What’s it Like to Run a Marathon?

Marathon training is no joke. It’s endless mornings of 5 a.m. alarms, otherwise, after a long day of work, you have to make time for it in the evening. You have to fully commit.

I starting thinking about running a Marathon at the beginning of the year. After a really good run, a run where I felt like I could take on the world, I signed up for North Olympic Discovery Marathon and I had about 5 months to train. The beginning of the year ended up being a tough one too. I caught a 3-4 week long head cold followed by the flu. As soon as I started feeling like myself again, I ended up getting the stomach flu. Those 5 months I thought I had to train for the Marathon turned into 3.
My training was pretty solid though. Probably about 90% ended up being on the treadmill before or after work. Having a little one at home you have to be creative…  the treadmill and I have become pretty close friends. My longest long run was 18 miles due to lack of time and needing to build up my weekly mileage safely. I was nervous about not reaching the 20 mile long run mark, I was hoping to have at least two under my belt before the Marathon, but if you can run 18 you can rally out 8 more miles, right?
The night before the Marathon my husband and I drove up to Port Angeles to stay at a Bed and Breakfast. We picked up our race packets and everything was starting to feel really real! We went to grab some Pizza (of course) and made our way back to the B&B which was about 30 minutes from the shuttle to the start. We went out for a quick 15 minute shake out, laid out our clothes and gear and laid down for bed.
Our alarms went off at 4:45 and I remember reaching over and turning off the alarm while staring at the ceiling and thinking to myself “Shit, shit, shit.” We quickly got ready, had a cup of coffee, a banana, a roll and then made our way out the door.

Driving out to the shuttle the sun was rising and the air was crisp. The forecast for the day was a high of 72 and sunny along the coast (North Olympic Discovery Marathon is a point to point course, starting at Sequim and finishing along the coast of Port Angeles). We parked at the finish and were on the very last shuttle to the start. That was the LONGEST bus ride ever, the entire time I was thinking “This is a very long way, I have to run all this way back? They must be going too far or maybe they missed a turn…”
The start was at 7 Cedars Casino in Blyn WA. It was a nice cool morning and we were able to sit in the Casino and use the restroom. They even had water and coffee for us. My nerves were high and I couldn’t eat or drink anything… I was just looking at my watch anxious to get started.

NODstart

NODstart2

I dropped my bag at the bag drop and stood with the 4:15 corral (HA! If only I knew…) Not soon after we were off! We crossed the street and started on the Olympic Discovery Trail, I felt really good and kept reminding myself that I trained for this and I was ready! The first aid station quickly came up and I ran off to use the Porta Potty (the lines were WAY too long at the start) I lost the group I was running with, but didn’t mind all that much.

NOD3

We took off running. This course was beautiful! It’s on a mostly paved trail through the Peninsula. Trees, mountain views, lakes; the last 5 miles being along the coast with ocean views. I felt really good. My pace was much slower than I had wanted, but my plan was to be very conservative in the first 13 miles, save my energy, and go back to my faster pace the last half. The first half FLEW. I looked down at my watch and said to my husband “We’re already half way done?”

NOD4

Honestly, I was a little bummed that it was half way over, I was having a blast. The weather was perfect, I was eating my gels every 50 minutes or so, drinking gatorade at every aid station, and grabbing gummy bears and oranges any chance that I could get. I was enjoying talking with volunteers and sharing all this time with my husband by my side.

NOD5

Mile 16 came and this is when I started to feel tired. I grabbed a handful of pretzels, but after popping a few in my mouth, I started gagging and decided the pretzels just were not for me. We continued to run and I realized that I never picked up my pace how I had planned which meant I wasn’t going to be near my goal time of under 4:30 (I wanted to beat Oprah!). My time goal was lax and I just wanted to go out and enjoy myself, take in the full experience, and finish the distance at that point, so that is what I focused on.

NOD6

I wasn’t able to eat anything after the mile 17-18 mile point and at mile 18 I was in unknown running territory and feeling nervous about what was to come. I knew these next 8.2 miles were going to be tough. My legs were feeling tired and my hips were feeling a little stiff, but I carried on.

NOD7

Around mile 20 I was walking pretty slowly on the uphills and taking my time at the aid stations. I was chugging along as best as I could. I just told myself “It’s only a 10K now! You did this every morning. You’ve made it 20 miles! Isn’t that crazy? You weren’t able to run three miles just a year ago. GO YOU!”  I was really trying to pump myself up; positive talk people! It works.
The final 6.2 were a kind of a blur. My legs hurt, but I discovered that they didn’t hurt any less walking than they did running. The miles just ticked along as I tried my best to focus on the current mile that I was in. “Enjoy this moment… you’ll never be able to experience this exact moment again.” I told myself over and over again. My legs were HEAVY and it took a lot of will power just to lift them up.

NOD8

The final 5 miles were along the coast. There was a headwind and it was a little chilly, but we were SO close. I asked Korey not to let me stop; to keep me going, and we continued to run. I tried stopping any time he would look away and I did get away with a few walk breaks (mostly little itty bitty hills I didn’t want to run).

NOD9

Mile 24 : “Anybody can do anything for 20 minutes…”
The miles creeped along and I heard Korey yell in front of me “You can see the finish, its so close… we’re almost there!” I looked up and yelled back “Its SO FAR AWAY” (Dramatic, I know.. but it really felt pretty far). I thought about this moment a lot during my weekly runs. How is the last mile going to feel? What about the .2? How am I going to feel? What will it be like to cross the finish line? I watched mile marker 26 pass by and knew we only had .2  to go. Less than 2 more minutes of running. We grabbed hands and took off! I heard and saw my family waiting at the finish line. It was an amazing feeling!

2017NODM_C2CM2_0622

2017NODM_C2CM2_0625

2017NODM_C2CM2_0626

2017NODM_C2CM2_0627

We were handed water and our medals. We grabbed our drop bags and made our way to the food… and someplace to finally sit down… or kinda do a weird slow fall to the ground.

I was a Marathoner. I never thought in a MILLION years that I would say those words. The entire experience was amazing. I enjoyed every moment (even the not so good ones). I did exactly what I set out to do: I had fun. Isn’t that what running is supposed to be about?

If you’re considering running a marathon, DO IT! Take the plunge.