Good morning everyone…I am officially a marathoner!
I wanted to post yesterday and let you all know how my race went but I was having a hard time walking and all I wanted to do was lay down. 🙂 Today I am a little sore but feeling good and ready to get back to training with Jen and planning for our Couch to 5K race in April!
But before I go out for my next run, I want to tell you all about my very first marathon!
The day started great with all my best running friends meeting to ride together to the starting line. The morning was chilly but not nearly as cold as promised…in the mid 40’s and perfect running weather.
In the starting corrals we met up with the rest of our running group and huddled together for warmth.
Dena Stolp, Katie Boucher, and I trained long and hard and were ready for our marathon! Everyone else trained just as hard for their half marathon…all to benefit the fight against Breast Cancer here in Jacksonville. This is the 8th year of this awesome event for a The Donna Foundation which raises funds exclusively for those living on The First Coast with Breast Cancer.
When the gun went off our plan was to start with our regular running group at a 2/1 run/walk internal with a goal of a 5 hour finish time. Dena and I, the most competitive of the group, started pulling ahead around mile 3 and started our own 2/:30 intervals to pick up the pace just a bit. We use a Gym Boss to keep us on track with our intervals.
Miles 6-9 were on the beach and it was windy but beautiful! At this point we were keeping about a 10:30 min mile and feeling really good.
About mile 10 Dena, who has been suffering from a severe upper leg injury, starting hurting pretty bad and needed to slow down. She wanted me to run my race and finish with a good time so she urged me to go on ahead.
As much as I wanted to stay together, my original goal was to finish under 5 hours, so I pressed on and started to gain speed again. Now by myself, it was time to focus on my finish time and I quickly had my pace under a 10 min mile.
I have to take a minute to mention how awesome the crowd support is on this race. The entire course is through the beautiful areas along Jacksonville Beach including several communities. There was not a moment when I was truly alone. People line the course shouting encouragement the entire race!
By mile 15, I spotted the Galloway 4:45 pace group just ahead and me and knew I was in a position to finish with a very strong time so I pressed on with my new goal to finish ahead of that 4:45 pace group. By mile 17 I caught up and passed them!
So the next few miles were all about keeping my pace and just putting 1 foot in front of the other. It was getting hard. Every step was a struggle and all I could think about was getting through each two-minute interval to my next :30 walk. But that kept me going and I never faltered, running when the clock said run and making the most out of each walk.
As I counted down each mile and knew the end was getting closer, I started to really feel the pain. Mile 20-22 were tough because I had a sharp pain starting in my left knee. Many years ago, I was in a car accident and suffered from an injury that required surgery on my knee and it has given me problems since. But no way was I going to let it slow me down!
At mile 23, I saw the bridge, a beast which I knew was coming and was ready to conquer!
Along the route my amazing family, my step-father and sister, Bernie Mortenson and Susana Napolitan, were there at several points to cheer me on. For anyone who runs races, they know how much this means! Each time I saw them gave me a little boost to keep going. The bridge was no exception. My mother, a thirty year veteran of road races, was standing at the top of the bridge. She had already completed the half marathon and came back to give me the motivation I need to go the last 2 miles.
With the finish line in site, I saw everyone else who had also completed their race and waited another two hours to see me finish. My best friends, Heather Cumbo and Stacey Penn Clark, along with Bernie and Susana, my Aunt Loretta, also a long time road racer and her husband Phil, Paula and Katie’s parents were all along the last quarter-mile taking pictures and cheering me on. What a way to finish!
I crossed the finish line with an official time of 4 hours 38 minutes and 58 seconds! (4:38:58) Well under 5 hours, and well ahead of that 4:45 pace group! 🙂
I hobbled back to gear check, grabbed my stuff, and went back to the finish line to wait and see Dena and Katie finish. Both did amazing! Katie finished in just over 5 hours and Dena, feeling like she was about to die, finished strong, running across the finish line even with her injury. We grabbed her a wheelchair and were off to take photos!
What an amazing day! Everyone finished! Everyone was hungry!
After months of training, many struggles along the way, and tons of memories, we did it! My mom, Ginny Mortenson, was my biggest fan. I will always credit her for passing on her love of running to me. I hope to keep running races together and pray I will stay healthy and fit enough to press forward in the years to come.
Will I run another marathon? Right now, I don’t really know. I love half marathons and have another one planned in two weeks, but the full marathon is a whole other beast. For now, I am going to focus on beating my current Half Marathon PR (personal record) of 2:07:08.
Maybe the New York Marathon in 2016? Who knows what the future holds 😉
Inspired to run but don’t know how to get started? Jen and I are working towards her very first 5K with the Couch to 5K program using a similar run/walk interval. Couch to 5K programs are easy to follow and are a great way to get started. They even have free apps you can download to your phone which give you step by step directions and will get you to the finish line! Join Jen and I at our race in April, or find a local 5K race and get running!
For those who are already runners but want to train for a half or full marathon, check out the Galloway training program. This plan give you weekly training schedules that will have you running your first half or full marathon in no time!
No matter if you are a beginner, a walker, or a long time runner, don’t ever stop being active!