What planning goes into a revenge marathon, you ask? Surprisingly, not much.
The outpouring of support after the fiasco the was the Rockford Marathon was amazing, but i was still feeling bitter about it. I wasn't so much sad that i didn't get the time i wanted, but more sad that i didn't get the finish that i wanted. I can tell you right now - it's all about the finish. I had been stalking Marathon Guide for potential revenge marathons. I had three potential ones in mind. Sunburst in IN, Eisenbahn, in WI, and Ann Arbor in MI. All three were in driving distance, and affordable, and not sold out. I began weather stalking all three cities. As of thursday, the predicted high for South Bend, IN was 74 for race day, so i just went out on a limb and registered. 36 hours before the race.
1. The race is called sunburst, and the sun is my natural enemy (and the enemy of any ginger, fyi.)
2. The race was black-flagged last year for high heat. Could it happen again?
3. Maggie and her husband were running this race - if i register, will it curse the race and ruin it for them??
4. I was registered for the Cosley Zoo 10k the same morning!
5. I have been making up for all the drinks i skipped training for Rockford. Hell, the night i signed up for the race, i went out drinking!
6. Rockford was only 13 days ago....is my body really recovered?
7. Notre Dame?? I'm a Boilermaker!
1. The race starts at 6am EASTERN time. That is like 5am Chicago time. Even if it does get hot, i will be deep into the race by then.
2. It was pretty cheap. $75 for last minute registration? Thats not bad.
3. It was the closest of the three races.
4. My friend Jordan said he would run the Cosley 10k in my place with Matt.
5. Having black flagged last year, you better believe they were prepared for anything. 24 water stations on the course! That is 2-4. Yep. (Take some freaking notes, Rockford)
6. No one had to know. If i failed again, which was totally a possibility, i could just not tell anyone. And if only Maggie knew, she would have to be my secret keeper according to the universal ginger law.
So i did it. I signed up on Thursday, Ate as much as i could squeeze in Friday morning, went to work, went home and packed my race bag/picked out an outfit, and went to Waffles puppy graduation (separate post to follow) And was in bed by 10pm so that i could wake up at 2am to drive to South Bend.
For anyone else planning to ever do this race, just get a hotel room. Seriously, 2am i unpleasant.
It's funny, because i actually have the draft email i wrote to send Maggie to apologize in advance if i cursed Sunburst by registering. But i chickened out in sending it, because i really didnt want anyone to know what a potentially stupid thing i was doing. And literally, only Matt knew, because he was my emergency contact. But then as i was walking to the start line, i saw Maggie!
As much as i was planning on lone-wolfing this race, i was so excited to see a familiar face. It just gave me an overwhelming sense of calm, and i went into the race feeling confident. This race was just for me, and i could do whatever i wanted.
Sorry i have no pictures other than the one Maggie took. It's the one downfall of sneaking away in the middle of the night to run a marathon where you know nobody.
The course at Sunburst was prettier than rockford, but surprisingly similar in that it went through neighborhoods. The first half was quiet. The marathoners started by themselves, and there was only maybe 450-500 people. And it was so early that most of the people in the neighborhoods were still asleep. Although i swear i saw a few people doing the walk of shame. It was cool and breezy, the sun was low, and it was just very peaceful. I had to laugh at the amount of water stations. I would barely finish one cup before i was at the next one, but it was really nice not having to worry about where or when i would get water again. The first half of the race was shady and wonderful, the second half was a lot sunnier, but not terrible. Around mile 16 was when i started to feel kind of tired and lonely. I took another gel, put on my headphones, and started following this guy wearing those shoe sock things. (barefoot guy and i actually switched back and forth throughout the rest of the race)
Things definitely unravelled a bit in the second half of the race. I started to get warm (nothing too crazy though - i think it was more just being in the sun) and my knees started to hurt. Not "hey, i'm injured hurt" but more of a "do you realize you have 600 miles on these shoes and wearing them because they were pink was a bad choice" hurt. I tried to take one last gu at 21, but i just couldn't stomach the taste. (strawberry banana - eeewwww!) I also only had gatorade only once on the course, and instead took a salt pill every 90 minutes to help with electrolytes. I think this was a lot easier on my stomach.
The last few miles were really, really hard. They felt acceptably hard though. Like, this is what a marathon is - you coast until 22, and then you really need to dig deep to finish. The last 6 miles i walked through every water stop, which hurt my time. I was really thirsty though, and i am glad i made the time to drink entire cups of water. At mile 23, i was overwhelmed by loneliness. I just wanted someone to encourage me. That was probably the hardest part for me. In the future, i will stage people at mile 22-23 to give me a boost. I also had a revelation that i could start walking at that point, and still blow my Rockford time away. It was really hard to push that thought away and keep running. I just kept following barefoot guy. Then i started to see lots of people at 25, and everyone was like "you're so close!" I was so overwhelmed with relief when i entered the stadium and saw that finish. They even shouted my name as i crossed the finish line! And then it hit me. I did it. I was done. And i could tell people, because i didn't fail. A stranger walked up to me, and high-fived me and said "Congrats! Great job!" and then i lost it. I just start crying. And another person high-fived me. And then i saw barefoot guy and i hugged him and said i followed him the last few miles. (It was his first marathon! Congrats barefoot guy!) Then i just went on a high-five SPREE. I was so happy to be walking around and enjoying my glory. It was all i ever wanted!
Well i didn't qualify for Boston. (Duh.) But i feel like i finished in a reasonable time for my training. I think i could have done a little better if i would have had fresh legs, and based on my experience - I have a lot of things i plan on working on this summer. But i finished. And i beat Oprah. And i qualify for Marathon Maniacs now!
I will eventually have pictures to add (maybe....it's brightroom....), but right now i am very sore, and tired! writing this post has exhausted me, and i think i might take a nap! :)
This is the first moment where i can confidently say that i am a (slow!) Marathoner!!