My first marathon kind of snuck up on me. I was busy at work and having fun with my taper week. All of a sudden, it’s Friday night and it dawned on me that I should start getting my stuff together. I had made a list of needed stuff (Gu, Nuun, clothing, etc.) the week before, so I was not in too bad of shape. So, I’m going down the list and come to shoes. Can’t find them. Hmmm, where could they be? I rack my brain and can’t remember the last place I wore them. I asked Heather and she said “Did you leave them at Rogue?” Surely not. I remembered wearing my race shoes during last Saturday’s long run, so they must be there. But, did I really leave my race shoes at Rogue all week? I sure hope so, otherwise I’m buying new ones and running my first marathon in brand new shoes. So, I get up early on Saturday and drive down to Rogue to do my shake out and either find my shoes or buy new ones. I walk in the door and sure enough, they are sitting on the treadmill by the back wall. Crisis averted, my shoes did not end up in shoe bin on their way to charity.
After the shoe crisis, Heather and I hop in the car and make our way down to San Antonio, head to the expo to pick up our packet, check into the hotel and then head out to eat with the group. We get back to the hotel at a reasonable time and get a decent night’s sleep. The last time I did a race in San Antonio, it was a half marathon and the conditions were terrible. Very humid, a bit hot. Overall a brutal race. Little did I know that I was in for more of the same. In the morning, Heather was not sure if she was going to race at all. In the past 24 hours, she was doing the marathon, doing the half and not racing. She eventually decided on doing the half which ended up being a good thing for both of us. I wake up in the morning and check the weather. 65 degrees – Warm… 100% HUMIDITY – HOLY CRAP! Really San Antonio?!?! I decide that I am not going to let it affect me. I can do it. I am in much better shape than I was 2 years ago and I have run in much worse conditions. When we step outside, the temperature doesn’t feel too bad. Kind of cool but definitely humid. Heather and I walk to the start line, drop off our bag and try to get to corral 8. The crowd is too dense, so we decide to camp out in corral 13. While we are standing there, Heather came up with a great idea. She says “I am going to pace you. I want to run with you for the first 11 miles”. What a great idea! I’m all for it. Our paces are quite different, so we will both benefit. Heather will end up with a faster half marathon time and she will also keep me under control for the first 11 miles of the race.
Not long after the gun sounds, in about 15 minutes we cross the start line and begin running. The sun is not out, so the weather doesn’t feel half bad. Nothing like the temps during the summer long runs. Most notably “The Schrup”, “Mount Bonnell” and “The Run from Hell”. What I didn’t realize is how late we started. This would be a major factor later. Miles 1 through 3 flew by. My splits were a bit fast, but not too bad and I was feeling good with my wonderful wife and personal cheerleader running beside me. Crowd support was fantastic! Around Mile 7, I noticed the sun trying to peak through for about 30 seconds or so. I was thinking… “NO, Go Away! Way Too Early!!!” The clouds quickly covered it back up and I forgot about it for a while. I think the sun came out for good around mile 9, but I didn’t notice it too much because we were running on King William Street which was very shady. We turn down St. Mary’s just before mile 10 and I am feeling pretty good. I feel the sun a bit, but am optimistic because I remember all of the hot days this summer and know I can handle it. Just before mile 11, it’s time for Heather to peel off and finish the half marathon. At this point, I am so proud of her because she has run with me the whole way and seems to be doing well. When we split, she says that she is going to try to keep the pace we have been running to get a good time. I find out later that her half marathon and my 13.1 split are only 8 seconds apart. Way to go Heather!!!
Shortly after we split off, I see Bobby, Brian and Crista right at mile 11. They are cheering like crazy and it was great to see them! Definitely a lift for what was coming up. Right after mile 11, crowd support dwindled majorly. I came up on Loretta just before mile 12 (Go Rogue!) and saw the person who probably won the Marathon on his way back. He was working on Mile 24 and was almost finished. I thought, “How am I going to feel when I get to that point?” Mile 12 had a water stop with cold sponges, a hose and medical. There was also some shade. I took advantage of all and was feeling good when I turned the corner heading into mile 13. When I turned the corner after the water stop, the sun was full blast. I ran a pretty good clip for mile 13 and when I hit the 13.1 timing mat, I started to notice the real heat. My muscles were starting to get slightly sore and I started to sip the Nuun in my water bottle more. The race became progressively more difficult and I started to notice the heat more and more with every step. I saw Ryan around 13.5 and he was on his way back looking very strong! At about 14.5, the Course split and I could no longer see the runners on their way back. I’m not sure if this was good or bad. It was good to not see that there were so many people ahead of me, but those same people provided some hope that I would be in their location very soon. Miles 15 through 19 were very uneventful. Not much to see, it just continued to get hotter and hotter. Mile 19.5 I definitely hit the wall and had to start run/walking. I would look at my Garmin and see how much time was left until the next minute, then run to that minute and walk for a full minute afterward. This really seemed to help and I was able to gut it out this way until Mile 22.5 right before a major water stop that is shared with mile 12. I tried to run all the way to the water stop, but realized that I didn’t need to be a hero on a day like this and needed to concentrate on finishing. At that point, I saw Gary who was also having a tough day. Thanks for getting my attention, Gary, you gave me a boost because it made me realize that I was not the only one really affected by the heat.
I continued my run/walking all the way to my favorite part of the race. Just past mile 25, I saw a bunch of Rogues cheering for me. It was Bobby, Margaret and, to my surprise, my wonderful wife Heather! She took a couple of pictures of me and then said “Do you want me to run you in?” I’m not sure what I said, but I must have agreed because she was running with me. I instantly felt stronger! I think I was still run/walking a bit, but when I turned the corner to run up that dirty trick at the end they call a hill, I know I picked up my pace a lot because by the time I got to the top of the hill, all I could think was “DON’T HURL ON THE SPECTATORS!”. I also saw a bunch of hands out looking for a “High Five” which I gladly obliged and then proceeded to the finish line as fast as I could. I was windblown, dehydrated, sunburned, tired as hell and ready to be done. When I crossed the finish line, all I could think was “Thank God it’s over!” My time was 4:38:43. Overall, I am happy. I would have liked to run it a bit faster, but my goal was to finish. Goal accomplished!