This is a tale of a girl's first marathon. Beware, it's lengthy.
I have been signed up for this marathon since January. It's hard to believe it's September already. I have trained for weeks upon weeks for this and now it's come and gone. Just like Christmas.
Bozeman is about three hours from home, so we planned to spend a couple of days there. We booked a room at the Ramada for Saturday and Sunday night so I could pick up my race packet the day before and get a good night sleep (haha) the night leading up to my big day.
First big thing to happen to me on this weekend was picking up my packet and finding out that I got the #1 race bib!! That's what I get for sitting on the site waiting for race registration to open in January! Once I decided that Bozeman would be my first Marathon, I got pretty impatient about it.
The race packet was not very exciting. Last year it had a pair of Bozeman Marathon logo socks. This year was a plastic cup. I was kind of sad. But on the bright side, the gear bag is pretty awesome and included the logo which it didn't last year. Also, our bibs had our names on them. Pretty Sweet!
We took a drive and previewed the course. The course elevation chart showed the first half as uphill mostly. But after the preview, I felt better. It was a very gradual climb.
We took a nice walk along the Main to the Mountains trail. The fairies live in Bozeman.
Saturday night I laid out "Flat Angie."
My fuel plan was simple. I took a couple of Montana Huckleberry Gu packets, a pack of Jelly Belly Sport beans and a Honey Stinger Waffle. Mitch would bring extra Gu packs since I wouldn't be carrying my hydration belt (Yay!). Water and Gatorade were scheduled about every 2-3 miles on the course so there was no need to add the extra weight. My little SPIBelt is big enough for a phone and a Gu and then my shorts have a pocket. I also carried a little baggie with ibuprofen and preworkout supplements.
My race day outfit: Brooks Pureflow 4s (my favorite shoes), Saucony shorts, WriteSocks, Moving Comfort sports bra, my Women's Run hat and a shirt I made special for the occassion.
Race Day Morning
OMG! Mentally I was not nervous. My stomach on the other hand would not stop doing flip flops! We got up at 3:50 a.m. and thankfully I was able to scarf down one pastry before the jitters set in. There would be no more solid food after that! One cup of coffee and an hour of preparation and we were out the door.
Mitch had to get me to the Bozeman Running Company early enough to catch my bus to the start line. The plan was to drop me off and he would take a bicycle ride up the Bozeman Pass and meet me somewhere around the half way point of the course. I would need all the support I could get for the last half of this race, but the first 13.1 miles I expected to be a breeze for me.
On the bus I sat next to a gentleman who has done about 80 marathons! He's a 50 stater (meaning that he was out to complete a marathon in every state). Montana was the last state to accomplish his mission. It was fascinating to talk to him on the trip out to the start line.
The bus dropped us off.... about 1/4 mile past our start line. WTF? We were all confused as we trekked back up the hill to where the porta potties/start was. Did they think we needed a good warm up walk? It was still mostly dark out and the wind was whipping through the canyon - a tail wind for the run, thankfully. The wait was about 45 minutes.
As we gathered at the start, the MC from Competitive Timing warned us that someone had tampered with the course markings over night. Many of the cones had been moved and/or stolen and there were arrows pointing in the wrong directions. Haha! Funny pranksters!
I had intended to put a bottle of water in my gear bag to wash down my honey stinger waffle and a couple of ibuprofen, but somehow I managed to forget it. So I couldn't eat anything while waiting and I had to remember to take the ibuprofens at the first water station.
The course was beautiful, the sunrise was awesome and I couldn't have asked for better weather. Even the huge wind that came through the canyon was a perfect tail wind for 4 miles. For the first 6 miles I kept a steady pace and only slowed at the water stations. I averaged about 10:20 min. miles for those miles.
At mile 6 the course begins a slow, steady rise in elevation. It's much less than I had anticipated, but I did begin to feel the drag.
Somewhere between there and mile 13, my IT Band acted up. It only hurt once in a while, but when it did it would take me by surprise and I almost lost my footing a couple of times.
Mitch caught up with me exactly where we had hoped: right before the Half Marathon start. I was elated to see him.
Each of the aid stations was like a boost of confidence for me. Everyone noticed that it was my first marathon and that I was the #1 bib. The attention was great for motivating me to move on. I loved it! Race volunteers are the best!
At mile 20 I passed the guy wearing the #2 bib.
For the whole race I felt happy. At no point did I ever feel defeated even though the miles were taking 12-14 minutes and I knew I wouldn't hit my goal of finishing in less than 5 hours.
I had a few miles where my IT Band spasmed so bad I was worried I would have to walk the whole way. For some reason, putting a sport bean in my mouth and sucking on it seemed to make it go away. Whether it was a great placebo or really had something to do with the carbs in them, I will never know. But hey... it worked. And that means I will forever carry Jelly Belly Sport Beans when I run a marathon!
Mitch was the greatest wingman a girl could ask for. He carried extra gels and water and cheered me on over and over again. He put on 70 miles of riding that day.
This picture is not from race day. I wish I had someone get a pic of us together in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20.
At each aid station, I took both a water and a gatorade. Double fisted drinking!
The last 5K
The end of the race is so vivid in my memory because there were lots of volunteers and spectators.
Every block had a cheer squad. One family had a sprinkler set up in the street. These people were my heros! Mitch said they had a cooler of beer too. Funny people.
My IT Band quit hurting.
As we approached the end right before the last turn, Mitch is telling me that I had done it. I did my first marathon. The words were music to my ears but I had to tell him to shut up. Crying was for the finish line. :-)
On the last turn I expected to see the finish line right there. Nope. It was WAY down the street. I looked at Mitch and said "I thought it would be closer!" I admit... I walked a little on that street too.
But when I got the wind in my sails again, I ran. I ran over the finish as the announcer said my name and jokingly asked me how many marathons I'd done now.
I got my medal and my bottle of water and to my surprise, no tears fell. I was elated.
I felt AWESOME! I did it! All those months of training and I did it! I earned this medal!!!
I made sure to wait around and cheer in some of the runners I had spent time with on the course, or passed along the way. They had all been great companions on the journey, even if our visits were very brief.
Things get a little fuzzy for a while after the race. The adrenaline high was pretty intense. But the shower... that was the big eye opener. It was like Purgatory. Almost Heaven, almost Hell. It felt so good to wash away the sweat and salt... until it hit the chafing. Oh the pain! My poor arms! That cute little shirt that I made wasn't so cute any more. I paid for that big time. I even used an old shirt I had worn on runs many times. For some reason (and early on in the run), the seam under the armpit began to wear a raw spot on my under arm. My battle wound.
Physically, I felt pretty amazing most of the day. I was understandably sore, but not as much as I expected.
We celebrated with Dinner at the Montana Ale Works. Amazing food. Great service.
So, I have heard many tales of how a runner gets across the finish line with "I will never do this again" on their lips. Of course, this often changes and they are signing up for the next one soon enough.
I knew the minute I crossed the line that I will do it again. In fact, I already know which one it will be.... maybe I'll sit on the registration site and get #1. I don't think that I will do the Bozeman Marathon again... at least not 26.2.
There will never be another FIRST marathon. The attention I got from volunteers and runners alike was special. My feelings of awe will probably never be duplicated in future marathons. It was an amazing experience, made extra special by the love and support of my husband and by all the well wishes I received from friends and family via social media.
I hold this experience dear to my heart and it is a memory I will cherish always. I can only hope that as I continue to run and take on new challenges that each will have something special and worthy of remembrance, even if it's not like this.
I EARNED this!
And that my friends, concludes this race recap. Thank you for reading!