Today I ran my first full marathon. 26.2 miles of goodness... well, ok 22.5 miles of goodness, but we'll get to that later.
It was a perfect day.... perfect. The trees have just done the magical turn to autumn thing, so the run was full of awesome oranges, reds, browns, and yellows. The trail was really great... lots of great views of the river, running underneath the train tracks (tunnels), on boardwalks that crossed over a pretty marsh, etc. Temperature was a little chilly to start, say 57ish, and at mile three I had the strange sensation of having my arms be really cold and yet sweating at the same time. By the time we were 6 or 7 miles in, the temps were in the mid 60s... perfecto.
Really, the first 15 miles of the race felt great. I experienced some troubling knee pain early on that was quelled with two ibuprofens from our fan club. Speaking of our fan club, they were so awesome! We saw them at mile 3.5, 6.5, someplace in the woods, mile 11, and 21/22. Every time Jen, Addie, Sam, Shell, Mom, Kelly, Lynn and Jerry screamed their heads off for us (and others), it gave us a little boost and had me looking forward to the next fan club stop. There was even an appearance by Steve & Megan Abel, which totally pumped me up.
So like I said, the first 15-16 miles actually went by very quickly. It stopped being a pleasure cruise after that and took a little bit of concentration and work. We had kept our pace to pretty solidly averaging around 8:40 (some faster, some slower), and it felt fine. Then, around 17, we dropped the pace to lower 8s, say 8:10-8:20, which it turns out was a bit of a mistake. Steve hit the wall around mile 18 and dropped back for a few minutes, but caught up like a champ before we hit the 21 fan club site.
Things started falling apart for me around 23.5. Every muscle in my body was revolting against the task at hand. I had to pray almost continuously from here to the end of the race and my pace dropped considerably, to mid 9s and even one 10 minute. It didn't hurt my overall pace that badly, but it was a little disappointing. Probably if I would've not gone as hard as I did, and maybe took a couple more walking breaks (we only took 3 during the race), it might not have fallen apart so badly. I can't tell you how hard this was for me - finishing this race was easily the hardest thing I've ever done. Steve did brilliantly and beat me in by 2-3 minutes.
I know that I can't ever fully understand the craziness that is birthing a child, but if I could have an analogous experience, it would have to be this. I wanted to quit so badly, had to do a 30 second walk, and was looking at my watch almost continuously. Seriously... one foot, then another, then another was basically all I could think of for three miles.
My body hates me right now. And I hate it. Except I love it for getting us through that ordeal.
Plus, I got a BSpot feast afterwards. Pics at the end (start the slideshow over, it has been playing while you've been reading this).
Official time from hermes website:
138 Steve Niemira 3:47:39.70 8:41/M
150 Mike Medved 3:49:47.12 8:46/M