Friday night I got everything ready and packed and got to bed around 10:00. I set my alarms for 3:30 and 3:45 and got up at 3:45 of course. Got dressed got my stuff and had a light breakfast and a big glass of water. Then My wife, eldest daughter, and I left for Hartford around 5:00 to get there around 6:00. I was afraid I was going to get caught up in traffic or not be able to find a parking place or something that was going to stress me out.
We got there around 6:00 as planned and found a free parking lot a block away from the starting corral and next to a long line of porta-potties which was pretty sweet. Since the Pace Groups were not going to meet until 7:30 and it was in the high 40s, I decided to wait in the nice warm car for a while. After a couple of bio breaks I went to the Pace Group meetup. I didn’t bother to use the baggage check since it was about a half block from where I parked which was nice since the lines were way long.
I found my pace group for a 4:45 finish and met some really nice people. I figured I wanted to run with some experienced marathoners, the pace group leaders, during my first one. I didn’t stretch but jogged in place to warm-up. I took a GU at 7:15 and 7:45. At about 7:45 we moved into the corral. It was hard to stay with my group but I was able to see the sign the leader was holding.
It was a beautiful day for a run. With the sun now up it was in the low 50s, low humidity, and a nice breeze. I think I probably got spoiled a bit but I’ll take it.
I was a little nervous but excited and confident at the same time. I hadn’t run for a week and a half trying to get my knees to feel better and this morning they felt great, but for how long, I wondered. After all, 26.2 miles is a long way. I got settled in as close to my group as possible. The opening ceremonies were great. I was surprised that when they asked everyone who was running their first marathon to raise their hands, it looked like half the people there did. At one point we all sang Sweet Caroline in honor of Boston. Once the race started, it only took about three minutes to get across the starting line since my group was pretty far up.
Once we got across the starting line and moving, it was very exciting. I was actually running in a marathon! The full and half marathoners were running together at first and then split up after a couple of miles. We ran through downtown Hartford, through a nice park and the into some nice neighborhoods. Water stops with both water and Gatorade were setup every mile and a half, GU Gels available at about mile 8 and 14 and race clocks at every odd mile. I walked through every stop and took a GU at 8, 14, and 21 miles. At about mile 9, I took another bio break and lost track of my pace group. I wanted to try to catch them but I was afraid to run too fast at this point. I kept track of my pace using the pace band I picked up with my packet and was about a minute or so behind, a pace I was able to maintain.
My knees were a little sore for the first few miles but were fine after that. Somewhere around 11 miles in the bottom of my right foot was starting to get sore. After a couple more miles I thought maybe my shoelaces were too tight so I stopped to loosen them and immediately felt some relief. Everything else felt fine.
I hit the halfway point at 2:20:56 with a pace of 10:46. I still felt great and was on track to finish around 4:45. The volunteers, police, and residents cheering us on were great! I made mile 20 at 3:34:00 with a pace of 10:42. Still doing great. I was pretty tired but the gravity of what I was doing and thinking of every one of my followers and family kept me going. I now only had a short weekly run to go and knew I could do it. At about mile 22, the bottom of my left foot started hurting as well as my right. It felt like I was running on fire but it didn’t feel like I was injured. I think my pace slowed here though. A lot of people were walking or run/walking at this point but I just kept going except for the water stops.
The last couple of miles got me back into the city. I smiled and raised my hands in victory for every camera. Finally, I saw the finish line and had the biggest smile, thanking everyone for cheering my on. Then I heard my name as I approached the finish line, something I hadn’t expected. Hands raised up and a big smile, I crossed the finish line. 4:48:05, pace 11:00.
I’m now a Marathoner!
Walking now, I got my medal, a water bottle, a goody bag, and mylar blanket.
They had lots of good food available but sadly with my wheat allergy, I couldn’t eat most of it. I did get a complementary massage though and decided to get a nice steak on the way home.
This was one of my best days ever!
The day after the race my legs, hips, and shoulders were sore all day. I felt like I was walking like a penguin. I escaped pretty much injury free though with only a couple of blisters on the toes of my left foot. Monday, I did some foam rolling and everything is feeling much, much better.