The one I settled upon was the LaCrosse Marathon. I talked my brother, who lives near there, into running it with me (his first as well). I love Wisconsin, and I thought it would be a fun trip and a great experience to share with my brother. And I was half right.
Despite gloomy early forecasts of rain and temperatures in the low 50's, we ended up feeling pretty hopeful about the weather as it looked like it would clear up for our race. Indeed, we had no rain. What we did have was a cloudy sky, temperatures in the low 40's, and wind.
|Very cloudy most of the day|
|There were a lot of people wearing tights and jackets.|
|Me and my brother (and my brother's hat)|
|So proud of my arm warmers.|
I love that shirt, but the tank I was going to wear has a very handy pocket. Not having that, I resorted to keeping my phone and GU in my sports bra (yeah, I'm classy like that). The phone was no problem...I do that all the time. The GU packets, though, left scratches all over my chest. It looks a little like I carried a cat in my shirt.
|Note the start banner blowing in the wind. At least it was at our backs then.|
|Lined up to start. We lined up pretty close to the back, so you can see how small it was.|
|Approaching the bridge|
|Nice industrial area|
We set out aiming for nice, easy 10-minute miles. Because the GPS on Jim's Droid phone and his Cardio Trainer app is waaay more accurate than the GPS on my iPhone, he kept track of our pace...and kept pulling me back to our pace as I'd just start running. I definitely could've run faster for the first half, but I couldn't have sustained that pace for the entire 26 miles.
|Right on track at mile 5 (chip time was a bit less than the clock time bc we started so far back.|
"I'm glad my big ass is good for something," I laughed.
"Yep," he agreed. I was thinking to myself that it was obvious he wasn't my husband because a husband is much less likely to say something that dangerous. He must've gotten an amazed look from the couple next to him, because he explained to them, "It's OK...she's my sister."
|Sunlight! It was actually warm enough for me to take off the arm warmers...for a while.|
In addition to being noisy in general, I also made a point of thanking every single volunteer. As cold as we were running, I'm sure they were miserable standing in that cold wind.
|To the left of the trail was a canal of some sort. Pretty area.|
|As much as I love trail running, I'm sure glad I didn't have to run up those!|
Of course, as we led up to that point, Jim was giving a hard time to the people with signs that said things like "You're almost done!" We had a great time running and talking and being noisy and a bit obnoxious.
|The split...goodbye other runners...goodbye crowd support...goodbye knees.|
We had broken the race up into 4 10K's plus a couple extra miles. Then we decided to stick the couple extra miles in after the third 10K and run our fourth in to the finish. We were doing OK on time coming into the 20 mile mark.
|Our split here was actually 3:34|
We took several walk breaks during that last 6.2 miles. Unfortunately, walking hurt almost as badly as running. It was rough to get going again. The course marshals were very encouraging and a bit more lively than they'd been early on...probably smelling an end to their volunteer duties. We took our last walk break at the 25 mile water stop and then ran the rest of the way in. Coming past the spot where we'd split from the half marathon before was a good feeling, though we still weren't quite sure exactly how far the finish line was. Some kids on the course told us we only had .25 mile to go. As we were rounding that corner and could hear the crowd, I started to tear up...not because I was hurting (which I was) but because we were almost done, we'd almost done it. I knew I could, but now it was real. I didn't actually start crying, but there was a sob caught in my throat that made it really hard to catch my breath.
We rounded the corner and there was the 26 mile sign. On one hand, YEA! On the other, What?? They told us a quarter of a mile and now we still have .2 miles left!! Still, that was the sweetest .2 miles ever. I started really pushing to get in, right when Jim's quad cramped up and he slowed down. Now, if I was beating him fair and square, I'd be all about pushing across the finish line ahead of him, but I know he spent most of the race holding back so he could run with me (and, to be fair, to minimize the pain he'd be suffering from running this marathon severely undertrained). I didn't want to come in ahead of him under those circumstances. I wanted to cross the finish line with him.
I looked back and slowed down. "Don't wait for me...go," he said. So I did. He ended up finishing one second behind me. Once again, I was holding back tears as the volunteer put my marathon medal around my neck. We did it.
|How sweet it is|
So, it's over. I have to say, I'm happy to have some time to take it a little easier, at least not have such long long runs. At the same time, I have a fun race coming up in a few weeks (canoe, mtn bike, trail run) and my eye on a 5K PR at the end of the month, so I'll be back training again once I can walk without wincing. And now I have a nice new marathon shirt that I can wear.
|My first marathon|
Even with the suffering of the last 6.2 mile, while I more than once thought that I never wanted to run again, I never swore that I'd never do another marathon. I hurt, for sure, but not all that badly. I think I feel better overall than I did after my first half. And it was pretty cool being one of the ones going for the longer distance, even if I was one of the last finishers (189/220, AG 12/15). And there are definitely a few things I'd do differently: bring Immodium AD with me, never (EVER) eat raisin bran before a race, and bring ibuprofen. I took some before we left this morning, but we left at 5. By 9, we were about halfway into the race but my medicine was wearing off. Pain killers at that point might have made the end a lot more enjoyable.