Monday, January 11, 2010

Running from an Angel '10- 1st Marathon Recap

The other side! For weeks, months I sat here wondering what it will feel like to be on the other side of all the marathon training: all the fantasies of crossing the finish line, what it might feel like in the final 6 miles, the emotions I might feel as I gutted it out, and how happy I would be to finally say I'm a marathoner.  And here I am on the other side and it feels...AMAZING!!!  Our first marathon definitely had it's ups and downs (quite literally!) but Will and I have both come out on the other side feeling like we could take on anything.

Here's how it all went down:

Will, Dad, the boys and I traveled from Utah down to Boulder City, NV on Friday night, checked into our hotel room and headed out to IHOP for some pre-race pancakes, my carb-loading food of choice. (Love the Harvest Grain & Nut pancakes!)  We then went back to the hotel and settled in.  I set out our clothes and anything and everything we would need for the next morning's run.

I felt surprisingly calm, no pre-race jitters, no nervous tics, no defeating self-talk. That's weird.  I always get nervous, even before short races.  I figured that maybe the nerves would come the next morning.  Fast forward to the next morning (after a terrible night's sleep on the brick-like mattresses at the hotel)-  I woke up at about 4:30 am. I tried really hard to get back sleep but just couldn't get comfortable.  I finally gave up at 5:30, even though the alarm was set for 6:00, and got up and got dressed.  I was still surprisingly calm and stayed that way the rest of the day.  I was a mess before my first half so I'm still not quite sure why I was so calm.  I was just happy!  I was excited to have the day finally here- the reward for all the hard work!  I knew that this day was going to be great- no matter what!

We left the hotel at about 7:10 and headed over to the race start at Lake Mead N.R.A., which was about 5 minutes away.  We were there fairly early (8 am start) so we (well, my dad) took a few pictures.

views of Lake Mead from starting area

my race shirt

Will and I with the boys with Lake Mead behind us.

The race photographer getting ready to snap our photo. 
I can't wait to see the pics that were taken out on the course!

Friends from church who were running, too. Cami (first marathon), Will, me, 
Jen (5th marathon) and Lisa (1st marathon.)  So great to have them there. 
Made the run that much more special.  They all did AWESOME!

Lisa and I.  Love this girl!

Coleman and Cooper waiting patiently for the race to start. 

Calico Racing sign. There was a 50 mile ultra, marathon, half-marathon, 10k and 5k 
that morning and Calico seemed to have it all running so smoothly. 
The race director, Joyce, was amazing!

After snapping a few photos we all headed over to the start with just a few minutes before go time.  The race director, Joyce, gave us a pre-race talk (all 68 of us running the marathon that morning) and was sweet enough to mention my grandmother and the fact that we were running our first marathon in honor of what would've been her 86th birthday. There was also a guy there who was running his 200th marathon! Crazy!

8:00 am- Go Time!
We all lined up at the small starting line chute and we were on our way as soon as the race director yelled go!

Starting the Garmin

Bye, Dad!

Miles 1-5

Mile 1- 9:30
Mile 2- 9:18
Mile 3- 9:46
Mile 4- 9:26
Mile 5- 9:32

We started out feeling fresh and happy to be finally meeting our goal of running a marathon.  I couldn't wipe the smile off of my face!  We were chatting with the people around us and the miles were going by smoothly and quickly.  The weather was sunny and beautiful.  Our pace was a little quicker than it would have normally been on a long run but we both felt we were taking it pretty easy so we stuck with it.  It was somewhere in this first 5 miles that we ended up running along with a few other marathoners and forming our own "pace group."  There was Eric (the triathlete from AZ), Ed (the marathon maniac from So. Cal.), Casey (a local marathoner working on getting her 3 marathons in 3 months to gain membership to the maniacs elite club), Mitch (another maniac who ran with us off and on) and another first-timer (I forgot his name!)  They were such a fantastic group! We were all super chatty which helped the miles fly by.  There were rolling hills in this part but nothing too hard. Which brings us to-

Miles 6-10

Mile 6- 10:10
Mile 7- 9:24
Mile 8- 9:42
Mile 9- 10:33
Mile 10- 10:54

Still hammering it out here.  More rolling hills.  There were really NO flat parts on this course.  In fact, before we started the race, one of the other runners told Will, "You sure picked a hard one to be your first!" Yes we did!! You can see which miles had the uphills and which had the downhills by our mile splits. Anyway, I'm still all smiles at this point.  I'll spare you the suspense and just let you know- I smiled through this entire marathon! (This little tidbit will seem quite impressive a little further down in this story.) I was having so much fun just living in the moment.  Nothing could shake my positive attitude.  Will seemed to be doing well, too, but he was uncharacteristically quiet. I chalked it up to being in the zone or just enjoying listening to everyone else.  Our group was still all hanging in there together.  We learned so much about each other and about running from the experienced marathoners in the group.  Physically, I was feeling good. No aches or pains.  My wind felt great and I was thinking, "I'm going to finish this marathon easily!"

Miles 11-15

Mile 11- 9:47
Mile 12- 10:40
Mile 13- 9:38 (2:08:17 at half-marathon point)
Mile 14- 10:19
Mile 15- 10:58

Mile 11 brought us down a fairly long hill where the road was pretty curved.  My ankles were bothering me a little until we got to where the road was a little more even.  We then preceded up a steep hill and back down the other side to get to the halfway turn around. We got there in just over 2 hours. We were on our way to the sub 4:30 time that we had set as our goal! And we were still feeling good!  I was drinking at every station and had taken 2 gels. My energy was high as we turned to run that 13.1 miles back the other way.  Mile 15 brought us to a steep hill (the same one that hurt my ankles on the way down) and this hill was brutal!  One mile uphill!  We managed to run up the hill with no stopping and were so relieved to get to the top!

Miles 16-20

Mile 16- 11:24
Mile 17- 11:29
Mile 18- 10:37
Mile 19- 12:48
Mile 20- 13:01

Something changed in Mile 16.  Will started to slow down a little.  He was breaking away from the pack. I knew something was wrong but he said he was fine and continued on.  He didn't seem fine, though.  Our group had pretty much dispersed at this point.  All except for Ed (the marathon maniac from So.Cal.)  He and I were running a little ahead of Will only to look behind us to see him struggling.  He had put on his headphones for a little "pump up" music and despite his best efforts, took his first walk break between miles 18 and 19.  His left quad was locking up on him and had been for the past couple of miles. He was trying to hide it and continue but it was really hurting at this point. There was an aid station right ahead so we stopped for a moment to meet back up with him.  I was jogging just a little to keep my legs moving but Ed stayed back with Will.  Before I knew it, I was at least a quarter mile ahead of them.  I turned around to see Cami and Jen passing by Will and stopping to help rub out his thigh a little.  I needed to hold back and stay with Will.  I stopped and waited for him even though he was telling me to continue on. WHAT?! No way!! We were going to finish this marathon together, no matter what!  He started to get emotional because he felt he had let me down because he wouldn't be able to run the whole way.  He felt like he had failed me.  I assured him that I was more concerned that we finish the marathon together over anything else. Still, he felt a little dejected and I could tell. I hated that he was so worried about me being disappointed. One thing he didn't know was that what he would accomplish over the next few miles would make me as proud as I've ever been of him.

Miles 18-20 were stop and go.  We would walk a little, run a little.  Ed continued to stay with us and coach us.  (By the way, Ed was awesome!  We seriously had our own personal coach out there!  He was running his 35th marathon and was a wealth of knowledge.  He talked to keep Will's mind off of the pain and continued to give him advice on how to push through. We loved Ed!  What a blessing it was to meet him out there on the course.)

Here we are with Ed after the race.

Miles 21-26

Mile 21- 13:58
Mile 22- 13:43
Mile 23- 13:36
Mile 24- 14:13
Mile 25- 15:17
Mile 26- 14:33

This was gut-check time for Will.  He was not going to let this marathon (or his body) beat him. With six miles left, now both of his quads are locking up and the left quad is starting to get worse and worse.  What started at the bottom of his quad is working it's way up. He kept hoping that the walk breaks would loosen him up but no such luck. Running was excruciating for him but he still continued to push past his limits.  I started to get emotional watching him. Every step he took inspired me.  Amazing.  He kept running, albeit slow, and was determined to finish.  No matter how much his body screamed at him to stop.

The Finish

We had ascended the last small hill and were headed down the .2 to the finish line.  Ed ran on ahead of us to allow us to finish together. (And, as I learned later, to make sure that our family and friends would be ready to meet us.  My dad said Ed came across the finish line saying, "Who here is with a Alicia and Will?  Here they come!" Again- love Ed! Who, by the way, headed right back out to do the course again. Maniac indeed!)  Anyway, when we got close, I grabbed Will's hand and we finished together!  I was so emotional and so proud of my husband (and me!) for what we had just gone through together.  Truly a spectacular feeling to cross that finish line and to do it side-by-side. If a marathon is a great metaphor for life then it is truly fitting that I would be right by his side to the very end.  Our official finish time- 5:05:48.

Here's some video of us at the finish line.


Will was definitely in some pain as we finished. I got this still shot from the video.  A picture can speak a thousand words, don't you think?

I was just grinning from ear-to-ear and happy to be done.  Will needed some time before he could be happy about it all.  :)  After a drink, some electrolyte tablets, and some chili (the post-race food was yummy!) he started to feel a little better and within a half an hour he was planning his comeback.  Another marathon? What?!  I thought he said this would be his one and only.  He said he just can't go out like that. So, we are already planning his comeback.

As for me, my legs ached for sure but I generally, felt good throughout the race.  In fact, my only real pain is in my neck.  I guess I just kept my shoulders too tight.  My dad joked about how you never expect someone who has just run a marathon to joke about how much their neck hurts.  Ha ha! I guess that's true!

Anyway, I'm hooked and ready to find another one to do this spring and perhaps in the fall, too.  I loved the whole experience.  Strike that, I hate that Will was hurting but I loved the marathon and everyone who was involved in it and all the ups and downs.  It was exhilarating!  What a great weekend we had!

Thank you Running from an Angel Marathon! You may have been tough but you just showed us what we're made of!!!


  1. What a great race report! Glad you enjoyed the experience, and that Will managed to tough it out (10 miles of quads locking up would do me in!) Awesome that you guys finished together.

  2. Awesome race report. You look absolutely ecstatic at the end. I am doing my first half this year and so far I've been saying I doubt I'll ever do a full, but the more people I see having such great experiences like this the more I seriously consider it. Your poor husband definitely looks in pain at the end there. Poor guy. Hope he's feeling better now. Next time will be even better.

  3. Your finish line footage made me cry. Congrats on an incredible accomplishment! Some pretty bling too!

  4. I'm so proud of you, and I don't even know you. Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and video. I loved the smile on your face. Now I'm going to go back and read about your journey up until this point. :) Great inspiration for me!

  5. Marathons are a pain in the neck.. LOL!

    Amazing report Alicia. I love that you had a little pace group at the start and that Mr. Ed stayed with you guys to help the newbies make it.. Super cool..

    welcome to the club and big props to hubby for toughing it out!

  6. Such an amazing and inspiring recap! Congrats Alicia! Congrats Will! I'm tearing up just reading this! So proud! It's the best feeling in the world to cross that finish line! I'm loving that you had a smile on your face the whole time, I totally know that feeling!!! Bask in that after glow, you earned it!!!

  7. I really, really enjoyed reading your report and watching the finish line video. You had me all weepy when you described the part where you would not leave Will behind and that you would finish together. So sweet!

    I feel honored to have had the chance to meet and run with you both. When I first saw you all, it was around mile 5 and I said to myself "they look like a fun group, I want to catch up to them." I'm glad I did. I am sure you made your family extremely proud and it's wonderful that you were able to honor your grandmother with your run. And boy, wasn't Ed sure amazing? What a great guy.

    Congrats Alicia and Will on a race well done. Enjoy the fact that you are forever a marathoner! I hope to see/meet you again at a future race.

    ~Casey aka girl in the pink skirt :)

  8. Wow! I had missed this post (busy week)...what an absolutely inpiring report. I also got a little emotional reading about Will's pain and seeing you cross the finish line. You make me feel like maybe it's not impossible for me to eventually take that next step. Well...we'll start with the half and then we'll see :)

  9. Congrats on finishing your first marathon with a smile on your face and strong! I don't think I've ever felt strong enough to pick anyone up after crossing the finish line of a marathon. It's hard enough just to walk!

  10. Congrats on finishing your first marathon with a smile on your face and strong! I don't think I've ever felt strong enough to pick anyone up after crossing the finish line of a marathon. It's hard enough just to walk!

  11. Such an amazing and inspiring recap! Congrats Alicia! Congrats Will! I'm tearing up just reading this! So proud! It's the best feeling in the world to cross that finish line! I'm loving that you had a smile on your face the whole time, I totally know that feeling!!! Bask in that after glow, you earned it!!!