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Well folks, I did it! I have successfully completed my second marathon and hit my time goal! I was being semi-secretive about which race I would be running for safety reasons and because it was out of town. Obviously I live in Florida and the race was in Syracuse, New York, my hometown. I picked this race solely based on the facts that it was inaugural and in my hometown. I reviewed the course before I automatically signed up but it seemed like it would be flat with maaaybe a hill or two. Do you sense foreshadowing?

Let’s back up a bit and start at the beginning: the expo!

The husband and I headed over there with my Dad and Step-mom on Friday to pick up our packets. I explained that it was because it would be quieter on Friday rather than Saturday but in reality I’m a super worry wart and wanted the time buffer in case there were problems.

It was a pretty small expo, which I expected given that this race was inaugural. We did spend some time talking to the Carb Boom! (one of the sponsors) guy and even bought several packets. I must say they’re pretty tasty and I’ll probably do a review at some point. I’m very impressed with the shirts- gender specific, long sleeved, Brooks dri-fit shirts.

Saturday was a pretty low key day consisting of carb loading, driving the race course and dinner with my brother, his girlfriend and her daughter. We also got to meet my Dad and Step-mom’s friends, Jo and Kelly. Kelly is the ultra marathon blogger behind Slipping Slowly Into Pain and Jo is his wife and biggest fan. They had participated in the Baltimore races on Saturday (Kelly ran the full and Jo the half)  then drove up to Syracuse to stay the night with us so that Kelly could run the Empire State marathon in the morning.

Not only are they awesome runners but they’re also incredibly nice and fun people!

Race Day!

I set 5 alarms (seriously) and was up after the first one went off at 4:30am. After consuming my pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, coffee and water I got dressed in my carefully laid out gear:

Obviously I’m much higher maintenance than the person who said all you need to run is a good pair of running shoes.

We got down to Alliance Bank Stadium (where the race started) about an hour beforehand and thankfully the race gods blessed me with a pre-race potty break (you know what I’m talking about!). The sun had just started peaking when we got lined up and after posing for a quick picture we were off!

Kelly, Myself and Husband (that was my Step-mom’s jacket- I gave it back to her before we started- I wouldn’t throw away a nice jacket!)

The weather was absolutely perfect, it stayed in the low 50’s, was sunny and had a slight breeze the entire time. I wore a long-sleeved T as a throw-away and ditched it less than 2 miles in. I was having a hard time keeping the pace slow for a warm-up in the first 3 miles like I had planned. I ended up saying screw it after 2 miles and let my legs do what they wanted.

The first 6-7 miles were great, nice and flat through the park that runs alongside Onondaga Lake. I fueled (with Vanilla Gu) and did a quick leg stretch every 4 miles, walking only through aid stations towards the end. The hills started at mile 7ish and didn’t end until mile 17ish. Some of them were rollers, some of them were giant. During the race my Dad, Step-mom, Aunt Renee and Jo were driving around to see Kelly, Husband and I at different points. They were awesome support and I definitely wouldn’t have had as much fun as I did without all their cheering! Jo took a ton of awesome photos! Here I am at mile 7ish coming out of the park and feeling great:

This is at mile 11 after climbing the first giant hill:

Unfortunately I needed a potty break somewhere right before the halfway point which was disappointing but for me, not really unexpected. I was powering up and sailing down the hills until mile 17. My pace slowed significantly on the uphills between miles 17-20 and I really wanted to cry and give up. Those crappy middle miles were definitely the hardest.

After seeing everyone at mile 20 and knowing I was on the (thankfully flat) home stretch my confidence boosted. I checked my watch and knew that if I could suck it up and tough it out I could hit my time goal.

Both Kelly and I blew kisses when we ran by at mile 20 but I swear we didn’t plan that!

This is my cry face, after seeing the husband I got all choked up and was glad to have my stretching break to calm down a bit.

Before the race I had told myself that my strategy for mile 20 to the end was going to be to remember my CrossFit training and my trainers. They’ve taught me to be even more mentally tough, to never stop, to not give in, to give it all you have. They believed in me and that gave me the confidence I needed to push all the way to the end. My fastest mile? Mile 26. I ‘sprinted’ it out and held a sub-8 pace for the last little bit (even with zig-zagging around a semi-truck that was waved in front of me right before the finish line grrr!).

My brother was the first person I came to when I finished and I cried like an infant. When he asked what was wrong all I could do was point at my watch and blurt out ‘I’m so happy!’. The husband, my Dad, Step-mom, Jo and Kelly all got smelly hugs from me next and I was definitely still crying (did I mention I’m a crier?).

I walked a little bit afterwards but with the cold and the all-out-effort my legs started cramping up really bad. After a little recovery fueling (chocolate milk, water and half a CLIF Builder bar were all I could get down) we headed back to Dad’s for showers and more recovery.

Time for all the data:

Summary (I guess I did a good job at running the tangents!):

Splits:

Heart Rate:

Elevation Data. I enabled the corrections feature on garminconnect.com because Garmin Forerunner 305 watch elevation is notoriously unreliable. This is info on the corrections from the site: Elevation Corrections cross reference the horizontal position (latitude/longitude) provided by the GPS with elevation data that has been acquired by professional surveys. When corrections to elevation data are made, each trackpoint of your activity now contains the elevation from the web service, not the elevation provided by your GPS device.

Some other data:

Overall it was an amazing race. I have to give the organizers a major thumbs up. I got a lot of distraught looks from runners when I told them this marathon was inaugural, but it was put together so well! There were tons of aid stations and the gels, accelerade and high quality H2O were plentiful. Packet pick-up was quick and easy and no one gave the husband a hard time about swapping for a smaller shirt. My only negative? Those darn hills, but I guess I can’t blame anyone for that! 😉

Some of you might be wondering how the husband did on the half. He. Freaking. Killed. It. I’m so incredibly proud of him. I’ll try and bribe him into guest-posting a recap and if he is resistant I’ll do a separate post with his pictures and time. He definitely deserves his own post. If you’re wondering how Kelly did, go wander over to his blog and read his recap.

I’m so happy with my time and how I raced. I wouldn’t change a thing and I don’t have any regrets. So now the big question- what’s next? Well the next race on the agenda is the Halloween Halfathon with Jena and Sherry. The next marathon? That’s still up for debate. Maybe Disney. Maybe. 😀

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