The short of it: I finished!! 4:51:36 chip time.
The long of it:
I was pretty nervous going into the race. I had previously had some issues with toe cramping which had caused me to cut a long run short and miss a couple of my midweek longish runs toward the end of the training schedule, so combining that with never having run for so long, I was a little antsy. I suppose that is normal! On Friday night I met up with my friend who was also running the marathon, and some of her family who were running the 5k. We picked up our packets and went to our favorite little Italian restaurant, just down the block from the finish line. Once we were done there we headed to my friend's house where I stayed the night. I slept surprisingly well given the anticipation, but 3:30 came pretty darn early! We got ready and headed out at 4:15, stopping at McDonald's on the way for my favorite pre-run meal of an Egg McMuffin and Diet Coke. (Weird, I know, but I love it!)
We boarded the bus at 4:45 that took us up the canyon to the starting line. Once we got up there, we had about an hour to wait before the start. It was pretty cold, but there were fire barrels to keep warm. I ate the banana and the PBJ I brought. It was a lot of fun being in such a big group of runners, talking to everyone around us. With about 10 minutes to go, I took one last port-a-potty stop. Story of my life, I was in the slowest line, and missed the starting gun. No biggie, since I wanted to be at the back of the pack anyway. My friend and I ran together for the first half mile or so, and then we separated.
My strategy for the race was to try to hold back a little for the first 10 miles, maintain a pace for the next 10, and then just try to hold on for the last 10k. I tried to run by feel for the first 10, but noticed that I was going a little faster than I had been able to maintain in my long runs. I was feeling good when I hit 10 miles. By mile 12.5, I was starting to get tired. I had brought my ipod with me, but decided to wait to use it until I needed the boost from the music. That happened about the half marathon mark, which is about what I was expecting. But the music wasn't enough to get me to run all the way up the hill at mile 14. I made it about 2/3 the way up the hill (which was 1/2 mile long) and then walked the rest. But oh, the view at the top of the hill! The Ogden marathon starts up Ogden Canyon, and winds down around a couple of reservoirs. It is absolutely gorgeous! The weather was beautiful, just perfect for running. At mile 15 I stopped at the aid station for some sunscreen, got a little more than I needed, and offered it to a woman running near me. She took it and we got to chatting for a bit, which helped to distract me from the aching in my feet.
Miles 18 and 19 were relatively downhill, which was nice. I was pretty tired by that point, and figuring that the last 10k was going to be all about hanging on and toughing it out. By mile 20 we were running through a windy canyon road, and I lost reception on my Garmin so I couldn't check my pace. No biggie, but it did make me realize how much I'd been depending on that. Previously (besides the hill), I had been only walking through the water stops, but by mile 20 I found myself needing to stop and stretch and walk a little more often. I was slowing down. At mile 22, the course comes out of the canyon and runs onto the Ogden River Parkway, which goes through a dinosaur park and a Botanical Garden. It's pretty. I knew I was slowing down, but also knew I could handle just over 5k.
There aren't a lot of spectators along the course, until you get to the final mile or so. Then everyone was so encouraging, yelling out my number and telling me I'd just about made it. The final mile is run on city streets (not that great after running through the canyons!), but I was glad to be almost done. When I saw the finish line, I picked it up as best I could. I really wanted finish feeling like I'd left it all on the course, and I did. I was so glad to be done, and feeling pretty badass for finishing a marathon!
The one letdown of the day is that I didn't have anyone meeting me at the finish line. I knew two friends who were running, one finished about an hour ahead of me, and the other finished about an hour after me. So nobody was there to cheer me on. I didn't realize how disappointing that would be. I've run half marathons by myself and it wasn't that big of a deal, but this was a little different. I didn't ask my sister to come, because I wasn't sure of the logistics of the finish line, and she has a one-year-old. I was envisioning too much chaos. Lesson learned, I should have asked her to come anyway!
Right after I finished the race, I was so proud of finishing, but was thinking that maybe I'd just stick to half marathons in the future. Now, 5 days later, I find myself thinking about just how to improve my time. Speedwork? More long runs? I might have caught the bug!