Race recap: my first marathon!

Before I get into my race recap, I need to admit something. It’s embarrassing. I never gave marathons the respect they deserved. Until now. Wow. What a crazy, challenging, exhilarating distance. Until about mile 17, I felt amazing. I thought I’d be able to hit my initial goal time of 3:45:00 (which, by the way, would be two of my own half-marathon PRs. I didn’t really do the math until Jake and I were talking after my race. Probably not super realistic for my first full, huh? I’ll get back to this in a bit!) I still don’t think it’s sunk in that I finished a marathon. It was always this huge looming race that I just didn’t seem to be able to do. After signing up, training, getting injured, and dropping out of at least two (maybe three – I can’t remember), I began to think maybe I wasn’t meant to run a full. After my hammy injury last year, which kept me from running the full in Nashville with Jyssica, I was determined to get back to healthy running and cross the finish line. Man, it felt good to finish on Sunday. Well, physically, it wasn’t great, but emotionally, my heart was SO happy when I saw that finish line in the distance.

Okay, let’s get to the good stuff! I’m writing all of this here for two reasons. One, I enjoy sharing my journey with you. I try to share all of it – the good, the bad, the ugly – life is full of all three! I’d love to hear your input on anything I talk about – obviously I’m very new to 26.2. And two, this documents my journey. I love to go back and read over the things I’ve shared with you. This blog has become a very public journal, which I’m thankful for. I’m thankful to have such amazing readers (AKA friends). I’ve loved connecting with each of you and getting to know you! Now, before I cry, I’ll get back to what I promised – my race recap!

Below is what I wore on race day. That Lululemon shirt is the BOMB. (Links to some of these HERE). I ditched the Marmot jacket because it didn’t really rain, I didn’t wear my gloves…mostly because I HATE gloves and only wear them if it’s snowing, and I wore the short socks, not the tall. So, I wore the shirt, the shorts, and the arm warmers, which were PERFECT. I was never chilly or too warm.

The race started at 7AM. Check out that ideal running weather. The wind got a little crazy a few times, but it wasn’t too terrible.
Before I start on the race, I want to fill you in on Jake’s weekend. Jake left Friday after work to go pace his Dad in a hundred. The race was about two and half hours away. When I signed up for my marathon, we didn’t realize it was the same weekend as his Dad’s race and Jake had already committed (and was super excited) to pace his Dad. Jake was SO upset that there was a chance he could miss my first marathon. And as badly as I wanted him there with me, I have the BEST group of friends who were going to be there and I would never have let him back out of a prior engagement with his Dad. So, there was a chance he wouldn’t make it back to see me finish. If everything went perfectly, his Dad would finish (Jake was going to pace him the last 22 miles of the hundred), and then Jake would hop in his truck and drive straight to the finish line with hopes of seeing me. On absolutely zero sleep…after running 22 miles through the middle of the night. I tried to get Jake not to worry about getting back to see me, but he’s just about as stubborn as I am and that conversation didn’t go well. ; ) On top of all of this, there was zero service where the hundred was, so I had no way to stay in touch with Jake. Mild anxiety for me before racing my biggest race ever, just because Jake can always calm me down, but again, I had the best group of friends here keeping me sane. Jake’s Dad had been battling a hammy injury, much like mine last year, so I was keeping my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t flair up on him. His race started on Saturday morning and I was able to track him for awhile. He was absolutely crushing it! I was so excited. I checked again around 4PM and saw that he had dropped out at mile 40. I was majorly bummed for him. His hammy flared up and he decided not to risk a serious injury (smart move). Buuuut, I thought that meant Jake would come home. Well, I waited and waited and never heard from him. Mild anxiety set in. I started to get worried. I finally decided if he came home in the middle of the night, that would be great. If he didn’t, no biggie. I went to bed about 9PM the night before the race. I actually slept pretty well! My alarm went off at 4AM and I had a mild panic attack about the time change. Daylight savings is hard…HA! After I woke up enough to realize the time on my phone was correct, I realized Jake still wasn’t home. I figured he wouldn’t make it back to see me finish. I was sad, but told myself I was about to run my first full, so there was no time for that nonsense! I got out of bed and got ready!

Okay, so since I’m going to share ALL about training, here we gooooo! (Feel free to skip this part if you don’t want to hear about pooping. My girlfriends (and Jake) hear about this ALL the time. Don’t you want to be friends with me? ; ) ) One of my biggest concerns for this race was having to stop and poop once I started. I mentioned yesterday that the only long run I had done where I didn’t have to stop was my 22-miler, so I literally did EVERYTHING the same for race day. I even froze the leftover food I had eaten the night before my 22 and thawed and ate it the night before my race. So, that was my biggest concern (other than being in pain and not being able to finish). 

Back to the race morning: I allowed myself to have one cup of coffee (you know why), and then I had a whole white bagel with butter, a banana, and honey. I think I started eating about 4:15. This is also what I did the morning I ran my 22. 

I decided to wear my pack since this was my first full. I didn’t want to drink any caffeine (you know why), so I used this Skratch hydration mix. It’s one of my favorites. I still took in caffeine during the race, I got caffeine from my GUs (nutritional gels).
After I ate, I got dressed, stretched, foam rolled, and texted Jyss. We were all going to meet at her house and show up to the race together, but I was antsy, so I told her I was coming over early (it was about 5:30AM at this point). I was walking to grab my keys to start my car so it would be warm when my phone rang – it was Jake!! I figured he was calling to tell me he was on his way home, which meant he’d make it to see me finish. NOPE. As soon as I answered, he asked if I had been able to sleep. I said I had, but that I had been worried about him. He asked if I was too worried to unlock the front door. He was literally pulling into our driveway! I couldn’t believe it! So, he got home, totally sleep deprived, and drove me to Jyss’ to meet everyone. They were all so excited to see him! It was the best surprise. He had ended up pacing another friend of ours who was running the same hundred. They KILLED it and made up about 3 hours of time in the hundred. How awesome is that?! 

Back to the marathon: Kayla and Jordan, who were running the half, met us at Jyssica’s house and we all headed to Bass Pro, which is where the race started and finished. Super blessed to have this runner girl gang. 

So thankful for this girl. She ran with me two or three times for a few minutes and it helped to talk to her. When I started crying around mile 22, I asked her how she had finished a marathon, haha! She’s tough!
I was SO happy this handsome guy made it home in time to see my whole race. I think I saw Jake, Jyss, and Chelsea 6 times on the course. They were so good about being in spots that I needed them. Mile 22 especially. I think that’s really the mile I fell apart. Which is funny, because that’s my favorite number. I just realized that. Wish I would’ve thought of that during the race! My brain was gone, though. At one point I couldn’t do the math to figure out when I needed to take another GU…
So thankful for a spouse that understands my love of running and racing. He gets me. He also forced me to take a GU when I told him I was cramping and bonking. I had been burping and throwing up a little, so the last thing I wanted to do was take another GU. Buuut, I listened to him and it helped! That doesn’t mean you’re always right, babe! ; )
Here was my original plan for the race (before I hit mile 15 and realized my body would NOT go any faster).
Miles 1-3 @ 8:40-8:45
Miles 4-13 @ 8:35
Miles 14-23 @ 8:30-8:35
Miles 23-end: fast as I could go

I had a mantra for each of these sections, too. Miles 1-3 my mantra was “Chill”; miles 4-13 it was “Steady”; miles 14-23 it was “Push”; and 23 to the end it was “Fight”. Mantras are powerful. Even though I wasn’t hitting those paces, I still used my mantras. 

While I loved this plan, I quickly realized at mile 15 that just keeping a sub-9 minute pace was starting to sound out of the question. Below are my actual splits. I was able to stay pretty consistent until mile 19. I stopped to pee sometime in mile 18 or 19, but I never had to stop to poop! SUCCESS! Miles 23 and 25 were some of the hardest. My whole left leg was cramping so badly that I felt like I was having to swing it around to make it move. My calf and my inner quad cramped really bad on my right leg. I had to basically punch my inner quad a few times to make my leg move. I finally stopped during mile 23 and 25 to stretch. My calf camps were probably the worst. And my left hip started to cramp, too, but I was able to rub that out and keep going. I stopped three times during 25, which is what ruined my pace for that mile. But I just couldn’t keep going without a stretch. The last six miles were definitely the toughest. I started to hurt around 17, too, which is sooner than I was expecting to hurt. Overall, I’m proud of myself for staying so consistent and even though I didn’t hit my paces, I know I did what I had to do the last six miles. 

Chels, my sister-in-law, got this video of the finish. I honestly don’t really remember the finish.

Crossing that finish line was amazing. I remember stopping my watch and realizing I had done it. I had finished a marathon. This, friends, is the look of someone who is dead tired, ha! I had to stop and stretch or have Jyss rub out my hips every few steps trying to get out of the finisher’s chute. I got a massage from the expo inside after my race and that was the BEST thing ever. It helped my sore muscles so much!
HERE’S my playlist! It was PERFECT. I had a few songs at the beginning that I love, just to listen to before the race started, then I didn’t have any of the songs that make me run fast until around mile 20. I just listened to the playlist in the order it’s in. I also had a few extras on there that I could skip if they weren’t working for me. Everything worked perfectly because my favorite fast song, “Down With the Sickness” came on half a mile from the finish line. I wanted that to be my finishing song, so I got to sprint my finish to it!

This time shows faster than my official time, which was 3:57:30.

Check out those amazing times!! These women are incredible. I was SO surprised when Jake told me infinsihed as the 13th female. I was not expecting that at all! I was also not expecting the first place age group award – that was awesome!
My friend, Bailey, who works for Ultramax, made me this shirt to wear after my race. I put it on as soon as we got back to the car! Overall, my marathon experience was pretty awesome. It was also the most painful thing I’ve ever done. During mile 22/23 I thought about signing up for another and almost laughed out loud. I swore I’d never do it again. Buuuuut, now I want to. Funny how that works with races, huh? I don’t know which one, but this won’t be my last. : )

Also, Bass Pro’s medals are awesome. If you ever get a chance to run the half or full, I highly recommend both! The Bass Pro half was my first half 8 years ago, so I love that the full of the same race series was my first, too. I still can’t believe I ran a marathon. I am SO inspired by athletes out there. Their ability to push through pain, make their legs move faster, and never give up definitely motivates me. Thank you for following along on my own journey! Stay around, there will be more! ; )

I shared more about post-race HERE

Back to normal blog stuff now (it’s not quite as fun as race recap, huh?) Lu and I took it easy yesterday. She will sleep in the weirdest positions. We spent a lot of time in the morning on the couch. It was rainy and gross outside, so it was the perfect excuse to let my post-marathon body rest.
Leftover Chinese for lunch. I had the worst headache for a large part of the morning yesterday. It finally started to go away around lunch time.
After I ate Chinese, I got started on a quick meal prep. All of this took me a little over an hour – that’s it! Jake is having turkey burgers this week. They’re topped with cheese, mustard, Sriracha, tomato, and onion.
I also roasted a bunch of veggies and portioned them out for him.
For breakfast this week, we are having burritos. I made all of the burrito fillings in one massive pot. It worked really well! This week, our burritos are made up of 20 eggs, veggie sausage, two green peppers, a can of black beans, and topped with goat cheese.
Ready to be burritoed!
Aren’t breakfast burritos so cute?! I wrapped each in a paper towel so we could easily grab and heat them up on the go. (“The go” for Jake – we all know I’m not leaving the house for breakfast…)
Do you guys think I’ll ever get sick of graduation emails?? I’m thinking no…
I was pretty sore yesterday, but I feel a million times better today! I might try to run/walk on Thursday. I don’t have any plans this week for working out other than lifting and a little yoga at home. If I don’t run this week, it’s no biggie. I want my body to have time to heal. My next race is December 8th, so I’ve got s
ome time. I signed up for another new distance for me – a 20 mile trail run. I am SO excited to get back on some trail. I haven’t decided what I’m doing after that. It’ll probably be a half – I’ve got a PR that I’m fighting for. I’m thinking I’ll race a half in February or April. If you know of any fun ones, let me know! : )

It’s back to normal life for me today. I need to check-in with my classes and get some emails answered. Lu and I will probably go for a walk later, oh, and I will vote!

Happy Tuesday, friends!
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  1. Lindsay

    You should look into running the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon in Springfield, IL or the University of Illinois Half Marathon in Champaign, IL (College Town with great crowd support … if you run the full a TON of folks BQ there)!! If I can get myself healthy again I’d be up for running either of those with you! 🙂

  2. Kylie

    Congratulations, Chelsea!! That is an amazing result that you worked so hard and consistently for! So very proud of you and all that you have accomplished this year – what a year for you!!! KP x

    • Chelsea

      Kylie,
      Thank you, girlfriend!! You’re so sweet! 2018 sure has been crazy, ha! But crazy good. I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!!

  3. molly rose

    Hi!!! So I believe you’re my long lost running twin:)
    I just ran my first marathon this September! With a naiive goal time of 3:45! And I finished in the 3:50s!!!! (HUGE respect for marathoners, I’m with you girl) haha.
    I ran one 20 miler, the rest shorter, and I didn’t take my tempos as serious as I should have. Lessons learned! I know I want to do another one, but I can’t lie, the time and effort and mentality needed to train for that was FIERCE. It may take me a year or two before signing up for another one.
    Loved reading your recap (pranced over here from your accomplishment on HRG) and I am SO proud of you for finishing strong. Marathons are no joke!!??!
    p.s. pooping was a concern of mine, too, based on my long runs during training #twinthings

    • Chelse

      Hi, running twin Molly!! How crazy. HUUUUGE investigations to you, too!! Wow. That is amazing. Also, that 3:45 will happen for us. I just know it! 🙂
      What race did you finish?? I’d love to hear about it!
      Marathons are 100% no joke. Mad props to marathoners out there. What an awesome, terrifying race.
      I am obsessed with hashtags, so the fact that you used one definitely shows that we are running twins. Ha!
      #twinthings

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