On Saturday morning, Zain kindly woke me up just before 5am so I didn’t need to wait for my alarm to go off. After getting him back to sleep so he could have another hour of rest, I excitedly woke hubby up and asked him if he was ready to go run a marathon. He was thrilled with my good mood so early in the morning. I had gotten everything we needed prepared the night before so the morning wasn’t too stressful. I had a minor panic attack when I grabbed my Garmin and discovered the screen was blank. I had fully charged it, yet it had somehow run the battery back down. I charged it again while I got ready and thankfully, it was working again. Phew! My parents arrived just after 6am and we all hopped in the car and headed to Baltimore.
Hubby and I lined up at the starting line at 7:45am between the 4:30 and 4:45 pace groups. The 15 minutes until the start seemed to take forever. I had so much nervous energy and excitement in me. I couldn’t wait to get going! Once we were off, we ran through the confetti pouring down under the starting line arch. We could feel the energy of the runners and the crowd around us.
Both hubby and I ran into a problem as soon as we starting running. I insisted we both run with our iPhones. When I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2006, I did not run with my phone and I couldn’t find my family or hubby for nearly an hour after the race ended. I didn’t want that to happen again. I’ve run with my phone in the back pocket of my Race Ready shorts before but for some reason, all of my Gu gels and other stuff threw off my pocket weight distribution. It made my phone bounce so badly it flew out of my pocket at one point. I was nearly run over trying to grab it off the ground. Hubby does not usually run with his iPhone (despite my insistence that he does in case of emergency) so he was not at all happy with how much it was moving in his pocket. I ended up holding my phone in my hand then getting fed up and shoving it in my sports bra for a few miles. I was eventually able to move my Gu around a bit and get my phone to stay better in my pocket.
The first 3 miles were pretty much a steady incline. Hubby and I both felt great and our pace was hovering between 10:10 and 10:30. Once we got to the zoo, we got a break from the uphill and had some nice downhill and flat parts. It was really fun running through the zoo after having just been there last week. We got to see a penguin, a baby alligator and some kind of bird. We felt so great that I started to see our pace slip down to a 9:30-9:50 range and I told hubby we better slow down so we don’t get burnt out.
We passed my parents and Zain around mile 9. We were so excited to see them and the look on Zain’s face was too cute. He was like, “hey, I know them!” This part of the race was really exciting because there were tons of spectators around.
At mile 10, we both needed a pee break so we waited in line for the porta-pots. We probably lost about 3 minutes there. Once we got going again, we were on an out and back portion of the course. We went through a fun area by the Under Armour headquarters and then turned around to head back to the halfway point. We saw my parents and Z again around mile 13. Our time at the half point was 2:18:35. I was really happy with that and was excited we might make a 4:40ish finish.
As we continued on with the race, we went through an area with cobblestone. Hubby pointed out it was good we got used to running on it in Rome so we were prepared for it on race day :).
Hubby and I both started to come undone around mile 16. The hills were getting to us. It’s not like we didn’t train for a hilly race because we certainly run a lot of hills around here, but the hills in Baltimore were different. They were more long steady uphills than the rolling sort of hills we run on. We took our first walking break to give our legs a little rest. This is when I got all mushy and walked with hubby sweaty hand in sweaty hand. I told him I was so glad to be running this race with him. I told him I wasn’t going to leave him no matter what and we would cross the finish line together (um, things might have changed down the road, more about that later).
We set little goals for ourselves like “let’s run to that intersection, then walk up the hill.” My problem is that once I start walking, it’s very hard for me to start running again. My legs think they’re done and don’t feel like starting up again. The more we walked, the harder it was for me to get running again. I kept reminding myself that I ran 20 miles pushing Zain in the stroller, I know I can do this! When I thought about that though, I really just kept thinking “Thank God, I don’t have to push the stroller up these hills!”
All along, I was afraid of the 20 mile mark. It was a mental block for me and I was worried I would really fall apart when I got there. We reached mile 20 when we arrived at Lake Montebello. It wasn’t far around the lake – maybe a mile and a half – but for some reason, seeing how far it was to go around the lake bothered me. Hubby and I walked a bit again as we started around the lake and he told me to go on without him. I told him I wouldn’t leave him, but he insisted that I go so I could at least finish in under 5 hours. I felt even more bad about leaving him because he had left his phone with my parents when we passed them at the 13 mile mark so he couldn’t listen to music to get him through.
I plugged in my headphones and set off alone. I felt so guilty for the next 6 miles even though hubby told me to keep going without him. Every time I took another walking break, I looked behind me for him and considered just stopping and waiting for him even though I had totally lost sight of him. I skipped through the songs on my playlist trying to find something that would put some pep in my step, but all of my music was just getting on my nerves.
I kept checking my watch and seeing my time goal slipping farther and farther away from me. The half and full marathoners had already merged together and I was stuck in a pack of half marathoners that were mostly walking. This meant I had to weave around a lot of people – not something I really had the energy for at that point. Side note – if you’re going to take a walking break in a race, it’s nice to move to the side!
When I finally got to the finish area through Camden Yards, I was counting on the excitement giving me a little dose of adrenaline so I could finish strong. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much left in me so I just did the best I could to run to the finish line and just barely made my goal. The clock time was 4:57 which was ironically my finish time for the Marine Corps Marathon. My official chip time was 4:54:02. I beat my previous time by 3 whole minutes and that is fine by me! My average pace was 11:13 which sounds about right considering how “fast” we were going in the first few miles and the amount of walking we did toward the end.
After I made it through the finisher’s area and got my medal, I went to look for my parents and Z. My legs were angry, but I was happy that I felt sore in a normal just-ran-26.2-miles way, instead of an injured way. Apparently, I couldn’t pick my feet too far off the ground while I walked because that’s when I stubbed my toe and twisted my ankle really bad on some uneven pavement. Leave it to me to injure myself as soon as I finish the race.
Hubby’s official time was 5:03:35 which is fantastic! I’m so proud of him for all the effort he put into training and how well he did on race day. When I caught up to him in the finisher’s area, I just wanted to squeeze him :).
The official photos up until about mile 15 will show you that hubby and I were feeling awesome and having a great time. After that, it was all downhill – unfortunately, not literally downhill. I could probably do a wordless post when the photos are released and you can watch our progression in the expression on our faces.
This race was tough and I had my moments of doubt, but overall it was really fun and I’m glad I had the chance to run most of it with hubby. I loved representing Team Fight for The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and I’m so happy that both hubby and I raised money for their great cause. A huge thanks to all of our friends, family and tweeps that donated to us!
In the week before the marathon, I was so excited for the race that I started to think about signing up for another marathon. I forced myself to close the registration page and wait until I finished this 26.2 first. While I was running somewhere around mile 23, I thought really hard about whether or not I want to run another marathon. My legs were screaming “NO!!!” at me. My head and my heart had a different answer. I do want to run another marathon. I do especially want to run another marathon for a charity team because I want to be able to make a difference with every mile I run. I think I’ll go revisit that registration page now :).