So... I did it. I finished the Martian Marathon and I did it better than my goal pace! What an experience. I have so much that I want to write about it but feel like I can't really convey what went down. That being said, here's my attempt. A couple of things prior to getting into the actual "race report" that may make this a little easier to understand: 1. Gwen was not going to be able to attend the race because of school; 2. Apparently when you are putting yourself through something so physically demanding your mind starts to find "motivators" for you. I'm sure I'm not the only one to have done an endurance event like this who has claimed that something "spoke to them." I just want to point this out so that everyone knows up front that I'm not crazy and I understand that my brain was looking to create order where there wasn't... but it doesn't make it any less cool.
Alright. That being said... here goes.
I drove into Dearborn on Sat. and picked up my race packet, shirt, etc. etc. I took some time to walk to the start/finish line and get an idea of where I was going to have to park. After I did this I went to grab lunch at a restaurant called "Pizzapolis." They have the most awesome mini deep dish pizza's and I definitely enjoyed one. After his I decided to drive out to my hotel to check in and get organized (I also did some secret "business" while out there... bought Gwen's graduation present... more on that once I actually give it to her but it's awesome!). at the hotel I laid around and tried to keep myself busy as I was getting pretty nervous. I spent most of my time getting everything laid out for the race... clothes (winter wear since the weather report said it was supposed to be cold), shoes (which I had forgotten at home when I left. I only made it 20 minutes away from home before I realized it), and race #'s. Once I got done doing this I decided it was time to head out and grab some food. I drove out to Buca di Beppo's in Bloomfield and picked up some spaghetti and meatballs to go! Went back to the hotel, ate my dinner, and watched Charlie Wilson's War on HBO. Went to bed early, then the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I felt tired but forced myself out of bed and into the car.
Got to Dearborn right on time and met up with some fellow BT'ers (members of http://www.beginnertriathlete.com/) to say hi. Prior to the race I checked my phone for emails and had a couple from Jim at the Shop (http://www.whispercycles.com/ or http://www.jadecycles.com/) pumping me up and wishing me luck! This was a huge motivator and I can't explain how much it means to have someone like this in "my corner." Can't say enough great things about Jade/Whisper Cycles. after checking the email we walked to the start line together and got ready to run! It was definitely cold out but I was dressed weather appropriate (tights, light jacket, gloves, and a baklava (which I didn't end up using)). As I was waiting in the corral I threw my iPod on. First song to play, Akon- "Locked Up." Perfect song... the gun went off and from where I stood it took about three minutes to make my way to the starting mats. The whole time I was feeling like a rubber band that was bound up and ready to explode (thus the song being perfect). I crossed the start line and started on my way.
1- 9:46, 2-8:56, 3-8:37, 4-8:35, 5-8:51, 6-8:36, 7-8:29, 8-8:57, 9-9:02, 10-11:04, 11-9:12, 12-9:06, 13-9:33
I started out feeling pretty good. Each time I hit a mile marker and looked down at my watch I realized that I was moving a little faster than I had anticipated (my goal was to do 10 minute miles). I kept at the pace I was going though, because I felt that if I moved any slower I'd basically be walking. I think that was probably the adrenaline. For the first 13 miles it was pretty tight. There were a lot of people and a lot of jockeying of positions. I had my cellphone in the back pocket of my tights b/c I was planning on twittering to keep Gwen posted on my whereabouts. At mile 3 I realized this was a bad idea as the weight of the phone kept making my pants sag. I felt like I was running with my butt hanging out and was constantly hiking my pants up. I ignored it for the time being and kept pushing on. By the time we hit the turnaround for the 1/2 marathon the crowd had dispersed. Prior to that point it was difficult to keep my own pace because I was constantly slowing down/speeding up to account for those around me. When I hit that halfway point though it was entirely different. I felt like there should have been a sign letting me know that I was "leaving civilization." There was a lot of open road around me and I knew at that point that this was for real... I ended up making it to the turnaround at just about exactly 2:00. I felt like this was pretty decent as my legs, lungs, and body all felt pretty good. At mile 10 I had stopped to use the restrooms and to post to Twitter. It was my slowest mile in the first half...
14-9:44, 15-9:54, 16-9:38, 17-10:36, 18-10:00, 19-10:28, 20-10:45, 21-10:31, 22-10:52
The first mile after the turnaround I started to notice that my pace was slowing and it wasn't intentional. I still felt pretty good at that point but mile after mile I started to get slower. I spent a little longer at the aid stations making sure to grab an extra water/Gatorade and Gu and letting my body take a brief break. It was during this portion of the race that I was really thankful that I had my iPod with me. I was covering ground that I had already been past once and there just wasn't anything that interesting to look at. Overall these were pretty "insignificant miles." Nothing great, or disastrous, happened. At mile 22 I took the time to send out a tweet.
They say that everyone who runs a marathon, does an Ironman, etc. etc. ends up "hitting the wall" at some point. Either your body or your mind (or both) decides that it's done; it can't go any further. For me this was Mile 23. I never felt like I was going to give up (I didn't have much choice... I had driven myself out there and needed to get back to my car so it was a no brainer that I had to make it to the finish line) but I certainly struggled with whether or not to just stop running and start walking. During this mile my body started to fight back. My shins, thighs, ankles, and feet all started to feel really sore. I could tell that I wasn't doing any damage to them but the overall ache that was going on was NOT a pleasant feeling. It was during this mile that I realized my mind is capable of a lot. I kept repeating my race mantra (which I don't really know why I use this mantra... but it works) "I'm your huckleberry, I'm your huckleberry, I'm your huckleberry..." refusing to let myself stop to walk (although I was moving at a walking pace at this point). Each time I looked at my watch I realized that I was falling further and further off my pace and the mile seemed like it would never end. Then a couple things went down that helped me push through:
1. I saw a couple of geese hanging out on the side of the road. I don't really want to get into a lot of detail about why this is significant for me but the long and short of it is that it reminded me why I started training for IMKY in the first place.
2. "Til I Collapse"-Eminem came on my iPod. The perfect song at the perfect moment.
I kept pushing through and before I knew it I saw the marker for Mile 24.
24-10:55, 25-11:00, 26-10:47
After overcoming the mental drain of Mile 23 and the physical toll that the race had taken on my body up until this point I was feeling pretty good. The last couple of miles I just stuck to a slow, but steady, pace. As I got closer and closer to the finish line I could feel the adrenaline kick back in. I was surprised at just how excited I was to finish. I knew that I would be happy but figured that since this was just a step towards the goal of finishing IMKY that it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I was wrong.
The last .2 Miles
The last two minutes of the race, as I was coming towards the finish line, I went through nearly every emotion possible. I went from feeling so overwhelmed that I thought I would cry, to being so happy I thought I would cry, to being in so much pain I thought I would cry, and yet, I resisted the urge to cry. That is until I crossed the finish line and looked over and saw Gwen standing there cheering me on. Her cousin, Christina, had driven her out to Dearborn that morning so that she could be there when I finished. She decided to forgo her school work to be there and I can't explain how much that meant to me! It was the perfect end to the race for me. Everything I could have wanted in my first marathon.
Total Time- 4:17:59 Pace- 9:50 per mile
After the race I walked around with Gwen for about 20 minutes trying to keep my muscles from clenching up. We walked over to a nearby gas station where I bought 4 bags of ice. We then hopped in the car and drove out of Dearborn while I iced my thighs, knees, calves, and ankles. We stopped at an Olga's to binge... and it was excellent. At that point I also threw on some compression tights (which I am still wearing) to help in recovery. Then, on the ride home, I was able to keep my feet elevated to get the blood back to my heart because Gwen was driving! Overall I'm feeling pretty good today. Sore but good. My focus now is on recovery and back to my training!
So, all in all, I feel pretty good. I achieved the goal I set out to do, finished my first marathon, fought through "the wall", proved to myself that I AM mentally tough, and realized how lucky I am to be surrounded by a great wife, friends, family, and fellow athletes!
Alright... check back in and I hope that everyone had a great weekend!