When I ran my first track meet in 8th grade, nine years ago, I never would have imagined that I would one day run a marathon. Even after my first half-marathon, I wasn't sure I could run the full 26.2 mile race. Yesterday I ran in the inaugural Seattle Rock-n-Roll Marathon. The course as a whole was good. Some portions could have been better but it wasn't too bad. Running along Lake Washington and I-90 was amazing. The views were great!
I woke up at 4am to have a small breakfast and some fluids. I left for the start line village between 5 and 5:30. My wonderful fiance and my mom were nice enough to wake up early and drop me off there. I got a bottle of water and a banana from the volunteers. The corrals opened at 6:00 and I was in my corral around 6:10. Now, I was in corral 6 (bib 6390) with a 'predicted' time of 3:49:15. Based on my fitness level and some time trials I did during my training, I used several prediction calculators/tables. They all said I should be running 3:3x. So I figured shooting for 3:45-3:49 would be conservative. Sadly, I don't have accurate splits past mile 12 because my Forerunner lost signal in two of the tunnels.
About 2 minutes after the gun went off, my corral was at the start line. It was like no other race I've ever ran. Hitting that line with a hundred other people next to me and thousands behind me was something else. The first few miles were very crowded. I still managed to run a pace that would set me up to run 3:4x fairly easily. I leap-frogged with the 3:45 pace group a few times before dropping them around mile 8. I made sure to hydrate at every aid station. A little before mile 8, I had my first round of shot blocks. They served me well on my last 20-mile training run so I decided to bring them along for the race too.
Just before the halfway point, the 3:45 group passed me and would stay ahead of me for the rest of the race. Things continued to go well until mile marker 18. I started to feel more tired and felt my pace begin to slow. Just before (or after?) mile 19, I stopped to use a port-a-potty. When I started running again, I knew I was flirting with the Wall. I never hit it during my two 20-mile runs so I was a little worried. I backed off a little bit, walking through the aid stations and slowing my pace a little. That worked well until I got to mile 24. The heat started to get me around mile 21 so I lost my singlet and ran in shorts for the rest of the race. I walked a bit more on some of the hills. Still, when I was running I kept my pace sub-9:00. The final bit of the course came down a hill off of the viaduct and around a corner to the finish near Qwest Field. As soon as I rounded the corner and started down the hill, I picked my pace up a lot. I was actually surprised I had that much left. I was probably running close to sub-8:00 when I hit the 26 mile marker. Rounding the final corner to the finish, I picked my pace up even more, close to 6:30 pace. After I crossed the line, I took a few strides and stopped my watch, 3:54:14(my chip time was 3:54:11). I heard my fiance, mom and little brother cheering near the end! That helped a lot! I made my way through the finish area, grabbing some water, bagel, orange and Cytomax(their Gatorade of the race). Of course, I got my race medal and one of the mylar blankets.
Before I left there to find my family, I ran into the father of a guy who was on my high school cross country team when I was captain. He's also a Marathon Maniac. We chatted about the race for a few minutes before he ran over to take some pictures with other Maniacs. After leaving the finish area, I met up with my family. They took some pictures and hugs were passed around. Then my mom bought me a 'Finisher' t-shirt :)
In all, I am happy with my first marathon experience. My time wasn't exactly what I had hopped for but it was only my first race. Taking that into consideration, I am very happy with my time. I think next year, I'll run the half-marathon at this event and find a different race to go after a sub-3:50 finish!
My Splits (before the Forerunner lost signal):
6-7:55 (no idea where that came from. must have been a downhill mile)