Sunday, September 18, 2011
Hey Kids! So the moment has come and gone – I ran the Fox Valley Marathon this past Sunday the 18th! The whole experience is still very surreal, yet I will do my best to recap the day. Thank goodness #1 Hubby was there to document the Fox Valley Marathon race via pictures and video!
So we arrived in St. Charles, IL on Saturday afternoon and went straight to the Fox Valley Marathon expo to pick up my goodies. It was a very nice and "very" tiny expo with few vendors, which was perfectly fine with me as I didn't want to get caught up with lots of booths and end up walking more than I should. We talked with two booth reps and then we headed out to check into our hotel. Saturday night we had dinner with some fellow runners and two Fox Valley Marathon race volunteers/coordinators. What a great experience! They were all so nice and I personally left the restaurant feeling as though we'd know most of them for years! In case you're wondering, I had veggie pizza with no cheese; plenty of carbs and very little fat to potentially sit in my stomach and bog me down the next morning.
Fox Valley Race Day
I awoke at 4:30 am on race morning and had an Arnold Selects whole wheat thin bagel, some Nutella, and a banana for breakfast. I also had one cup of coffee, one cup of tea, and lots of Powerade. We left the hotel at 6 am and headed down to Race Village. As we were driving, it started to rain and it didn't stop for the rest of the day! To say that I was bummed is an understatement, yet I'm lucky that it wasn't super crazy hot, so I won't complain about the weather too much. Hubby and I wandered around Race Village for a bit and before long, it was race time!
The 7 am race start temperature was around 55 degrees and the rain continued in the form of a drizzle. I wore shorts and a dri-fit tank top, my fuel/water belt, and a baseball cap to keep the rain out of my eyes. The Fox Valley race officials let the racers go in waves of approximately 100 runners every 15 seconds. This prevented a bottleneck from occurring and worked extremely well. I decided during the last week of my taper to run the Fox Valley Marathon with a negative split – I would run the first half at a 10 minute/mile pace and then the second half at a 9 minute/mile pace. I wasn't sure how this strategy would pan out, but I wanted to be sure not to go out too fast and then hit a wall early in the race and have nothing left for the finish.
Fox Valley Race Start
I started the race with the 10:18 pace group. Slower than planned but I easily sped up to my 10:00 pace, and ended up at about a 9:52 pace.
So when I say the race and the miles just flew by, I'm not kidding – the race and the miles flew by! The course was beautiful and meandered through miles of trees, parks, and nature. We ran right next to the Fox Valley River for the majority of the race, so we got to watch crane and other wildlife along the river. Hubby successfully navigated his way to almost every spectator spot, so it was so awesome to see him cheering me on every 3-4 miles.
At about mile 8, my iPod had enough of the rain and fizzled out on me. Although I was disappointed to no longer have my music, I really didn't need it as I was already enjoying the scenery and had fun listening to the conversations going on around me. When there were no other runners with me, I'd listen to the rain and the critters nearby. It was so peaceful!
At about the halfway point at mile 13, I started thinking about speeding up my pace. This was a tricky point for me because I was feeling really good. I wasn't tired, sore, or winded in the least bit, but I knew I still had another 13.2 miles to go, so I wanted to be sure I saved some energy for the finish. I decided to speed up just a little to a 9:45 pace. At about this time, my iPod came back to life and I enjoyed some more music until mile 20 when it officially died. (RIP iPod)
Mile 20 oh mile 20
So here I was at mile 20 where everyone always says is the "official beginning of the marathon". I was feeling really good! I had consistently been taking in Gu's every hour and Gatorade at every station (there were tons of stations, by the way!), so I had plenty of energy. I debated whether or not to swallow my last Gu at this point, but decided to hold off until mile 23. I also decided to kick it in a little and picked up my pace to about 9:40. Even though I was feeling really good, I was still wary of hitting the dreaded wall. Everywhere around me, runners were flaming out and slowing down, and this really started to freak me out. Was I running too fast? Why wasn't I in pain like everyone said I would be? Am I in complete denial here, or am I truly feeling this good? I really wished I had my iPod at this point to drown out all these thoughts, but instead I fed off the energy of the spectators and Hubby.
At mile 23, it began to slowly dawn on me that I was doing it – I was running the Fox Valley Marathon! Who knows why it took me this long to finally admit it to myself, but by mile 24, the fact that I would finish running a marathon in less than 20 minutes finally began to sink in.
As I approached mile 25, I really began to kick it into high gear. I don't have a clue what my pace time was at that point, I just ran! As I turned the corner at mile 26 and sped toward the finish line, I could here the spectators shouting and cheering me on. Some said, "Looking strong! Wow, great kick!" It felt amazing! As I closed in on the finish line, I could here the announcer call my name: "And here comes Jordonna Hall! This is her first marathon, folks! Great job, Jordonna! You are a marathoner now!" I sped through the finish line and was immediately greeted by a volunteer with my finisher's medal. Hubby stood patiently nearby and video recorded the entire scene.
After the race
After the race, I felt amazing. I wasn't tired, I wasn't sore. I could have kept running. I even wanted to run back toward the 25 mile marker and run with some of my fellow runners who were struggling to finish. Instead, Hubby and I found some of our Saturday evening dinner crew and we laughed and talked with them for a while. Two of them qualified for the Boston Marathon and one, sad to say, missed qualifying by 3 minutes. We all congratulated each other and then Hubby and I grabbed some post-race snacks for the ride home.
So, I finished my first Fox Valley Marathon with a time of 4:17. I'm proud of that time, but of course I can't help but wonder how much faster I could have finished had I just let myself go at mile 13. Would I have flamed out? Would I have left it all on the course and finished with a much faster time? Was it better that I ran a conservative race and had plenty of energy at the end? These are all questions I hope to have answers to by April when I run my next marathon. Training begins next Monday. Stay tuned...:)
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