Yesterday was a bucket list achievement for me. Running a full marathon. I somewhat regretted not running the Honolulu marathon with the Stroller Warrior ladies, but due to Xterra and a stress fracture, it just didn’t happen. BUT, a marathon on home soil was much more sweet.
5 months ago, I started the Hanson’s Training Method, on suggestion by my bestie Sandra, who was coming to run the marathon and hoping to shave an hour plus off her previous time. If you haven’t heard of this method, it’s based on cumulative fatigue to get you through those last miles. More on those end miles to follow.
Day one of training I twisted my ankle and rolled my foot, so I spent FIVE weeks riding my stationary bike instead. After several weeks on the Hanson’s method, it proved to be too much running for my tenuous shin (previous stress fracture), so week 10 of 18 I switched to Hal Higdon’s beginner training. Logging roughly 40miles a week in the meaty part of the training; I started to remember why I disliked training so much…..
But I made it through training and the last two week taper. My family and coworkers were troopers to endure my crusty moods.
The Redding Marathon has a relay component, which runs the same course and distance in three legs. For my expedition, we knew Vance would run the relay as the middle leg. It’s the leg he ran last year and the hardest hills of the course. The other two legs were up for grabs and we queried many, even thinking we’d likely not find other legs and I would just run that portion solo. But as Vance keeps telling me, I don’t need friends here, I have SISTERS! (four of them) and family. True to form it was a family team and in the end, the perfect mix for the expedition. I am so grateful for each of them.
Leg 1: Shasta Dam to Keswick Boat Launch 9.2? 9.8? miles. We never figured out the actual distance and Elise said we lured her in saying it would be 8 miles and then progressively added mileage each time we discussed it. Ha! Crazy like a McNulty.
My sister Elise was a perfect fit for the first leg. She kept me from starting too fast, which I enviably always do in races. She was a great pacer and trooped through all my chatter. At mile 6 we split and I had a very hard time finding my pace for the next mile, after a “brief” run into the tall grass on the side of the trail.
Leg 2: Keswick to Turkey Trot 9.8 miles
Hubby’s leg. The hills. I finally answered my question: would I rather run straight up hill for a shorter distance or up a long gradual hill. LONG GRADUAL HILL.* At least in a long distance run situation because you can at least keep running, not stopping to walk. Hubby was perfect. Keeping me on pace and also reminding me it’s okay to walk and get my heart rate down. He mentioned after the event how surprisingly fresh I was after my first leg – It’s all about that pace! Hubby debated doing the last two legs for a small while, but when we got near the third leg exchange, he was more than happy (my impression) to see Jeannine and Don.
*side note – a long gradual hill may result in a rear end cramp. Ouch!!! this is when stopping to stretch mid race is so important.
In the middle of this leg and again in leg 3, the marathon utilizes a single aid station. It was a fantastic station with pink wigged ladies, music playing and silly signs. The Redding Marathon is a well oiled machine.
Leg 3: Turkey Trot to end 7 miles
The aid station right before the switch held a special surprise for me. The realtor who sold us our land many moons ago, and friend was there with a sign for me. It actually brought me tears. It was so unexpected and kind. Thank you Kristin!!
My cousin’s hubby agreed to do the final leg, after several closer family members turned it down. He was an obvious choice, being a runner and running 1,000 miles this past year!, but he’d be driving up from Chico, after staying up until Midnight… None the less, he agreed and I am so thankful he did. He was a perfect end marathon pacer. I told him he didn’t have to stay with me, but in reality, It would’ve been a very hard finish for me, without him there. After mile 23 I was mentally done. Crabby patty mood set in and I was beat. At mile 24 I just wanted to walk. Loud breaths and sighs. When I saw the finish line near mile 26, I wanted to sit down and be done. But Don kept me going with funny stories, jokes and a “we’re going to get this done” attitude. His call for the final half mile kept me pressing on.
And the finish: I haven’t really mentioned it much, outside of the last two weeks, to many that I was doing the full marathon because it was so touch and go with my leg during training. Even my dad and work partner had no idea I was running the full thing. Haha!! I was caught by surprise with the family faces there to to cheer me on through the finish. What a magical moment.
My mom and older sister were there, bearing cupcakes!!! and champagne. My fellow mother runner and cousin Jeanine, my in-laws stayed after keeping my boys overnight and brought them to see me finish (I hope this is burned into their memory banks so they remember it when I’m long past running) my supportive hubby and SANDRA!!
Sandra, this lovely lady I am proud to call her a friend. She flew from Japan to run the marathon, with her two minis in tow, and was able to in fact shave an HOUR off her previous marathon time. She is pretty amazing. We have logged countless running miles during our time on Hawaii together and it was very special to have her there as I crossed the finish on my first marathon.
Thank you to everyone who supported me, pushed me, paced me, encouraged me and cheered me on both virtually and physically. It helped more than you know. I am truly blessed.
**Video link in blue under photo**