This was my first marathon ever, and with numerous injuries preventing me from following or even finishing out a proper training cycle, I lowered my goal of < 4:00:00 to < 4:20:00 which seemed attainable but a challenge, all things considered.
So, yeah. I had hoped to follow Jack Daniels 18-week plan with two quality workouts a week, and was following it for a month or two, before my ankle blew up from a previous injury trail running last year. That resulted in two months of light running, physical therapy, and knee pain on my opposing knee due to overcompensating for the injury. On the bright side, my climbing improved greatly in this time, but it was horrible for my running. Once that finally got to a point in running, I was able to pull together a half-marathon PR of 1:50:15 in a very, very hilly course but was still pressed on time. The result was not following much of a plan, and trying to get as many miles in as possible. My longest run ended up being 18 miles, but fortunately I had some great cross-training over the past month in backpacking and basic mountaineering and managed to string together about a month worth of > 50 mile weeks between running and hiking.
The Night Before
All kitted out. A lot more thought went into this than any half-marathon I've ran. What extra clothes might I want (forecast was calling for showers mid-morning, an improvement over thunderstorms from earlier in the week!!!). How much food, so on. It was much more strategic. I was very, very, very anxious for this race given that it was my first marathon, and feeling under prepared because of the training issues. Can I really run a marathon? Will I end up injured at some point during this race? A lot of what-if's were racing through my mind, so I ended up putting on The Great British Bake Off at around 9pm last night after a night of pasta with cabbage, and way too much other food...finally fell asleep at 11ish pm, much later than I would have liked given my 3:45am wakeup alarm.
The Morning Of
Drove up to Seattle, hopped on the monorail, nothing exciting. Ran into another runner I knew who was also running the full marathon, but not even close to his first. Ate a banana, spent some time in the bathroom. Went to bag check. All the little things that add up over the course of the morning. It was a beautiful morning, I couldn't have asked for a nice one.
Things went way, way faster at the start this year compared to last year in this race. Corrals were smooth, I was happy with that!
Highlights from the first 13.1 miles:
1. Trying to eat a crumbled Stinger Waffle at mile 8ish. Took one bite and half of it ended up in my mouth. Choking hazards are real, people!!! Took me a handful of miles to recover from that incident and try eating more food. This also happened to coincide with a "really fucking steep" two-block stretch of hill that most people walked. I didn't, because holy fuck I've been walking up mountains for months now.
2. Mile 6ish, my favorite sign. "Stranger with Candy" as a lone lady with a candy bowl watched the spectators, I can only assume she was looking for somebody. I didn't take any candy. Other signs included numerous "You are running better than the government" signs. Seattle...
3. Splitting off from the half-marathon runners. This is where the pack really thinned out.
Highlights from the last 13.1 miles:
1. Running on the viaduct before it's torn down! That was a really cool experience, minus me really, really, really needing to use a port-a-potty during a five (!!!) mile stretch of no port-a-potties. That stop added probably three minutes to my time.
2. Eating more food without choking on it.
3. Seeing my friends for the first time with their signs and bells and whatever else. I didn't actually read the signs at the time, but I saw them!
4. Seeing a good friend of mine who was running the race with me on an outback stretch, she was a good two miles ahead of me at this point and kicking ass! This would have been the 14 (for me) and 16 (for her) marker. Also, seeing another runner I know at the mile 19 (for me) and 25 (for him) marker. He's really fucking fast and beat me by an hour.
5. Running up near the zoo! As soon as I hit trail I started passing lots and lots of people. It was rejuvenating and just in time.
6. Seeing the finish line.
About 1,500ft of gain over the entirety of the course, and a race I'll never forget. I feel like I ran it fairly conservatively, and feel like I can run tomorrow without much issue. Maybe a bit too slow? The long split at mile 23 coincides with continuous uphill, and another port-a-potty stop...stomach wasn't very agreeable this morning, unfortunately. Overall I'm happy with how I ran the race, the intent was to match splits across the first and second half, and I did a damn close job of that despite the second half being much more sustained hills than the first. I nearly caught my friend, too, closed a twenty minute gap all the way down to a four minute gap because of the sustained performance. A lot of parts of my body ended up with minor pains and annoyances over the course of the race, including my arches which was a new experience, but nothing lasted very long. The arches were an issue for the last three miles, for some reason, but didn't hamper me. The last mile we finally got those showers, which actually rained pretty hard so I was nice and wet at the finish line. A true Seattle race.
First off, a big thanks to wasoxygen, WanderingEng, and some family members and friends for watching this all unfold in real-time. Hopefully you all enjoyed that and that the app was tolerable. Overall I came in the top 33% in this race, and placed almost exactly 50% in my division (gender and age). For gender, I was slightly above the top 50%. I'll take those results for a first! I ate a lot of food today, drank a fair amount of beer, and stretched/foam-rolled/ankle strengthening exercises. I'm tired, but on the verge of signing up for this race again next year...and taking a good luck at wear on my shoes!
One marathon down, who knows how many more to go. What a day...