May 1, 2012

So you want to run a marathon?

Let me begin by saying that this experience has been one of the most exhausting yet exciting challenges I have ever completed...and I'm not just talking about race day.  

Marathon training is time consuming, long, and many times painful, but it's one of those things that shows grit and determination and is hopefully inspiring to all.

Here's my recap:


To start our race day we opted to take a taxi from our hotel to the starting line/runner drop-off.  With over 30,000 people running, parking at the finish line and waiting for a shuttle didn't sound that fun at 4am.

We ended up riding with another couple from our hotel and our cab driver dropped us off about a block away from the action.  It worked out perfectly and took away my worries of being late (that is one of my race day nightmares).

Nashville - Lynn1

The pre-race port-a-potty lines were hoppin' and there were even runners getting a few minutes extra sleep. 

 Sunrise with "Batman Building" in the background.


After making a few pit stops and turning in our bags for gear check, we found our corral and waited there until "go time".  We had about 45 minutes until the race started. 

I must say the corral start at this race was one of the most organized I have ever seen...more on that later.

Nashville - Lynn

Using our time wisely we started stretching...can you tell we weren't part of the "serious" runners club.  We actually looked more like misfits, but it was the only way I knew how to deal with my nerves.  Laughter is the best medicine for me!


It was a little chilly before the race, so we had on our "throw away" shirts to keep warm.  I bought long sleeved shirts from Goodwill before our trip, knowing that we would wear them the morning of the race and then take them off before we started running so we didn't have to carry them for 26.2 miles.

We ended up just draping our shirts over the barricades instead of actually throwing them away, since most big races collect the unwanted clothing and donate it to local shelters.  

We were far, far from the start line when the gun went off, but because of the corral start (placement based on expected finish time), it wasn't a  mad dash. 

Runners were released one corral at a time (with about a minute and a half in between) and then as they left, the other corrals would just walk forward until reaching the start line.  Ropes divided each group and it was very orderly and helped with overcrowding and a stampede start.  I was super impressed!


This picture was taken just before our corral headed to the starting position....totally nervous!!! 

We actually didn't start running until about 25 minutes after the first group was released, but because of the chip timer attached to our shoe, our official time didn't start until we physically crossed the start line.


Mile 1 - Headed towards downtown Nashville on Broadway.  So many spectators (along with hills), and such a fun vibe.  A great stretch to start out!

Best spectator signs:
  • "Worst Parade Ever"
  • "Free Cigarettes" (held by a kid)
  • "Smile, you paid to do this!"
  • "Keep running, my dog just farted!"
Most inspiring:
  • "You are no longer a runner. Today you become a marathoner." (this one almost made me cry)


Our friends Lynn and Jason ran the half marathon and since the course was the same until mile 11 we got to run with them.  It was so fun to have friends around!


This was the view behind us as we ran down Broadway.  It was amazing and luckily downhill!



Nashville - Lynn2

Lynn and Jason were happy finishers (this was Jason's first half marathon) as we were greeted by the sign below.  UGH.


This was definitely the point of no return and when it really hit me that we had another 15 miles to go (we split at 11).  With only 4,000 out of 30,000 runners competing in the full marathon the crowd thinned out and the terrain got long...very long!

Mike was a rock star the entire race and was so inspiring.  He did awesome and was calm and collected.  I on the other hand was a a bit up and down. 

Here is my recollection of our mileage (in my mind) below:

  • Miles 1-11:  Awesome

  • Miles 11-16:  Just okay.  Mile 13 is usually when I hit a little bit of a wall, but I worked through it.

  • Miles 16-21:  Legs started cramping, which I had never experienced during training, and I started to get very frustrated and discouraged as our original goal time started slipping away.

  • Miles 21-26.2:  I realized how insane marathons actually are and that I needed to start enjoying the experience as it was coming to a close.  My mind was all good, but my legs were still cramping.  We started running/walking and with Mike's support I was determined to finish as strong as I could without ending up in the Medical Tent.

Finally we saw this sight...THE FINISH LINE!  We finished in front of LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans, with lots of cheers and support from the crowd. 

It was amazing to actually cross the finish line and receive our medal.  I remember looking down and watching my foot step on the line and feeling so relieved.  It was such a rush of emotions and I couldn't just pick out one. 

Looking back, the actual race seemed like a blur and before I knew it we were finished.   I rememeber thinking, "It's already over?".  Crazy, I know, since ten minutes before that I thought it would never end.


We officially crossed the finish line with a time of 5:03:51. 

Initially, our goal was 4:30, before cramps set in.  Then, it changed to a sub 5:00, which was within reach and soooo close. 

When we finished, part of me was disappointed with our time.  I hated that I had to walk during the race and that I couldn't "push through" the pain. 

On the other hand, I told myself I was ridiculous.  This was our first marathon, and our time was our time. Whatever it was I should be proud...because we finished.  Together.  And in the end, that was our only goal.

Just as Mike told me during the run, "You don't have to be great, you don't even have to be good, you just have to be good enough."

And we were.


After icing, and refueling, not with our free beer or chocolate milk - which sounded so good - because they were all out when we finished, we headed for some much needed grub.

 The Compression Crew - these socks were so awesome and I helped with our recovery.

Since our car was back at the hotel and we took a taxi to the start line that morning, we had to walk to lunch.  Not the best scenario, but at least there were beautiful views!


We celebrated with water, cold beer and burgers...deelish!


Lastly, to answer the question that I have been asked non-stop since finishing:

Would you do another one?

My answer on Saturday was a resounding NO. 

However, today, the competitor in me says maybe.  The perfectionist in me wants to do a little bit better, however the realist side of me remembers the hours of training that it took to get ready. 

We do have many other things on our "to do list", but I wouldn't rule another marathon out juuuuust yet. :)


  1. LOVED your of it made me tear up in complete understanding and compassion of what you have accomplished. You can now say that you are a Marathoner!! Congrats.

  2. Congratulations! Proud for you all. Thanks for the great recap!

  3. BUNK!!! I am so proud of you!!! Thanks for sharing your detailed recap and pics. Greg and I are actually doing our first 1/2 (the Mini Indy) this coming Saturday. We are just looking to survive it but having fun too. Jane