I woke up race morning an hour before my alarm, and ready to rock. My stomach felt good (this never happens), I slept well (this never happens either), and my body felt good (this sometimes happens). The race didn't start until 9:40am, and we were staying an hour away from Bemidji. I had a ton of time to relax, drink water, choke down my pop tarts (pre-race is the only time I'm not starving, and have to force feed myself, it's annoying) and get ready to go.
Kyle and I hit the road, and two emergency potty stops later (I guess I did good on the hydration front!) and we were there. I did my warm ups and stretches inside, GU'd about 15 minutes before the race (I never do this, but since I only had 1.5 poptarts eaten, a late race start, and potentially a long day of running ahead of me, I thought it couldn't hurt!). I'll definitely plan to do this again for marathons, as normally I'm starving at mile 3 and throw off my whole GU ingestion plan.
Kyle's parents, my mom, and her friend Kristi joined us inside and before too long it was time to head outside for the race start! The field size was small: less than 200 total. The pace groups had 5-10 people around each of them. I lined up behind the 4:30 group and we were off!
I wanted to start in the 10:30s and assess how I was feeling. Assessment: I feel like I'm walking. YAY! Legs feel great. It's cool, and I ditch my gloves at mile one. I expected it to be colder. Hmm. So did everyone else wearing parkas/pants/hats/long sleeves, etc.
The trees are beautiful and we're running on a pretty bike path with trees on either side of us. I check my garmin to see what this "easy" pace is clocking in at. 10:15-10:30. Yay! The first few miles were super flat, and exactly what I was expecting the race course to be like.
I got to see my mom around mile 4 and that gave me a huge burst of energy. This is fun! I have spectators for a marathon. Yayzies!!
She snagged a bunch of great pics (foreshadowing: Thankfully she got these pics, because I wasn't having nearly as much fun the next time she saw me).
From here we took a slight gradual downhill to somewhere, I got really turned around in this section, and I started counting down to seeing Kyle and his family in about 2 miles. I focused on form on the downhill section and really spent the whole race up to this point making sure my booty was doing some of the work and I was rewarded with speedier miles than I'm used to seeing.
Mile 6 came and went without seeing Kyle and his family. We were treated to some HILLS and even some sandy/rocky miles that were also on hills. What the...??
We got to the turn around area around mile 8, hill after hill after hill, and finally a runner next to me said "I thought this course was supposed to be flat??" To which I thanked her for stating that, because I was beginning to think I was delusional.
When we hit the turn around and a little downhill stretch I realized my legs were starting to feel taxed. Uh oh. On another uphill, my right hip flexor started to smart a bit. When we got to the packed sand part of the course, on the uphill, everyone ahead of me started power walking up it, and I joined them.
Mile 10 came and went with no Kyle and his family and I started freaking out that I wouldn't meet up with them on the course. I had Kyle set to give me round 2 of my GUs and some sport beans if my stomach was revolting. Ensue panic.
The next two miles were super hilly, and with my hip flexor stabbing me on the uphills, I was power walking up and running the downhills.
My overall pace started to slip and I started to freak out a bit.
I finally saw Kyle and his parents just before the halfway mark and I tossed my arm sleeves and grabbed my GUs. According to Kyle I looked really strong here, but I felt majorly defeated. ALREADY. Oy Jerbear. I saw my mom a few seconds later, and my collapsed form in the pictures says it all, uff.
I think I went through the half around 2:20.
I started to feel really defeated at this point. Going in to the race, I thought I would finish in the low 4:40s. I knew there was no way I could replicate those early 8 mile paces and that I was fading fast and hurting. I threw myself a gorgeous fall foliage filled pity party for much of mile 14. :/
This stretch was a very long and very gradual uphill section, completely closed off from spectators. I was also at the back of the race pack, so there were very few in front of me or behind me. I decided to turn off my music and just enjoy the day the best I could.
Around this point I got passed by a guy in a green shirt that said "Fear the turtle 26.2" on the back. He was walking and jogging and I decided to join him. Thank goodness for that man. We finally made it to the top of the long incline and started in to my favorite part of the course: a tree covered secluded trail. It was so stinking pretty, I wished that I was just out on a nature hike with my camera. I continued my run on flat/downhills, walk uphills through this few mile stretch, leap frogging with the turtle all the while. Does that make me the hare? Hmmm...
I was supposed to see my mom and Kyle and his family during this area, but silly me didn't realize I was asking them to spectate in a wildlife refuge area that would require a MN park pass. Oops. Good thing it was beautiful!
Around mile 16 we ended up on the shoulder of the road coming out of a camp site and stayed on the shoulder of a road through the rest of the race. Dislike. During my 17 I came barreling down a hill to find Kyle and his family there. Yay! I asked Kyle to walk with me for a bit, but he didn't quite understand me. I told him I was looking at running a 5 hour marathon, so not to be shocked by my slower paces, to which he replied "Well pick it up!" Ohhhhh I hadn't thought about doing that..... :P This comment will take second place to when I called him at mile 18 of NWM crying because I was in so much pain, and his reply was, "What?? You're not done YET??" Didn't help. :)
I left him and kept running only to run into my mom a short while later!
She had been waiting forever to get a pic of me in front of the lake, and a car went in front of her just as I was in front of her. Here I am checking out the white caps on the water. It was windy!
To my surprise my mom jumped in to run with me for a bit! Again, I wish someone had gotten a picture of this!
After this surge of energy, I started to really struggle again.
Miles 18 to 22 were a black pit of despair. My hip flexor pain had transferred into knee pain and I was struggling with a capital S. When I saw Kyle's mom at mile 21 I asked for ibuprofen but she didn't have any. I asked at the next aid station and they said they only had aspirin and could only give it out if I was experiencing chest pain. Um... I have chest pain??
These miles were the worst because there was no one in front of me and no one behind me. Turtle guy passed me around mile 20 and he just kept trucking on, because I never saw him again. There weren't any runners or spectators, and the water stations were still a couple of miles apart.
A truck stopped during a particularly loooooong walk break and asked if I was doing ok. I said I was but that my knee was killing me, so I'd likely be walking it in, but I'd planned to finish. The lady said she didn't have any ibuprofen/tylenol/etc, but could get me a water.
Like a beacon sent from the heavens, she returned what felt like days later, but in actuality was more like 10 minutes with Tylenol and water. I almost cried I was so happy. I was finally back to my run/walk strategy instead of my just long long long long walk strategy.
22. 16:27<--I may have walked this whole entire mile. :/
My mom caught up to me at mile 23 and asked if she should walk with me to the finish line. I told her, "nope! I have to run when I can!" And for the love of all things holy, I caught a second? third? twenty-seventh? wind.
I put my head down (the wind was really gusting, so this was a necessity), and just went. This was also the period that I calculated I was going to run a PW if I didn't do something immediately. It wasn't fast, but at least it resembled running!
Within a mile I ran into turtle! And I blew by him. The aid station at mile 24 asked how my knee was feeling when I was running by and I said, "great! Someone may have slipped me some stuff!" with a laugh and ran off. I heard one of the volunteers repeating what I said, and everyone laughing. Hey I can still tell jokes when almost dead, fun!
I did some more math and realized if I could run the rest of the way at my current pace, I could finish under 5:15. New last minute goal in place. Go Jerbear Go.
I ran by the Bemidji football stadium and pretended everyone in the stands was cheering for me. I ran up to Paul and Babe and realized I only had a mile and a half to go! (Only.... lolz).
I cranked up my music as loud as it would go and tried to zone out the pain. The last mile was particularly rough because there wasn't anything blocking the wind. Also I could see the Sanford Center but couldn't remember where the start/finish line was in relation to the building. I tried to "sprint" the final half mile in, but man it wasn't pretty. I started to feel like I was going to barf. I took to counting seconds left to get my mind off of things. Until I got to zero and still wasn't at the finish line yet. Ok, start back at 15!
I turned off my music for the final little stretch and heard my name over the loud speaker.
.35 3:37 (10:02 pace)
I finished marathon seven in 5:14:41.