After eventually making our way back to the parking lot, I headed home and waited for my mom and sister to arrive. They were spending the night so we could get up early and head to the race start. Although I attempted to go to bed early, I tossed and turned most of the night. I was imagining all kinds of aches and pains and was starting to really doubt if I was going to be able to finish a marathon. I was also concerned because my right hamstring was tight. On Thursday night, our sump pump stopped working and we ended up with about 4 inches of water in our basement. I just happened to open in the basement door that evening and feared I saw I damp floor. I had no idea the extent of the problem until one of the dogs headed down the stairs in front of me and I started to hear - slosh, slosh, slosh. I started scooping out buckets of water while Kevin headed all over the surrounding areas purchasing a pump and a new sump pump. Then, once all the water was pumped out, I spent a lot of time sweeping water. This cross-training wasn't in the plan.
Anyway, back to Friday night. I eventually got to sleep and woke up at 4:30 AM. I headed downstairs and saw this on the kitchen counter. Hmm...what's that?Started reading - it's the sweetest card from my husband - lots of words of encouragement, how proud he was of me and my determination, etc. You know, everything that would make a girl cry. I totally wasn't supposed to start crying this early in the adventure!
I typically eat very little before a long run in the morning because sometimes food before a run makes me sick. I had planned on eating a banana but then my sister got me worried when she asked if I ever ate bananas before running. I'm pretty sure I had but then couldn't exactly remember. I went with one piece of plain wheat bread instead and then we were off. We dropped one car off in Hagerstown and then all rode together the rest of the way.
Here's where my planning failed a bit. I didn't know how we were all going to get to our respective starting points and the directions I had were to the River Riders parking lot. However, my mom and my husband were heading to Shepherdstown for the 5K after Nikki and I started the marathon. I thought you could park at this River Riders lot and it was just a short walk to the start. Then, after we started, they could walk back to get the car and head into Shepherdstown. I guess you could, but it was pitch black and I don't know how we could have gotten there so we all ended up on a shuttle bus which they claimed was the last one. Then, Kevin and my mom were going to ride the shuttle back and try to drive back over to the start so they could see us start and take my jacket. There was temporary parking at the start, just not parking where the runners could leave their cars. By this time, it was past 6:30 AM. Nikki and I immediately hopped in the bathroom line. It all worked out because after one bathroom stop, we started walking to towards the start line and my mom and Kevin were just pulling back into the lot and we were getting close to the start. Here we are before the start:And we are off:
We headed through Harpers Ferry and were quickly running through a field to the Murphy Farm overlook. The fog was just lifting which made it a pretty sight. This was a quick out and back, which was kind of odd so early in the race. Then, we started downhill and these first few miles clicked by quickly. Next, it was over the Potomac River bridge (great sight!) and we made our way down the slippery, twisty stairs and onto the C&O Canal. At this point, we were at mile 5 and things are going well and feeling good.
We were on the towpath for about 10 miles. At mile 8, I almost stepped on a dead critter in the middle of the trail; he startled me! Around mile 11, my sister left me for a bathroom stop and told me to keep going and she'd try to catch back up to me but if not to keep running. I started slowing down a bit - not intentionally. I was ready to be off the trail. It was starting to get a little boring and I actually getting a bit annoyed with the run/walk combo people. I realize this works well for many people but on the canal path it was kind of annoying to constantly pass and then be passed by the same groups of people over and over. You had to watch when and how you were passing people due to the nature of the trail.
Around my 13 or so, Nikki caught back up to me. We had 2 more miles on the canal before we started into the land of hills. I wore my Garmin for the first time in a race. I didn't watch it that often, but looked down occasionally to get a sense of the pace. I actually thought I was going faster than it ended up. It seemed like every time I glanced down the pace was 9:45-10:00 min./mile but when I looked at the mile splits after the race, all of those miles were actually over a 10:00/mile pace.
Throughout these miles, I sipped on the G2 I was carrying and grabbed water at the few water stations along the way. I also ate a couple GU Chomps every few miles. My hamstring was still feeling a little tight, but overall things were going really well. As we started up Miller's Sawmill Road, it was a long uphill but I ran (well, it was slow, not sure it was actually running) up it. It actually felt good to be off the trail and back onto a road and soon we were at past mile 16.
This post is long enough...More to come in part II.