|At the Start Line|
I was ready. I was excited. All the time, all the training, all the carbo-loading, all the fast-food and sugar avoiding, all the alcohol avoiding – all came together on Sunday, November 12, at 4:41 PM when I crossed the start line of the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon. At age 61½, I was running my first ever full marathon. One more bucket list item to check off!
Sue and I used Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run strategy for our first marathon. We worried that we would be much slower than the 5 hour maximum finish time the race had implemented, but race-day adrenalin had us pacing our running periods much faster than we had trained. No sag wagons for us! For most of the race, we were pacing 10:46 minute miles – even with the walk breaks! We thoroughly enjoyed the festive atmosphere of the race, taking water when it coincided with a walk break, chatting, and thanking the police officers on every corner.
With respect to all you ultra-runners and tri-athletes out there, the marathon is a grueling race that truly tests your body, your mind, and your strengths to their limits. It seemed that, for this race, my limit was 21 miles. At about the 21 mile mark, the notorious abdominal cramp hit, and it seemed the only part of my body that wanted to function was my lower digestive system – if you get what I mean. Thankfully, the section of the race we were in at the time wound back and forth around a real bathroom!
I thought I had a good nutrition plan, but my body had other ideas. First off, pre-race jitters had me seriously limiting my food intake the few hours before the race. And then, once on the course, after I hit the 21 mile mark, I couldn’t swallow the Clif Bloks that I dutifully tried to eat. It was like my body was telling me, “I know you need food but I’m not going to let you have it. Mwah ha ha ha ha!” I drank Gatorade at the final two aid stations, but I wasn’t able to ingest solids until the next day.
I walked the last 3 ½ - 4 miles of the marathon. Sue stayed with me. When the Finish line was in sight, we decided to run it in. Two steps and my left leg cramped up. Yikes! It took nearly four minutes for the cramp to ease so I could walk – yes, sadly I had to walk across the Finish line. I know it was four minutes because that’s the difference between my finish time and Sue’s.
I finished my first full marathon in 5 hours, 7 minutes, and 49 seconds. Over the race time limit to be sure, but I finished under my own power and completed the full 26.2 miles.