Tuesday, October 21, 2014

#RaceRecap: @GRMarathon Relay

I ran a marathon on Sunday. Well, 11 miles of it. Not sure if I'll ever go the full distance, but going part of it on a team with my mom and sister certainly qualifies as an experience that I'll keep with me. It was the Grand Rapids Marathon, and it might have been one the most well-organized races I've ever signed up for. I can't imagine what it takes to plan a 5K, let alone a half or full marathon. And I certainly can't imagine the logistics involved in the planning of a marathon relay (hello, buses everywhere). So I tip my hat to Don Kern, the race director, and his team.

My only complaint about the weekend? It was friggin' cold. Much colder than we anticipated.

My mom ran the first two of five legs, which meant that I had to catch a bus to the start of leg three. What's hard about this is that I ultimately had to guess when she'd be arriving at our check point, which meant that I had some time on my hands as I waited for her.

Thankfully, the buses hung out so I could sit warmly.

My essentials for the race:

The applesauce and my phone went into my FlipBelt once I got it back from my mom, and I mixed the Cocogo into my water before I started (since I knew there would be fresh water on the course). I highly recommend both for fuel when you're going long.

I digress: So I sat on the bus for a bit, staying warm, and headed out to the checkpoint about 20 minutes before she arrived. I certainly did not want to miss her. And it was incredibly inspiring to see the full marathoners run by.

But, I froze my ass off. And my toes. Which made for some uncomfortable miles once I got started. My toes where so cold that I literally felt like I was running on pebbles. I knew that I would heat up quickly, so I ditched my long-sleeve tee, but my toes...dang. They stayed cold much too long.

It took about three miles for me to finally settle into a nice pace. I stayed right around the 9:00-mile mark, give or take depending on the course. I gotta say, it was the first time I've ever shared a course with marathoners. Here's the thing: I felt bad when I'd run through patches of spectators! Like, don't cheer for me. I'm just doing the relay! Focus on them. Ha!

Speaking of spectators, support on the course was awesome. I enjoyed all the signs ("smile if you just peed a little"), and the groups working the water stations rocked them with efficiency and support. And the course itself? Wow. My legs of the race literally took me on paved paths through trees.

Quite possibly the most beautiful run I've ever been on, that's for sure. I wish I had more pictures to show you, but 1) My hands were too cold to fiddle with my phone, and 2) I was enjoying myself too much to fiddle with my phone.

Well, at least until my dang IT band kicked in. Then I was miserable.

I don't normally have IT band issues, but somewhere in my 7th mile, it started to scream. I seriously had to push through my last three or so miles. Here's the thing: I blame it on being cold. My legs were not sufficiently warmed up when I started to run, which I think is why my right-side IT band threw a fit. Eleven miles isn't usually a big deal for me in terms of comfort, but it's been awhile since I've gone so far in such cold weather—I'll need to be smart about that when I run the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago in a few weeks.

Anyway, I pulled it together because that's what you do when you're stretching on the side of the course and a marathoner runs by you and says "you got this, you can do it." Regardless, I was happy to hand off the timing chip.

I made it back to the finish line in time to jump in with my mom as my sister approached the finish line:

Like our outfits? If you're wondering, we found everything at Target. I mean, animal print purple/blue leggings? Yes, please. They felt like butter on my legs. (Not that I've ever had butter on my legs, but you get it.)

What the picture above doesn't show is my hobble of a stride. "Eff you," said my IT band. (Sorry, language, but it paints the best picture of how I felt...despite the smile.)

Can we also talk, for a minute, about how warm the sheets are?

This was the first time I've ever had one around me. I couldn't believe how much warmer I felt.

Here's how we finished. Group on the left, my individual run on the right:

Overall, a great race. And an awesome experience. I wouldn't mind running the half marathon next year. Still not sure I ever want to run a full. But, never say never.


Congrats to all of the runners that I saw on the course. And congrats to you, too, if you crossed a finish line this weekend.

Question: Do you run full marathons? Why or why not?

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