*drumroll* The Race Report

My race report from runningAHEAD.com:

Oh...where to begin. Man, I am so mentally and physically exhausted that I think this is going to be more of a summary and bunch of random, probably mostly incoherent thoughts than a race report.

Everyone says the first marathon is a learning experience, more than a race. The NUMBER ONE thing I learned...wow, running out of electrolytes is a real bitch. It doesn't matter how well-paced, comfortable, and utterly blissful the previous miles are once one's salt/potassium levels dip low. Cramps are gonna happen. Stopping and walking only makes the inevitable muscle seizures less likely to make one fall hard.

During my 2 20 mile training runs I experienced some calf tightening around the 17-18 mile mark, but chalked it up to running in the heat. I had considered bringing some electrolyte capsules (I have a bottle of Endurolytes that I really haven't experimented with) along in my bottle belt, but the pocket on it's pretty small and between my inhaler and gels there wasn't really space for anything extra. And I figured "nothing new on race day" probably applied to any sort of supplements, too.

Heh. In hindsight I think that would have been one place where trying something new would have been worth a go.

So...to go back to race day...I slept surprisingly well the night before the race (Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, for those not keeping score). I think I had come to that point of peaceful acceptance. Both of my 20 mile runs had gone well and I knew that thousands of people before me had finished their first marathons on less training and still lived to write race reports, so I knew finishing was not an issue, barring any serious injury. Weather reports looked pretty good, too, so I wasn't too worried about that, either.

Race morning I showered, ate a half banana (I don't really like bananas...they tend to make me wanna hurl...too bad, since that's one good source of potassium), a Clif bar, and coffee. I normally do eggs, bacon, and a bagel for breakfast, but staying in a hotel room with no fridge or microwave limit the ability to eat that sort of thing. Next time I will buy a package of that pre-cooked bacon if need be. Sodium is a GOOD thing.

Shortly after 6AM Eryn and I met Jeff (jscovill...oh, and I have to say that Jeff might just be the nicest runner I have ever met--and that really says a lot. Runners are definitely a nice lot, by and large) down in the hotel lobby to take a shuttle bus to the start (point-to-point race).

Oh, ha...and none of us really realized that when Google maps said our hotel was like a half mile from the start that they didn't include a warning about the big f*cking cliff between the hotel and the finish and a lot of traversing down a path to get to the shuttle busses. Ha! So the 3 of us first couldn't find the path down in the dark, then we said "screw it" and tentatively made our way down a steep path of loose dirt...just the sort of thing that would take lesser runners out with an ankle or neck injury.

We got on the bus...oh, man...26 miles is a really long bus ride. Shit. Finally we arrive at the high school where the race is starting about an hour before the gun. Got our potty breaks in, stretched, lubed--oh, not Jeff. What kind of seeded runners just show up at the start with no apparent nerves, no warm-up, no stretching? Dude, I have never before met such a relaxed runner, much less a guy who can go out and place THIRD! I think he let Eryn and I take on all of his nerves. I was happy to make the sacrifice, too.

Eryn and I said our goodbyes to Jeff and wished him the best as he headed to the front of the pack. We settled in midway between the 4.5 and 5 hour finishers (figuring it would help pace us slow early on, good plan--there was no weaving to avoid slower runners and everyone really seemed to line up according to actual ability--wow!). The national anthem was sung and then a moment of silence was taken for a long-time race organizer who was killed last year by a motorist.

Eryn and I hugged, got excited, and the gun fired. A minute or so later we crossed the start and we were off.

Race start was gorgeous...temps in the upper 40s, I think. No need for a jacket or long sleeves at the start, so it was nice to not have to shed anything more than the little stretchy gloves I wore.

The first half was utterly incredible. Eryn and I mostly stuck together with a very chatty and fun group of runners (typical cheeseheads, 'eh?!). I still felt great at the half and Eryn was just a bit ahead of me. Most of the races we've run in the last 2 years have involved a bit of leapfrogging, often with Eryn pulling ahead for the middle parts of a race and me catching up by the finish. Based upon my half split of just under 2:17 I didn't feel it was a stretch to finish ~4:30, as I was feeling super strong and full of "zoomy" energy.

During the next few miles I continued in this comfortable pace and felt like I could continue as fast, if not faster, pretty much indefinitely. What a great feeling. I continued to get in with small groups of friendly runners, lots of chatter about our running histories, comments on my skirt, my garish blue shoes, and my Girls On The Run singlet.

I saw DH and DS not long after the halfway point and then again around 15 miles. I felt fantastic. I hadn't had much to drink of my Gatorade (it was so cold that I wasn't overheating or feeling the need to drink much), but I swapped DH for a full bottle, figuring that would be plenty until the finish.

It was maybe a mile after this that I started to feel that annoying tightness in my calves that I'd felt during my 2 longest runs and towards the end of my Spring 25k race. Amazingly my stupid right knee really didn't give me any problems. Around mile 4 it kind of "whispered" at me, but I told it to STFU and never heard a peep from it the rest of the race. Yeah, OK, in hindsight the knee issues would have been preferable to what awaited me.

After my calves started flaking-out it was kind of downhill. I was able to maintain pace, but the sort of spastic sensations were increasing. I made it to mile 20 and it was only a half mile after that my first severe "charley horse" set in. After the 20 mile mark I started seeing a lot of runners who had hit the wall. I didn't hit any wall at any point, but at 20.5 the wall HIT ME!

My right calf and right groin muscle simultaneously locked-up on me. I. Had. To. STOP. There was no slowing down. It was stop or collapse. My entire right leg felt like someone had grabbed it, kicked it, and stuck both halves in a vise. FUCK. From that point on I understood the term "death march." The entire rest of the race was a walk - run - stop to stretch. People I had passed easily 5 miles earlier passed me like I was standing still. My right leg continued to seize up on me any time I tried to pick up speed and my left leg was on my shit list, as well.

When the legs started hinting at things to come I started pushing the Gatorade and eventually started grabbing the Gatorade Endurance (which has a lot more electrolytes than regular Gatorade or even the Gatorade Tiger that I had brought). By the time the first cramp took hold I was regretting not taking the Gatorade Endurance from the very first aid station. Oh, yeah...and not bringing those Endurolyte capsules on top...and maybe some salt packets.

At the halfway mark I thought my goal of 4:30 would be pretty much in the bag unless something unforeseeable happened. At 21 miles I thought 4:40 would be doable. At 23 miles 4:45 seemed like a shot in the dark...after that I just wanted to finish under 5.

I used to wonder why I would see people walking only a mile from the finish of a race...ha, now the joke's on me!

I think I managed to run the entire last 1.5 miles...at the very finish I had a kick and I knew that I could do a 50k with the energy I had, but my legs were done at 20.5. There is nothing more frustrating than strong lungs (so I finally got my asthma issues under control, only to have them hand the immobilizing baton to my legs), energy to spare, and unwilling muscles. I talked to a few other runners in later miles who were in similar straits. An older guy who was also cramping badly and a gorgeous 40 year old woman who reminded me of Pam and who was suffering with ITBS and stretching and walking on the same schedule as I. I ended up crossing the finish line just ahead of her and couldn't find her later to congratulate. Seeing her struggle really helped keep me going.

But I crossed. I am not happy with my time, but there is only one thing that will remedy that--another marathon. Either Grand Rapids or Milwaukee, again, next year. And next year I have the benefit of knowing that I sweat out a LOT of electrolytes, even when it's not particularly hot. That heavy white crust I form ain't sugar-coating...I'm more a salty wench than a sugar doughnut.

Other than the minerals issue, I did EVERYTHING right. I have NO blisters, NO chafing...everything from the waist-up feels great, as do my feet. I was a little nervous about being a plodder in a lightweight trainer, but my feet were fabulously happy the entire way.

And I have spent the last 24 hours eating every form of salt in sight. I think I finally recovered those lost minerals in the form of pizza with bacon and sausage, cheezy popcorn, Gatorade, bacon on a big-ass Culver's cheeseburger, fried cheesecurds, beef shish-kabob pita...and beer. Oh, wait...that doesn't have sodium. Oops. Actually, I didn't drink nearly as much beer as I had hoped. My brother's GF gave me a bottle of her homebrew, but I decided to wait until I feel more rested to enjoy it.

Speaking of my brother's GF--that was the most fantastic thing about running in Milwaukee...having my family at my first marathon. And Milwaukee has some fantastic crowd support. People with cowbells just about everywhere. And the guy at mile 3 standing in the yard of his farmhouse playing polka music and the accordian along with music piped through a big-ass stereo system--as we passed he was singing "In Heaven There Is No Beer." It was definitely a highlight of the race.

Ok, so that's it...long, rambling, disjointed...I need a beer.

Field Placement: 1543 / 1952 (79%)
Age group: 35 – 39
Group Placement: 98 / 127 (77.2%)
Gender Placement: 571 / 791 (72.2%)

ETA my pace/elevation profile from my Garmin (forgot to shut it off at the end for probably 3-4 minutes after finishing):

I'm not including the split for the last .2 mile...ugh, 'cause I forgot to stop my Garmin. :p

(mi )
M Spd


  1. wtg sweetie! i've been refreshing this page last night and today waiting for the deets...So proud of you for everything you've accomplished this spring-now. You really truly rock. Did you ever know that you're my hero? :p /silly cheesy but also true true true... ::heart::


  2. Did you say "fried cheese curds?" I'm sorry, your report was all a blur after that! LOL

    Congratulations, Marathoner! I'm proud of you! And, I can totally relate to your struggles in the last 10K. It's so frustrating when you feel otherwise great, but your legs won't cooperate. Way to stick with it!

    Perhaps Columbus next year instead of GR or Milwaukee? Think about it. ;)

  3. Great race report Zoomy!

    I also found that the last 6 miles was an exercise in "pain management" - for me it was just running too fast for the first 15 miles and it caught up with me. Lessons learned from marathon #1.

    Congrats MARATHONER!!!

  4. Nice job Zoom! Way to go sticking it out in the last few miles! Glad to hear you're already thinking about the next one too!


  5. You are so amazing! Sorry about your struggles with cramping, but I think you did awesome! What a great race report!!

  6. Awesome job out there Kirsten. Way to stick it out through training and through the race!

  7. Congratulations! I think finishing you're first marathon in under 5 hours is a great achievement, cramps or not.

  8. Thanks everyone!


    *wipes big, sappy tears*

  9. digging the new pic K... :)

    also, i hope you are taking today's quote to heart...*proud friend*

  10. congratulations!!!!! you are a marathoner :)

    my fav part is that you are already planning on doing another one :) its addicting!

    congrats again - it is such an amazing accomplishment - you should be VERY proud!

  11. Congrats Kirsten!!! You are such an ispiration!!! Sorry about the cramping, but you are going to kill your next marathon with everything you learned!!!!

  12. Big 'ole belated congrats to you! Your race report was terrific and I totally felt your pain as you struggled with electrolyte issues. Despite those issues... you did it! You're a marathoner... and you want to do another one! Yay to you, girl! I still can't even fathom the big 'ole 26.2!!!