Napa Valley Marathon Race Report...
The Napa Valley Marathon is a point-to-point course, so I had to be at Vintage High School (the finish point) at 5:00 am where they then bused us up to the start line in Calistoga. Well, to get there on time we had to leave at 4:15, so I was up at 3:45. It wasn't too bad, I went to sleep at about 8:45 last night, so I got about the normal amount of sleep, the time were just a little shifted. I was gladly surprised by how well I slept, normally the night before a race I don't sleep well at all.
We woke up to rain. Not the rain I think of in March in Kansas, it was a steady but very light rain. In fact, it was so warm that I left the warm up pants and jacket in my NVM backpack that they took back to the finish line for us. I was thrilled that I wasn't going to have to wear the extra clothes. I wore my normal Long Run clothes, didn't want to try anything new the day of this race. I had my Dri Fit K-State sleeveless shirt, my Dri Fit shorts, calf compression sleeves, Injinji socks and Adidas Marathon TR10 shoes. Also, I had my breast cancer awareness wrist bands and of course my Garmin 405cx and heart rate monitor. Before the race started I was kind of cold, but as I moved around I stayed warm so I knew once the gun went off I would be fine.
i had some serious butterflies in my stomach when the race started. That led to my biggest problem I have in every race, I went out WAY ahead of my goal pace and just couldn't slow myself down. Through about the first 2 hours I had held a fairly steady 9:30 pace. That was great, but at the 2 hour point I was reminded of something very important. When you spend 3 1/2 months training almost entirely on the treadmill my feet were used to the nice soft landing rather than the pounding of roads. My feet started hurting VERY bad. My lungs felt great, my legs were tired but good, everything but my feet was all engine ahead. My feet started feeling like they were being hit with a sledgehammer on every step, I just had to stop and walk for a bit to let them rest. It killed me, I never got my legs back after that.
My pace dropped steadily from there, I was now in a walk/jog mode and couldn't get out of it. I was frustrated and tried to keep my pace up as best I could, but after that first walk break my legs were on fire and my feet were screaming. I kept thinking to myself that despite all these people around me I was so lonely, I needed someone to help give me a boost, but I didn't know anyone so I was on my own. From about mile 13 to mile 23 there was a guy struggling just as much as me. I would walk and he'd jog past me, then I'd jog past as he walked. Finally I decided to take advantage of the natural friendship we all as runners share. As I came up to him at one point I looked over as he was walking and I said, "come on, let's finish this together."
I now had a running partner! His name was Mark, you can see him in the picture below. He told me he was from Colorado and we talked a little about K-State basketballs recent turnaround to save their season. For a little bit we didn't have to think about the pain, we kept a decent pace during this time. Then he saw his wife in the crowd with about 2 miles or so to go so he dropped off to get some encouragement and I was back in the walk/jog/severe pain cycle. Luckily he caught back up with me with about 3/4 of a mile left. We finished fairly strong from there.
I had made it! My Garmin time was 26.39 miles in 4:36:19, later when official times were posted it said 4:36:20. Not terrible by any stretch, but it was 16:30 slower than my goal time. I honestly believe that had I been able to train outside rather than on the 'mill I would have crushed my 4:20:50 goal, but it really doesn't bother me, I made it. Much like my first half marathon in November I was in the top half overall. I was 1174th out of 2400, which isn't bad at all for my first ever. I did it. I'm a marathoner and no one can ever take that away. I've now done something that less than 1/2 of 1% of people have ever managed to accomplish, and even managed to make a new friend in the process. I owe Mark a lot for helping me, I'm not sure how I would have mad it through those last few miles without him.
So now it's done, I've put that goal behind me. Time to continue to move forward. I have a 10k in a couple week, a half marathon is about a month and a half and my next full marathon is in November. Add to all that the fact that I committed to the 44 mile Brew To Brew race next April and I don't have time to linger celebrating this for too long. But for now, I can't help but smile! I really did it. I accomplished the impossible, at least I thought it was the impossible 6 months ago. Since then I've learned that anything I put my mind to is accomplishable.
Happy running to you all!!!