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Marathon Day

Warning: Long Post!

So I was off and running in my first marathon, the Garden Spot Village Marathon.

But, first a little background:
Before the start of the race.

As I got closer to the National Marathon (the marathon I orginally registered for), I started to set some goals.  The first, was I wanted to run a sub-5 hour marathon and come as close to 4:30 as possible.  I had no doubt, that with the right conditions, course, and remaining injury free that I could do it.  Two weeks before the National Marathon, I developed the IT band issue, which you have heard me mention, over and over again, and I knew that that changed everything.  Plus, I had now tapered for a full month and one week of that taper I did NOTHING.  No running. No crosstraining. Nothing.  Plus, I was not smart about my taper. I ate as I had been eating at my peak mileage weeks.  Eating lots of calories and exercising less = weight gain.  I was not going into this marathon at top form.

So, I revised my goals and how I would run the marathon.  First, I had no time goal.  I just wanted to finish.  And I wanted to enjoy the marathon.  I wanted to really let myself experience it and not worry about the clock.  And, I did not want my IT band to act up.  In order to do that, I decided that I would stick to the Jeff Galloway method of 4 min run/1 min walk NO MATTER WHAT.   And, I would walk down EVERY downhill so as not to aggravate my IT band.

Back to the marathaon:

Waving good-bye to my boys as I started the race.
The first mile was good.  I hit the 1 mile marker and thought, ok 1 mile down without pain.  I was doing my run/walk intervals and was around many people who must have been on the same run/walk interval as myself.  An older man and his wife started talking to me because we had the same leg compression sleeves on.  I normally do not talk while running a race and would have just givven a nod and run faster, but I actually started a short converstaion with them.  Enjoy the race.

Miles 2 and 3 were fine.  There were inclines here and there, but I felt good.  I watched my Garmin closely to make sure I kept my overall pace (since I was run/walking) at around an 11 min/mile.  I had to slow down a few times, but that was it. It was also around mile 3 that I saw the first of many Amish families sitting outside, cheering on the runners as we passed. It was really cool.  Also, at this time, I noticed an older Amish gentleman with a marathon race bib attached to his back, running in the race.  I had seen a few younger Amish men at the start and though it was neat that they were running.  How did I know they were Amish?  Because they were in their normal dress: short sleeve button down shirt, brown dress pants, suspenders and hat.  Oh, yes, and the older gentleman was even wearing his normal shoes! I wondered what he thought of all the other runners, totally "geared out" (myself included).

As mile 4 began, we hit the start of "the hill."  The hill was really a series of steeper inclines separated by short straight-a-ways and even one down hill.  I made it up the longest portion of the hill and was happy it as over.  At the top of the hill was another Amish family waving to all the runners.  They had a cute little son, no more than 6 who was blowing a horn!  I waved and said hello.  Matter of fact, I waved and said hello to all the familes cheering us on.  I figured that if they were taking the time to come out and cheer us on, I could thank them by saying Hi back!

Then the down hill began and I walked it.  I made it down the hill successfully with no IT pain.  I was somewhere around mile 5 when I actually began to get optimistic that I could hit double digit miles without my IT band acting up.

Right around mile 6.5, we hit the steepest of the hills.  On this end of the race, it was a downhill. I had no choice but to walk it.  At mile 7, I saw my husband and the boys.  The boys ran with me a tiny bit.  It was at this point too, that the half marathoners turned around and headed to the fiinsh and the marathoners continued on.  Once the half marathoners were gone, it got quiet.  The rest of the runners were all pretty spread out now.  I was officilally at the "back of the pack". 

Miles 8-10 were pretty uneventful.  The only thing I really remember about these miles was an Amish boy in his front yard who offered everyone who passed a piece of gum.  He was there at mile 9 and I saw him again when I passed back through at mile 19.  Now, I do not know if there are runners who actually chew gum while racing, but there he was, holding out the gum saying "Would you like a piece of gum?"  When I saw him at mile 9, I just said no thanks and told him to have a great day, but when I passed him again at mile 19 and he was still out there, offering every runner a piece of gum (how many hours had he been out there????) I said yes and I took a piece! How could I say no?

I still was feeling good, and remarkably, my IT band was feeling great.  I was enjoying the scenery.  We were passing Amish farm after Amish farmer.  There were Amish boys fishing in a stream, and children going down the road on these bike-like scooters.  There were horse and buggies going down the street. I waved at every one.  We passed organic farms, vegetable farms, and dairy farms that sold ice cream (oh, how I wanted to go back to that farm to try their all-natural, homemade ice cream).  I ran passed fields that were dotted with cows, horses and sheep.  I ran passes a huge barn and looked inside and saw the prettiest Guernsey cow.  There were flowers blooming alongside the barns and the homes.  It was a beautiful run!

At mile 12 the course turned into a loop.  For several miles we had been going down roads where we could see marathoners, fast marathoners, who were already on their return trip to the finish.  But at mile 12 we split off that road to go on a loop.  I still felt good and was beginning to pass a few runners.  I stopped to help one woman who seemed to be in pain (her IT band was acting up!!), so I showed her a few streches and headed on down the road.  At mile 13, I thought, I am half way there

Mile 14 was my slowest.  I had to stop completely because a gnat flew into my eye and I could not get it out.  I also stopped at the water stop to use the port-a-potty, refill my water bottle, and eat my clif bar (I walk while eating . . . I still cannot eat and run).

Then, I mentally hit a "wall". Not the real "wall" that everyone talks about in marathons.  Physically, I felt fine. A little sore, but fine.  But, mentally I beagn to contemplate quitting.  I saw an ambulance around mile 15 and I thought about knocking on their window and telling them to take me back to the start.  I walked longer than scheduled. I just could not get back into a good groove.  I still passed a few runners, but my heart was just not into it.  I think it was beacuse, at this point, runners were so spread out that I really felt like I was running alone.  I kept telling myself, "Just hang on until you get to mile 17, you will only have single digits left."

And I think that worked.  I hit mile 17 and I said out loud,"Yes, only 9 more to go!"  Plus, after several texts to my hubby to tell him what mile I was at, we were finally able to connect and at mile 19 he drove up behind me.  It was SO GOOD to see them.  They drove up the to water stop just passed mile 20 and got out.  My hubby took my water bottle from me to fill it up so that I could continue through and "run" with my boys.

I saw them several times over the next 3 miles.  The drove to the top of "the hill" and waited for me.  They were cheering me on when I got to the top (I told my husband I would need them there!).  I waved and yelled, "It's all downhill form here!" I will be honest, at this point I felt great!  My legs were tired and I was sore, but I knew I was so close now.  I saw them one last time at the mile 23.5 water stop.  I only had 3 more miles to go!

A picture so you get an idea of the hills.  This was just one that we had to run up and down.  You know the phrase, "Went up hill both ways."  Well, that was this race!
It was also at this point that I knew I would not make it in to the finish under 4 hours.  Most of the race, I was ok with that fact, but by mile 23, I knew I was close, but not close enough.  And, I felt good enough that I knew I could have pushed it harder throughout the race to get into the finish under 5 hours, but not good enough to run fast enough in the last 3 miles to get in under 5 hours.  I was slightly up set, but determined to run the last 3 miles as hard as I could and to pass as many runners as I could.

Still Smiling at mile 23
I pumped Christina Aguilera's Fighter in my ears over and over again over the last strech and ran on!  When I hit the 26 mile mark, it finally started to hit me, "I am almost a marathoner." And, as I turned off the main road and into Garden Spot Village to the fininsh, I began to tear up.  My husband got pictures of me coming into the finish, but no one will see them . . . I look more like I am angry than filled with tears of joy!  I do not take good race photos AT ALL!

I ran though the finish, got my medal and looked at the boys and my hubby and said, "I am a marathoner."

Now, a few days later, I am still slightly sore.  My IT band,which did not act up AT ALL during the race, feels better than it has in weeks.  My quads are sore (those hills) and I struggle to get up and down the strairs at home, but other than that I feel GREAT!  And, I am already planning my strategy for the Marine Corps Marathon!

The Garden Spot Village Marathon was an amazing experience.  The course was tough (one marathoner wrote on the Garden Spot Village Marathon Facebook page that this was the most challenging course he has run, and he has been running marathons for 30 years!). But, everything else about the race was perfect.  The volunteers were amazing.  The water stops were well run and had anything a runner could want (water, gatorade, gels, gummies, pretzels and power bars).  And the scenery was beautiful. 

All in all, a great first marathon experience. Praise God!

PS: If you got yourself through this whole post, congratulate yourself and go enter my Zooma Running Giveaway that ends April 15th.  And look for my Gratitude Giveaway that will be posted in a few days!  You deserve something for reading all of this!


  1. Wow, that is a long post, and I will confess I didn't read quite all of it. Great job running in a marathon though! That's awesome!

  2. Love the signs the boys had!!!

  3. What a great recap! That sounds like a really tough course. And to be so alone during the race! Amazing job. You are a marathoner!

  4. Wow, you are a MARATHONER!!!! I am so proud of you. Seriously, amazing!! I thought of you on Saturday morning as I was walking my pregnant body for 5 miles and wishing I could be running again. Maybe one day I can join the club. Congrats!

  5. Congratulations on meeting your goal. God is good, you attended your grandfathers funeral and completed a marathon!!!

  6. Congratulations marathon mom!!!!!!! I hope you are enjoying the after marathon glow!!! Great, awesome job!

  7. Congratulations on running and taking time to enjoy the race!

  8. What a great race report! I'm so glad you ran it so that you could enjoy it and not injure that IT band! Enjoy the recovery!

  9. I'm so happy for you! You did it!!!

  10. Congrats!!
    What a great report ...
    I did the half-marathon there with the same intervals ... running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. It is a beautiful, but tough course.

  11. Congrats! What an awesome day for you!

  12. Congratulations Marathoner! WHOOHOO!

  13. Congrats Katie! Great write-ups! I loved the part about your boys teaching you to see the beauty of the race, not just the tough parts. Smart boys!


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