On Sunday I ran the hardest marathon I’ve ever run. Ever.
Going into the race, both Ann and I were very aware we were somewhat under trained, but overall we were feeling pretty okay about things. We knew we were stubborn enough to finish and we knew parts of the race would hurt. What we didn’t expect were the absolutely brutal hills in the last half of the race….but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Sunday started at 4:15 ish when our alarms went off. Then it was breakfast time. I ate two eggo waffles with PB and half a banana and a cup of coffee……except the coffee did not do what coffee is supposed to do. Not at all.
By 5:10 we were out the door and heading to the start. The race was a point to point and the maps, including the elevation chart, weren’t terribly accurate so we wanted to leave lots of time in case of road closures or race traffic. We encountered none of those.
It was a colder morning than expected, so we stayed in the car as long as possible before hitting up the port-a-potties one last time (still no luck) and finding a sunbeam to stand in before the start.
The race was self seeded on a narrow road so we were couldn’t see the start from where we were standing and couldn’t really hear the announcer. All of a sudden there was a countdown and we started moving toward the start.
gulp it was time to run a marathon.
The first bit was a little rolling, but not awful, and we both felt great. We were chatting and thanking the runners and spectators who commented on our skirts (thanks to Katie from Chase This Skirt for the amazing skirts!!) and easily the knocking off 10ish minute miles. We regularly commented on just how gorgeous the course was.
At about mile 6.5 we crossed the river (the first time) and entered an industrial type zone. This is when the coffee did its thing. It didn’t take us long to spot a port-a-potty with no line and in I went.
FYI – pulling up race pants after nine miles is quite similar to pulling on a wet bathing suit. Ew.
Off we went again ticking off the miles and feeling pretty good about life. Right before mile 11 the lead half marathoner passed us (the half started an hour after) and we hollered at him – he looked good. Right before mile 12 the half course headed to the finish and the full course went straight into the land of suck.
We headed down a massive hill, and this part of the course was an out-and-back, so that meant we’d be running (walking) up the hill at mile 25. Our comments on this had a significant amount of profanity.
We went back up a hill and over the bridge, snapped a picture of the city and went down another hill. We just kept going down and worrying about needing to go back up.
The elevation map was a lying liar who lies.
Then we went down some more.
And then we spotted Heather at mile 17. Oh man, it was good to see her! We quickly popped over to say “hi” but knew we needed to keep running or we might not get started again.
At mile 18 things really started to fall apart. My left groin/hip flexor started to really hurt. So much so that I kept needing to stop and stretch. I’d work my hip and then Ann would work her IT. We’d take a deep breath and commence shuffle running.
We knew Heather was just past the 20 mile marker and so our focus was in getting there. Mile 20-21 was a LOT of walking and stretching and curing and glaring at our watches as the course was running nearly a half mile long at that point.
It was Ann’s turn for a bathroom break at mile 21 and then we ran the majority of mile 21-22, which we really hadn’t done since about mile 15 or 16. At mile 23 we went back over the bridge from hell. We thought it might be fun to take a “10 miles later” picture on the bridge, but there was no way we were stepping up that 8 foot curb in order to do it.
This was about where I fell into the dark marathon place and really needed Ann to pull me through. I was in so much pain and was tired and was ready to be done. I was fighting back tears and running downhill hurt so much, and walking uphill sucked like you wouldn’t believe. I hated everyone and everything at that point.
Finally we were down the big hill, up the big hill, down another hill and had about a mile to go. I still wasn’t convinced we were going to finish.
We saw the 26 mile marker, then the 13 mile marker, then Heather. And the tears started. They weren’t trickle tears, they were heaving tears because I did it. We did it. I ran a marathon that supremely sucked (I feel confident in saying this was by FAR harder than the ultra last year) and finished. We went in with no time goals, but to finish upright and smiling. I think the smile was much more of a grimace, but we were upright.
After finishing I collected myself, got my -ish together, found Heather and went to brunch.
Although I was under trained, I feel like the hills made the race way, way harder than we had anticipated. Once we hit the out and back section we started looking for the lead male, we saw him much farther back than we expected, and he was hurting. Actually, everyone coming toward us looked like they were hurting. FYI – the hills super sucked.
[Tweet “A hilly marathon literally full of ups and downs #marathon #racerecap #bestrunningfriend”]
Have you ever ran a course where the race was very different from what you expected?
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