After more than five months of training, I finished my first marathon â€“ the Rock â€˜n’ Roll Arizona on January 14, 2018. I had never been more nervous for a race. Â I had calls with my coach the day before and morning of the race. His last piece of advice to me was, â€œBreathe.â€
Being around friendly fellow racers helped too. They all had words of encouragement when they heard it was my first complete marathon.
Spectators Matter and Dogs!
The spectators for this race are awesome. Seeing their faces and hearing them cheer makes a difference. Some set up extra water stations; handed out orange slices, bacon, and beer; and held up signs. Hat tip to the spectators who made multiple appearances along the route. I was happy to see so many people with their dogs along the race route. Each one made me smile.
Your Backside Matters
More racers need to understand that their backside is entertainment for the people running behind them. I want to see more shoulder and calf tattoos and shirts with interesting backs. Several racers during the last 7 miles complemented the back of my shirt as they passed me. One said it was â€œdirty lieâ€ because we were only at Mile 19. I responded that my shirt doesn’t say, â€œLast Mile.â€
Watching so many people’s backs confirmed my idea of getting a variation of the Ignite Phoenix bird tattooed on my right shoulder blade and wearing t-back tank tops on race day.
How do these People Know my Name?
At several water stations, the volunteers cheered for me by name. I thought, â€œDo I know them? How do they know my name?â€ as I examined their faces for something familiar. And then I remembered, â€œOh right, it’s on my bib.â€
â€œCoach, It Hurts.â€
By Mile 20, I was in pain, and seriously contemplating whether I could finish the race without walking. I was afraid if I started walking, I wouldn’t be able to start running again. A frequent thought that crossed my mind was, â€œCoach, it hurts.â€
During my training, I did a 23.8-mile run. Coach David said my body could handle the 26.2-mile distance, even if I had to walk the last miles.
I didn’t want to walk, or entertain that possibility, so I flipped from thinking about the pain to distracting myself by mentally going through gymnastics routines. (I was a gymnast for 17 years. I’ve completed many challenging runs with this trick.)
Mile 23 â€“ 5K to go
At 5K to go, there was no way I was going to walk. Even exhausted and in pain, I could run a 5K. At the water station at Mile 24, a volunteer cheered, â€œLooking strong Ruth!â€ I didn’t feel strong, but appreciated it.
Mile 25 had the steepest hill on the course. I had some choice words for the organizers at that moment, and then I thought, â€œThis is why I train on hills.â€
I had a good end of the race, coming down the hill at the end of the Mill Ave Bridge and turning the corner towards the finish line. I raised my arms and smiled as I crossed the finish line. Despite being in pain, I look happy in all my photos from the race.
I started walking after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t want to stop moving because I knew more pain would set in.
Oh, and did it hurt. I had pain in my hips, quads, knees, and feet. I had been dealing with a sore ankle for the last week and taped it with KT Tape for the race. It did remarkably well during the race; I felt no pain until I took the tape off post-race.
I hurt so much after the race, I couldn’t get comfortable enough to nap after I got home and showered. Instead, I laid in bed for an hour and watched YouTube on my phone. I had Gatorade and chocolate milk after the race, and I didn’t want to eat for a few hours after the race.
The next day I had substantially less pain than I expected. Most of pain was in my quads. Surprisingly, I’m not going to lose any toenails from the race. I only lost one during training.
Got the Bug
I’ve heard marathoners are one-and-done or get the marathon bug. Even before this race ended, I was thinking about my next race. My goal for this race was to just finish. Now, I want to see if I can improve my time and feel stronger.
Here are my stats from this race:
Finish Time: 4:44:37
344/809 Gender (Women’s)