I did it. I ran the entire way of a marathon. The official time on the clock read: 3:06:58, but my total running time was 3:04-something. I am happy about my time regardless of secretly wanting to break 3 hours. The Spokane Marathon, however, is a very hilly course and my feet, Achilles, and stomach had been bothering me quite a lot recently so I am sure I could have squeaked under that time barrier if the course was flat and my stomach hadn't misbehaved. Just saying.
Yes, the weather was nearly perfect and the crowd support was fantastic. Rhonda, my neighbor, got up early to come downtown and cheer me on. My mom flew in from Dallas a few days prior and was there to encourage me too. Many people, also, who could not attend the race texted me and wished me, "good luck!"
5 minutes before the start time, I adjusted my shoes, took a GU, and slipped on a thin knitted pair of gloves. I started out running mid-7 minutes per mile but I didn't feel that great despite the pace feeling easy. Often, though, I don't feel good in the beginning of my runs so I wasn't worried much. For about a mile, I ran with a small group but then they sped up to a solid 7 minutes per mile pace so I decided to let them go on up the road. From that point on, I basically ran alone.
I began to feel better around mile 3 and loosened up. Naturally I wanted to run faster, but I stuck to my pace. My goal was to run the whole way, not break a certain time. My knees and quads got a little cold from the chilly morning air and I worried some that I might cramp up later. This was also the hilliest part of the course with many rises and descents easily tilting to 5% and steeper, and hills measuring over 100 vertical feet. Several times I had to check my pace and slow down a little, reminding myself to stay patient.
With the hilly section over, around mile 11, my quads finally warmed up and I tossed my gloves to the side of the road. I tried to not look at my watch and just run.
Just after mile 14, the course crosses over the Spokane River and does a 180 along the opposite bank. At around this time, my stomach issues came up and I slowed down, hoping a porta-potty showed up soon. Sadly, one did not show up and I had to dash into the bushes for relief nearly falling down a sandy cliff in the process.
Back in the race, I started running with some random guy. I stayed with him for about a mile but then left his draft and moved on up the road. I felt good again and the road was flat. Around mile 19, I caught up to a man and woman running together. Again, I sat behind them in the draft for several minutes but after they slowed significantly through an aid station, I passed them. Around mile 22, we reached Doomsday Hill but I was still rolling.
At the top of the hill, with 3 miles left, I really began to feel the fatigue setting in but I knew I was going to make it. I may have passed one or two others along the way as I wove my way through the people out for a Sunday stroll along the Spokane Rive but I can't be sure. With about 400m to go, I passed one last guy and hauled it home to the finish line.
Rhonda was standing there at the finish and came over to congratulate me and Mom showed up a few minutes later - their cheering meant so much to me. I silently thanked my coach, Jacob, too who was the mastermind for getting me trough all 26.2 miles.
For a while, I sat on the ground and drank water but then I just wanted to lie down and rest, so we went home. Later that afternoon, my Aunt Jan called and told me I won my age group after she had looked up the results online. I was surprised since I am in a fairly competitive age group (35 - 39).
To sum up my training and address my goals, I've been able to run: a 37:53 10k and a 18:10 5k and although I did accomplish my primary goal (to run the entire way of a marathon), I didn't quite break my 10k PB of 36:58 or my high school 5k PB of 17:25. But really, those last two were secondary. I have no plans at the moment to continue running but perhaps after a few weeks when my body finally heals, I'll reconsider.