Running a marathon is a lot like the first day of school.
It’s on your mind for months- for me, all summer long. You look forward to it, but kinda dread it at the same time- and you can’t sleep the night before. You spend hours agonizing over what to wear, and at the end of the day, you leave with tons of new friends.
I finished survived the Darlington Marathon in 4:15:25, which was way off my goal time of about 4 hours, but with the race-day conditions, heat, and sun, I will take what I can get.
I’ve decided to break the Darlington Marathon recap into two recaps. This post will be a recap of my race, and later this week, you can read my thoughts on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Clay and I left Charleston Friday afternoon, where we drove about 2 hours to Florence and ate a delicious pre-race meal at Rebel Pie Pizzeria. Rebel Pie is one of his favorite pizza places, and I ate there before my Run Like a Nut half marathon, which I PRed last Fall. The pizza is on thin crust and fairly light, so I knew it wouldn’t weigh me down on marathon morning.
After our pizza, we headed to Darlington Raceway for packet pick up, where I got my number and took a few pictures with the signs that Fitness World Run Club made for me before heading to Hartsville to Clay’s parents’ house. We stayed with them the night before and the day of the marathon.
I spent Friday night watching TV and putting my legs up against the wall to help stretch them out and help me relax. It must have worked because I got pretty good rest the night before the race, except for that one nightmare that I overslept and missed the entire thing (does anyone else have the crazy dream of oversleeping on race morning? I know I can’t be the only one). I got up Saturday morning and had coffee and blueberries and cream oatmeal before heading to the start of the Darlington Marathon.
The race started about 10 minutes late and we were off. The full marathoners and half marathoners ran together for about the first five miles, so I talked to some of my friends doing the half. They ran really good half marathons, but I probably should have taken it easier on the first 5 miles and let them go ahead. It’s hard to resist running and talking with friends though. We had lots of cute signs on this part of the course to keep us entertained, and the weather was beautiful. I wore my throwaway jacket for the first 2 miles, then threw it away. Bye bye pink jacket!
After the half marathoners turned off, things were still good for a few miles. Lots of nice signs, an aid station with Gu and a potty, and some shade. It started to get ugly around mile 13-14, because the course was no longer shaded and at 9ish, the sun was out and it was getting hot. September sun in South Carolina is no joke!
My husband and family met me at about mile 15 at the aid station, and I hugged Clay and my mother in law snapped some photos. I ate another Gu and kept on running while they drove to a future aid station. I kept on pace with around 9 minute miles or just over for awhile, until it started to get really ugly around Mile 20. Lots of people around me were walking, and the sun was high in the sky and bright. By the time it was around 10:00.
I saw Clay and his parents at another aid station and he gave me some water and took a few more pics- he got a picture of my good side this time!
My mother in law was actually making cups of water up at the aid station and offering runners food and Gu. Turns out, the volunteers abandoned the aid station except for one man, and when my family came along, they decided to help him out until they had to head to the raceway to see me finish.
I don’t know why those volunteers left so early in the day, but I was on track for a just over a 4 hour marathon at this time, so they abandoned ship VERY early.
Miles 22-26 were the worst. My ipod was dead, but my friend and Darlington High School XC coach Rich rode on his bike beside me and we talked about how good the cross country teams are in Charleston and how much Darlington has improved in the last few years. Rich is a great guy and rode the marathon course checking on runners and keeping us motivated- a big help since there were no signs! He offered me some water as well.
I really wanted to run the entire time, but I ended up run/walking the last 4 miles. My hips were tight, and my pace was slowing drastically from walking (like 11-12 minute miles here). I saw Clay at an aid station and made him give me a massage. I owe my husband- not only did he massage my glutes in the middle of the highway, he also ended up with a sunburnt head. I have tan lines, but I don’t burn as badly as Clay does.
Close to mile 25, I ran through the tunnel for my victory lap on the Darlington Raceway track (all of the races, from the 5K to the marathon, did a one-mile loop of the track to finish in victory lane). I ran past all the spectators, but on the parts of the one-mile loop where people couldn’t see me, I definitely took some walk breaks. I was getting dehydrated and feeling a bit dizzy.
Toward the end, I heard my friend Chris yell “Here comes the Tiny Terror!” and I kicked it up. That race day adrenaline finally kicked in and I actually had a kick at the finish. I ran through the finish, grabbed my finisher’s medal, uttered some choice words and obscenities, and hugged my family. I’m so grateful for all they did for me this weekend.
I’m also grateful for my friend PJ who took tons of awesome finish line pictures for me (including some of the ones in this post!), and for my friend Nick. Nick is the coolest race spectator ever- he was at the finish for like 6 hours yesterday to see his friends from the 10K to the marathon finish and support them. Way to go Nick!
After the race, Clay and I headed to his parents’. After I spent some time in the bathroom (dehydration + heat + hunger is no fun), we all went out for Mexican food and to watch the South Carolina/Central Florida football game. I ate most of a taco salad, then propped my feet up while we watched the second half of the game at Clay’s parents’ house. Fortunately, Carolina won but our quarterback, Connor Shaw, got injured.
After the game, Clay and I packed up and hit Cook Out for milkshakes before heading back to Charleston. The least I could do for my husband was buy him a delicious caramel milkshake. I had an M&M milkshake, and it was quite a yummy post-marathon treat! Cook Out is the best!
As for today, I don’t feel that bad, considering I ran 26.2 miles yesterday. From what everyone told me, I expected to be incapacitated today! I went to church, brunch, and even did a little shopping at the Tanger Outlet Center, where I bought running shorts. It’s a good sign when you buy running shorts the day after a marathon- it means you don’t hate running.
I’ll spend the next few days recovering from the Darlington Marathon and not running- I’m thinking *lots* of yoga is in my future. I’ll also be back in a day or so with another recap. Happy running!