September 13, 2011

Don't Call it a Comeback...

It's coming up on a year now since I've done any racing.  Let's be honest, it's been almost a year since I've really done any running!  Ridiculous, I know.  If you ask me why I stopped running, I can't come up with a great reason.  My last race was the Catalina Eco-Marathon at the end of November, and it was my favorite race to-date.  A gorgeous course, top-notch company, and I felt great; couldn't have asked for a better weekend on the island!

Why did I "leave" on such a good note?  It was a combination of being burned out from running, and wanting to spend time doing other fun stuff.  After I graduated college in 2009, I ran my first half marathon.  Before that, I really hadn't run much since track season my senior year in high school, or more than 6 miles.  Over the next year and a half, I ran my first, second, and third marathon as well as quite a few half marathons.  I was doing a race every month, and it was a lot.  Uffdah.  At the same time, I had just moved out to California from Minnesota, where I still hadn't met a lot of new friends...most people I knew my age were out on weekends and week nights playing coed sports, hanging out at the beach, partying at the bars, or all of the above.  Although I was having a great time, all I was doing was running and passing on most of the socializing...until this year. dun dun dunnnn.

So what have I spent all my time doing these first 9.5 months of 2011?  Well...

1.  I learned how to play ultimate frisbee, and met a bunch of fun new people.  My third season started this week and I'm proud to say that I do not suck, regardless of having very unreliable disc throwing skills.

2.  I continued to play kickball every Monday night, and was appointed team captain last season.  In a few weeks we're going to Vegas for the national kickball championships.  That's right, we're kind of a big deal.  However, after playing kickball for almost 2 years, I'm retiring for a while after the Vegas tournament.

...but I'm only retiring to try a new sport: Dodgeball!

3.  I did manage to fit in one running event, a 4ish mile mud run at Irvine Lake.  It was a blast with Gavin's Groupies!

4.  On a whim, I was convinced to join a bunch of guys from work on a 100ish mile ride down to San Diego. After not biking more than 6 miles over the course of a few months, and about 75 miles being my longest ride ever, I'm not sure why I thought this was a good idea, but it turned out to be a great trip!  I may have slowed everyone down more than they're nice enough to admit, but we'll blame it on my bike being heavy :-)

5.  I was in two weddings this year.  I was a reader for my step-brother's wedding in April, where I got to spend some quality time in Iowa.

And I had my bridesmaid debut in my good friend/college roommate's wedding a few weeks ago.  I spent lots of time and had a ton of fun helping plan the bachelorette party, and had a great time spending about a week on my old stomping grounds in Madison!  Although I now feel ancient because college kids look 12.

And all the time in-between was spent living it up in SoCal with new friends as well as old, doing anything from having a sangria-off (mine won), to dressing up as the Goonies at an 80s party, to shenanigans at the 6-man tournament.

See, I haven't just been sitting on the least not most of the time :-)

That being said...I [finally] MISS RUNNING.  I'm not sure how much I miss all the required time needed to train well, but I miss having goals and impressing myself when I achieve them.  I miss how refreshed and strong you feel after completing a long run.  And most of all, I miss races, with all the people and the sense of accomplishment after crossing the finish line, especially with a surprisingly fast time.  

So that I have something to work towards, I signed up for the Surf City comeback race!  I'm going to be starting over from scratch with the mileage and speed, and don't plan on doing any fulls in the near future, but I'm looking forward to see what I can do.  Time to remember how to create a training there an app for that yet?

October 19, 2010

Long Beach Half Recap

I don't have any specific reason why, but the Long Beach Half Marathon has been the favorite of the 7 half-marathons I've run.  Last year, Long Beach was my second half marathon, and this year it was my seventh.  Last year I was under trained and this year I was over trained having just ran the Chicago Marathon the week prior, but both times I've surprised myself with my performance and I think that's part of the reason I love this race.

In addition to doing well, the size of the race is perfect for my liking (that's what she said?), the weather was perfect (especially after Chicago), and the course itself is scenic and fast, with a couple tiny hills to break up the monotony my muscles don't seem to appreciate on a completely flat course.

After arriving at the start with a perfect amount of time to spare (thanks to a cop on the 710 showing me how to avoid the traffic) I positioned myself at the end of one of the many long lines for the porta-potty.  For once, I picked the fast line and I was in-n-out just in time to force my way into the middle of wave 4 as the gun went off.

I waited around for about 15 minutes as waves 1-3 started, watching impatient people jump the fence to run up to the front, or push their way forward through the tightly packed crowd.  I'll still never completely understand this.

When my wave was finally off I really had no race plan because I had no idea how I was going to feel after having run a marathon.  I was standing close behind the 4:30 pace group and decided a 2:15 half sounded modest enough, and figured it'd be a good time to see what these pace groups are all about, so I joined the pack.  After about a half a mile, I realized the pacer had WAY too much energy and was going to drive me nuts if I stuck with him for another 12.5 miles (I'm sure some people appreciate this, but not my style), so I picked up the pace and left the group in the dust.  Perhaps unrelated, but I watched the same pacer make his way into the finish...alone.

I really enjoyed the first 5-6 miles of the course with all of the turns, small hills on the overpasses, and being able to see the runners ahead and behind you at different spots.  Much like last year, this part of the course went by really fast, and I was surprised how great my legs felt especially since I was averaging about a 9:30 min/mile.  I took Powerade and water at all of the stops, and my first Gu at mile 5...without stopping!

Things started to fall apart soon afterward, at mile 7.  I was finally feeling the fatigue in my legs and my butt of all things locked up and felt like lead.  My never-ending achilles issue presented itself again and by mile 8 it hurt pretty badly.  I had my mind set of breaking my time from last year, a 2:08, and was on pace to do so until this point.  I thought about pushing on for another 5 miles, but decided it'd be best to take it easy, slow things down, and recover a bit until mile 10 where I'd pick it back up again for the last 5k.

Mile 10 came around, my leg was feeling better, I took my 2nd and last Gu, and got ready to pick it back up.  There's a slight gradual incline around mile 10 and I was having an issue getting my butt moving again (literally) so my pace continued to be a bit slow and I knew I wasn't going to be able to do as well as last year.  Oh well, better than getting hurt!

A few motorcycle cops and a truck passed me at mile 11, closely followed by the leader of the marathon.  I knew I was almost done and seeing that guy fly past me was motivation enough to get going and I picked up the pace for the last two miles, finishing in just over 2:10 - not too bad!  I didn't break my time from last year, but I was happy with my decision to let up a bit, and was impressed with my legs for surviving a marathon and a half within a week.  Splits from the race here.

I love the medals this year, and I really liked how the post-race food was well organized by giving each runner a small bag instead of it being a chaotic free-for-all.  Can't wait to do it again :-).

Next up is the Catalina Eco-Marathon in three weeks, and not sure how to prepare for that, but for now I'm giving my legs some much needed rest and recovery.

October 17, 2010

Chicago Marathon Recap

To get the stats out of the way...

Time: 5:27:25 - palindrome! :)
Place (overall): 27945
Place (females): 11388
Place (20-24): 1151

And my not-so-negative splits can be found here.

Going into this race, I knew it was probably going to be sub-par as I trained horribly, so my dream of running a 4:30 (or 10:10 pace on 10/10/10) was unlikely.  However, I was confident that I could PR or at least run about the same time as my first marathon, a 4:50, after my last 20 mile training run in which I managed to hold onto a 10:08 pace.  It became pretty clear that this was not going to happen either by the 2nd mile.

Pre-race I was lucky enough to get access to the special facilities for the Chicago running group, CARA, so I got to avoid all of the porta-potties, and lines, and hang out on the second floor of The Congress Hotel and eat bagels while talking to some first-time marathoners.

I made my way to the start and positioned myself just behind the 4:45 pace group, thinking that would be a more realistic goal.  The race started, and about 20 minutes later I was finally able to cross the starting line!  The first few miles were pretty uneventful except for the ridiculous amount of guys urinating on the supporting beams underneath the first bridge.

My garmin freaked out a bit being between all of the huge buildings, and I was weaving around the crowds of people, which lead to my first mental lapse by the third mile.  I was feeling fine and keeping my pace slow, but I noticed that my garmin was already reading 0.38 miles long.  I let this discourage me as my pace was actually much slower than I thought, and I let it continued to discourage me until mile 23 when I realized that no matter what distance my watch said I had run, I only had 3 miles left.  By the time I finished, I had run 26.89 miles.

At mile 5, we made our way into a park, and again flocks of guys were coming in and out of the not very wooded trees to urinate.  I had to go as well, but opted for the porta-potties resulting in about a 3-5 minute break.  It seems unfair that guys can just go wherever and waste less time, but they also attributed to the porta-potty line being much shorter so I guess I won't complain!

I don't remember the miles much leading up to the half way point (come to think of it, I felt totally lost and disoriented the whole race), just that I started feeling fatigued already by mile 10 and began walking through all of the water stops.  Throughout the day, I would take Gatorade, and then water at every single stop, which definitely helped me out when the heat started rising.  At the half way point, I was not feeling good anymore - I was starting to feel my lack of training.  This was the first time I took out my phone, letting Pete know I didn't think I'd finish before 5:15 and that I was having a hard time.

My achilles started aching around mile 14, and by mile 15 I decided I was done with this race.  My legs were tired, I knew there was no way I'd come even close to my previous time of 4:50, and it was getting hot out, so I gave in.  This is when I started walking quite a bit, and tweeting about how much it sucked.  But I wasn't about to drop out of the race, so I kept moving along, stopping a few times to stretch my legs.

Mile 20 finally came along and I knew I could finish.  Looking at all of the people around me, I knew I wasn't the only one hurting.  The heat was approaching 90 degrees and the whole running field looked zombie-like.  This was about when I saw a guy carrying a 7 foot mini Eiffel Tower on his back...I was not about to let that guy beat me.  I started running again and continued a walk/run pattern.

I was in so much pain by mile 23, and all I wanted to do was finish.  I knew I needed to pick it back up a bit and focus on running if I was going to finish sub-5:30, so I kept a slow, steady pace and tried my best not to walk until I crossed the finish line.  The crowd during the whole race was amazing - I couldn't believe how many people were out cheering in the streets compared to any other race I've done.  The last mile to the finish was definitely powered by the crowds as their numbers grew even more and everyone was encouraging you to push it to the finish.  I finally made my way around the last corner and kicked it in as fast as I could manage.  Crossing a finish line has never felt so good.

I got my medal and walked, for what seemed like forever, out of the finish area.  The pain that flowed into my legs was awful so I just kept walking all the way back to the hotel where I was able to keep my drop bag.  I met up with Pete and his friend, and headed to straight to the bar where I learned I wasn't the only one to have a less than awesome race.

It was a rough day out there, but I had a great time with my first big marathon experience, and am happy to add a second marathon finish to the books!  I learned a lot from this race - especially that 26.2 miles is no cake walk, and requires a lot of training if you want it to be successful (at least for me).  I also learned that I have what it takes to finish a marathon on a tough day, but that I have a lot to work on both physically and mentally.

Next up - Long Beach Half!

September 8, 2010

I'm Coming Out....

...of my pitiful four month rut filled with copious amounts of running loathage and complete demotivational suckage. Yeah, that about sums it up.

Since completing my first marathon on May 2nd, I've been very down on running.  I'm not sure why or how it started.  I was thrilled to have run my first marathon, and I guess equally thrilled to not have to run 4-5 days a week for hours on end.  I finally had a life again, even if it wasn't very eventful, and within record time it seemed I had kicked that running habit and developed a new one as a laziness extraordinaire.  But when it came time to start training for Chicago in July, I got right back into the swing of things...I wish.

I didn't completely quit running, as I had a "goal" this year to run a race every month, but those races seemed to make up the majority of the running I did, and needless to say, they didn't go over super well.

Here are some very brief recaps of the races I completed this summer (yep, I was that unexcited about running I couldn't even find the motivation to blog about the races at the time).

Peters Canyon Summer Trail Series
This is a really chill, fun, series of 5-mile trail races that happen on a Thursday evening once a month over the summer.  This was also my very first trail run last summer after moving out to California and I was excited to run the course again.

I managed to beat my time from last year at all three races, and had a blast despite being rather out of shape!

San Francisco 1st Half Marathon
I decided to sign up for this race somewhat last minute to complete 2/3 of the California Dreamin' Series.  I was not ready for this race AT ALL as I had not run AT ALL in at least a week.  However, this ended up being a fantastic weekend since I finally got to meet my twitter buds Ron and Joe and tour some of SF on my 2nd visit to the city.

I met up with Ron first thing after getting off the BART to get my race bag he was kind enough to pick up for me, and ended up running with him for the first 6 miles of the race the next morning until my bum calf (and lack of running) forced me to resign from my "pacing" duties.  Ron kicks ass and I was honored to have been able to run with him, even if it was only 6 miles :-)

Running over the Golden Gate Bridge was pretty spectacular, and it was a great course in general...but the'd have to be crazy to run the full marathon.  I struggled a bit from about mile 11 on, and finished around 2:16 - not a PR, but not my worst half either - I'll take it!

After the race, I got a chance to have some drinks with Joe at his Runners World get together and had a bitchin time hanging out, relaxing, and talking until I had to leave to catch my flight.

Bulldog 25k
This race was absolutely BRUTAL as I was not trained or ready one bit.  It took me only 50 minutes less to complete this 15ish mile run than it did to complete my first marathon...yikes!  I don't have a whole lot to say about this race other than it was a really hot, really scenic, really exhausting 15 mile walk in the Santa Monica mountains on a lovely Saturday morning!  I won the battle a 65 yr old man decided to start with me around mile 4, and I only got lapped by about 10 of the people running the 50k - so I'll call that a win!

Special thanks to the race photographers for displaying "warning" signs that I better "look cool" and like I'm "having fun" because they would be taking our pictures up ahead.  This is the only reason I look so happy and awesome :-).

After the race I got to hang out with Josh, Graham and a few other friends and talk about my death march while we watched some more of the fast 50k racers finish close behind me.

You'd think with a decent amount of races this summer that my training for my next big race, the Chicago Marathon, has been going well.  Noooope.  Once I got out of the habit of running practically everyday, I could never get it back.  No matter how much I fought with myself, I'd always come up with some excuse not to run, and usually the excuse wasn't good.  I just didn't want to run; it no longer seemed fun - just a lot of time and energy I didn't want to spend running all over the place, and a lot of aches and pains I didn't want to feel.  The excitement of completing my first marathon was gone and I couldn't figure out why I'd want to do it all over again so soon.  The motivation and desire wasn't there, I couldn't find it, and as a result I've probably logged about half as many miles as I did training for my first marathon.

Chicago is just over a month away and I'm finally ready to bust out of this sucktastic running funk.

I watched "Spirit of the Marathon" the other night and something finally clicked back on, and I'm finally excited and passionate about running again.  Due to the unfortunate training leading up to this point, Chicago is going to be painful for me, no doubt, but I can't wait for the big city, the enthusiastic crowds, and hopefully all the tweeps I get to meet and/or see again; it's going to be an absolute blast.

Yesterday I went for my first run in about a week and it was fan-fucking-tastic.  I haven't felt that great on a run since I can remember :-)

Stay away injuries, and bring it on...cuz I'm back!

June 15, 2010

My Issue with Tissue

For the past month and a half since the marathon, my life has consisted of very little running and lots of doing other things.  It has been lacking so much running-related activity that I have digressed to writing about toilet paper...yes, TP, the butt-wiping tissue.

Ever since sophomore year of college, when I moved out of the dorms and had to begin buying my own toilet paper, I've been in awe of just how much toilet paper an apartment of 2-5 girls can go through in what seemed like a very short amount of time.
*i would just stop reading now*
A few months ago, I decided to start keeping track of toilet paper usage at my apartment to see what kind of conclusions I could draw, if any.  For three rounds of toilet paper that I bought (my roommate and I take turns), I kept track of the price, number of rolls, number of sheets per roll, and the date purchased and date the package of toilet paper ran out.  Seemed like good things to note.

Meet my toilet paper
To reduce variability, I bought the exact same toilet paper each time.  I picked generic Target brand TP because it's cheaper, but not so cheap that it's quality is awful and going to inflict pain upon my sensitive areas.  I picked a package of 6 rolls, because less than that means I have to waste time buying more, sooner, and I didn't choose more than 6 rolls simply because my roommate never does and we have to keep things fair, right? :)  Each package of 6 rolls had 286 sheets per roll and cost $3.79.

On average, the 6-roll pack of toilet paper lasted 27 days.  This means between my roommate and I, and a couple random visitors, we used about 1/5 of a roll of toilet paper or 64 sheets every day.  That doesn't seem THAT bad, but you have to remember we're not home most of the day during the work week, or even that often during the weekends.  So it really is a bit ridiculous, and wasteful.  If just the two of us use that much toilet paper every day, I wonder how much toilet paper is produced daily.

Conclusions lacking usefulness
- Not taking into consideration fluctuations in price or usage, and keeping the type of toilet paper constant, it costs my roommate and I about $0.14 per day or $51 per year to use the bathroom.
- No big deal, this is less expensive than I had in mind, but I guarantee it costs a household of guys way less.  Another reason why they have it easier.
- I'm going to continue using toilet paper liberally, but buy in bulk so it seems like I'm using less because I'm buying it less often.
- Even if I tried to limit my toilet paper usage, my roommate and the rest of the population would cancel out my efforts. Ahem, toilet papering houses.
- This was a waste of time, but I'm no longer curious.
- What is the point of having tiny sheets?

And then I found $20.

May 16, 2010

Bike to Work Week

It's Bike to Work Week!  This girl is coming out of bicycle commuting retirement and pedaling to and from work all week, and I'm actually really excited :-)

I would like to encourage everyone to participate in BTWW by riding your bike to work some day this week, or by using public transportation - or both!

There are many great reasons to ride your bike to work - here are a few:
1.  Exercise is always good for you - use the bike ride as a way to cross train.
2.  It's a fun way to wake yourself up in the morning, and cool down after work.
3.  Bike shorts are sexy.
4.  Riding your bike or using public transportation is an environmentally friendly alternative to driving your car
5.  and you save gas money!
...etc, etc, etc.

OCTA has put together a nice program where you can pledge to bike to work and receive a gift certificate to Jax Bicycles, and get entered to win numerous prizes.  They also provide a bike map, and bus routes/schedules for Orange County.  Check it out here!

Pedal away, friends!

May 3, 2010

I'm a Marathoner!

It still hasn't quite sunk in that I just ran 26.2 miles.  Ignoring my screaming quads, it doesn't feel like I ran that far, or like I spent almost 5 hours of my day just running - it feels more like I just finished a long training run, and a lot of people happened to be there, or something.  It's a strange "did that really happen? naw, it couldn't have" sort of feeling, but at the same time I'm floating on cloud 9, and a bit sore in funny places, so I must have done something amazing!  Maybe I need to go drive what I can of the course and remind myself that I am a crazy person who just ran crazy far.

Thanks to my mom, who flew in from Minnesota to visit and watch me run my first marathon, I got to spend Friday and Saturday at the Newport Beach Marriott conveniently located about two blocks from the start of the marathon.  It was a bit funny staying at a hotel for a marathon only 6 miles away from my apartment in Huntington Beach, but it was incredibly relaxing and made the morning of the marathon way less hectic.  I spent most of my Saturday eating, drinking lots of water, and relaxing next to one of the pools.  A little taste of heaven.

Sunday morning, I didn't have to wake up until shortly after 5am since we had literally a 5 min walk to the starting line.  I got dressed, pinned on my number, made some oatmeal, and headed up to the lobby to give Billy his race number.  We headed back down to the room where Pete was still getting ready, and chatted for a bit while I finished my oatmeal.  It was great to see Billy before the race, and hear that he would be biking around looking for me around the 20 mile mark after he finished the half.

Finally, at about 6:10am we headed to the start of the race.  I told Pete good-luck, and he jogged to the start to make his way up towards the front with the fast people since he was going to be running a speedy half.  My mom and I then casually walked over to the crowded start, and I eventually planted myself near "corral C."  I realized later, after waiting 10 minutes just to cross the start line, that I probably should have lined up a bit closer.  Oh well.  It was during this time that a few "fast" guys were complaining about how they somehow managed to line up towards the back of the pack and one felt the need to say, "so this is what it's like to be slow."  I wanted to slap him.  If you're a fast marathoner...shouldn't you know better?

Anyway, I was surprisingly the least nervous I've ever been for a race, and was relaxed when I finally made my way across the starting line some time around 6:40am.

Miles 1-5:
Taking most everyone's advice, I started off slow - almost painfully slow.  Since we started with the half marathoners, and they greatly out-numbered the marathoners (1498 marathoners finished; 6112 half marathoners finished), it was a little hard to keep going at a slow pace, and people were passing me left and right, but I knew it was for the best and averaged the first 5 miles at about a 10:45 pace, still feeling fresh and full of energy.  I relaxed and enjoyed the only views I'd be seeing of the ocean, and sort of watched all of the people around me.  I teared up a bit when I saw a lady running for a little girl named Andrea who had cancer - the picture on her shirt, and the fact that she had my name, made me sad.  I also got a bit emotional when I saw the Marines pushing their Sergeant in a wheel chair.  At this point, I told myself I wasn't even to mile 5, and I really needed to mentally HTFU if I was going to make it to the finish!

Miles 6-10:
I was most excited for this part of the course.  It was mainly through the beautiful Back Bay, where I had done both of my 20 mile training runs, and I knew my mom would be waiting for me at the top of the hill at the 9.5 mile mark.  I was still going pretty slow, even getting a little bit slower.  This is the first point where I contemplated picking the pace up since I was feeling good, but since I had never done this before and it was still early in the race, I kept trotting along at about the same pace.  Somewhere between miles 8 and 9 I could tell my legs were getting a little bit tired, and it freaked me out a bit since it was so early in the race!  I told myself my legs were just warming up, working out the kinks, and I'd be fine.  I ran past a bunch of people walking up the hill (that was fun!), and saw my mom - who had surprised me by making a sign!

Miles 11-15:
The most annoying part of the race for the marathon runners.  I lost count of how many times volunteers and people cheering yelled, "you're almost there!" because we were running with the people doing the half marathon.  I wasn't even half of the way there so hearing this over and over was not fun, at all.  Just after mile 12, we parted ways with the half marathon runners, and suddenly it was like I was running alone.  I went from being surrounded by tons of people to having maybe 10 runners in sight.  My energy fizzled a bit from lack of commotion, but it was also calming and I started feeling really strong.  I decided to pick up the pace a bit, running close to 10 minute miles for a couple miles, but again got "scared" that I would totally run out of energy later since I had no idea what to expect, and slowed back down - and ended up maintaining this average pace for the rest of the race.  About half way between miles 13 and 14, I knew to look for Jeff and his son, and was really excited and feeling amazing when I came across them making HUGE bubbles for all of the runners.  I gave his son a high-five, Jeff told me I was looking good, I said thanks, and kept chugging along.

Miles 16-20:
Soon after mile 15 is when things started getting a little sketchy.  We had just come down from a fairly big hill, I ate a Gu and drank some water and I felt a bit sick.  Thankfully the nausea faded quickly, but my legs were starting to hurt.  I saw my mom again at mile 16.5, and when she asked how I was doing, I told her it was starting to get painful.  It was great seeing my mom again, but I knew that would be my last familiar face until Billy found me around mile 20.

Miles 17 through 20 are kind of a blur.  It was the only area of the course I wasn't familiar with, and I don't really remember it.  The pain was coming and going every few minutes and wasn't bad at all, but I was definitely getting tired, and I kept telling myself I just needed to get to mile 20 and I would make it to the finish.

Miles 21-26.2:
It was so great to see the 20 mile sign, and it was even better to see Billy up ahead soon after!  He briefly chatted with me, took a shockingly great picture, and headed back to his bike - telling me he'd meet up with me up ahead a bit.

I was running a bit slower, but still feeling relatively good at this point.  A little before mile 21, Billy met up with me again and ran with me for about a mile.  It was so great to have a friend to talk to to distract me from my legs that were slowly getting more and more tired.  

After Billy left again, I was looking forward to finding Pete.  I was a little worried his race may have left him incapable of running with me, but the plan was for him to be somewhere around mile 23.  Moments after turning a corner past the mile 23 sign, there he was!  I could tell I didn't have much left in my legs, and was so glad to see him.  He slowly ran with me, talking to me about his race, when the next aid station would be, told me I looked like I was still doing pretty good, and all that good stuff...and I was doing my best to contribute to the conversation.  Then BAM!  Right around mile 24 I hit the "wall."  I was done.  It was extremely painful to keep moving.  I wanted to stop and walk, but thankfully Pete made me keep going.  I also started to get a bit cranky and Pete's talking, and usually welcome enthusiasm made me want to punch a nice way :-)  We saw Billy again around mile 25, and he captured this great picture that illustrates this perfectly.

I've never tried so hard to smile in my life!  Pete quieted down a bit, I kept slowly putting one foot in front of the other, and somehow made it to mile 26 - only 0.2 to go!  Pete was forced off the course, and I kicked it in to the finish - running a speedy 9:07 pace to the finish.  I was so happy to be done!  I just became a marathoner!  The initial awe wore off a few seconds later when my legs, hips, butt, everything started aching so bad I was in tears.  I walked around a bit to find my mom and Pete and had to sit down.  Again, SO glad Pete did not let me stop...if that is what stopping feels like - holy moly!

Finishing my first marathon was a great experience I will definitely never forget, and I'm thankful I am able to accomplish such a feat!  I was hoping to run close to 4:30, but I couldn't be happier with my official 4:50:23 finish.  I wanted my first marathon to be a FUN learning experience, and it was definitely that!  I know what I want to change, and what I want to remain the same during my training and during my next marathon.  And, I made it out alive with no puking or bowel movements, all of my toenails, only three blisters, a pretty sweet medal, and one big smile :-D

Special thanks again to my mom, Jeff, Pete, and Billy for cheering for me and running with me on the course.  And to everyone else (on Twitter and in person) who has given me tons of advice and have been incredibly supportive :-)

For the curious:
Garmin Connect Data
Race Results (bib #158)
Training Plan (deviations in red)