Army Marathon Recap

Let me start this post by saying I am not an “experienced” marathoner. I ran my third marathon ever yesterday, with my second being only two weeks ago. What we marathoners ran through yesterday, I wouldn’t wish upon Anyone.

My alarm was set for 3:50am, but I was unable to sleep the entire night. I probably only got about three hours total, due to the anxiety about whether or not the marathon will go on or not. I certainly didn’t want to drive the hour and 45 minutes to Killeen, TX if it was going to be cancelled. The projected forecast wasn’t looking favorable and a decision would be made at 6am.

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I dressed in a tank and shorts because the cold front wasn’t supposed to hit until after I finished the marathon. It was 67 and humid in the morning, so I was dressed for those conditions. I grabbed my Cliff bar, banana, coffee and lemon lime Gatorade (always my pre-race breakfast) and made the lonely drive to Killeen from Buda (just South of Austin). To be honest, I didn’t plan on running a marathon because I believed it was going to be cancelled anyway. I arrived at the Killeen Civic Center at 5:45, with plenty of time to pick up my race packet and bib (so thankful they allowed me to pickup race day).
Shortly after I arrived, the rain came. I had brought a kitchen trash bag that I had planned on carrying in case it rained in the later miles (clearly,the weather was way off) and I put on the trash bag at the start.

I'm famous! Wearing my trash bag and sweaty band headband of course!

I’m famous! Wearing my trash bag and sweaty band headband of course!

It stopped just in time for us to start at 7am, and by then it was feeling a tad bit cold. We made out first turn in the first mile and the wind hit us like a ton of bricks. I am not even kidding. The winds were gusting 25mph! There weren’t any pacing groups in this marathon, and I didn’t really have a plan. I kissed the thought of a PR goodbye for a couple reasons: it was wet, cold, extremely windy, and I had just run Austin Marathon two weeks before. I hadn’t mentally prepared to run this because I really didn’t think I was going to run a marathon.

I ran the first mile in 7:50. I chose a cup of “Gatorade” at the first aid station and immediately spit it out. Whatever was in that cup was not Gatorade, it tasted off pure sugar and sour limes. It was awful. Again at mile two, the “Gatorade” was the same thing. So throughout the marathon I was forced to drink only water instead of alternating every aid station as I had planned. Around mile 4, I caught up to an older gentleman who I chatted with over the next 10 miles. Murphy had forgotten his GPS and he let me know he was trying to run a 3:20 which would be a huge PR for him. I hadn’t considered that maybe I could run that too, so we ran together using my watch to pace us.

Murphy and I around mile 8

Murphy and I around mile 8

I had my chocolate Gu at miles 6 and 12. At mile 14, Murphy told me he was going to walk though the aid station and I never saw him again until after we had finished. By mile 15, the temperature had dropped from 67 degrees at the start to low 40’s and a headwind of nearly 30 mph. I had never run in such dangerous conditions. I say dangerous because the cold front wasn’t supposed to hit until Sunday afternoon and it hit an hours after the gun went off. Almost everyone was underdressed. I couldn’t warmup at all. I kept going because I wanted to go home so badly. I was miserable, cold, wet, tired, and exhausted. I knew I was 5th female at this point. I took a third Gu at mile 18. By mile 21,we joined the half marathoners and I passed the 4th girl. I passed the third female at mile 22.

I kept looking at my watch and wondering if, despite the windchill of 23 degrees, and the gusting wind, I could possibly break 3:20. The first and second females were always in my sight and were running side by side. I kept pushing to catch up, but realized we must have been going the same pace because the distance never closed. It stayed the exact same. I had another Gu for mile 24, but couldn’t stomach it, so I just held onto it. I also skipped the water station at mile 25 because breaking 3:20 was my goal and didn’t want to lose time since I knew I would be close.

At mile 26, the marathoners took a sharp turn to the left to run the .2 home to the finish. By this point it was 33 degrees, with a 23 degree windchill and the last .2 was straight into the wind. I pushed and pushed but felt the wind holding me back. I crossed the line 1:20 behind first female and 1:00 behind 2nd to finished in 3:17:48, just two weeks after Austin Marathon. Another huge PR in the worst conditions imaginable and my second Boston qualifier.

It was worth it.

7:50 mile 1
7:36 mile 2
7:30 mile 3
7:25 mile 4
7:42 mile 5
7:18 mile 6
7:28 mile 7
7:29 mile 8
7:40 mile 9
7:44 mile 10
7:29 mile 11
7:30 mile 12
7:22 mile 13
7:28 mile 14
7:14 mile 15
7:20 mile 16
7:28 mile 17
7:53 mile 18
7:08 mile 19
7:07 mile 20
7:20 mile 21
7:41 mile 22
7:25 mile 23
7:00 mile 24
7:18 mile 25
7:35 mile 26
3:51 .49

I drank a chocolate milk and warmed up in the heated med tent until the shuttles were ready to take the marathoners back to Killeen (the start, since it was a point to point course).
I always lose my appetite after races. I drove the two hours home and picked up my kids from the neighbors. A warm shower, a pizza delivery, a bottle of wine, and comfy sweats made for a relaxing evening after the Army Marathon.
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    The Verdict

Course– B It was scenic in the middle miles, especially running over the dam! Beautiful!
Support– A-
water was at every station, and clif gels along the way, but that Gatorade was not Gatorade!
Spectators– D Very few spectators, however I think this was due to the weather. I can’t blame them for not wanting to stand out in the cold rain and wind
Race swag– B- I received a unisex small, however, the inside of mine says men’s small. Guess it’s my new sleep shirt. We also got a packet of texas wild flowers which is pretty cool, and a protein bar, but that’s about it
Medal– A
Organization– A very organized, considering it had the possibility of being cancelled! A ton of medical, and police officers along the course as well!
Finish Line– D I give it a “D” because we received a snack box at the finish along with a banana but nothing really substantial after running 26.2 miles! In the box was power bar chews, craisans (dried cranberries), soy nuts, and gluten free crackers. It definitely left more to be craved, that’s for sure

I would do it again. This course, plus the weather made me realize just how strong I really am. It also is nice to know that my participation helped our veterans. It was a great race.

Now, I’m going to focus on my speed so I can be ready for the Biggest Loser Half Marathon March 30th!

Austin Marathon Recap

Austin marathonMy alarm was set for 4:45 am, but I was awaken at 4:19amΒ by my sister texting me good luck. I immediately got nervous.

I was nervous in the weeks leading up because I wanted to do well so badly. I got up, made coffee and tried to settle my nerves with breakfast: a clif bar and banana. By 5:15am, my friend Taylor (running the half) let me know she was on her way, and by then there was no chance of backing out.

We left my house and drove the 20 minutes to Austin, each of us sharing our goals, and fears. I knew in my heart I was trained for a 3:25, but after Rock and Roll San Antonio, I was second guessing myself. Like San Antonio, it was humid. by the time we were ready to start, the temperature at Austin was 59 degrees, 10 degrees cooler than the start at San Antonio back in November. I started with the 3:25 group with the goal to drop them by mile 20.

The first long stretch up congress is a gradual incline, which isn’t felt until after turning onto 1st Street. It’s crucial to hold back and avoid flying down the downhill of S 1st Street to save energy for the later miles. Turning left onto Cesar Chavez (previously LIVESTRONG mile), we encountered a sea of spectators. The marathoners and half marathoners split shortly after.

The course was well marked, well supplied and well staffed. They set you up so you can truly run your best race.Β I alternated water and Gatorade at every single stations and consumed gu at miles 6,12,18 and 24. Austin marathon is a very hilly course but I never once felt defeated. All those “hills” I ran on the treadmill were really paying off! I knew that miles 13-19 were tough, but I kept going. I never once slipped behind the 3:25 group. My friend kim waited for me at mile 20, and we took off running 7:08-7:20 for the last 6 miles. Crossing the finish line in 3:21:26 was like a dream. I had done it. A huge 14 minute PR in just three months and a BQ. I couldn’t believe it.image
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I am forever grateful to kim. Having run the Austin half marathon twice, I was relieved to not have to run up the huge hill (equivalent to 8 stories over a quarter mile) at enfield road. Marathon amneisa must have set in afterwards because I registered for the full marathon for 2015 just one day after finishing 2014.

The course support is amazing. There was never a desolate spot on the course. Spectators handed out pastries, oranges, and even beer! People lined the streets from their own homes to cheer the runners on. It was amazing. I finished 12th female overall, 4th in age group (25-29) and 143rd overall. I surprised myself. I have Army Marathon in 8 days and I am still debating whether to race it and try to beat 3:21 or just take it easy.

Decisions, decisions.