March 8, 2011

Officially a Marathoner

My dad, my mom and I before my debut marathon
My dad, my mom and I before my debut marathon

This past weekend was one of those weekends I will never forget.  Instead of the typical blog post I will give a run down of the wonderful weekend in the D.C./Maryland area. 

The weekend started with a flight out of Logan into Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. at 5pm with my parents.  I had a solid conversation with my coach, Tim Catoggio, on Wednesday last week and one piece of advice he gave me was to wear compression socks on the plane so they didn't get swollen from being in a dry environment.  On the plane I just tried doing some schoolwork to keep my mind off the legs and the race.  Upon arrival we checked in at the W in D.C. which was right outside from the monuments.  We quickly unloaded our luggage and met with committee co-chair, Jonathan Adams, and donor, Andy Koines.  We went to the beautiful Capital Grille and they were so accomodating as they served me a huge plate of pasta and meatballs.  The night before the night before the race is very important so I drank a lot of water, definitely carbo-loaded, and got an early 11:00 pm sleep. 

On Saturday morning, all I had to do was an easy 30-minute run.  This was the most beautiful 30-minute run of my life.  I did an out-and-back by all the monuments to the Arlington Memorial bridge on the Potomac River near Virginia.  At the mid-point I took a second to take everything in.  Not just the sites, but to think about all the work I've done and what I was in for the next day.  I was definitely nervous, but I think the better description would be nervous excitement.  I did a few sprints when I got back by the White House (can't say that everyday, not to mention the day before my debut marathon), and I had a bit of pain in my right ankle that has been bothering me lately.  I thought this was just nerves magnifying the pain but there were some doubts about really being able to finish the marathon leading up to the race.  Over the rest of the day there wasn't much to do so I spent a lot of time in my room stretching out my foot and listening to some music to ease my mind.  We visited the race site at Severna Park High School where I was able to pick up my race number, buy some gloves to match my orange uniform/shoes, and talk to a injury specialist to see what he thought of my ankle.  On Saturday night I went to dinner with my parents as well as my sister, Alix Marcus and friends Tiffany Ko and Brian Teague.  We went to a very nice restaurant in Georgetown.  Instead of fully enjoying the dining experience with them, I just chugged down water and loaded up on some more pasta.  At dinner it finally hit me what was going to transpire the following morning.  If all went according to plan, I would be a marathoner.  It doesn't sounds like much, but it really hit home with me for some reason and got me ready for the following day.  I left dinner early and got to bed by 10pm...

Race day: Woke up at 3:45am naturally despite setting my alarm for 4:30.  I kept lying down to stay calm and rested.  I finally stood up and despite being clearly hydrated I continued to chug more water.  I had a bowl of oatmeal and could only stomach down a half of a banana.  I put my uniform on and made sure I wasn't missing anything.  Out the door for a 5am town car to Severna Park, Maryland.  Instead of talking to the driver I just listened to some pump-up music and tried stretching out my ankle which felt quite tight.  Upon arrival I stretched like a mad man and kept hydrated.  Around 7am I did a slow warmup.  I felt good but my ankle was definitely bothering me, tried to keep my mind off of it.  At 7:25am my parents and Jonathan Adams showed up and I was able to get a few pictures with them before the start.  I got a spot right in the front.

7:30am... The gun goes off and 1,200+ runners for the half-marathon and marathon take off.  I remain right in front as I run by my sister, Brian, and Tiffany as they are just pulling in.  For the first few miles my ankle definitely ached and I definitely thought it would be tough to handle that pain for 26.2 miles.  However, that subsided.  For the first couple miles there were no mile markers which I kind of panicked about because I had no idea what pace I was going, the goal was anywhere between 6:15-6:22.  Through 3 miles my watch read 18:33 (6:11/mile) and I was in 10th overall and presumably 2nd place in the marathon.  The course was strewn out with fans for the first half-marathon and I felt great.  From miles 10-13 I ran with the man who finished second for master's in the half-marathon.  His goal was 1:22:00 and he got well below that.  Talking to someone was definitely a huge help because after feeling great running with him I was lonely after the half-marathon.  My fan section was standing at the half-marathon point with signs and that pumped me up for a bit.  As I continued to trot along it felt easy and I started thinking of how great it would be to finish second (which I thought I was in at the time).  However, there were basically no fans for the final 13 miles which was very tough especially after what happened at mile 20... At the 20-mile marker I realized I was in first place and this pumped me up a lot.  My breathing felt fine and second place was about 2 and half minutes behind me.  However, I can't even describe the cramping that occurred next.  My lower back seized up so I tried breathing in heavy to get rid of that.  Next thing I know my legs feel like bricks.  My pace went down terribly and around mile 23 I was passed by eventual winner, Karsten Brown, who has done about 100 marathons.  I kept trying to suck it up but my legs were not moving.  I had to stop to stretch out a few times and definitely walked for a lot of the final 6 miles.  This was a miserable part of the race but nobody was a close second.  My breathing still felt fine and I wasn't exhausted but my legs just wouldn't let me move so this was pretty frustrating.  I kept trying to trot along and drank a lot of water (this may have been bad because I think at this point I needed salt but thought I was dehydrated so tried water).  I kept walk-jogged through the final few miles in agony.  At the 26 mile mark I did my final stop and then I saw my dad, the person I was running the race for on the corner before the finish.  At this point I started sprinting as fast as I could for about a minute and it was literally all I had left as I collapsed at the finish line upon being greeted by my fans.  I chugged down a few bottles of water but could not communicate well with anyone.  Every muscle in my legs was killing me and it hurt to stand.  The relief of being done was the greatest feeling, I was officially a marathoner. 

Here are my splits w/ goal splits:
3 mile- 18:33 (6:11 pace, no mile markers for first two)
6:14 (31:17) Goal- 32:00
5:59 (1:02:05) Goal- 1:04:00
2.1 miles 12:55 (6:08 pace) 13.1 miles (1:20:55) Goal- 1:23:30 (This would have been good enough for 10th place overall in the half-marathon out of about 1,000 people
.9 miles 5:30 (6:07 pace)
6:14 (1:51:07) Goal- 1:53:30
6:12 (2:03:28- Personal Record) Goal- 2:06:00
6:46, Here comes the walking
7:15 (2:17:30) Goal- 2:18:30
8:34 (Yikes)
.2 Miles 1:21 (6:45 pace)
2:49:41 (6:28 Pace) 2nd Place Overall out of about 300 finishers

The soreness I felt the next few days was the best feeling of soreness and accomplishment I have ever felt.  I am still feeling the effects of the debilitating experience but already cannot wait to do another one and hopefully figure out how to not cramp up.

I'd like to thank everyone for the support.  I received so many phone calls, texts, and e-mails of good luck and am thankful to have so many people backing me.  March 6th, 2011 is a day that will go down as one of the best ever.  I wasn't completely satisfied with the race, but seeing my family and friends through the half-marathon point and then again at the finish can not be summed up in words.  I have a feeling that weekends like the one that just occurred do not come around often.  For years I have wanted to do a marathon, and to be on the other end is one of the most satisfying feelings ever.  To do it for those who are closest to me makes the feeling seem almost unreal.  I wouldn't have been able to do it without everyone supporting me, thank you all.

Here are the marathon results and photos:




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