After the Dallas Marathon was canceled, I immediately started looking for another marathon to take its place. I had trained all season, I didn't want that to go to waste!
I ended up deciding on the Texas Whiners series, which consists of a marathon on Saturday (12/14, Whine Not A Marathon) and a marathon on Sunday (12/15, Whine Not Another Marathon). Participants can sign up for one race or both and each race is capped at 50 participants. The course is simple: 8 loops around Bachman Lake (about 3 miles around) with a short out-and-back at the end. I discussed this race with Brandon and another running buddy, Jessica, and we decided to sign up for the Sunday marathon and run it together! Brandon was determined to run his first marathon, Jessica was trying to make it into the Marathon Maniacs club (3 marathons within 90 days) and I just wanted to run a race like I had planned on.
The race is usually very small (the race director told us usually 25-30 runners at each event) but both days filled up to their 50-runner capacity due to the Dallas Marathon cancellation. I'm sure their resources were stretched to the max with all of the last-minute additions, but all of the volunteers were so nice and seemed really happy that more people signed up! I picked up my packet at the Embassy Suites near Bachman Lake on Friday evening. I got a shirt (way too big, but I know they had scrambled to get enough shirts as it was), a keychain flashlight and a rubber bracelet.
Saturday evening, Michael said he wasn't feeling well and ended up being sick all night. He was still sick on Sunday morning so I drove myself to the race site. There was plenty of on-site parking, the small lot was full when I got there at 6:40-ish (for a 7:00am start) but I parked on the street directly across from the start line/finish line/aid tent. The aid tent was stocked with water, Gatorade, candy, bagels, pretzels and I think some other "real" food as well. I did not plan on trying out real food for the first time during a race, instead I carried a couple of packages of my usual Honey Stinger Chews. Brandon had brought a whole box of supplies, pretty much anything he thought he might need during the race! His friend Serena and his parents were going to stay in that spot, so I added a couple of things to his box just in case I needed them. It was nice to know we could just drop our layers or pick something up every three miles!
Because there were no timing chips, there were volunteers set up as timers. They recorded our bib number each time we passed them and would record our final finish time. The race director (Angela) welcomed us made a few general announcements while we pinned on our bibs and tried to stay warm. (I think the temperature at 7:00 was about 28 degrees, brr!) She also had people raise their hands who were running their first marathons (Brandon was one of only a few), people trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon (again, only a couple), trying to qualify for Marathon Maniacs (Jessica and a few others), running their second marathon of the weekend (quite a few). Then she started rattling off numbers of marathons people had run. There were quite a few people with a few *hundred* marathons under their belts, the most was 549! Insane! Then we had a prayer, the national anthem and without much fanfare, we were off!
The first lap around the lake was mostly just trying to warm up, our fingers and toes were freezing! There were also a few icy patches on the trail, we made sure to avoid these. We stopped after the first loop so Jessica could use the port-a-potty and checked in with our crew. There was some confusion when Brandon and I thought Jessica was still in the restroom but she was actually just a few feet away talking to her husband and thought we just weren't in a hurry to get started again! Haha, we finally realized our mistake, but it cost us a couple of minutes. No big deal, we started on our second loop.
On the exact opposite side of the lake, my friend Stacey had set up camp! She brought a camping chair and a big white board to make a different motivating sign for every lap! She was awesome, she saw us pass by 8 times and also made friends with all of the other runners! One guy (who did both marathons over the weekend) insisted on a picture with her afterwards!
She is an awesome spectator and an awesome friend to come all the way from Ft. Worth to cheer!
What ended up being nice about the multi-loop course is that we could kind of break it up in our heads. We could focus on getting to Stacey, then getting back to the aid station. Brandon had some GI problems after the second lap and really worried about the rest of the race. He ended up not taking any more nutrition for the remainder, other than water and his own low-calorie Gatorade. A couple of laps later, Jessica started having some serious stomach issues and took some Zofran to try to combat the nausea. Unfortunately, this did not help her and she continued to feel lousy for the rest of the run. She was able to keep running, though, and we kept encouraging her!
I was feeling really good during the race and probably could have even gone a little faster. But having my friends there for company really made a huge difference, so I did not want to leave them! We had some pretty funny conversations and at one point sang what we could remember of "What Does The Fox Say" to entertain ourselves.
During the 7th loop, we saw my parents! They had also parked on the farther side of the lake, not too far from Stacey. It was good to see them, I was so glad they had made it. After the 7th lap, we realized we were in the home stretch! Jessica and Brandon were capable of doing math in their heads (I'll be honest, I'm not good at this even when I'm not 22 miles into a run) and calculated that even if we did a run/walk for the last lap we would finish in under 5 hours. I was very happy with this projected finish time, as it would be a huge PR for me! We didn't slow down that much, but we did take it a little easier on the last loop. After they saw us on the 8th loop, Stacey and my parents headed to the start/finish line.
Once we got to about the 24-mile point, Jessica said, "I hope you guys are ready for a sub-5 marathon because it's happening!" I was so excited for my own PR as well as the others' personal goals!
We passed the start/finish line and started our out-and-back. We had passed this turnaround 8 times already and we knew it was coming! We had to run past the finish line, out 9/10 mi and then back to cross the finish line again. I'm not going to lie, this part of the race was tough, especially for Brandon! I took it upon myself to push the other two for the last 1.8 miles. It seemed like it took forever to get to the turnaround point, at one point I said, "Where the fuck is the turnaround?!" We had passed it so many times, it felt like it would be coming up soon but that last part we just kept waiting for it! I encouraged the other two to not stop, I reminded them that stopping to walk or stretch would make things hurt worse. I was ahead of them, trying to be their bunny.
After we (finally) turned around, it seemed like we were back at the finish line in no time! We decided we wanted to cross the finish line together because this was the end of a journey we had started together and we wanted to end it together!
I love these pictures, you can really see how relieved we are to finish! And as much fun as a big race like the Dallas Marathon is, there is something to be said for your biggest supporters being right there at the finish line.
I somehow missed the guy waiting with our medals and made a bee-line for the water! Once I had chugged some fluids, I noticed the other two had medals and got mine, haha! I also hadn't looked at the clock when we crossed the finish (you can see Brandon immediately turned his head to see), so I asked Brandon and then got confirmation from one of the timing volunteers. We crossed in exactly 4:52:00! It was a 48 minute PR for me! The volunteer was so sweet, she said, "Do you want me to write it down for you?" Haha, no, I'll remember it!
I walked around for a minute to get my heart rate down, grabbed some pretzels and a piece of bagel with peanut butter from the food table. I also called Michael, I couldn't wait to tell him how I had done! (I had started my GPS app and sent it to Michael so he could track me from home, so he at least knew what pace I was keeping during the race.) It was great to talk to him, he hated to miss the race and was happy with how well I had done. After we relaxed for a while, we decided to hit El Fenix for some post-race grub!
I was exhausted all through lunch, I kept thinking I might fall asleep at the table! I had my mom drive me home since my legs felt like Jell-O, I didn't trust myself to drive well. Once I was home and showered, I got in bed to take a nap but then I couldn't sleep! I think I was still all hyped up on the adrenaline. I didn't sleep well that night, either, I woke up with a headache (probably from being underhydrated) and then just couldn't get comfortable to fall back asleep.
Monday morning, I took an easy walk (about a mile in 20 minutes) to get the blood flowing and then visited my favorite masseuse for a recovery massage. By the afternoon, my legs were feeling much better. I am still sore but already feeling much better. This week I am planning on taking it easy, just yoga and walking to let my legs rest.
Looking ahead, I don't plan on training for a spring full. I am going to focus on some shorter distances and trail runs. So far, I am signed up for the DRC's Frigid 10k on January 4, the Cowtown Half Marathon on February 23 (I'm going to pace Stacey through her first half!) and the Dallas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. I also have a few trail races in mind but haven't signed up for any yet.
I definitely plan on registering for the Dallas Marathon again in 2014. They promised us that those who were registered to run in 2013 would get both medals if they finished in 2014. I don't think I can turn that down!