The Country Music Marathon this past Saturday was my 4th marathon, and first since I've been a mom of 2 (my last marathon was March 2010). I had been watching the weather forecast from 10 days out and watched the chance of rain go from 40% to 100%. Saturday morning dawned overcast and dreary. It tried sprinkling a little while we were driving to the start area (Ryan and the boys ended up getting up to drive me as all the shuttles were sold out and I wasn't about to pay $30-$40 for a taxi), but then it stopped. The guys dropped me off and I headed down to the start area. I actually found a group of porta-potties that didn't have much of a line. I'm not sure how people weren't seeing them – it's not like they were hidden or anything – but that sure was nice. After that stop, I headed to corral 20 and that's when it started raining, lightly. There was a gas station right by corral 20, and there were several hundred runners huddled together under the covering over the pumps. That made it a little nicer. I was wearing a trash bag, but it was still nice being under cover for a while. Eventually I made my way into the corral (which actually ended up being corral 21 – they had the signs with the corral numbers at the back of the corral instead of the front) and did my final stretching. We paused for a moment of silence for Boston and then the National Anthem and they finally got the wheelchairs underway. I crossed the start line about 30 minutes after corral 1 started, so not too bad. I never was in a really large clump of runners, so that was nice, but I did do my share of weaving back and forth.
I wore my trash bag for the first mile and would have worn it a bit longer, but when I tried to make arm holes (I'd only had a head hole at first), I managed to get my right arm hole too close to the head hole and I ended up with a trash bag toga and I decided to get rid of it altogether. It really wasn't too bad running in the rain, but I'm very thankful I decided at the last minute to wear a hat (I had never worn a hat while running before, but it didn't bother me at all). I'm also thankful that I no longer wear glasses – I saw a lot of people with glasses and they were getting wet and/or fogging up. During the early miles, I leap-frogged with another Team RWB member, and when we were running together, we spent some time chatting. She was running the half marathon. It was nice chatting with her, and we didn't even notice the gradual 3 mile uphill climb that we had! Eventually our run/walk times didn't coincide anymore and we drifted apart.
I felt really good for about the first 15 miles, although I was half tempted to take the half marathon turn off and just call it a day. But I decided that I hadn't done all that training for nothing and I really couldn't get any wetter than I already was, so I went on. I'm really glad that I didn't turn off and that I completed the full distance! My knee started hurting some for a few miles around this point, but I managed to stretch a few times and it was fine until around mile 23. Mile 17 was a tough mile because we were running by the half marathoners again, but they were turning into LP Field (the stadium where the Tennessee Titans play!) for their finish. That was where we finished, too, but we still had another 9 miles to go.
Somewhere shortly after the 4 hour mark the rain tapered off and eventually stopped for a while. During this time, I was praying that the sun wouldn't come out because that would have been really miserable with as soggy as I was. I had been wringing out my ponytail and my skirt during most of my non-fuel walk breaks, and my shoes were squishy from not only the rain, but the water on the roads we had to run through. In some places it was 2-3 inches deep. Thankfully Feetures makes awesome socks and I ended the day with not one blister despite all the sogginess!! I was out in a park/golf course when the rain stopped, and we got to run around a really pretty area in the park, including around a lake. It was nice that I could enjoy the beauty a little without the rain falling down. It was also around here – around mile 23 that my knee started acting up again (I think it's due to weak hip abductors and/or adductors) and I had to stop and stretch and walk more frequently. Up until this point I was on pace for a sub-5 hour marathon and when I realized that wasn't going to happen, I was sad for a little while, but then I brushed it off knowing I was still going to have a HUGE PR (personal record)!! I could have walked the last 3 miles completely and still had a PR!
Despite the rain and the super hilly course (I knew it was going to be hilly going into it, having studied the course elevation profile), I finished in 5:06:24 which was a new PR by an hour and 18 minutes!! I never once had to use my hill mantra (This little hill ain't nothin'), but the relentlessness of the hills is what hurt my knee, I think. My nutrition plan was perfect – a serving of Generation UCAN pom-blue and an English muffin with peanut butter before the race, and 4 Jelly Belly Sport Beans every 20 minutes and alternating water & Gatorade at every water stop during the race! I also had 2 orange slices around mile 18 and they sure tasted good!
Here are my splits from the day – feet of elevation gained/lost for each mile are in parentheses:
Miles 1-5 – 11:00 (60/62), 10:45 (53/135), 10:48 (114/48), 11:01 (104/35), 11:14 (81/25)
Miles 6-10 – 10:45 (34/85), 10:47 (58/71), 10:59 (85/41), 10:50 (42/114), 10:58 (31/93)
Miles 11-15 – 11:25 (21/64), 11:18 (69/38), 11:12 (92/90), 10:50 (9/58), 11:33 (100/32)
Miles 16-20 – 11:46 (42/88), 12:55 (84/23), 12:07 (133/141), 11:40 (61/31), 11:17 (91/167)
Miles 21-26.5 – 11:31 (22/30), 11:30 (52/69), 13:11 (68/47), 12:33 (27/48), 13:25 (62/52), 13:08 (41/10), 11:20 pace for the last .5 (16/52)
Total elevation gain – 1653 ft.
Total elevation lost – 1751 ft.
All in all, I'm very happy with how the day went!! I'm going to try tweaking my run/walk ratios from 9:1 to maybe 7:1 or 8:1, and I'm definitely going to work on some strength training for my hips (and everywhere). The Marine Corps Marathon in DC in October will be flat compared to this and I should definitely get my sub-5 marathon and another new PR in the fall! But in the meantime, I'll be running the 10 Miler here on post on May 11 and the Army Strong Triathlon on post on June 15. I'll keep posting my training updates weekly, but they might become Training Tuesday. Marathon Monday posts will start back up in mid-July when I start training for the Marine Corps Marathon!
Thanks to everyone for cheering me on and supporting me for this marathon training cycle and the Country Music Marathon!!