26.2 on my 26th

My marathon/birthday weekend started on Friday when I took the day off work. It just so happened to be the same day that the new Lululemon store was opening less than a mile from my house. You best believe I was there. I had some coaching money I had been saving and I thought this was the perfect time to treat myself. I ended up getting a tank and short in the mint green color! LOVE!

On Saturday we headed down to the expo. This was only my second expo and I heard it was a good one. P&G had really great samples (full size shampoos?!) and I tried different kinds of running fuel. It was definitely a fun time!

After 18 weeks of training it was time to run my first marathon. My alarm went off at 4:50 and I was up by 5 to get ready. I have everything set out so I was dressed and ready to go within 5 minutes! I made my breakfast and we headed out the door to head downtown. But first we had to take my before the race photo:

You see that custom bib name??

Couldn’t think of a better way to spend my 26th birthday.

Once we got down to the start of the race I quickly found my running buddies. The butterflies had definitely kicked in at this point but I was so ready to run! The gun went off at 6:30 am and we were off. There is nothing more exciting that running with thousands of other runners. The adrenalin rush is awesome!

Miles 1-5 were easy. We trained with those bridges a million times. I loved crossing over the highway heading back into Cincy and seeing 7th street lined with people all the way down. It was so cool! I saw my friend at the end of 7th and that gave me the boost to head up the “dreaded” hill climb.

I felt awesome going through Eden park. We ran over the pads at mile 6.8 and I was at 1:01:46. I was doing well!

I saw some other familiar faces around mile 8 and my pace picked up. I knew my family was at mile 10ish so I was looking forward to seeing them. At mile 9 I took water and a salt tablet to protect myself from cramping (more on that later)

Mile 11 was fastest mile (8:22) and I think it was because of all the crowd support in Hyde Park. Everyone there was so energetic! It also helped when I saw my people!

Check out those calf muscles! 18 weeks of training really paid off 😉

Then it was time to turn up Paxton which felt like a huge mountain but we did it! I was still feeling good at this point. Looking back now I realized I should have started eating something at this point. I did grab and orange slice but couldn’t stomach it. We hit the half way mark at 1:56:03. Still on pace. The down hill never felt so good.

As we turned up Bramble (mile 14) I was hit with dizziness. I walked for less than 30 seconds to chew on some sports beans and felt better. I decided to walk through every water stop at this point. I could still make my goal of under 4. My pace was slowly slipping and the weather was getting warmer. I kept taking salt tabs every half hour and alternated between water and gatorade. I felt like I couldn’t get enough to drink but felt full. I once again took a small walk break to let everything settle.

Once we hit Eastern Ave. I could feel the cramps in my calf muscles coming on. I wanted to finish strong so I walked a little more. My pace slipped but I was still ahead of the 4:00 pace group. I hit mile 19.7 at 2:57:51

That when things went south.  I had to walk more often than the water stops. I had an amazing coach that stayed with me the whole time. I would look up and find something to walk to and then start running. Once we hit mile 22 I could no longer walk/run.

Both of my calf muscles cramped up so bad I felt like my legs turned to stone. I grabbed the hands of my coach to stop myself from face planting into the concrete. I screamed in pain. So many runners stopped to make sure I was okay and if I need anything. That is one reason I love this sport. That is when the medical truck came up and asked if I needed anything. I was frozen. I couldn’t move due to the pain. I had to wait it out. I stood there for almost 4 minutes.  They asked if I wanted to ride back in the truck. I told them no way. I came this far I was going to finish. I knew my sub-4 was out the window, but it was okay, I was still going to finish a marathon.

I walked mile 22.5 till about mile 25.5. I had to finish this thing running! I would walk backward and with long strides to get my muscles worked out. My coach, Megan, was telling everyone it was my birthday and I got so many cheers and high fives. People would pass me and tell me happy birthday. They were amazing.

Once we got to the top of Riverside I was ready to run. Megan pushed me along and kept telling me the fam was up ahead. I felt the cramps coming back on but I pushed through. I came up with a goal of getting a sub-4:20 marathon. I saw my bright orange sign and all the smiling, teary eyed, proud family of mine. I was ready to get some high fives from them.

Megan telling everyone “It’s her first marathon & her birthday!” I was never so happy to see my family!

Logan ran it in with me. Little does he know that was the highlight of my race. I think it was his 9 year old way of being proud 🙂

My official end time was 4:18:12.

I had 3 goals going into this whole experience. Make new friends, finish the marathon, and run under 4 hours. I completed the first two, and now have a new goal for my next marathon.  One thing {of many} I have learned from this whole experience is to set goals and reach them. If you don’t reach them the first time try harder the next time. My body was telling me I was not ready to run a sub 4 hour marathon and I am okay with that. I still had an amazing birthday and made my family proud. I couldn’t ask for anything else.

7 thoughts on “26.2 on my 26th

  1. Congrats on your first marathon! I couldn’t believe it when I saw your shirt ahead of me! I hope I didn’t scare you when I came up and grabbed your shoulders – I’ll admit I wasn’t in the best place and definitely had that “drunk marathoner” feeling of slurred words and bad hand-eye coordination. My thought process was also lacking.

    Even though you were in pain – 4:18 is an AMAZING time and just think how you can just keep improving from there. Congrats again!

  2. Congratulations on your first marathon! I ran marathons on the weekend right before and the weekend right after my 26th birthday this year because it was in the middle of the week. There is no better way to celebrate! It looks like you had a blast.

  3. Way to keep a positive attitude even when you didn’t do your A goal! I can only imagine how tough it must have been!! i’m so excited that you finished it and accomplished 26.2 on your 26!! Congrats!!

  4. I LOVE this! This has been one of my goals, too…running a full marathon on my 26th (or before…I’d settle for completing it by the time I turn 26, too). Congrats on finishing! Sounds like one amazing birthday weekend, for sure! 🙂

    Left brain, right brain, pug brain.

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