pre-dawn runs, ice baths, the constant aroma of bengay, blackened toenails (& a few that were lost all together), a diet of energy bars, gels and goos, & the oddest tan lines you’ve ever seen (thanks to the tape i wore around my knees)… these are the sort of things that happen when you are a marathoner. it still sounds weird – almost unbelievable. really & truly, even i still have a hard time believing i ran an entire marathon, a full 26.2 miles. even now (months later), it’s still an experience that i have a hard time describing with words. it all seems so – surreal. but maybe that’s because for 26.2 miles i ran along an amazingly beautiful, practically breathtaking, oceanfront course.
miles 1-2: my partners in crime (carrie and elise) & i, started this adventure together. geared up in our super-fabulous-extremely-popular-you-can-spot-us-from-a-mile-away team sparkle running skirts, we started on PCH with the ocean on one side of us & the hilton waterfront beach hotel on the other. as we ran north along PCH, you could feel the excitement & energy of the crowd. as we passed the huntington beach pier, i got tingles when i realized the next time i saw it, i would be at mile 25.
miles 2-9: just past the second mile marker we encountered our first “retro surf band,” who was un-appropriately playing “walk, don’t run.” at mile 3, all of us girls were still together, running a 8:59 minute/ mile pace, with a split time of 26:56 minutes – right on track for our goal of finishing in under four hours. (i know, i know, seeing that this was our FIRST marathon, technically our goal should have been simply to finish – but we had trained to finish in under four hours, & i just knew we could do it.)
around mile 6-ish, we were still running a 8:58 minute/ mile pace, with a split time of 53:6 minutes. as we headed into huntington central park, we were cheered on by family, friends & strangers. i can’t even begin to tell you how many compliments we received & how much attention our skirts got (& there was definitely some skirt envy from some of the other runners). i told you you… they are super-fabulous-extremely-popular-you-can-spot-us-from-a-mile-away team sparkle running skirts. it was good the skirts provided that extra bit of umph!, because just as we approached mile 9 we encountered the course’s only incline, which ultimately separated me from the group. leaving me to run the remainder 17 miles alone.
miles 9-15: after having my bum handed to myself on a silver platter by the hill (which separated me from girls, leaving me to run a very lonely race), it was time to take a stroll through the bolsa chica reserve. okay, don’t get all up in arms – we didn’t actually run through the bolsa chica reserve, just along side of it. too bad i was too busy saying “thank you,” & checking my pace to pay any attention to the 300 acre ecological wonder, nor any of the amazing wildlife & migratory birds. at this point i realized how hard it is to run alone… without anyone running along side of me, pushing me, by mile 12.2 my pace had slowed to 9:20 minutes/ mile, with a split time of 1:53:47.
miles 16-25: mile 16 was a turning point for me. not because from there on out we ran along a beachfront running path, which really was both beautiful & amazing; but because from there on out i stopped at EVERY single port-a-potty and bathroom stall along the way. without going into too many details, let’s just say that the run from mile 16-25 is an “out & back.” meaning we ran to the end of the beachfront running path, turned around & ran back along the very same path. & when i say i stopped at EVERY single port-a-potty and bathroom stall along the way, i mean that literally. after 20 bathroom breaks, i stopped keeping track – it was just too depressing. all this work, all this training & instead of running a marathon, I seemed to be merely running a sprint between bathrooms (i even got locked it one! oy vey!). at mile 20.9 i had slowed considerably to a 10:31 minute/ pace with a split time of 3:39:43.
mile 25: with just a mile to go, i felt amazingly refreshed – perhaps it was all the quality, quiet, kid-free bathroom time i had just had (i wished i had ran with my latest copy of people), or maybe it was the fact that i had just one mile to go. either way, once the huntington beach pier came into view, it seemed as if the entire world slowed down & everyone around me was chanting & cheering just for me. no really, they were chanting & cheering just for me – it’s not like every girl out there is wearing a sparkle skirt. so trust me when i say, i KNOW they were all cheering for ME, & let’s just say that from that point on, there was an extra bit of sparkle in each & every step.
mile 26.2: happy. overjoyed. ecstatic. these are just some of the words i would use to describe that moment. but honestly, there really are no words for it. hello?! i had just ran an entire, freaking marathon. that’s a full 26.2 miles or 138, 435 feet if you prefer. i’m the first to admit i was a wee bit disappointed in my time – with an overall pace of 10:48 minutes/ mile, i ran the entire race in 4:42:54… quite a bit off from my estimated, & hoped for, 4 hour finish time. i guess that’s what happens when you spend half the race in a bathroom. oh well, i guess i’ll just have to run another.
final stats: placed 1460 out of 2359 runners overall. placed 517 out of 967 women. came in 84th of out 137 women in the women’s 30-34 division. oh, & in case you were wondering about my girls… they finished strong, & kicked a little but along the way: elise finished in 4:03:45 & carrie finished in 4:06:09. way to go team sparkle!