Monday, January 23, 2012

My First Marathon - The Long Version w/Pics

The race was awesome! The weather was perfect – started a little chilly and cloudy, and stayed that way throughout the race – which is huge when it’s AZ. There was no sun beating down the entire time. There was not a 40 degree difference from start to finish.

I had a great time throughout the race, but it was the people who really made it. I met my Mom at mile 8 (the race went right past her house), and she rode her bike throughout the rest of the race with me. She carried water and electrolyte for me, since I was afraid that as a back of the packer, the race would run out (they didn’t). She also had snacks, lip gloss, sunscreen, body glide – things I wasn’t sure if I would need, but didn’t want to carry.

I cannot make this picture go right side up, no matter how I save it. Ahh, technology.
She also met me at basically every mile to cheer me on, which was great.

The race ran past my friend KJ’s house at mile 15, and then again at mile 17. She and her husband were out there cheering me on, and made me an amazing sign.

I love that it was pink, covered in sparkles, had my name, and most of all – that she made it for me. She loves me for who I am (even if I am a person who sings Come on Eileen at the top of her lungs, in an incredibly sparkly skirt as she’s cheering me on).

Autam and J were scheduled to meet me at mile 24, and Autam was going to run the final two miles with me – which was actually quite a sacrifice, as her knees need to be rescoped . Instead, they surprised me at mile 22, which may have been the best surprise ever. I may or may not have been running in place at this point, but unlike most of the people around me, I wasn’t hobbled in pain, or stumbling around.

J hightailed it to the finish line, and caught me as I completely lost it after the race. He was so proud, and that actually made me feel proud of myself. He’s been so supportive of the entire process, and seeing him at the finish line was awesome. It was also great that he actually posted on facebook about the race – something he never ever does. Just showed me how much he cared.
I *may* have had to photoshop the "cold" part of this picture.
What went well:

- My training: I started training with a good base – about 10 miles as a standard weekend long run for 6 months or so. I was diligent in following my plan, but I also was willing to be flexible to account for colds and travel. I did all of my scheduled long runs, and I felt great the entire time. My food intake was deliberate, and I focused on making sure I was getting enough protein and some fats (which I actually struggle with).

- The right clothes: There was a big part of me that wanted to wear some other clothes for the race – accessorize appropriately, wear my @Runprettyfar blossom top that speaks to me with it’s “Find Your Bliss” message – but I was training in this outfit, and I knew it was going to work. I wound up having no chafing (which may have been a result of coating my entire body in body glide, deodorant and/or sunscreen) and I didn’t even have a blister. It was the right choice.

- Enjoying the moment: For me, the training was the hard part. The race itself was the celebration, and I wanted to make sure that I fully enjoyed the experience. I danced with belly dancers, I was chased by cheerleading wild animals who shouted things like “You look tasty!” I sang at the top of my lungs, and played air guitar as I ran around (possibly annoying the other people on the course). I fully allowed myself to BE present, and enjoy the good stuff, knowing that it would carry me through the bad stuff. Then there really wasn’t any bad stuff, and I was glad I had taken the time to enjoy it all.

- Listen to your body more than the experts: I may have read every single possible article, book, blog, and tweet about running your first full marathon, and I also sent out random questions on the interwebs, and got quick responses from very supportive people. It was great to have that info, but the running community said over and over again – listen to your body, do what works for you. For me, the smartest move was to not gorge on pasta. I had a little, and I did it two nights before, rather than the night before. However, the leftovers were possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten AFTER the race.

What I learned:

- Body glide is way better than Vaseline , and doesn’t stain your clothes.

- Wear the right sized underoos - just trust me on this one. If your undies are too big, it’s going to chafe in the WRONG places.

- I’m much stronger than I thought I was – there was no wall, there was no agony. It almost seems surreal because it went so well. There were several training runs on the tready, where I finished and then questioned myself – did I do my math right? Did I really just run for 5 hours? Cause I swear it doesn’t feel like I did… I am strong, and healthy. I am powerful. I always felt like I was strong and determined, but now I KNOW I am.

My favorite race photo – of the finish! It’s hard to tell from the back but I was crying hysterically because the medical tent people were cheering me on so enthusiastically. They were also jumping up and down and doing YMCA, which for some reason was a very emotional song at that moment.

Of course my favorite picture won't load correctly either.
Opportunities for Improvement:

- Start the race on time. I was supremely annoyed that they were going to delay the race by 30 minutes because one light rail train was running late. I was even more annoyed because they didn’t bother to tell us this until we were all lined up and the gun was about to go off. I could have hit the portapotty.

- Don’t have the final miles of the race be the hilliest. There was one hill… one hill that was in the Papagos around mile 23, where I had the following conversation with Autam:

Eileen: As long as we aren’t going up that hill in the distance, I’m going to be fine. This is a piece of cake.

Autam: You’re doing great!
(5 minutes later)
Eileen: Please tell me we aren’t going up that hill?
Autam: …
Eileen: No, please tell me the course doesn’t go up that hill?!
Autam… um…
Eileen: Shit! We ARE going up that hill. *&%$#@@%&I)(&%
Autam: ….

- When the cheer teams are more tired than you are, it’s a problem. Seriously, watching cheerleaders really dragging ass, and hardly waving a pom pom as you trot by does not energize you in any way. I would have preferred no cheerleaders to tired ones.

And finally - These are the signs that my family made for me, that my mom used to cheer me on throughout the course. She then bullied J, Autam, and three random people to hold the signs up for a picture, making sure that they knew she did NOT want their faces in the pic! :)


  1. You are amazing! I can run for about fifteen seconds before I think I'm going to die. If the zombie apocalypse ever comes, I need you in my corner, kay?

  2. I'm very proud of you Eileen!!