Thursday, February 23, 2012

26.2: Our First Marathon!

Well, WE DID IT! Mike and I each finished our first marathon this past Sunday, February 19th, 2012 at the Livestrong Austin Marathon. That's 26.2 miles of running!! Here's a little recap for you:

On Saturday afternoon, Mike and I drove up to Austin (1 hour away) and checked in to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Austin, on the south side of Lady Bird Lake (seems more like a river to me...). The hotel was one of the "official" race hotels and they were welcoming marathoners with open arms.
These signs were on all the doors at the front of the hotel.
There were also signs with details about the race and the Hyatt even offered a pasta buffet the night before.
When we got up to the room, we discovered we had a river view room and we had a great view of downtown Austin.
The view from our hotel room.
After settling into our room, we headed down the street to the Expo. Here is where we got our packet with our race number and "swag" (freebies). There are lots of vendors selling their products, including samples of energy bars and drinks. Some were very yucky! Lol!
Of course, there were also many clever accessories available for purchase:
After the Expo, we returned to the hotel to prepare for dinner. We ate at a fancy little pizza place in downtown Austin called Backspace. There were maybe 8 tables in the whole restaurant, so we were happy we had made reservations.
Our walk from the hotel to downtown included a picturesque view of the capitol building

After dinner we returned to the hotel to prepare for the next day's challenge. Mike spent the evening carefully laying out his running clothes, checking all of his gear and then reading the pamphlet that was given to us in our packet with information about the route, etc. I was in the middle of the Hunger Games and, because I couldn't stand it, I had to finish the book THAT NIGHT. And I did. Around 9:30 I laid out my running clothes and called it a night!

The morning of the race we each ate a peanut butter sandwich, put on our running clothes, pinned on our numbers and headed for the starting line. As we walked, I realized I had to go to the bathroom. Despite the fact that we were 5 minutes away from the starting gun, Mike and I hopped in line for the port-o-potties! With thousands of people in line to start, we knew we wouldn't start until maybe 15 min after the gun anyway.

I won't bore you all with the mile-by-mile, so let's jump to my favorite one: mile 9. At mile 9, the Livestrong group was there to cheer on the racers. Perhaps a hundred people, on either side of the road, all yelling, smiling, giving high 5's. The atmosphere was electric with support. There was music blaring, it was amazing. This was our first stop for water, fuel and to use the restroom again.
Our view from the mile 9 stop 
I was actually saying "Why are you taking a picture of me in front of the port-o-potties?" but my face also accurately expresses my feelings toward port-o-potties in general....
The next several miles were a blur, though we enjoyed the creative signs:

"Half-marathoners: Almost there!! Marathoners: sorry...."

"Worst parade ever!"

"Toenails are overrated" (many people's toenails turn black or fall off during training for marathons...)

"Your feet hurt because of all the ass your kicking!"

At mile 18 reality set in. I still had 8 miles to go. A weekday training run stood between me and a nap, beer, food, rest, whatever. At mile 20 an old injury, Illiotibial Band (IT band) Syndrome reared it's ugly head. I needed to stop every mile to stretch it. My knees and hips were screaming. I realized I should have taken the Aspirin a woman at an aid station was giving out at mile 18.

In the last few miles, each walking break I requested caused Mike's muscles to seize up, making it harder for him to get started again and keep going. I knew if I stopped and he went on we wouldn't be able to finish together so I grit my teeth and kept going those last 2.5 miles.

About 200 yards from the finish we heard our names among all the cheers of the throngs of people lined up before the finish line. I looked over and there were Clarissa and Justin, our friends who had come to see us finish! Justin took a quick video of us as we ran past. (You may want to turn down your speakers...lots of screaming!)

We look really awesome and happy, but that is in no way representative of how we were actually feeling. It's just really exciting to see someone you know after 4.5 hours of running!

We finished the marathon in 4 hours and 41 minutes. We were hoping to be closer to 4:30, but that's still very good for our first!
Oh yeah! We did it!
Afterwards I was able to grab some ice for my knee at the medical tent. We grabbed some bagels and gatorade and headed back to the hotel with Clarissa and Justin. I'm so glad they were there to take our minds off the half mile walk back to our room! At the room we did our best to put ourselves together without actually taking a shower and then we all went down to the bar to have some lunch.
Gotta wear your medal at lunch....
Our friends left to go back to San Antonio after lunch and Mike and I took showers and laid down for a nap. Out of the allotted hour and 15 minutes, I only slept for maybe 20 or 30 minutes. My joints still hurt so bad I couldn't really sleep so I got up and had a snack while looking out our window to watch rowing teams go down the river. Occasionally a runner would go by on the path and my knees ached every time they took a step!

That night, Mike and I went to the Alamo Drafthouse to see a live sketch comedy show. After that we walked around 6th St. Not quite an accurate representation, but Mike hadn't been there at night before so I showed him some of the places I'd been.

I would have thought if anything could make you sleep well a marathon could, but I was wrong! Neither of us slept well and when my alarm went off at 6am I shut it off and rolled over to see Mike on his phone: "I'm Yelping places to eat breakfast." I told him about a place down the road that had good Migas and luckily they were open 24 hours.
Migas from the Magnolia Cafe: Eggs, cheese, bell pepper, onions and corn chips! :)
After breakfast we packed up our stuff and then walked downtown to Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop (a.k.a. Lance Armstrong's bike shop!). Mike looked around and bought a T-shirt and a couple stickers.
Mellow Johnny's also has a coffee shop called Juan Pelota. You can read here why he chose that name. Let's just say it refers to a part of his anatomy which he may or may not have had to have removed...  Now that I know that, this picture seems a bit more awkward...
After returning to the hotel, we packed up the truck and headed back down to San Antonio. Here's a pic of all the "swag" we got:
I purchased the "26.2" sticker for my car. 
And a close up of the shirt and medal:

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