Friday, May 16, 2014

maine coast marathon race recap

It's always a bit challenging to put an experience like a marathon into words. It's an experience that is so much about feeling that putting it down in black and white almost cheapens it a bit in my mind. With that said, I'll do my best to try and recap (succinctly!) my experience this weekend at the Maine Coast Marathon.

After a very busy week, John and I headed up to Maine on Saturday afternoon to attend the expo and pick up our bibs and t-shirts. Before we got to Biddeford, we drove the course of the marathon to know what we'd expect along the way. We kept saying, "I can't wait to see this tomorrow!" :) Neither of us felt super prepared, but we were going to make an experience out of it - no matter what!

The race was the smallest marathon I've ever done, and the expo was the smallest expo I've ever been too. Typically, they are full of vendor tables and runners wandering around getting samples and looking for last minute gear they may have forgotten. This expo was 4 vendor tables and about 20 runners. Most of the runners were either lined up to get their bibs or to sign up for the bus that would take you from the finish line to the starting line. We were in and out in about 10min.

Dinner before a destination marathon is always a little tricky...not knowing the area and what kind of restaurants you might find. We found a great public house and brewery that had just the right thing: burgers and fries, and a tasty brew just for me. :) Oh, I also found something, or someone else!

Race day dawned at 4:45am. After breakfast (two sweet potatoes, a banana and some almond butter, and coffee - always coffee), we headed out to catch the bus that would take us to the starting line. I have to say, for a small marathon they had their system on lock down. Everything was timed perfectly and went so smoothly. They even had enough portapotties at the start line!!

The first half of the race went incredibly well for me. The course was beautiful! We passed through some gorgeous neighborhoods, along the coast, through downtown Kennebunkport. It flew by - I started out running 10-10:15min miles. By mile 6, I was feeling really good and bumped up the pace to 9:30-9:45min miles until about mile 18. After that I slowed down to about 10:30-11min miles. By the time I got to mile 20, my legs were starting to really cramp up. Karla (John's wife) jumped in with me at mile 23.5, and if her mom had lingered with the car, I seriously would have considered getting in and driving to the finish. Thankfully, Karla was willing to take my Camelbak from me (I used it for extra water - it was hot - and for my fuel - babyfood packets, dates and apricots) and she had cold Gatorade and water for me. She was like my own personal Sherpa!

Karla ran me into the finish and really helped me push through that last mile. My legs were so cramped up at this point that my toes were curling in my shoes! That has never happened didn't feel great. I ended up crossing the line at 4:47:24, my second fastest marathon time! After a lackluster training cycle, I was shocked that I was able to run this under 5hrs. I thought for sure I'd come in closer to 5:30-6hrs. Guess not!

Around mile 24, I asked Karla, "Why do we do this?!" Her first response was, "I don't know..." But then she said, "I do know. To cross that finish line." Yes, that's it exactly. The reason we put ourselves through the many long, lonely hours of training, through running a ridiculous amount of miles in one go is to cross that line and say, "I did it." I pushed myself further than I thought I could go. I overcame the desire to just give up because it was hard. And I'm stronger because of that.

At the finish, I was completely spent and had a lovely volunteer drape my medal around my neck. And another one hand me a take home bottle of ice cold water. The volunteers (so many of them!) were ALL awesome and wonderful. They were all cheering and encouraging the runners. They were at every intersection so no runners got lost and went the wrong way. Again, it was an incredibly well organized race.

If you are ever looking for a fun, small, beautiful marathon to run on the east coast, run this one. You will not regret it. I sure didn't.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

countdown to maine coast final photo!

We finished!!! (Post-showers and pre-lunch at a beachside restaurant.) And now I will sleep for many hours....

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Friday, May 9, 2014

countdown to maine coast #5

My steps to a good Friday morning: T25 Stretching and Shakeology. (Plus half of a bagel. To note, I haven't had a bagel in over two months. I've professed my love for them here before, so this is a big deal...)

Also, just a quick update on the weather for Sunday: 70deg, partly sunny/cloudy, and no rain. I'm diggin' the no rain forecast. But wish for more mid 50's-low 60's rather than 70... I'll take what I get!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

countdown to maine coast #4

Lunch today: sweet potatoes, chicken and broccoli. All roasted. All amazingly delicious! But especially the sweet potatoes. Whole, wonderful, natural energy. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

countdown to maine coast #3

Water. Water. Water... I've had this water bottle for so long and it goes with me everywhere! It's so old, my manager at REI (where I bought it) called it retro. At least being retro is cool, right?

I picked up the 26.2 sticker at the expo for the first Hyannis Half Marathon I ran back in 2010. I had just run Chicago 4 months before and decided right then to be one of "those people." I also purchased a magnet for my car - which got me out of a ticket after getting pulled over.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

countdown to maine coast #2

Current forecast: warm and rainy. Not ideal, not terrible. I'd rather have Monday's weather, though, so let's hope whatever needs to happen to make that happen, happens. Yeah, I think that made sense...

Monday, May 5, 2014

countdown to maine coast #1

Can you believe it's already time to start counting down to Maine Coast 26.2?! Yeah, me neither! Life has been so busy the last few months this hasn't really even been on my radar very much - aside from being sure to get at least one long run in a week. So it totally crept up on me.

But in less than 7 days, I'll be running marathon number six! Crazy. Which brings me to the picture countdown. This is my medal from my last marathon, the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon. It was only two weeks after the Boston bombings last year so I decked myself out in blue and yellow, including ribbons tied around my pigtails. Even my brother was wearing BAA colors for his first marathon. You can read more about our experience here. :)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

evolution of a half marathon

Your Race Photos are Ready for Viewing! said the email subject line. I'm always half excited, half nervous to open those emails. I try to smile for the camera, but inevitably it turns out as a grimace. Sometimes I miss the camera altogether and I end up with a lot of concerned-face photos.

In addition to looking at your race photos for a limited amount of time, one also has the option to purchase them - for the bargain price of at least $35 per photo. I have only purchased one - crossing the finish line at my very first marathon in Chicago. The others have never been worth a good chunk of change.

This past half marathon, they were offering free HD downloads of the race photos so you could print your own copies. Awesome! Thanks, Twin Lights Half Marathon race directors! I received my email (subject line above) today and was pleased with some of the results, not so much with others. And since the downloads were free, I got a bunch. And am happy to walk through the experience with you below. I present the evolution of a half marathon in pictures, with thought captions.

mile 2 - I see you, camera man!
mile 5 - Downhill is the worst. Wait, I have to go back up that hill? Uphill is the worst.
mile 9 - I just passed a whole buncha people. I'm planning to pass a bunch more.

mile 11.5 - so cold, so wet. so cold and wet.
mile 13.1 - wahoo!!!!!!!