Race Recap: Mayor’s Marathon

25 Jun

{Sorry for the late update/recap – we’ve been in The Last Frontier with no wi-fi!}

Travel on Friday to Anchorage was a debacle – our 6:30 am flight to SLC got delayed enough that we would miss our connection to Anchorage. After spending an hour investigating options, the best choice was to instead fly to Minneapolis at 11:35 am, have a layover until 3 pm, then fly 5.5 hours to Anchorage, getting in there at 6 pm (Alaska is 1 hour behind Pacific Time) – meaning a 15 hour travel day for us. Travis’ parents were able to pick up my race packet, so everything ended up working out fine. Just not my choice of how to spend the day before the race.

Once we got in, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel, ate dinner at an Alaskan restaurant called Gwennie’s, and then passed out in our hotel room.

……………………

My alarm went off at 5:30 am and I popped out of bed. I had actually slept pretty well – I woke up quite a bit throughout the night but was able to get back to sleep quickly without lying awake panicking.

I slathered on Body Glide (not enough apparently because I got major sports bra chafe);  put on my 2XU compression tights, running skirt, new REI shirt, and 2 sports bras; taped my big toes; got my race bag together; packed my stuff; did my hair and makeup (just mascara and a little powder); and then went down to breakfast.

Everyone (Travis’ parents, brother and nephew, along with Travis) was up to see me start! I had coffee and water and buttered a plain bagel to eat closer to the race start. We drove over to the race start and got there at 7:00 – plenty of time before the race started at 8. I used the portapoo, stretched, took some pics, ate my bagel, found some Tums, and then used the portapoo again.

During this time, I was feeling relieved that race morning was finally here (no more worrying and wondering!) and excited – I was about to run a marathon! It was also the perfect day weather-wise: sunny, mid-70s, no rain. A gorgeous day. Finally, it was time to line up.

They played an Alaskan song, the National Anthem and then the mayor spoke. And then it was time to go! Travis and his family snapped some pics of me as I ran by and then I was lost in the sea of runners. There were about 1,000 runners again this year – from 48 states, 16 countries and a record number of Alaskan runners.

I tried to ignore the pace of the runners around me and just run what felt right to me. My legs felt good but the sun was hot – I could tell that it would get pretty warm out on the course. I had my Garmin set to show the average pace of my entire run and when I saw 11:20 for my first mile, I decided that even though it was faster than I said I would run, I didn’t feel like I was going out too fast. By Mile 3, my average pace was around 11:33, where it stayed for almost the entire race.

1 – 11:21

2 – 11:21

3 – 11:45

The first aid station was around Mile 2 and I grabbed a cup of water, stopped to drink it and then kept running – which was what I did at every aid station, although around Mile 10, I started grabbing 2 cups of water and an orange slice every time. I was So. Thirsty. There were times when I wished I had my Camelbak and didn’t have to wait until aid stations for water and then chug down 2 cups at a time. But overall, I think it was worth it to not have that extra weight/annoyance to deal with.

The first 4 miles, we ran along the busy highway, which wasn’t the most enjoyable but it had a nice view of the mountains. Then we crossed over the highway and got on to a county road, which was paved and rolling hills. I was very encouraged during the first 5 miles of the race – the hills that I had seen on the elevation map weren’t challenging to me at all! I sailed up almost every single one of the hills – there were maybe 2 in the entire race that I had to slow down to run up and got to the top breathing heavily but I didn’t have to walk any hill (except at the very end but even flat road was a challenge then!).

4 – 11:45

5 – 11:22

I ate my first packet of Honey Stingers at Mile 5, which is also when I started my iPod. Travis was going to join me for Miles 9 – 13, so I planned to listen to my iPod until he joined me. Well, it had other plans. Around Mile 7.5, it froze. The screen was on but it wasn’t playing music. I took off my headphones, stashed them in the pouch, and gave it up for dead (I handed it to Travis’ brother when I saw them at Mile 9).

After the rolling hills on the county road, we ran past a golf course and then got on the Oilwell Tank Trail, which was where Travis joined me. This was the gravel road that stretched from roughly Miles 7 – 14. I had been slightly apprehensive before the race about this portion because of reading about “baseball size rocks” and the possibility of twisting an ankle. And I’ll say – they’re not lying. There are some very decent size rocks out there and it was not at all like a well-maintained gravel walking/hiking trail. It was a gravel road. But I had known it was coming and I knew when it would end, so I didn’t mind it for the most part, though it was kind of rough on the feet.

6 – 11:44

7 – 11:32

8 – 11:13

9 – 11:34

There were a few steep hills on this part of the trail but we muscled up them. Travis peeled off at Mile 13 and I continued on.

10 – 11:41

11 – 12:14

12 – 11:18

13 – 11:26

Around Mile 14, though, we were funneled onto a single-track hiking path – like a true trail run! I was absolutely thrilled at this discovery. It was a lot easier to run on than the gravel, but we were running through the woods and even had to cross a couple of streams (on small bridges)! I was in heaven. I kept thinking, “This is freakin’ awesome!” Even though that part of the trail was the peak of the course elevation, it was less steep than previous parts. I kept running, though almost everyone else around me was walking.

14 – 12:07

Still on the trail, we started going back down. I felt great so I ran it at a strong pace and kept going when we got back out onto pavement around Mile 15. We kept going down for Miles 16 and 17. These were my fastest miles of the race. I knew that I still had 10 miles to go, so it wasn’t the time to get crazy, but I also felt I should take advantage of the downhill while I could. I ate my second packet of Honey Stingers here – I didn’t really want to eat them but I decided it was probably the smart thing to do if I wanted to avoid The Wall.

15 – 10:56

16 – 10:47

17 – 10:58

At Mile 18, which was along a main road in Anchorage, Travis met up with me again (and his family was there cheering me on!).

{nice sweat stain, huh?} 

Travis asked me how I was feeling and I said “Ok.” I still felt energetic and mentally excited to be out there but my legs were starting to make themselves heard. It was nice to have him there to distract me and break the race up into smaller sections – especially since I didn’t have my iPod!

18 – 11:40

After a mile or so, we left the main road and dived back into the trees on a nice bike path. The rest of the race was like this. I had been expecting this part of the race to have a city feel, but we were in such densely wooded areas that it still felt like we were out in the country! This was a pleasant surprise to me. The only thing not a pleasant surprise: BUGS. So. Many. Bugs. (I’ve gotten spoiled living in Colorado.) But the bugs were more just annoyed than actually biting me so at least there was that.

19 – 11:45

20 – 11:39

Around Mile 21, my legs felt great. I picked up the pace a little but then decided that probably wasn’t the best strategy, considering I did have 5 miles left, and they would be the hardest ones. So I slowed it back down. For the whole race, I had been eyeing my Garmin. My average pace had been hovering around 11:33 the whole time, sometimes getting as slow as 11:35 after an aid station stop, and getting as fast as 11:28 after my speedy Miles 15 and 16. I knew that I had to maintain an 11:26 average to come in under 5 hours. So I was trying to keep enough left in the tank to push it in the last 2 miles.

21 – 11:39

Travis peeled off at Mile 22 and headed with his family to the finish line.

Before he left, Travis encouraged me to continue focusing on enjoying myself instead of hitting a certain time goal (I told him that enjoying myself at that point would mean walking but I understood what he meant). As I ran along trying to maintain my 11:30 average, I realized that since my Garmin was measuring slightly longer than the course mile markers, my pace wasn’t accurate anyway – meaning I’d probably need a 11:22-11:25 average to make it under 5 hours. That wasn’t going to happen. There was no way I could speed up that much.

22 – 11:23

23 – 10:57

24 – 11:52

As I realized that, I also realized how much pain my lower body was in. I ran until the Mile 24 marker and then took my first non-aid-station walking break. Those last 2 miles were a combination of exhausted running and painful walking. My legs were so tired and sore from running but every time I stopped to walk, the pain was amplified. Such pain.

I let go of my 5 hour goal and broke out the mental game – “This is where the rubber meets the road. You trained 6 months for this moment. Don’t give up now. They didn’t say it would be easy, they said it would be worth it. This is when you show what you’re made of. How bad do you want this? Just think of the gallons of cold water waiting for you at the finish line. After this, you’re done – No more running! Can you believe that you’re actually at Mile 25 of a MARATHON? We’re actually doing it Harry!”

For each of my 4-5 walking breaks, I’d pick out a landmark a hundred feet ahead or so at which I’d start running again (or else I never would). And the parts I did run, I ran at whatever pace I had in me – “Just run it” I told myself. I grabbed water at the last aid station and powered up the hill, running most of it. In those last few miles, there were quite a few nice local people who had sprinklers/showers set up for runners to stay cool. Even though I was hot and SO INCREDIBLY THIRSTY, I didn’t run through the sprinklers… because I didn’t want to get my shoes wet.

25 – 13:06

26 – 12:55

FINALLY, I could see the finish line area. It seemed to stretch on for way longer than reasonable but I didn’t really care. I was almost there. I was almost done. I picked up the pace, mustering all the energy reserves I had left (for around a 10 minute pace) and crossed the finish line strong.

Gun time = 5:09:10

Net time = 5:08:24 (11:36 average – Garmin says 26.59 miles)

I was (and am) VERY pleased with the way I ran and how this ran went. I maintained a very consistent pace throughout the whole thing, my hill training definitely paid off, I had fun, AND I accomplished my B Goal of 5:10:00 or under. What more could I ask for?

After I crossed the finish line, I got my medal and shirt, chugged two cups of water, took some pictures and then Travis and my mother-in-law massaged my legs, which were in excruciating pain. I’ve heard other marathoners talk about the pain after the race and they are right. Holy cow.

We left the race and went to pick up our RV. I showered there, where I discovered a big blister on the inside of my right big toe (though I hadn’t felt it forming at all!) and the sports bra chafe. After that, we ate at The Village Inn (I had some delicious sausage and gravy crepes), went grocery shopping (I tried to take a nap while they were doing that) and then we headed out of town for Denali. My legs were pretty sore and painful that first day but Sunday morning, they were more of a good sore, and now on Monday, they just have a few twinges here and there but are mostly just exhausted.

I’d say the marathon was a success!

Thanks for all of your encouragement and advice while training for this race! It means a lot to me.

And now, I’m off to enjoy Alaska disconnected from the interwebs! Enjoy my random postings in the meantime and I’ll be back the week of July 7.

12 Responses to “Race Recap: Mayor’s Marathon”

  1. becca June 26, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Congrats Marathoner!!! You did great!

  2. D Wiedeman June 26, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    LOL! Portapoo! SO proud of you Kath!!! (Despite the skirt.)

  3. Carrie June 26, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    Congratulations friend!! i have been thinking about you and your race so I am glad you posted about it. I have been impressed by your focus and consistent training. I am so glad you had a good experience!! Now you can enjoy the rest of the vacation and I am excited to see you when you get home!!

  4. Dan June 26, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    Big props on earning those marathon laurels. I’ve been waiting for someone to review the Mayor’s Marathon because I’m still undecided as to which Alaska marathon I want to do. It’s basically between this and Humpy’s. Sounds like it was very scenic and slightly technical. Great read!

  5. jenm83 June 26, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    Yay!!! So proud and excited for you! What an awesome accomplishment. Great job!! 🙂

  6. Lisa June 26, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    I’m so happy you found time in the midst of your vacation to update us! You did fanatastic, and it’s been fun to follow your marathon journey. Congratulations! 🙂

  7. todkehrli June 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Congrats. That is a tremendous accomplishment! Today was my first run for the Marine Corps Marathon, so this was a nice inspiration to come home to.

  8. Heidi Nicole June 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Yay! You did amazing! I’m so proud of you, all the hill training seriously helped you out! It really becomes a huge mental battle toward the end and it sounds like you beat it! And even with a jacked up iPod.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation – I’m anxiously awaiting for more photos! {took me eons to finally comment – I kept the post in my Reader until I knew I had time to really sit down and read it!}

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] You’ve already heard about how the marathon went.  […]

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  4. Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 2 | - March 21, 2014

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