My Super Disappointing Marathon; Yet I Can't Help but Be Proud

Short:  I finished my first marathon today, the Palm Beaches Marathon.  It was not pretty and I failed to meet any goal I had, except finishing.  I walked a lot and finished somewhere in the 5:5X:XX, which is even slower than my long runs or recovery paces.  It was that bad.  But I am finally a marathoner.

Long:  Please grab a drink, some popcorn, because I'm shooting for 1st place above Jason and Mandy, LOL.

I don't know what happened.  I think it was the trip to Atlanta.  After I hopped on the plane on Thursday, I started to feel sick.  I had a sore throat and some chest and nose congestion.  I thought I was back to 100% but the chest tightened all throughout the race.  I've never been so out of breath running before.  I've never felt so out of breath while walking until today.

Training:  I used a Smart Coach 18 week program that had me running from 41mpw on the first week to 59 on Week 15.  I chose this plan because the Hal Higdon's plans were too low mileage for what I wanted and the Pfitz plan is still too advanced for me.  I thrived on the plan except during the Summer where most of my long runs were 2 minutes slower than pace due to the heat and humidity.

Injuries: None.  I did twist my ankle while running and that shortened some weeks until the ankle was back on track, but I don't consider that a running injury; just an injury that happened while running.  I had two colds and a bout of the flu during training.

Tune Up Races:  I had 1 5K, 2 10Ks and 2 Half Marathons throughout the training.  I got new PRs on everything except my 5K.  Overall I felt good going into the marathon.

Pre-Race:  I had my typical long run pasta, I tried to sleep early (fail) and was up by 3:45am.  I had to drive 1 hour and 15 minutes to West Palm Beach.  I get there exactly one hour prior to the start.  There are plenty of restrooms and the baggage check was a breeze.  Then I walk around and soaked everything in.  It was cold (51F) but humidity was mid-high (80%).  I wore the arm warmers trying to keep warm.  People were wearing long sleeves and that's what I wanted to prevent.

Race:  Remember the stupid rule about the iPods?  This is the only race in South Florida forbidding them.  But, EVERYBODY HAD THEM.  Since I'm such a stickler for the rules, I left it at home.  But I even talked to people that had done the event for 4 years and they said the rule is not enforced.  Good to know...YESTERDAY.

Anyway, we start and before the mile is over I can tell it's not going to be a good running day.  I start slower since I don't want to kill all my energy early.  According to my half marathon results, I can run a 4:35ish, but I'm rooting more for anything between 4:30 to 4:45.

My Garmin was fully charged and I checked before the race and it had 100%.  Guess what?  It told me it had low battery at Mile 17!  What?  I've run 20 milers and it still has 50% of the battery!  But, the Garmin worked all the way through and even home.  Except it deleted my data.  So, I don't even have splits to tell you.

Course: The course is flat, with the exception of one tiny tiny hill (even for me).  It's by the waterfront for the first 9 miles and then it hits the suburbs.  It's mostly a pretty course.

Crew:  The volunteers were amazing.  They knew when to stop me to get me checked up (more of that later), offered water galore, said I looked good (lies) and that I was doing great (more lies).  Overall, with the exception of the fact that I was running by myself in a desert (an iPod would have helped!), the volunteers at every 1.5 miles were awesome.  The cops were too.

Mile 1 - Halfway through Mile 1 I noticed I was winded.  I'm not even running fast, I'm doing somewhere close to easy pace and I'm winded.  That's when I could tell this day was not a good day to run, least of all race.  If I remember correctly Mile 1 was 10:45ish.

Mile 2 - Still winded and I start getting readings in the Garmin as if the course was long.  Now I understand that the Garmin was crazy and about to go nuts.  If I remember, the mile was somewhere between 10:38mm and 10:45mm.  Still making good time.

Mile 3 -5 - I'm winded but I'm giving it all I have.  I take my first gel at Mile 5.  I pace somewhere between 10:38mm and 10:51mm.  I'm tired but I'm pacing like I wanted.

Mile 6-8 - I start getting slower around here.  The sun is out and boy was it hot.  Not the 73F the forecast said, but rather a sunny day with no clouds and a bright sun. I even got a new tan.

At this point, I am still winded and start thinking about quitting.  Then, I remember my RWOL peeps and how much you guys are waiting to hear from me and about my marathon, so quitting is not an option.  However, the fact that I'm starting about quitting this earlyworried me.

Mile 9 - 11 - I'm more winded and I start pacing in the 11mms.  I take my second gel at Mile 10.  The old twisted ankle did not bother me a bit.  The new twisted ankle (the one I twisted yesterday) did not hurt much although I felt it throughout the first 4 miles.  At around this point, both my hips were in pain (WTH?).  At Mile 11, I knew the death march was coming up.

Mile 12 - The death march starts.  I realized that I'm so winded I can barely run any more, so I start walking a bit at the water station.  I felt a little better so I start running again, except I get winded again at the end of the mile and have to walk again.

Mile 13 - I finished the half marathon mark at 2:23:10 (garmin), second slowest half marathon ever.  And I knew that had my half marathon were today, I would have not been able to run any faster.

Miles 14-17 - The death march continues with me trying to run for at least 0.50 miles but failing to reach even 0.30 before needing to stop to catch my breath.  Darn chest!  At Miles 17 I start walking 100% of the time.  No more running until Mile 18.  All I see around me are people doing their own death marches.  Everybody is suffering around me.  I think it's hotter than we thought.

Mile 18 - I think I ran this mile in full but without my garmin data I cannot be sure.  It's either this one or Mile 19.  I continue hydrating and finished a second bottle of 20oz plus a couple of cups from the water stations and I start on my third 20oz bottle (volunteers were great to refill these).

Miles 19 - 20 - Death march continues.  I really don't remember much about these two miles except that when I hit Mile 20, I realized I was on unknown territory and I was breaking a new PB.  If I remember correctly, I ran most if not all Mile 20.

Mile 21 - Something happened right after Mile 20.  I stopped sweating.  I should be sweating like a pig.  I'm dressed in black (I removed the arm warmers at Mile 3 but still), it was sunny with no clouds whatsoever and I was doing a marathon.  During this mile the medical volunteers pass by on a cart and asked whether I felt fine and I said yes.  But, when I pass the water station I realized I had stopped sweating and commented on that.  The next thing I know, just before the mile marker, I have a volunteer on my behind asking me whether I would like to be checked my the paramedics.  Then two more volunteers and a cop come driving by and convinced me to wait for the paramedics.  I can see the 21 mile marker right in front of me, but I realized I better have that checked before I get sick.  Apparently I did not look great since these people were worried.

All the vitals came back OK except that the HR was 15 beats higher than my normal HR while standing.  The paramedics thought it was the excitement of the race and the sun.  They said that they recommend everybody that is checked up to go to the hospital but when I heard the vitals were fine, I signed the waiver and said I would finish this thing!

Miles 22 and 26 - I ran miles 22 and 23 in full, albeit at high 11ms, low 12mms.  After that, I think I (finally) hit the wall because I could not run any more.  I met this girl at Mile 24 who was doing her 4th marathon and was having a bad day as well, and we power walked Miles 24, 25, and part of 26 (when I left her to run to the finish line).

Mile 26 - Just prior to hitting this mile marker, I started running (at 25.71 according to Garmin).  I had some energy left but I could not run very fast because (again) I felt winded.  As I pressed the lap button for the Mile 26 (where Garmin told me I just ran a 38:58mm, LOL), I started crying.  Tears of happiness, for the girl who could never participate in sports because she grew up with childhood asthma and spent weeks in hospitals, for the woman that never thought she would be able to finish a marathon, for the disappointment too, but mostly from happiness.  I tried to sprint to the finish but it was past noon and it was already 80F and I was tired.  So, I'm sure it was more of a shuffle, but it felt like a sprint.  There were people at the finish (still) and they yelled my name.

The next thing I knew somebody put a medal on my chest and yelled, your time was 5:54 (I'm assuming this is gun time because I crossed the finish line at approximately that and it took me 2 minutes and 15 seconds to cross the starting line.

So there you have it.  A disappointed novella.  I'm happy I got to finish this marathon, especially since I did not want to.  However, it was a disappointing time that does not show the hard work I've put for almost a year.  Disappointment for feeling not my best, for walking at all, least of all for walking that much.

Next on my list: A half marathon next weekend.  Which will remain on the standby list until Friday when I determine whether I'm 100% and with no soreness.  Except from the time I stepped out of the car where I almost fell to the floor from the soreness, I feel almost normal.

Oh, and I have another marathon in 12 weeks.  Time to train.  I feel a huge PR coming up. And the fact that I'm looking forward to running another marathon says a lot.

Here's the most hard earned medal of all time:


  1. Congrats on a tough finish!! What a way to stick through it even though you werent feeling all that well. Hope you score a HUGE PR on your next marathon

  2. Congrats on finishing! It sounds like it was tough going but you should still be SO proud!


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