Yesterday, I shared everything leading up to the race. Today, like a less-fun female version of a Bruno Mars, I’ll break it down.
- Pace: Run 5 minutes (trying to keep my pace at or under 11-minute miles) and walk 30 seconds for at least the first half of the race, just as Zoe and I had done in 2011 when it worked great.
- Nutrition: Eat a Clif Bar around miles 5, 10, 15 and 20. I did this during my 18-miler and it worked great. Admittedly, looking at this now, it looks disgusting. That’s just a lot of Clif Bars. Plus, two 20-ounce bottles of Nuun in the front of my pack and 20-ounces of water in the back to help balance the weight and just in case I wanted plain water.
- Music: Play it by ear. Hahahaha. I had my regular fast-paced playlist with songs by people like Mr. Mars and Pitbull, yes Pitbull, and a playlist that was mostly Elton John and Billy Joel songs. I also had my Iron War audio book ready, too.
What Actually Happened
(Pictured at top.) After a short countdown, the marathoners took off. I did my typical joke about being tired and done at about 200 yards into the race. Gotta say, not a lot of laughs. This joke usually kills. Got a dud crowd. Actually, I think most people already had their headphones in and were ready to get down to business. (And also pretty sure that joke is old.)
I ran behind a lady dressed as a pile of spaghetti and meatballs. She was doing it right. (You can juuuuuust make her out in the picture at the top of the page–she’s right under the arch on the left.)
Mile 1: 10:38
The first mile began on a winding asphalt path through a wetland area of Tolt-MacDonald Park for about a half mile. It was still foggy and cool, but I was comfortable in my short-sleeved shirt. I met a runner who was there from Dallas (she’s also pictured in the photo above, in a green visor and plaid skirt). We chatted on and off.
We then crossed a road and went under a bridge to enter a trail running alongside the Tolt River that was “paved” with large golf ball-sized gravel. Most of us tried to run off the side in a single track of packed mud because it was softer and didn’t offer as many chances to roll your ankle in the first mile of a marathon.
I didn’t have my watch set to actual pace, just lap pace. But it felt easy. I left my headphones out so I could enjoy the quiet.
Mile 2: 10:41
The view of the Tolt River with the sun peeking through the fog was beautiful. I should stop and take a picture. Hmmm, but then I’d have to get my phone out and everything and that seems like a lot of work.
We quickly joined the Snoqualmie Valley Trail near Remlinger Farms. Marathoners (we were the only ones running yet) were directed left, or north. The trail is hard packed dirt and light loose gravel—like what I run on at home. I knew this going into the race as I ran the Mt. Si Relay in 2012.
The Dallas runner asked if she could join me in my run/walk. I said sure. I told her I was running 5 minutes and walking 30 seconds, and just trying to keep my pace under 11s. “Finish time?” she asked. “No idea,” I said. I really didn’t know and I didn’t want to give myself a finish time, but in my heart I thought I should beat 4:45 since that was my first marathon and since now I’m so much smarter.
Mile 3: 10:35
I chatted a little with the Dallas runner. (I asked her name after the race, but I was a little out of it and forgot!) I wasn’t feeling as talkative as I normally am, however. We cheered for some of the leaders as it became clear this was a short out and back.
Two women, a first-time marathoner and an older (and by older I just mean older than me) runner, were in front of us. I heard the “older” woman say that she’d run 134 marathons. That’s ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FOUR. Also, she was one of the people who did the pudding eating contest pre-race. She’s my hero.
We then caught up with another pair of women also run-walking using a 9 minute run-1 minute walk ratio. The Dallas runner decided to stay with them. We turned around sometime during Mile 3, I believe.
Mile 4: 10:16
I was still enjoying myself. I still didn’t need headphones. We were in nature. It was misty. It smelled like fall. I saw a lady out for a run with her boxer.
Mile 5: 10:45
During Mile 5, we arrived back at the place where we originally joined the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, and a volunteer sent us left (east) off of the “main drag” for “a really short out and back.” She said, “I’ll see you soon!” I broke out my first Clif Bar.
I ran “with” two guys about my age and with an older man in a Marathon Maniacs shirt, who was in front of us. We ran along the Tolt River for a bit till we all slowed. Up ahead, we could see a fork in the trail. “Is this the turn around?” somebody asked. But as we got closer I pointed out a tiny yellow spray-painted looping arrow. “Uh, I guess so,” I answered.
As we ran back, one guy said, “Good thing you were there, I might’ve kept running. Would’ve made for a long marathon!” We all laughed. Everyone was in a great mood.
I choked down my Clif Bar. I saw the experienced looking couple from the start line (mentioned in yesterday’s post) and felt like they should’ve been in front of me, not behind me.
Mile 6: 10:54
The volunteer directed us left again (now south) and onto the gravelly Snoqualmie Valley Trail again, which we would follow on a slight incline for the next approximately 9 miles, although I didn’t know how far it would be at the time. But I sort of suspected that’s how it went.
I ran “with” the same couple of guys for a while. We’d separate and then regroup since we all were doing some sort of run/walk.
One guy I was behind for way too long was wearing a loose-fitting pack that two folded trekking poles tied to the back of it. It bounced more than Pamela Anderson’s chest on Baywatch. This guy’s pack drove me nuts. I’m assuming he didn’t know much about the trail or he would’ve left those poles in the car. I decided to put on my upbeat tunes.
Mile 7: 11:23
Just after I put music in, we came to the first big water stop that was “Blerched” out complete with couches, a Blerch inviting us all to sit down, “It’s not like you’re going to podium.” Haha!
There was cake, Nutella sandwiches and the purple stuff (very watered down Gatorade). Me and trekking-poles-guy sat down with a Blerch. I regret not getting a picture. One of the volunteers took one, but not sure I’ll ever see it. I had a Nutella sandwich (really a quarter of a full sandwich) and then moved on, high-fiving Sasquatch on my way up the trail.
Really, I just wanted to not be behind trekking-poles-guy anymore. The bouncing pack was getting to me. Also whenever I tried to pass him, it felt like he would speed up, and I didn’t want to have a full-out sprint to just get a few strides ahead.
Mile 8: 10:56
Still clocking in under 11s and doing the 5 minute walk, 30 second run. I had some small rocks in my shoes, but they didn’t bother me enough to stop and shake them out. Also, had to pee.
Mile 9: 11:00
Sort of a blur. I know got out my second Clif Bar late in this mile because I started to feel hungry. I ate ¾ of it and then didn’t want anything to do with the rest of it. This also might be where I debated using a porta-potty, but didn’t want to go that early on. I only wanted to go once if I could help it—like in 2011.
Mile 10: 11:27
Also a blur. I think I maybe had Gatorade at a small water stop.
Mile 11: 12:48
Who knows? Maybe I saw the half marathon leaders coming back? I forget. I think this is where I saw a Blerched-out water stop and a porta-potty. I’d had to go pee since Mile 8, so I finally stopped.
Mile 12: 11:04
I noticed my left foot was starting to hurt—the arch and my inner ankle. It seemed a little early for this nonsense. I felt like I’d gone farther before experiencing any pain. Then again, I hadn’t run 12 miles completely on gravel before. Also, I knew the slight uphill was probably not helping.
Mile 13: 11:18
I think this was right around where the half marathon turn-around was. I was super jealous. I’d made a deal with myself that I’d switch my walk breaks to 1 minute at the half, so I did. Note to self: Do that the other way around next time. Oh, shoot. I said “next time”!
Mile 14: 11:38
Lonely. I didn’t see anyone and was, in fact, alone with other runners being either around curves ahead or behind me. But I was running in a pretty forest. I reminded myself I was strong. I reminded myself that I’d decided to think of the race as some nice “alone time.”
This could be also be where the gunshots started. There’s a shooting range down in the valley below the trail, which I only knew about because of the Mt. Si Relay—my leg had been here. I can imagine if you didn’t know about the shooting range, it’d be a little startling.
I still was mostly alone. I think I may have started seeing some of the marathon leaders coming back and cheered for them. AND most of the race leaders took the time to smile and give me an encouraging word, too. Marathoners are the nicest.
Mile 15: 12:57
I got out a Clif Bar. I took one nibble off a corner. Nope.
Also, my music was annoying. I turned it off. I started to see more people coming back. Everyone smiled and cheered each other on. I got a “You got this, girl” from one woman. A woman I’d met pre-race let me know the turn-around was coming up. Hallelujah.
I came upon a big water stop and I threw away my uneaten Clif Bar. Just about a ¼ mile after the stop was the turn around. The forest was more dense and it was beautiful.
I got back to the big stop. I was hungry. They had bananas! Oh happy day! Bananas actually sounded good to me. They were split in halves in small paper cups. One of the volunteers offered me a whole one, but I said I probably wouldn’t be able to peel it. I should’ve taken one and put it in my pack. They also had couches. I should’ve stopped and emptied my shoes. Instead I hovered around the banana table. I inhaled a total of 1-1/2 bananas out of cups.
Part of me just wanted to sit down and stay there. The other part of me was eager to go downhill…and toward the finish.
Mile 16: 12:58
I was excited to be on my way back. But, really, this mile is a blur. Still running 5 minutes, but my walk break was a little longer, I think.
Mile 17: 11:42
The banana and the Gatorade kicked in and I felt like a new woman. Whee!
Mile 18: 12:25
Well, that didn’t last long at all. Still running 5 minutes and walking a minute, but I would cheat a little and walk longer sometimes. I cheered on those not yet at the turnaround.
The experienced looking couple (from the start line), that I had been surprised to see behind me during Mile 5, freaking flew by me leaving me in their dust. Clearly, they were experienced and had taken things extra easy till the turn-around point. Smart, smart people.
Mile 19: 13:44
I felt…not great, but I can’t exactly pinpoint what didn’t feel good. My joints? Each walk break, I cheated a little more, walking longer than a minute. A dude I hadn’t seen before passed me and said, “We’ve got this.” We leap-frogged each other with our run-walk ratios being different. But my mind was starting to spiral down a black hole of negativity.
Mile 20: 12:27
Everything hurts and I’m dying. I think it was around this time that I realized I was not going to beat my first marathon time. I’d thought I could at least get the same time, but reality was setting in. My thoughts were starting get more negative, but I tried to fight it. I turned on Iron War and then turned it off a couple of minutes later. I wanted silence.
Mile 21: 13:30
I was mostly alone again. People were either a ways up ahead or a ways back. Why do my hips hurt so bad? What am I doing? Why am I out here? I’m missing Karsen’s soccer game. I miss my family.
My eyes filled with tears and I started to cry. I pulled my hat down low in front of my face just in case anyone came from the other direction. I walked a little longer till about 21.5 miles. I fought the negative thoughts. Get it together. Just make it to Mile 22. In my head I sang, “Mile 22, Mile 22, Mile 22” over and over again.
Mile 22: 12:38
I made it to Mile 22. Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed with the fact that I still had 4.2 miles left and that it’d probably take me an hour to do it. I was out of Nuun. I put on my Elton John-Billy Joel playlist, which helped…a little.
Mile 23: 14:39
Oh, hello Wall. We finally meet. I’ve never experienced The Wall. This was my first time. This is not fun anymore. I want to be done. right. now.
I’d run a little, then decide it was too hard and walk. Then decide walking hurt way worse than running, so I’d run, but then decide it was too hard and walk again.
Finally, a water stop. But no bananas. I asked for anything salty–why didn’t I bring anything salty? Oh yeah, because I thought I’d be eating my Clif Bars and they had plenty of sodium in them. Except the idea of eating a Clif Bar made me want to vomit. A volunteer had a bag of large pretzel sticks and she gave me a handful. I also had some Gatorade.
It was sunny and warm now; the trail was out of the trees, so the shade was spottier. There were half marathoners walking. I heard text notifications, but didn’t have the energy to check them.
Mile 24: 14:18
The pretzel sticks and Gatorade helped a little. I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel…barely. If only I didn’t hurt so bad. I ran when I could muster up the strength and walk till I couldn’t stand the pain in my hips. Also, I think I was walking funny—like a cartoon cowboy who just got off a horse.
The course was mostly in the sun now, but it didn’t bother me that much. I was already in a world of hurt. A couple of walking half marathoners gave me some encouragement. But I was so low, I could barely acknowledge them.
Mile 25: 14:26
Walk. Ouch. Run. Oof. Walk. Ouch. Run. Oof. I started making deals with myself. Run to there, then walk. Walk to there, then run. But as I got to the end of 25, I could taste the finish line and I wanted to be done so badly that I just willed myself to run more.
Mile 26: 11:08
Get out of my way! I started running and I wasn’t going to stop till I was done with this thing. As I came to the point of the trail where I would turn and go back down toward the river, the volunteer told me I looked great. I wanted to respond, “Liar!” But I just squeaked, “Thanks.”
Unfortunately this section meant those huge golf ball-sized gravel rocks and there were a lot of half marathoners who were walking on the nice soft single track on the side. So, I’d run on the side when I could and then have to pass on the rocks and, dude, that hurt pretty bad. But I needed to be done. Like now. Like an hour ago, actually.
Almost there. Almost there. I made it to the paved path, which felt a lot better on my feet after about 25 miles on gravel. Even with my Franken-shoes, the gravel was brutal.
I curved through the wetland. Where is the finish? Where is the finish? I can hear the finish! I was mostly alone, just passing some walking half marathoners here and there. A woman sat on split-rail fence near the finish with a sign that said “You are awesome.” SHE is awesome.
Then, as I was getting closer to the finish line, there was a woman walk-running in front of me in like a medieval wench costume or something. I do not want that crazy costume in my finish line photo, I thought, and I ran faster, passing her.
Finally I was almost to the finish line and up ahead I saw a green sequin skirt and people cheering. It was my friend Tiffany, who’d run the half, and her family, and a friend, who ran the 10K. I was so surprised! I tried to hug Tiffany and run at the same time. Then I thought, What am I doing? I need to finish so I can stop running!
I crossed the finish line, stopped my watch and started to make an ugly cry face as the volunteer put the medal around my neck. “Are you okay?” she asked. “Yeah,” I sobbed. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” I pulled it together to give hugs to Tiff’s family.
Side note: I cannot believe they waited for me. It had to be a long time. Tiffany’s husband Will ran over and got me some electrolytes, which was so nice since I couldn’t walk very fast. And then their son told me all about the antics that happened around the finish line (long story short: a woman puked and then later a photographer sat in it). His retelling of the story made me laugh and was just what I needed. Big thanks to them!
Time: It took me 5 hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds to run this marathon, officially. I started running at about 8:15 a.m. and didn’t finish till approx. 1:30 p.m. I didn’t know, but Tiffany had been worried and had messaged my husband even to see if he knew anything.
Thoughts: At first, I was like I hate marathons. I’m never doing this again. Seriously. They are dumb. But I realize that was the pain talking. The thing about marathons that I realized is, it isn’t about the race at all, really. It’s about after the race when you look back and reflect and you think, I can’t believe I did that. That’s a long way. And you think about all the hard things that happened, like my last few miles, and you’re so proud of yourself for enduring the pain and finishing.
Despite all the pain I felt at the end and later in the day (really sore hips and knee joints), the very next day, I felt pretty good. My quads were sore, but that’s a given. Two days after and I seriously felt great. I couldn’t believe it. Just a little sore in the quads and that’s all. My foot wasn’t even sore! Three days later and almost back to normal. It’s incredible. I thought I’d be sore for a week!
I’d already planned to take a week off of running and I’m sticking with it. I have a couple blisters that are healing, too. Can’t wait till next week when I can start on my next running journey…. although I’m still not quite sure what it will be now.
Thanks for reading! (You should get a medal if you made it to the end.)