On May 30th, I set out on a journey with my best friend to Newport to run in my first marathon – the Newport Marathon. Eighteen weeks ago I had the perfect plan for how to train for this marathon. I had never run more than a half marathon distance so I knew I needed to learn how to increase my distance gradually overtime to avoid injury so I searched the internet in search of the perfect 18 week marathon training plan. I came upon the Hal Higdon 18 week intermediate marathon training plan which had short to medium length runs 3 days during the week and one long run on the weekend. I printed the training plan and hung it on my wall for an easy reminder each morning.
I started out my training plan strong. The first two weeks I got in every training run. I strapped on the headlight and ran at whatever time of the day I was able to find time – even at 11pm at night. During the third week of my training plan I was confronted by my first challenge; snowpocolopyse 2014! But, I was focused, I was determined; I wasn’t going to let some silly snow stop me. So, I ran in the snow; the slippery and sometimes crunchy snow.
At approximately the fourth or fifth week of the training plan the challenges life took over and my training plan took a backseat. Sadly, I started going a week or two without running and when I was able to get a run in it wasn’t ever more than 6 miles. Filled with every excuse I kept up this routine of very minimally running (which I wouldn’t recommend). About two or three weeks before the marathon I realized how far behind schedule I was. I think this realization happened when I went to run a 10k race with my friends and I was the one in the back of the pack, huffing and puffing. Had I been doing it right, I would have been the one leading the pack or at least not been out of breath like I was. After all, I was going to be running 26.2 miles very soon. I spent awhile trying to figure out what to eat during and before a marathon. I got lots of conflicting advise the the one that always remained the same was to eat carbs and lean protein. So … I carb loaded all week before the race. If there was a carb in it, I ate it.
Three weeks before my marathon I started running again. I ran 3 days a week, between 3 and 7 miles each with one long run on the weekend. The long run was one 15 mile run, which actually went better than expected. During that long run I decided to time my walking pace to try and figure out my finishing time for the marathon. I met up with a friend to help me crunch the numbers. I knew there was a 6 hour time limit for the marathon and I was going to make sure I did not finish in 6 hours and 1 second. Typically, I run at a 10:30 min/mile pace and walk at a 14 minute pace so I figured if I ran for the first 10 miles and then switched to a walk/run sequence for the remaining 16.2 miles I would finish in 5 ½ hours. That was the plan anyways.
On the Friday before the race I decided to look up where packet pickup was at. It wasn’t until that very second that I realized that packet pickup only happened on that Friday. Being 3 hours from the race location and a full work day ahead of me getting there was a very tight. Luckily, packet pickup was open until 9pm and I was able to make it there with about 30 minutes to spare. PHEW! I grabbed my goodie bag, bib number and wandered around the race expo which was held in one of the conference rooms at the host hotel.
We learned that the city of Newport closes early, even on the weekends. We had a tough time finding a place to eat at 8:30 at night. The first place we went to was a gar/grill however they stopped serving food at 8. So, we wandered and found another place to eat but it had a 45 minute wait. We decided to find a place closer to our hotel so we ended up eating at one of the hotel bars.
The race started at 7am for the runners and 6am for the walkers. We were directed to park at the finish line and shuttle to the start line. My friend brought her bike so she could follow me along the course so I went to the start line to drop her off then went back to take the shuttle alone. I met her at the start line for a couple pictures before the start of the race. The line for the port-a-potties was ridiculously long; I was glad I went before I left the hotel. Fighting the nerves, I said goodbye to my friend and headed with the group to pile in the start corral. I positioned myself near the end to avoid being trampled by the “fast” people.
At 7am sharp we were off! We ran north-west through residential neighborhoods and by local shops in a loop that took us by some amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. The course was narrow and I had wished I didn’t get so far in the back as I was being slowed down by congestion. After a couple minor hills at mile 3 we headed back towards the start line and where I left my friend. By this point we had finally spread out a bit and it wasn’t nearly as congested. My friend wasn’t sure if she would be able to ride her bike with me or if she would just meet me at points along the course but with the space between runners she decided to ride next me. Yayy!!
From mile 3 to about mile 6 I was excited. Everyone was happy. Volunteers at every water station were cheering and full of excitement. The people in the streets were full of energy waving and cheering as we ran by. My friend was cheering me on while riding next to me. I still couldn’t believe I was running my first marathon. It was really happening! After almost canceling multiple times here I was, running in a race I never once thought I would. Life was great!
My friend got a flat tire at mile 6 and had to leave me to get her tire pumped back up. I had a while to run alone. At this point I recalled all the stuff I researched about “how to run a marathon.” I bought packages of every type of gel, chomp, and jelly bean there was and brought them with me. I know you are supposed to test everything out before race day, but that just didn’t happen in my case. So, now I was faced with new items to try on race day. One of my main issues with running long distances is hunger. My stomach growls and my hunger turns me into a little runner girl version of the hulk – in a mad rage for food. So, to avoid this I decided to take one of my energy gel/chew/beans at every water station. This way I could wash down the sugary taste that they always leave in my mouth and be good to go. I started this routine at mile 6 and ate every 2 miles. I learned that those experts telling you not to try something new on your race were right. I got sick; felt nauseous; and refused to eat anything else after mile 10.
My friend caught back up to me at about mile 9 and I was still running strong even despite my recent hatred for anything edible. We continued on course along Yaquina Bay Road along a dried up portion of the bay. We passed some amazing supporters along the way. One couple in particular covered their front fence in balloons and were sitting out in their lawn chairs cheering us on. I decided I was going to keep running until I hit the turn-around point, which I thought was at mile 13.1. It took me awhile to see the first runner on their way back which made me question where the actual turn-around location was. After talking with a couple of other runners I learned it wasn’t until mile 15.5 and I gave up hope. My walk/run routine started at mile 12.
Walking, at this point, felt amazing. I knew I could keep running, but I also knew if I pushed it too hard I wouldn’t be able to finish at all. So I walked when I needed. I started with walking every half mile and running every half mile. This routine actually worked out pretty good for me. I was able to keep this up for awhile before the exhaustion started to kick in. My legs became numb and tingle. I made friends with a couple runners next to me and we kept each other company and distracted. The stories from the bestie on the bike were a big distraction help as well.
Most of the water stations gave out water and a form of electrolyte drink. I always took one of each. They also handed out packets of gu – I turned those down. There was one water station that gave out chunks of oranges and bananas. That was the best idea ever! I’ve never had an orange taste so amazing before! I grabbed a couple and regained my energy. I started to run again and was feeling great. This course is said to be flat, however there were a couple minor hills. These hills weren’t comparable to the hill in the shamrock run or run like hell, but they were hills none the less.
I spent awhile doing the math in my head. If I completed the first ‘x’ number of miles in this amount of time that means I have ‘x’ number of minutes to complete the remaining miles before being kicked off course by the 6 hour time limit. I realized that I could complete the remainder of the race doing 18 minute miles and still be okay. A giant weight was lifted off my shoulders and I began walking. Aaaahhhh. I didn’t realize how fast I walked but I was passing runners. I was walking at an 11:30 min/mile pace. This was good enough for me. I came to complete a marathon not win one; so I walked.
I remember seeing the mile marker for mile 22. This is the mile marker I feared. It’s the butt of every marathon running joke. The dreaded 22 mile marker. The one everyone fears. However, when I came to it I didn’t hit a wall. I wasn’t quite sure what it meant to hit a wall but I felt great. Numb, but great! I thought maybe that run/walk and now walk routine is the key to not hitting a wall. Oooh yeah, I had figured it out! I should write a book about how not to hit a wall! But then I came to the mile 24 marker, and I think I found that wall. My mind said STOP. Stop walking, stop moving, stop thinking, just STOP. I literally wanted to just sit in the middle of the road and take a big giant nap. But, luckily for me my friend was there on her bike and wouldn’t allow this. “People that run 26.2 miles are badasses!” she screamed. “whoo hoo! My friend is a badass!” There was so nap in my future as my best friend insisted so I kept on going.
Once I saw the mile 25 sign I got excited again. It was almost over. I almost completed my first marathon! At mile 26 I began to run again. I ran through the finish line to collect my beautiful purple glass medal and finally I could stop moving. YES!
We packed the bike back in the car and headed over to the finisher area which was across the street. As we entered we were given sandwiches, fruit, and other goodies to eat. We were also handed tickets to collect our finisher beer and cup of clam chowder. They were also handing out very cool finisher shirts to all the participants. The beer and clam chowder were being passed out outside of the building. The outside area had a live band and lots of seating for everyone. We stayed there for a bit before heading back to the hotel to experience my first ice bath.
Overall, I loved this race. It was very organized with aid stations every 2 miles along the course. The shuttle service was very hassle free. They had shuttles for the spectators to get on that would take them to different locations along the course which I had never seen before. So awesome!! The after party was great, even though I was too exhausted to stick around for very long. I would definitely recommend the Newport Marathon to anyone looking for a fun, unique and fast race. However, sign up early it sells out fast!