Sunday, May 22, 2011

My son's first full marathon - race report

Ok wanted to get this one done earlier, but it's been a busy week of choir concerts and doctor's visits. That will be saved for another time.

It's been a week now since my son's first marathon and I'm glad to say, yes he's survived it unscathed :) No physical damage, no mental damage - just one proud kid. We didn't discuss time goals for his marathon, as everyone's first marathon should really just be about finishing. He did finish in almost the exact time I figured he would though. I had him pegged to finish in 5 hours, he crossed the line in 4 hours, 59 minutes and 29 seconds - chip time. Congrats to my son and all the others who ran last weekend! There were many events going on - so many that it was hard to keep track of who was doing what! Congrats to all on your hard work.

The Monday before race weekend Jodi Valade, reporter for the Plain Dealer newspaper came over to interview my son. She did a great article on him that can be found here:

Wednesday a photographer came over to get "action" shots of us running down the street. That was definitely an experience. We felt kind of goofy running down the street for pics, but the photographer was a fun chick to be around and really put us at ease.

With the media business over, it was time to prepare.

(I think he was thinking pizza all week. But no!)

Saturday my husband, son, and I headed to the marathon expo to get our shirts, bibs, etc. and check out the vendors. The expo was in a different location this year, and while it was a good spot for us (free parking - woo hoo!) it seemed like it may be a bit of a pain in the butt to get to for out of towners. The marathon is in Cleveland, the expo was in Euclid. We got our shirts and goodie bags, and got a laugh when we saw one of the goodies in our bag:

We then walked around and saw Jean Toth. Jean was about to run what has got to be her gazillionth marathon. She was at the expo shakin it to Zumba, and at 75 years old she was looking like the best Zumba (dancer?) out there. Smiling the whole time and just workin' it. AMAZING! Big congrats to Jean on her marathon performance as well. She finished the marathon in 6 hours and 7 minutes. After watching Jean for a bit we walked around, checked out the Northeast Running Club booth and talked with our awesome Prez Mark Anson for a bit, also checked out the Fleet Feet booth and of COURSE we hit all the freebie stations! We sat and listened to Bill Rodgers speak and then left. We did let my son choose his pre race dinner location - he chose Zappitelli's in Painesville Township, which worked for us because it was 5 minutes from our house. At this point the nerves hadn't kicked in yet. He was being his typical self:

We came home and relaxed, and went to bed early (the one thing about running the marathon that he could NOT stand!)


Early a.m. I woke the kiddo up and I think it hit him.

He was nervous and questioned me: "What if when I start running my legs just don't work? What if they hurt right away?" I was surprised it took him this long to start to worry. I tried to tell him he'll be alright if he eats his oatmeal, but he hates oatmeal so I'm not sure I was all the reassuring. (He probably thought it was my way of being sneaky just so he'd eat something that's acutally good for him, vs. lets say....RAMEN NOODLES for breakfast). We got ready and hit the road.

Arriving in Cleveland we were pleansantly surprised to see the Cleveland Brown's stadium open to the runners. I hope that the marathon people continue to do this - as the lines for the toilets were much shorter and it offered a teeny bit of shelter from the great outdoors. Those concrete jungles can be quite nasty. I did have one thing to say about being in the Brown's house however. GO STEELERS.

Nuff said. But thank you for your toilets, they were the best. While I was in the grand toilet facilities my son and husband were approached by Scott McGrew and his wife Brianne. They read my son's article and came to give him well wishes. Scott was running his first marathon as well, and Brianne was running her first 1/2 marathon. Congrats to both of them on their run! (Scott will be joining the ranks of us crazies in June when he runs the Mohican 50 miler. One might say he has already joined us crazies as he joined us yesterday for a trail run, a marathon training distance run a week after his marathon!) Anyway their well wishes gave my son a bit of an ego boost and he walked around with his chest stuck out looking all manly for a bit. We met gal pals Jeannette and Kathleen, as well as man-pal Mark Anson (monsieur President) right before the start. We walked out with Jeannette and it was time to start!

The gun sounds, and so it begins. After 9 minutes. That's how long it took us to get to the start, but no worries - we have a chip time here in Cleveland. I think the sun gods hate Cleveland. However in my son's case it was probably a good thing, since all his longest runs have been run in the rain. It was actually not so bad at first - temps were comfortable and there was just a light mist. The end of his run, well that's another story.

Mile 1 - bathroom break. For everyone. We let my son go first and told him when he gets done just start running, keep to the right and we'll catch up when we have finished. This was how the whole race was spent in terms of bathroom breaks. It worked out pretty good. I did feel a little silly when I would leave the port o johns though - people I think thought I was getting some kind of an energy surge and would cheer me on.

Miles 2-13 my son spent deep in thought. I could see the wheels turning in his nugget....he was worried. I kept watching his expressions knowing what he was thinking. I was worried for him - it was so early and it seemed he was already doubting himself. At the half way point, he started to express his concerns vocally. Wondering why he signed up to do this. I myself was wondering if I made a mistake in allowing him to do it. I then just tried to convince him to keep his thoughts positive (however that's pretty tricky - easier said than done).

Mile 17 - 24
Eventually at around mile 17 he asked for his mp3 player. MP3 player = mental magic. It was nearly an instant transformation. He started smiling, laughing, and running stronger. We could even tell when a favorite song of his came on, because he would get a BIG boost of speed. At some points I told him to slow down and be careful, I didn't want him to burn out. Music magic :) He started to pass TONS of people. It seemed he was pulling it all together at the same exact time that most people were falling apart. We started laughing at all the funky statues we saw, wondering what exactly the story was behind them.

Mile 24
My son was still passing people - including one guy who seemed to take it kind of personal. My son ran by and this poor guy and he raised up his hands, pumped his fists and let out the biggest growl I've heard to date.

Mile 25-finish

The headphones came off so he could soak it all in. We were all thrilled that the end was so close! Turning the corner in front of the Brown's stadium we saw my dad and sis. AND the finish line. My watch showed less than 5 hours. We let him know how proud of him we were.

We continued on and saw most awesome gal ever, Roisin, and her mum - they had come down to cheer him on as well. (They bounced back and forth from location to location throughout the race in the nasty weather. SO COOL!) We chatted for a bit, then found my Dad. At that point we were COLD COLD COLD. It was not so bad when we were running - but stopping was killer. It seemed like our car was incredibly far away. The wind seemed nastier. It took forever to get there. Thankfully we had extra clothes to change into. We changed and took our nasty smelly selves to lunch with my dad, my mum, and my sis. I couldn't drink enough hot chocolate to keep warm. I'm sure our waitress was questioning our sanity as I walked in with skin tight compression shorts on, my son walking in with his medal, and all of us in flip flops. Not to mention smelling like complete butt. No matter anyway. We stayed and enjoyed ourselves for a bit then headed home. Good times :)


Does he want to do it again? Not sure. Did he have a good time? Eventually. Do I think I made a mistake in letting him run the marathon? Absolutely not. He's incredibly proud of himself as he should be. Everyone who ran should be. It's not an easy thing. I had the opportunity to look around when we were running. Had the chance to really check people out, look at their form - watch their faces, wonder what they were thinking. EVERY single person out their was workin' it. No matter if they finished in 3 hours or 6. You could tell people were pushing it to the very best of their ability no matter what their time. Everyone was giving it their all, and should be equally proud. Congrats all to an amazing job - give yourself a pat on the back for toughing it out and giving it your best out there.

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