The race was definitely hard and challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, but it was certainly worth crossing that finish line!!
Ryan and I arrived to the Alafia River State Park in Lithia, Fl around 6:25 a.m. with an hour to spare before the X-Country Marathon. I was so proud to state that I was doing the full marathon at check-in The race was definitely small and simple. It was nothing fancy- just bare bones trail racing.
We made the trek to the small starting line right in time to hear the “ready, set, go!” I was off before I knew it with no time to really say goodbye or fix my shoe strings!
The first few miles of the race were all about getting used to running on the trails. I’ve done a few 5k’s on trails like today’s and I’ve mountain biked on them, but I’ve never done endurance running on such terrain.
Most of the beginning of the race was on narrow paths with tons of exposed roots. I had to continuously watch the roots and plan my footwork carefully. One of the complaints I’ve heard about trail running is that it’s tough to settle into a stride. And the risk for injury was huge- my ankles were twisting too much on some roots and I had small trips a few times. The rest of the race included super-soft white sand, high grass and tons of hills. The path was always changing!
I adjusted my speed for the first half to pace with everyone else. With no mile markers and a path through the woods, I wanted to stick with the pack! We were running about a 10:30 pace (which based on exertion felt much more like a 9:00 pace) and I took a few very short walking breaks. I wish there would have been more water stations! There was a pint that I had to go 3.5 miles without any hydration! Gah!
I started slowing down at mile 16. I wasn’t in any pain, but my legs were definitely tired. The nature course with no spectators cheering me on was taking a toll, too. Most of the race from this point forward I was alone, not able to see the runners ahead of me or behind me. With nothing but trees, hills, my tired legs and an iPod, it was tough to get in the zone and push hard.
For the last part of the race I ran between 10:00 and 12:00 paces with lots of walking. At first I was upset to start walking so early, but then I realized nobody was passing me and everyone else was walking, too!
The terrain definitely made this race tough- but so did the sun. I was cursing the sun today! I was happy to have my Garmin telling me my current pace, average pace, time and distance since there were no mile markers or clocks on the course.
A little after hitting 23 miles I couldn’t feel the tiredness in my legs anymore and I just started running- and running fast. … then I hear clapping… I turn the corner and I’m at the finish line! I must have had the most confused look on my face. I did not expect to be finished with my marathon since my Garmin said I still had 2.5 miles left! When I talked to some other people about it I discovered the course was actually 27 miles long and a setting on my Garmin was off. The Garmin was programmed to stop recording mileage when I went below a certain speed! It was nice to feel like I was done early, but at the same time I really wanted those last few miles to pick up my game and let the awesomeness of the situation set in. Instead I got more of a “Surprise! You finished a marathon!” Certainly welcome, but unplanned! So how do I feel? I feel great! I’m slightly sore as I’d be after any long run, but I have absolutely no pain, bruising, sprains, black toenails, blisters, chaffing or anything like that! My body really feels good. I plan on taking it easy and not running the next few days. I have a 10K on Thursday (Thanksgiving), but I have no problem walking most of that if I need to.
This race (between the terrain and the sun) was hard. I feel that after conquering this race, Disney will be a breeze! I officially love long distance running!!
Before heading back to Orlando Ryan and I grabbed some salty trail mix to hold us over.We also bought some frozen peas so I could ice my legs Lunch was a given: Whole Foods! I wanted something hearty but also healthy and stabilizing. I loaded up on (way too much !) tofu, a stuffed grape leaf, veggies with sweet potato hummus, teriyaki sweet potatoes, a fried yucca ball, granola and a curry/lentil/quinoa mix. I think that’s everything!!
How adorable is Miss Lululemon Ryan?
Running this marathon wasn’t just about me. Thanks to all of you guys who support me through every training run and…
John from Smoke Training who has completed a marathon and half ironman and always shares training tips and support with me. John’s one of my fitness idols!
Ryan for waking up at an ungodly hour on a Saturday morning to do this with me and for supporting me regardless of how crazy my plans sound!
My boyfriend David for listening to me talk endlessly about running, waking up with me at 3:50 a.m. to watch me eat my oats and helping me cab load the night before.
And David’s dad Steve who is always there for support and advice!
Is a marathon in your past or future?
*Thanks to Ryan for the awesome photos!