A quick recap for those just joining us: Our pace group decided to go rogue and run the full marathon course rather than the out & back that the main body of the class had scheduled yesterday. Because of this, we had to arrange for our own support for the first half, which turned out remarkably well.
It wouldn’t be 100% accurate to say that yesterday’s run was the best ever, even though looking back that’s how I feel about it. We arrived at our starting point a little after 8:00 am and started our journey in very chilly, wet weather. Most of us were at least slightly underdressed and some of us were pretty seriously underdressed for the conditions. Before long, the steady rain had us drenched through. For the first several miles it seemed it was a bit of a struggle to keep our spirits up, even for those who are usually the most cheerful and optimistic. But we kept talking and joking and laughing, even though it was a stretch, and forged on ahead.
Since we were out on our own, without the support of the main body of the class, I was feeling a bit paranoid about water and nutrition so I packed quite a lot with me. It turns out that I didn’t have to worry after all. I think it was around 4 miles in that we first came across our pace group leader who is unfortunately injured, but is still going way above and beyond in supporting us. He brought his RV out so that we could have a bathroom break since there wouldn’t be a public restroom on the course for quite a ways. He also brought water, gels and ibuprofen. Since we were the last group to start the regular marathon course, after we left his awesome, mobile aid station he drove on down a few more miles and met us again. In all I think he provided us with 3 stops, though it may have been 4. My memory is fuzzy. Another aid station on the first half of our journey was provided by another injured pace group member. I think it says a lot about these folks that they’re still supporting us, even though they’re injured and won’t be running the race. They’re quality people!
If I recall correctly, the rain started to abate sometime around when we started up the hill on Big Flat Road. Don’t let the name fool you. The road is neither big, nor flat. It’s narrow, winding and and provides the Marathon’s only significant hill, about halfway through the full course. It’s also one of the reasons we chose to run the full course, so we would have a better idea of what to expect on race day. I can’t speak for anyone else in the class, but I got a boost out of conquering that hill. Additionally, part way up that hill is where our pace group leader kindly provided a dry shirt for our most drenched and cold runner.
After we got down the other side of the hill we joined up with the half marathon course and the aid stations provided by Run Wild MIssoula for our class. I was especially excited to get “into town” and run through more familiar areas. Also, sometime on our way down the hill, a former member of our class who opted to join the traditional running class after trying the Galloway method, came to cheer us on and surprised us by meeting us quite a few times during the rest of our run to cheer us on and take pictures. It’s honestly amazing how much that can lift a person’s spirits on a long run.
As we went along we remarked on the milestones we usually remark on, such as passing the 10 mile mark (double digits!), the halfway point, the 20 mile mark and then the 23 mile mark, which was our previous longest run distance. Early on, our group spread out quite a bit, though we never really lost sight of the leaders, but about 20 or 22 miles in we grouped back up and stuck together for the rest. And around 10 miles I opted to do a little “sprint” when I saw our mobile aid station ahead, because it’s been so effective in stretching out my IT Band in the past. It worked like a charm.
After the rain stopped and we began to warm up, our spirits also lifted, so the last half of our run was much more pleasant than the first half. As we approached the finish I got more and more excited about the fact that I was actually doing it. I was actually completing a marathon distance run, albeit slowly. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that I’m doing this, since I was never a runner before that night in November when I discovered how much I liked the Galloway run/walk/run method.
As we turned onto Higgins Avenue, we were on a walk break. My timer went off just as I started up the bridge and it was at that point that I let the excitement and adrenaline takeover and decided not to take any of the rest of my walk breaks. As it turns out, I don’t know exactly where the finish line of the race is, so I just kept on going until I got to Front Street, where I waited for the rest of my pace group and exchanged many high-fives, fist-bumps and words of congratulations. We even started back along the bridge after a pace-group member who had dropped behind, but then we discovered she wasn’t very far behind at all, just on the other side of the street.
Looking back at my first marathon distance run, I feel really positive about it. I finished strong and happy, which is what I set out to do. Our time was 6 hours and 18 minutes. With the amount of stopping and waiting we did at the aid stations, I feel pretty good about that. My predicted time, according to Galloway’s Magic Mile based recommendations, was 6 hours, so I think the prediction was probably pretty darned accurate.
After the run I went to hang out with my dear friends who made me delicious homemade mac and cheese and let me take a cold bath in their tub. They also took this picture of me when they picked me up.
Interestingly, my feet didn’t swell much during the run. Whether that was due to my compression sleeves or the cold weather, I do not know. But when I got into the cold bath around 7:30pm they were HUGE. I will say that delaying the cold bath does not seem to have decreased its effectiveness, either. I’m a bit stiff today, but not unreasonably so, and I’m really not very sore at all.
I’d also like to say that the Feetures Elite socks that a friend recommended to me were really fantastic. Even with soaking wet feet the only blisters I got were one in a spot where I had put blister tape not quite far enough around my toe, so it came loose and rubbed, and one where the back of my shoe pressed the seam of my compression sleeve against my leg. I strongly recommend these socks and will be buying myself a few more pair. Of all the socks I’ve tried so far, these are by far my favorite.
The marathon is approaching fast! Just 26 days and 10 hours according to the countdown clock. But now I know that the nerd girl CAN run the marathon, and that’s a pretty cool feeling.