March 19, 2012

Oops...I ran a marathon

When I headed down to DC this weekend, I really didn't have any idea what the weekend would entail in terms of running.

And then I ran a marathon.


Initially I had the idea to run my planned 22 miles and walk the last 4 miles to the finish line so that I got my run in without having to figure out a course in DC. Then I thought about walking the first 4 miles. Neither of these options really seemed like they'd be the best choice, so I decided to just go out and see what happened. I was sick all last week, so if I felt like cutting out at Mile 10, I would. If I felt like finishing the half, I would.

Running the full marathon wasn't something I really, seriously thought about until about Mile 16. 

Earlier in the week, I had mentioned it to some friends who thought it was a great idea. Then Emily talked some sense into me and I decided that running a full marathon might not be the best idea. '

When I went to bed Friday night and realized I had forgotten my Garmin, I knew that I would end up just running the Half. But as I started prepping for race morning and the pre-race jitters started kicking in, I started thinking that maybe...just maybe I could run the full. 

But I was only supposed to run 22 and this was not my race and I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize that, so I decided to start the race really slowly and see how I felt as I went through each mile. 

Katie had let me borrow her Timex watch so I was able to gauge how I was doing but I had no idea of my actual pace, which was fine. 

Miles 1-4:(10:09, 10:08, 9:58, 9:45). The first few miles went by really quickly. I was running slow and everyone was passing me and I was ok with it. I just kept reminding myself that this wasn't a race, it was a training run and that I just needed to tune into how I was feeling and take it from there. 

Miles 5-10: (10:08, 10:00, 10:09, 9:35, 9:32, 11:43) I started picking it up a little bit once I got through the first 4 miles. I was feeling strong and I loved the course. There was a pretty significant hill at Mile 6 but it felt easy which was a huge confidence booster. At Mile 9, I stopped to use a porter potty. I had to wait a bit before I got in, and I think it took about 2:10 off my time so Miles 8 and 9 were roughly the same pace which was good. 

Miles 11-15: (9:35, 9:47, 9:46, 9:53, 9:43) I'm really happy with my consistency on these miles. I have a really hard time maintaining consistency on my runs and to keep these miles all within about 10 seconds was great, especially considering I didn't have my Garmin. Right around Mile 12 or so, the Half/Full courses split. I was running on a Half bib from a friend of a friend and right before the turn around, one of the volunteers yelled, "The half is to your left!" I said, "I'm running the full!" And she yelled out, "Wow!You go girl!" And I kept going.

Miles 12-14 were DESOLATE. I felt like I was the only person on the course! They were the same miles as Miles 2-3.1ish but there was just no one around. After checking the results later, I realized that of the 25,000 or so runners, only around 3,000 ran the full. There were a fair amount of spectators but in terms of runners, there was just no one out there. 

At Mile 15, I passed by two women, one of them told me I looked great and then commented to her friend that I didn't even look like I was running. That's when I knew I was doing everything right. I wasn't there to race. I was there to run a long training run. I kept telling myself that I needed to get through 7 more miles and I was done with my training run and could do a cool down.

Miles 16-20: (10:02, 10:00, 10:00, 10:27, 10:02) Mile 16 was along this beautiful river path. Miles 17-18 were coming on to the Nationals Stadium and Miles 19-20 were a pretty nasty turn around that led up to the Fredrick Douglass Bridge which looked absolutely terrifying but really wasn't that bad. At this point in the race, it was getting hot. At Mile 19, a volunteer was handing out ice and I took some and threw it down the back of my shirt. Just before climbing the bridge, I refilled my water bottle and kept going.

Miles 21-23: (10:08, 10:14, 9:57, 10:24) Once we got off the bridge, we were running along the Anacostia River from about Miles 21-23. It was hot. I took my last gel around Mile 22 and it was almost completely melted. It was warm for almost all of the race but for the most part, we were protected by trees, buildings and shade. These 3 miles were out along the river, with somewhat of a breeze, but otherwise with absolutely no protection from the sun and it was hard. My plan was to stop at Mile 22 but my legs felt strong and I decided that, since I have a 24 mile training run planned for next week, I would keep going to 24 and switch my 24 miler to a 22 next week. Mile 23 had some rolling hills and it was hot, but I still felt good.

Mile 24: (14:33) At Mile 24, I walked. I didn't need to but again, this wasn't my race and I wasn't trying to be a hero and run a marathon. Part of me wanted to just keep running, but I knew that that might put me out of commission for a few days and hey, I still have my race to train for. The fact that I was at this point was huge as it was and I felt on top of the world. I walked that mile and right at the 40k mark, I started running again. I knew that was going to happen. I was running a marathon, I wasn't about to walk through the finish line of a marathon.

Miles 25-Finish: (9:51, 2:04) When I started running again, I had the biggest smile on my face. I was about to cross the finish line of my 3rd marathon and I felt awesome. When I crossed, I felt on top of the world. I had just run my 3rd marathon. I had run a smart, slow, steady race and crossing that finish line brought back every single ounce of confidence I had lost over the last 2 weeks.

I finished the race in 4:27:54. My slowest marathon by about 19 minutes...and that's exactly what I wanted it to be. If I had gone in and run this race sub-4, I would have been pissed. I would have jeopardized my time in Madrid to run a race on someone else's bib. Crossing that finish line made me realize that no matter what happens in Madrid, running a marathon is still an amazing accomplishment...but it also gave me the confidence to know that Mile 23 doesn't have to suck and that if I start out slow and run a steady, smart race, I will have a fantastic time in Madrid and I can't wait.

So there you have it. I ran a marathon. Oops. I'm starting to learn though, that my 'Oops, I did XYZ' moments, are what make my life pretty great.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


  1. OMG YAYYYYYY thats soooo freaking awesome!!! way to go. its so nice to have "race" as a training run. all the perks of a race but no pressure for time.

  2. i thought about doing that but didnt!! you are a rock star!!! congrats!!!

  3. You are awesome! I'm so proud of you for running, Christy!!!

  4. Hell yeah! Well done girl! I hope this training run turned marathon helped boost your waning confidence, because you CAN do it!

  5. you're insane. so good to see you this weekend even if it was crazy! :)

  6. You are so amazing! Congrats, Christy! You really are an inspiration!

  7. Congratulations!! That is amazing!!!

  8. This is so awesome! I love your "oops" posts...they always make me smile! Congrats Christy!

  9. I'm glad it worked out so well for you!! You are in a great place to kick ass in Madrid!

  10. WOW!!! You are my running idol...seriously!! I can barely run 2 miles without stopping and I'm hoping to complete a 5K this summer!! You are awesome and you will do GREAT in Madrid :) Congrats!

  11. Congrats!!! What a perfect race for you!!! I just come back from vacation and catching up on blogs. I love your new blog design!!


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