Yesterday I ran my first full marathon at Surf City in Huntington Beach, CA.
We stayed at one of the host hotels and took the shuttle to the startline (which left at 5:30am). We got there with enough time to use the porta potty once and head to the start.
I have heard that running a marathon can be an emotional experience…and it really was for me. I teared up when they sang the national anthem and all the runners started quietly singing along.
We started running a few minutes behind schedule, and I started with a pace group a bit faster than I planned. This worked out well, as I was able to duck into the first set of porta potties and pee one last time.
The race started by running up Pacfic Coast Highway, before turning off away from the shoreline to a nearby park. The course was described as flat, but it was definitely hillier than anticipated. I was able to keep a solid pace for the first half but then things started to fall apart.
The bottoms of my feet felt raw and I still had another half marathon to go before finishing. My hips were getting tight and I got in my head. I started walking and panicking a bit. I cycled through all the emotions for about 2-3 miles, which ended up being mainly walking. I felt angry that my feet were sore, I felt scared I wouldn’t finish, I felt sad that I was running alone and that I didn’t have my support system locally, I felt happy I was running a marathon, and also felt that it might be impossible. Honestly, I got in my head.
I struggled along cycling through every emotion I had from mile 15-18. At mile 15, a woman noticed I was sort of stuck in my head and ran with me for a bit. She told me this was her 38th marathon, and that the hard part is running when you feel like you can’t any more. So, I kept going.
At mile 16, a pacer talked me down some more, reminding me to breath deeply and keep going. And, I did.
At mile 17, a man was having calf pains and we ran together until we got to the bacon (and beer) spectator aid station. This is where I began to feel alive again. Let’s blame it on the bacon and beer.
It was an insanely warm day, the sun was killer and it was humid as well. There was no shade for the second half and it was really a game changer. There were also a lot of out and backs which really start to mess with your mind after awhile.
At the last turn around, we were at right around 20 miles. I had nothing left but kept pushing. I hit another spectator aid station manned by the local Moms Run This Town running club, and they saved me. The gave me a bag of ice and a cold towel, along with a handful of gummy bears. It made me feel alive again. I got back into a nice rhythm and finished the last 10k strong.