When it’s time for the race to begin, I leave my friends to find the 3:55 pacer. For my first marathon my plan is to stay near the pacer and hopefully be able to hold the 8:58 pace throughout the 26.2 miles. I find the sign and squeeze my way into the crowd. The warmth of the surrounding bodies gives me the courage to take off my throw away shirt before the start. I can hear the distant sound of a band begin to play the Star-Spangled Banner. I put my hand over my heart and softly sing the song (I am a terrible singer, so I know to keep my voice low.) I’m not certain what was said on the PA system after the national anthem, but all of a sudden I hear the cannon signal the start. The multitude of runners takes off slowly, but we seem to get to our target pace fairly quickly. My breathing feels great and I feel like I am at a conversational pace. I chose to begin the race with a small bottle of water so I could skip the first water stop that is always congested in a race. I also wanted to see what the pacer would do at water stations. I swiftly discovered that the pacer does not stop or slow down at water stations. She stays on pace!
The night before the race Terri and I had figured out when we would need to take in GU for fuel. That morning we wrote each mile on our arm. As I was racing I was checking my pace and miles. I didn’t want to miss that first Fuel. My first scheduled one was at 4.5 miles. Was I already at 4.5 miles? Wow! That flew by! I was still feeling good and I could see the water station ahead. I squeezed the Blueberry GU into my mouth, swished it around, and swallowed. Squeezed, swished, and swallowed again. I grabbed a cup of water from a volunteer and slowed down to drink it. I kept my eye on my group and caught up with them again.
At mile 5.5, the marathoners break away from the half-marathoners and the throng of runners around me finally lessens. At this point it is easier to chat with those around me. All of a sudden I feel drops of water splashing against my arms and face and I think, “Please don’t tell me it’s going to rain. There was no rain in the forecast!” It takes me a few seconds of getting sprinkled to realize where it is coming from. There is one girl celebrating her birthday with this race and a sign draped on her back. She is at least 6 inches taller than I am. She has on a visor with her long blonde ponytail swinging behind her. She is drenched in sweat and as the ponytail swings, it flings the sweat onto all of the runners behind her and on the side of her. Ughhh!! I move my way over to the other side of the lane and before I know it, I am crowded. Others are trying to get away from the shower and we are all crammed on one side of the lane. At the next turn, she moves back in front of me and the process begins again. Oh well, at least this kept me busy and now I am already approaching mile 9. We have merged with the half-marathoners again for the next couple of miles.
Miles 9-13 are on the opposite side of the University Lake and City Park Lake. The lakes are beautiful and I watch the ducks swimming calmly. I can see the sun reflecting in the water. This is a peaceful part of the run and I take the time to enjoy the sights and sounds. I know that shortly I will be approaching the “Cheer Zone” where our family and friends are waiting. I complete another GU and keep running. I am still feeling good at this consistent pace. (picture from the advocate)
At 13.5 miles we enter a subdivision. The supporters are wonderful and the miles continue to tick away. Before I knew it I was approaching the Cheer Zone around mile 16. I could see the hubs and my parents from a distance. I started waving and wanted to cry. This is the first time I have had someone come to one of my races. Here are the pictures they were able to get.
That’s IT! My mom got so nervous that she took pictures of the runners in front of me and behind me. The hubs was able to get the first picture (I am in the green shirt) and this second picture of my shoe. I thought it was funny!
I continue on through subdivisions. People are out in their yards with children cheering for the runners. Some families have set up water and beer stations. Others have music playing that really gets us pumped up, especially the guy who has the LSU fight song blaring. I also try to take the time to read the homemade signs:
- Pain is temporary. Finishing is forever!
- Don’t Worry: Toenails are over-rated!
- Stop Reading This and Keep Running!
- Your feet are hurting because you are kicking so much butt.
- Nipple chafing turns me on.
My favorite sign was held by a young girl about 7-years old. It said, “I See Crazy People!” This got a good laugh from all of the runners.
We exit the subdivisions and we only have 2.5 miles left. I STILL feel great! I want to take off, but I am scared of “hitting the wall.” I stay at my pace and as we approach mile 25, I look up and see an overpass that looks bigger than it looked at the beginning of the race. I don’t think about it and continue running. I keep telling myself to kick it in, but I’m waiting to hit the wall and I’m certain I will hit it if I speed up. Finally, with 1/2 of a mile left, I pick up my pace for the remainder of the run. As I round the final corner I see the clock. I want to beat 3:55. I don’t see any of my family screaming and waving and jumping up and down. I am focused on the finish line. My official time: 3:54:31
It felt great! I crossed the finish line and went straight to the potty. All that water + very little sweating = very full bladder
I scanned the crowd but still didn’t see any family, so I assumed they didn’t make it. I went to gear claim and picked up my bag. I walked back to the finish area and searched the people gathered around the finish and I finally see my dad walking away from the Medical Tent. I start waving and run over to meet them. They tell me that they were there yelling my name at the finish line, but I never glanced their way. When I didn’t go to meet them, my parents began to worry and went look in the Medic Tent for me. Sweet or lack of faith in my running?!? (I know they were only concerned 🙂 )
Even the hubs came watch the marathon.
After pictures, hugs, and stories, we turned our attention back to the race to wait for Terri. 3 of her good friends had come to surprise her, along with her husband. Before long, here she comes. I high-five her before she turns the final corner, and she easily runs it in.
Her official time: 4:47:49. This was great! (However, Terri was one of the unlucky runners to get stopped by the train. She, along with a large group of runners, had to run and walk in place for about 5 minutes while a train passed.)
If you are thinking of running the Louisiana Marathon, check back for my list pros and cons.