Race Report- My First Marathon
posted on Runner's World 10/25/05
(click "Race Report" above for link to the post and lots of super nice feedback!)
I ran my first marathon Sunday- the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. What an incredible experience.
Background/Training: I ran off and on through high school and college, then picked it up again seriously last year. Through the year I build up to 15-20 miles per week and ran several short races and trail races I also joined a weekly running group. I loved running, especially the long runs, which I built up to 10 miles by spring. In the spring, a friend and I decided we both wanted to do a marathon so we signed up for this October race, mainly because it was local and many months away. I set up a 20-week training schedule following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate I. First I focused on a half-marathon, which I ran in July in 1:49:36. At this point I had ramped up to 30 miles per week and I was doing weekly long runs of 10-12 miles. This increase and a hard race, together with NO recovery time after the race (stupid!) left me with an injury. I had to take two weeks almost completely off, then build up basically from scratch. My solution was creating a modified 10-week schedule that would get me to the race. My friend and I completed long runs of 16, 18, and 20 miles (one of each) - they went great. We also did mid-week longer runs with the group. My mileage was in the upper 30’s and peaked at 42. I felt good (the knee was completely healed) and I was ready as I was going to get.
Goal/Strategy: Picking a goal for my first race was tough. I could just “try to finish” but what does that even mean? I need to have a pace in mind. I took into account all the race time predictors and my moderate training and came up with a nice, round number, 3:55:XX. This was 9:00 miles, which I felt I could do. Plus, that makes for some easy mid-race math. I knew I would need to reach the 10 mile mark in 1:30:00, and the 20 mark in 3:00:00, then I figured I would give it all I have for the last 10k. I thought more about it, and I realized it would be smart to run the first 10 miles a bit slower than that, and the second 10 a bit faster, then just try and hang on till the end. I went ahead and set up my “acceptable” and “dream” goals, just in case (under 4:00:00, and under 3:55:00, respectively).
The Race: The weather was perfect, which I knew it would be in San Francisco. Foggy and cool. It remained this way through the race. I was so excited to line up with all these other women, all with the same crazy intentions.
The course first winds through the streets of the Financial District, which was cool. We hit the waterfront after a mile.
My pace was all over the place. I started too slow, which I knew I could deal with, but the inconsistency made me nervous. I wasn’t feeling my pace.
6- 8:33 (average of 2 miles, marker was off)
7- 9:29 (Hill!)
8- 8:12 (Downhill)
I was settling in. The hills were harder then I predicted! But they were mostly out of the way. I was making an effort to enjoy the scenery and the crowds and my fellow runners. I hit the 10 mile mark in 1:31:27. Perfect. We head into Golden Gate Park.
My pace is good and I’m feeling good at this point. We exit the park and start our stroll down the coast.
This is about when I stopped feeling good. I took my first non-aid-station walking break when I saw my husband at 18.5. These mini (20-30 second) breaks would become more popular with me in the coming miles. We start our loop around Lake Merced.
I’m fading. I’m not hurting exactly, but I’m exhausted. I see a friend who is an experienced and boston-qualifiying marathoner having a bad day. I tell her “This f-ing sucks,” and she says, “I told you.” We finish our lake loop and hit the coast highway again for the final stretch.
0.2- 1:44 (8:28 pace)
Those last miles did me in. I was feeling dizzy toward the end, and at the finish line I fell into the arms of a lovely first-aid volunteer. She brought me to the med-tent and told them I was “acute.” I felt dizzy, drunk. They laid me down and wrapped me in blankets and as my head cleared, it hit me- I did it! I ran a marathon!!
Results: 3:55:10 (8:58 average pace)
First half: 1:58:51
Second half: 1:56:19
Finished 306 of 4,688 overall, and 71 of 1,011 in my AG (F 25-29).
The Afterthon: It hurts!! But SO worth it. I can’t believe I am a marathoner. I am so proud of my accomplishment, and so proud of my training partner and good friend for finishing her first marathon too! I am going to relax and recover and not think about running for a while, especially marathons. But I know I’ll do it again. As those brutal last miles fade from my memory, I KNOW I’ll do it again. I have learned what I need to do: more everything. More miles, more long runs, more hills, more speedwork, more fuel and water during the race. I know for my first marathon I did good, but I can do better.
Thanks for reading!