Now I guess I'll start with the fact that I got to bed pretty early last night (by 10 o'clock, which is early for me) and that meant that I was up before my alarm went off, which was at 2:50am! I felt restless, so I got up and by 3:15 I had eaten a bowl of oatmeal, done some light stretching and spent some time on the computer. Then, before getting dressed, I jumped in the shower to help me wake up all the way. Once I was dressed and had all my stuff ready to go, I woke Chris up (who had just gotten home from work at 2am) so he could drive me to catch a 5am shuttle to the starting line. And I just have to mention what an amazing husband he is to me. After getting just a couple of hours of sleep, he got me to my shuttle, then spent all morning tracking the course ahead of us so he could get lots of pictures, then met me at the finish line with a huge fountain drink with lots of ice because he knows I love a really cold drink after a long run. He's the best. Hopefully I'll get to return the favor when he runs his marathon in 3 weeks. :)
As soon as I got on the shuttle, I spotted my friend Heidi. She is the wife of one of Chris' friends and co-workers. Once we were all unloaded and gathering around in a spattering of groups near the port-a-potties, Heidi and I got to talking about goals, paces, run/walk breaks, etc. She is also a fan of the Galloway method and had been training using a 4:1 run walk ratio, with an average pace on her longest runs of just under 10 min/mile - which is awesome! After we'd all used the P-O-P's one last time, we headed over to the starting line area. As we started to run, I suggested to Heidi that we could try running together, at least for a little bit, because I have an interval timer and she was just going to be using the timer on her Garmin to keep track of the walk breaks. I had set my intervals at 5:1 today, even though I'd only done that on a couple of training runs and usually used a 4:1 ratio, I was feeling good and optimistic today. :)
As I've described on here before, the first half of this marathon course is very downhill. It's a challenge to not go out too fast. As Heidi and started out, we were keeping an excellent pace (right around 10 min./mile) and anytime we would get down too low, like around 9:50 or faster, we would remind ourselves to slow down just a bit. At some point, I think after just 3 or 4 miles, Heidi and I decided we would try to stick together for as much of the race as we could. This was her first marathon, although she is super fit, having previously done a half marathon (in under 2 hours!) and she has also done numerous triathlons. I knew that by keeping pace with her, I would probably be going a little faster than I would have on my own, but having someone to talk to makes the miles pass much more quickly. We also agreed that if either of us wanted to "take off" at any point, we would. I honestly knew that it was unlikely to be me...
We more or less cruised along keeping a nice, consistent pace until about mile 18 or 19. At around miles 20-21, there is a hill - not a huge hill, but sizable, especially when you've already been running for 20 miles! It's the last hill in the course, with the last 5-6 miles flattening out to the finish. As we approached the base of the hill, Heidi suggested that we push ourselves to make it to the top of the hill, regardless of when the interval timer alerted us of our time for a walking break. So we did - although she seemed to get a surge of energy and I felt like my legs were going to give out under me!
Once we were out on the level home-stretch, Heidi really seemed to "dig in" and started to go just a little ahead of me. This was kind of a mental turning point in my race. With her pulling ahead, despite the pain I knew she was feeling, I felt inspired to try and keep up. The problem was, my legs weren't being that cooperative. I had never, ever run that far at that fast of a pace, and despite the fact that I had been fueling and hydrating well and consistently, the pain was getting pretty intense. I made the decision to just do the best I could, so I put in my earbuds and turned on some music, put my head down, and stuck with my run/walk breaks on schedule. I knew that my running pace had slowed, but I kept telling myself to just run anyway. With less than 2 miles left, I allowed myself one last (shortened) walk break, then I forced my mind to overcome my fatigue and just ran through to the end.
After seeing Chris and giving him a big hug, I got my medal and then turned around to see Heidi waiting for me with another hug and a fresh, cold bottle of water!
Final (unofficial) times: Heidi - 4:32, Me - 4:37. I am looking forward to seeing the official race results because both Heidi and I had started our Garmins right as we crossed the start line and this is what mine said:
Here are some of the high-points of today's event (at least for me):
From the beginning of the race, Heidi and I were playing "cat and mouse" with a woman who looked to be maybe in her late 50's. She was keeping a steady running pace and as we would take our walk breaks, we would fall behind her, only to catch up with her again when we would resume running. Because of this, we had the opportunity to talk with her a bit. She had come from College Station, Pennsylvania to run Pocatello and had completed marathons in 34 of the 50 states, working towards covering all 50. She had even competed one ultra-marathon! She was steady, strong and impressive. I love to meet people like that.
Around mile 21, Heidi needed some ibuprofen for some increasing pain in her hip. As we came to the next aid station, she asked for some, but the kids running the aid station said they didn't have any. They said to ask "the guy" standing up ahead of us about 75 yards and he might know where she could get some. When we got to him, he said they should have had some at that last aid station. Oh, well. Heidi just pushed on with the pain. Several minutes later, a guy on a road bike (one of the race support staff, not just some random guy) came up beside us and reached out his hand to give her some Motrin and he even let her use a water bottle he had so she could take them. That was awesome!
Getting to see my other running friend and training buddy, Holly, after the race and seeing her get emotional over hearing how much I improved on my time. I love her so much! She, by the way, did her marathon in 3:54! So, so good! I am so happy for her to be able to enjoy running and marathons again after she went through a tough year in 2011 while her little boy went through cancer treatment. He is now in remission, and Holly has her mojo back!
And of course, having that chance "meeting of minds" with Heidi at the beginning of the race and being able to be with her while she ran her first marathon. Even though we never did a single training run together, somehow we just clicked and it worked in our favor. The day wouldn't have been the same without her by my side, I'm sure of it!
As soon as I got home, I got in the shower. My legs and arms were completely coated with salt crystals! Chris had to go to work (again, another reason he is so amazing), but the kids and I are meeting him for dinner later to celebrate a really good day. Tomorrow - rest, Monday, I don't know...maybe a spin class?! Hmmmm....