On November 10, 2013, I ran my first marathon.
Writing that sentence is pretty cool. It has taken me a few weeks to process the whole experience. But now I am ready to share it with you. This post will be the first of three detailing race weekend and more.
The Days Leading Up to The Race
The week before the race was uneventful, the normal mix of work and life. The only thing unusual was that I was running less, which made me pretty restless.
The Friday before the race, my family arrived in Madison. My parents and I met at Perkins for lunch, because they don’t exist in MA and my dad really wanted pancakes. After enjoying some delicious food, I headed to the airport to pick up Scott (the boyfriend).
Once everyone had arrived and gotten settled in, my mom, Scott, and I headed to the race expo. My dad decided that this did not sound fun, and stayed behind.
The expo was open both Friday and Saturday, but I wanted to get my bib so that I could spend Saturday relaxing. We also figured that Friday evening would be less crowded, and we were right. Upon arriving at Monona Terrace, our first order of business was getting my race bib. It took about 3 minutes, as there were no lines, making this my fastest packet pick-up ever.
Next we picked up my race shirt. I was excited that it was a long sleeve tech shirt. Despite having a ton of running clothes, I somehow only own one of these and it is bright orange…I don’t look good in orange. So I was glad to add a new, differently colored one to my wardrobe.
We spent the next 20min looking around at the vendors. My eye was drawn to the booth selling headbands, which are always bright and fun. I had to remind myself, that not only do I already have some running headbands, but I actually don’t like wearing them.
Some money was spent at the official race merchandise booth (thanks mom). Normally I avoid official stuff, as it is often expensive and not very cute. Madison Marathon upped their game this year and had a lot more stuff for sale than in the past! I ended up with two shirts and a visor. My mom ended up with the same visor…we have a lot of matching things.
After the expo, we went out for dinner and then it was off to bed. Well actually, Scott and I stayed up later than we should have working on a jigsaw puzzle, but it was fun. Unfortunately, I slept terribly that night, which made me nervous because I do not function well without sleep. I blame it on the oft-repeated notion that it’s really how well you sleep two nights before the race that is most important.
Saturday morning was spent planning for Sunday. My family would be spectating along the course and we figured out how they would get around and where they would be. We also spent time thinking about what I would wear and have with me during the race and what they would carry in case I needed something. I am intense about planning, it makes me feel less anxious!
Around 11am, we headed to an early lunch at the Great Dane. They have a big menu and lots of basic options, so I wouldn’t have to worry about eating anything crazy the day before the race.
Once we had ordered our meals, my mom brought out a large bag stuffed with cards. Apparently in the time leading up to the race she, with the help of some very good friends, collected cards from people in my life wishing me luck on the race. As I read each card, I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness, caring, and humor that they held.
I am so, so lucky to have such an amazing group of people in my life and these cards meant more to me than I could ever express in a blog post. Instead I will share a few examples (I would love to show everyone’s because they are all wonderful, but that would make this an epically long post):
After lunch, my parents headed to the Badger football game and Scott and I headed to Target. I needed some throwaway clothes to wear while waiting for the race to start and knew that Target sells cheap athletic pants for small boys that fit me perfectly. Totally worth the weird looks I get for buying children’s clothing.
Then we headed to the movies! It was nice to put my feet up as we enjoyed Ender’s Game. I also enjoyed the soft pretzel that I, in a rare moment of brilliance, ordered to go at lunch. It was delicious and not greasy like the ones the theater sells. Not that I am opposed to greasy, buttery pretzels, but it just didn’t seem like a great idea the day before my attempt to run farther than ever before.
After the movie, we made the slow and scary journey back to my house through the sea of Badger fans – seriously, living near an 80,000 person stadium that doesn’t have its own parking is insane!
Scott and I spent the evening relaxing in front of the TV (well, watching TV on my tiny laptop) and enjoying a basic meal of turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. This is one of my default dinners, so I knew it was unlikely to cause any serious stomach issues the next day.
The end of the night was spent with me in a panic trying to figure out what to wear the next day. The weather had been weird that week and I wasn’t quite sure how to prepare. Scott patiently sat as I looked through all my running clothes (well, really he was playing games on his phone…but at least he was quiet). After a lot of swearing and second-guessing, I decided on shorts, a t-shirt, arm warmers, a jacket, and gloves. I would also have the throwaway pants I bought to cover my legs early in the morning. My family would carry some additional items, in case the weather changed.
Finally, it was time for bed. I was stressed because we had stayed up later than I wanted to, but overall I was feeling pretty good. Deep down I believed that, barring an emergency, I would be able to finish the race. Maybe not fast or prettily, but I would finish.
I shall leave you with the words sent to me by my Uncle Dave, Aunt Ismini, and cousins Jack and Nikolas (apparently Dave isn’t just great at writing books, but also at writing inspiring emails):
“Noelle! Your first marathon, that’s very exciting. I’ve been to Marathon and heard all about the guy who ran the first one and all about what happened to him when he finished and…I mean, well, the Greeks invented democracy and since then things have certainly been…I mean, remember this, no matter what, even if you lose your way and go backwards for a few miles, you’ll still be faster than your mother.”