of the race had some rolling hills, but in all honesty, they did not feel difficult at all. Hills don’t bother me since I use my long legs to my advantage and open up my stride to get up them, especially with a short, steep hill. A steady incline kills me. As I was trucking up one of the hills, around mile 11, I saw my son and my husband on the side cheering me on. Nothing gives me an adrenaline rush like seeing them. I ran over to give my munchkin a drive by kiss, and grab more Gu from Pat. I had a little extra pep in my step there, and as I was rounding a corner soon after, they were running through a cut through to cheer me on again!! It truly was unreal having them there to cheer me on, and seeing them chase me down to say hi again. It gave me the boost to run happy.
As I passed the half marathon finish I had to go straight up a hill, and I knew it was time to take another half gu. I started taking ½ gu at mile five, and continued taking ½ every 2.5-3 miles, for a total of four – my last at mile 23.5. I was shooting for an 8:00 mile for miles 11-14, then I would run by feel for 2 miles. I could not remember the rest of what my coach had recommended so at mile 15 I figured I would attempt to hold an 8:30 pace. All of a sudden around mile 17 we were on a trail run. A TRAIL RUN!! My policy is to never look at a course before I run it (I don’t know why – it just helps me not over-think things). I will be reconsidering this policy.
I was 100% not trained for this part of the run at all. I figured it would only be a mile or so, but it ended up being about 5 miles! At mile 17 I reassessed my goals and decided I would keep it at 9:00 mile. Somewhere in mile 18 my watch hit low battery so I couldn’t see anything except part of which mile I was on, and part of my pace. I needed my watch to hold up so I would know when to have my gu, but otherwise, it was good that this happened. Mile 21 was when it became pretty difficult and I thought to myself “Put one foot in front of the other. It’s only 5 miles. You have done training runs on legs more sore than this.” I am so grateful that on the first day of training with my coach she told me that I was going to do hard leg workouts then run the next day so my legs got used to running tired. It worked. I knew I could run on really tired legs so I did.
At mile 23 I hit the pain cave (which I was also warned about!) and everything hurt. I mean EVERYTHING. My left ankle area, the top of my left foot, and my left glute were super sore. I kept thinking how I wish I had done more leg presses!! I thought my quads were going to be shot from the down hills, but they did not hurt a bit. My hamstrings and calves were crying though. At this point I figured it’s only 3-miles so it would be ridiculous to walk now. It was a constant internal dialogue of “keep going” and pushing through. At one point I literally thought to myself, “I have never done anything crazier. Why am I doing this anyway? As someone who has given birth, I think this is more painful. At least contractions subside in between.” Haha, nothing is crazier than glycogen depleted thoughts at the end of your first marathon! I finished my last half gu at mile 23.5 and was soooooo sick of sugar at that point. If I never see another Gu or electrolyte drink for the rest of my life it will be too soon.
Once I hit the water station at mile 24.4, I knew I was going to make it. At the 25 mile marker I was ready to push through. There was a photographer at mile 25.6 (per my watch) who was yelling “ONE MORE MILE!” and I was thinking “NO WAY!! HE HAS TO BE WRONG!” I thought I was going to cry!
As I rounded the corner to the finish, Pat was there with our son and it gave me the push to “sprint” (HA!) to the finish line. I was so happy, and legit I think kind of delusional. The finish line was in SAND!! Beach sand. I think most people probably wouldn’t care about that, but I was so angry! I could barely walk on pavement, how was I supposed to make my way through the sand!!
After The Race
As soon as I crossed the finish line I grabbed my medal, two waters, and all I wanted was to get to Pat. I trekked in the direction of the stairs to get to the pavement. I got to the top and couldn’t find Pat!! I was so distressed. I finally heard him yelling and he was by the sand, with the stroller, on the other side of the finish. He must have seen that I was about to cry because he went under the rope and came running across the finish to meet me. I fell into his arms and was so crazy emotional. It was ridiculous. I had equipped the stroller with a protein bar and an Arbonne recovery drink. Pat asked if I wanted anything, but all I wanted was to sit. I knew if I sat in a chair I would never walk again, so I sat on the ground with my legs stretched out. They were shaking SO MUCH!
I hit up the free chiropractor tent after to get my calves worked out a little. I was shivering cold so I left the tent early to change into dry clothes. All I wanted at that point was to go back to the hotel, so we grabbed some coffee and walked the mile back. I am so glad we walked there and back because it really helped my legs.
We grubbed on some Mediterranean food after I showered, then we took a family nap because we were ALL exhausted! I woke up after a half hour because my legs hurt so bad. It just occurred to me TODAY (2 days later) that I could have taken Tylenol. We all went down to the hot tub for a bit then ate rotisserie chicken for dinner. It was glorious.
Overall, the race was so fun and so awful! The entire last six miles I told myself I would never ever run a marathon again. I definitely do not think I have the time or energy to run one again in the next few years. I would want to concentrate more on lifting heavier weights. I was also sick during my peak mileage week, and ended up having one week of no running and one week of easy paced runs. I would want to be able to commit more to the training aspect. I guess we will see what happens! Even though it was tough, I am so happy I did it.
Splits & Results
Elevation gain of 641 ft
Chip Elapsed Time: 3:56:17
Age Place: 9
Gender Place: 25 out 151 Female Finishers