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One More Mile

First Marathon in the Books!

After more than five months of training, I finished my first marathon – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona on January 14, 2018. I had never been more nervous for a race.  I had calls with my coach the day before and morning of the race. His last piece of advice to me was, “Breathe.”

Being around friendly fellow racers helped too. They all had words of encouragement when they heard it was my first complete marathon.

My race bib, shirt, and medal

Spectators Matter and Dogs!
The spectators for this race are awesome. Seeing their faces and hearing them cheer makes a difference. Some set up extra water stations; handed out orange slices, bacon, and beer; and held up signs. Hat tip to the spectators who made multiple appearances along the route. I was happy to see so many people with their dogs along the race route. Each one made me smile.

Your Backside Matters
More racers need to understand that their backside is entertainment for the people running behind them. I want to see more shoulder and calf tattoos and shirts with interesting backs. Several racers during the last 7 miles complemented the back of my shirt as they passed me. One said it was “dirty lie” because we were only at Mile 19. I responded that my shirt doesn’t say, “Last Mile.”

Watching so many people’s backs confirmed my idea of getting a variation of the Ignite Phoenix bird tattooed on my right shoulder blade and wearing t-back tank tops on race day.

How do these People Know my Name?
At several water stations, the volunteers cheered for me by name. I thought, “Do I know them? How do they know my name?” as I examined their faces for something familiar. And then I remembered, “Oh right, it’s on my bib.”

Still smiling after 26.2 miles and walking home from the light rail. Those numbers of my hand reminded me of when to take my gels.

“Coach, It Hurts.”
By Mile 20, I was in pain, and seriously contemplating whether I could finish the race without walking. I was afraid if I started walking, I wouldn’t be able to start running again. A frequent thought that crossed my mind was, “Coach, it hurts.”

During my training, I did a 23.8-mile run. Coach David said my body could handle the 26.2-mile distance, even if I had to walk the last miles.

I didn’t want to walk, or entertain that possibility, so I flipped from thinking about the pain to distracting myself by mentally going through gymnastics routines. (I was a gymnast for 17 years. I’ve completed many challenging runs with this trick.)

Mile 23 – 5K to go
At 5K to go, there was no way I was going to walk. Even exhausted and in pain, I could run a 5K. At the water station at Mile 24, a volunteer cheered, “Looking strong Ruth!” I didn’t feel strong, but appreciated it.

Mile 25 had the steepest hill on the course. I had some choice words for the organizers at that moment, and then I thought, “This is why I train on hills.”

Finish Strong
I had a good end of the race, coming down the hill at the end of the Mill Ave Bridge and turning the corner towards the finish line. I raised my arms and smiled as I crossed the finish line. Despite being in pain, I look happy in all my photos from the race.

I started walking after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t want to stop moving because I knew more pain would set in.

Post-Race Pain
Oh, and did it hurt. I had pain in my hips, quads, knees, and feet. I had been dealing with a sore ankle for the last week and taped it with KT Tape for the race. It did remarkably well during the race; I felt no pain until I took the tape off post-race.

I hurt so much after the race, I couldn’t get comfortable enough to nap after I got home and showered. Instead, I laid in bed for an hour and watched YouTube on my phone. I had Gatorade and chocolate milk after the race, and I didn’t want to eat for a few hours after the race.

The next day I had substantially less pain than I expected. Most of pain was in my quads. Surprisingly, I’m not going to lose any toenails from the race. I only lost one during training.

Got the Bug
I’ve heard marathoners are one-and-done or get the marathon bug. Even before this race ended, I was thinking about my next race. My goal for this race was to just finish. Now, I want to see if I can improve my time and feel stronger.

Here are my stats from this race:
Finish Time: 4:44:37
944/1852 Overall
344/809 Gender (Women’s)
63/141 Division

First Race Back

Last January, I DNFed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. After taking a few months off to figure out some health stuff, I decided it was time to get back in shape. I started jogging a few days a week and as I built up my stamina, I decided to sign up for another race – the Runner’s Den/Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon.

Race Day Shirt - One More Mile

Race Day Shirt – One More Mile

My goal for this race was “Just Finish.” I tried not to care about my time. I just wanted to get a race under my belt.

The race started at 7:30am. I had to get up extra early to walk the dog, put in my contacts, and get breakfast into my stomach by 6:30am so I’d have plenty of time to drive to Scottsdale, check my gear, and find my spot at the starting line. I was so grateful they had heaters near the starting line. It was only 40 degrees outside before sunrise, and I was cold standing in my shorts and race shirt. I opted to wear the same race shirt as Rock ‘n’ Roll to re-christen it with a good race.

My half marathon PR is 1:52:04, but I opted to line up with the 2:00 pacer. Given my training, 2 hours was the best finish I could have – maybe. By Mile 2, I wasn’t cold anymore. By Mile 4, my pacer had passed me and was out of sight. I tried not to think about it, reminding myself, “Just run your race. This race is just the beginning.”

I Finished!

I Finished!

As I jogged along, I started thinking about my ideas for 2016. Some of the theme words that crossed my mind were “simple,” “adventure,” “sunshine,” “dirt,” “happy,” and “calm.” I suspect next year will be just as busy as this year, but I want the scope of my activities to be more narrow, with more time and energy for recreation and seeing my friends.

I finished the race in 2:03:49 – averaging 9:28 per mile. Beside sore quads and toes, my body felt good coming across the finish line. As I was getting my stuff from gear check another racer thanked me for being a good pacer for him. I think I passed him around Mile 10 and he must have stayed with me for the rest of the race. I love that part of racing – using other racers to keep pace.

When I got back to my car, the thermometer informed me that the temperature had only risen to 48 degrees. My fingernails were purple. It felt so good to get home to a hot shower and a nap.

Marathon Training Week 18 Recap – Final Prep

Colts Experience by Valerie Everett from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Colts Experience by Valerie Everett from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The last week of marathon training was pretty uneventful. My marathon training program had me taper down so much that I ran less this week than any other week during training. I did a 3-mile run on Tuesday and a 4-mile run on Wednesday. I was supposed to do a 2-mile run on Thursday, but my chest hurt that afternoon so I opted to skip it. A lot of people, myself included, are wondering why I’m doing this race with my current health issues. The only real reasons I have are sheer determination and because I want to do it.

I got some great advice from my friends who have run a marathon previously. Some of the best tidbits were don’t do anything different on race day than you did during your training and trust your training. I was really nervous about the race a few days ago and I reached out to a friend who is done plenty of marathon and Ironman races for a pep talk. He told me that I’ve done a 20-mile training run and I’ve run a 10K. A marathon is just the opportunity to do them consecutively. That made me feel better.

My Race Shirt for Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

My Race Shirt for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015

My friend and I went to the race expo on Friday. We both ran the half marathon 2 years ago and I beat him by 67 seconds so his goal this year is to beat my half marathon time. He ran the full marathon last year and I wouldn’t mind beating his time of 4:30:16. But my real goal at this point is to just finish. We did a quick lap for the expo exhibitors, looking at products and grabbing samples, and I got taped up at the Rock Tape booth. (And for those of you who are wondering, yes I altered the race waiver and they accepted it.)

A few days ago I picked up my custom race shirt at Brand X in Tempe. I had them put “One More Mile” on the back of a highlighter yellow running shirt in silver lettering. It came out beautifully. I hope it will inspire anyone running behind me during the race.

At this point I’m enjoying carb loading and just trying to get everything ready for race day. I hope it will be a low-stress high-fun day.