Race Report: 2008 White Rock Marathon

December 15, 2008 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Racing | 32 Comments

Time of Day: 8:00 AM

Weather Conditions: Warm. Very windy.

Distance: 26.2 miles

Chip Time: 3:16:19 (Yes! I checked again and they took it down 1 second! It’s like a gift!)

Average Mile Pace: 7:29

Finish Place: Overall-129/3878; Females-13/1452; Age Group-2/113

Notes: This is a long post. I suggest you bring a little Gatorade along for the ride, perhaps make sure you have a high-carb snack before reading. The pictures have not arrived yet, but I promise they are coming.

Saturday afternoon: I’m nervous All. Day.Long, but I make good time on the drive to Dallas and go directly to the race expo in the American Airlines Center, where I meet up with Dan, who is working there. I grab my race packet, chat with Dan, and then go look for Swag. There isn’t much, but I manage to grab a bunch of mini Larabars. I get a special blue race bib because it’s my first marathon. It also has my name on it. Sweet!

I drive up to Dan’s house, where his warm and wonderful family comes out and greets me at the door, herding me inside. His mother is a Marathon Machine, although isn’t racing White Rock. I go inside for Marathon Talk and pasta. Dan’s mother and sister are making signs to take to the race. They distract me with the movie, Death at a Funeral (excellent).

Sunday, 3:15 AM: I awake to a howling wind. I cannot go back to sleep, but lie there awake, thinking about running 26.2 miles in the wind that is literally shaking the wall next to me.

5:00 AM: I decide to get up. I do abs. I roll out my legs. I eat a Snickers Marathon energy bar and a banana and drink lots of water.

6:15 AM: Dan and I leave. Parking is scary, but we survive. Line for the bathroom is scarier. I drink half my Gatorade and realize that I left my emergency Clif Shot in my car. Dan graciously gives me his only Gu and just grabs part of a bagel for his pre-race fuel (he’s running 6 miles in the relay). He is a kind friend. Our warm-up is a jog from the bathroom/bag drop-off to the starting chute.

7:40 AM: The starting chute is insane. We jump over the barricade to get in, and if we had been 5 minutes later, we may not have made it inside at all. However, we’re quite close to the front. Cranky Knee feels a little tight and I wish for a longer warm-up and stretch time, but mostly I’m just excited/nervous and can’t believe that I’m standing in the start chute of my first marathon. And we stand…and stand…and stand…come on already!

8:02 AM: Frank Shorter(!) starts our race!

I don’t know why I thought I needed a warm-up. The start of the race is a slow jog with 17,000 other runners (a combination of marathoners, half marathoners, and relay runners). Dan leaves me immediately and I wonder how he managed to get around people so quickly. It’s a warm day, so I decide to grab Gatorade at mile 2 just to get it in me early. Approximately half a sip goes down my throat. And now it’s mile 2 and I have Gatorade in my eyes. I feel sticky. I grab for the water next time. The water cups are smaller and less full, and I have an easier time getting it down. As in a full sip instead of half. It took a few more tries, but I eventually got some Gatorade down my throat…at the cost of coming to a dead stop for a second and tipping back most of the cup. It was worth it though, I got a little kick right after each cup of Gatorade.

I hear someone cheer for me by name. I’m bewildered until I realize that my name is printed on my bib. People continue to cheer for me throughout the entire race, yelling things like “Yay! Go first-timer!” If you were a spectator at White Rock, thank you so, so much. You have no idea how much this helped me.

The wind really isn’t an issue for most of the first half, but we get to the lake itself and it. is. Awful. I’m afraid that my race bib will be ripped from my body and actually hold it against me a few times. Apparently the heat was an issue for some people. I guess they should have done a 17.5 mile training run in Houston in August without water, because the temperature felt wonderful to me.

I’ve run a few races where the mile markers don’t stand out well enough and I miss them, but I saw every single one during this race. And almost all of them had someone calling out our pace. I kept hitting 7:30, which worried me because I thought I would be around 8:00 and didn’t want to hit a wall later. I even consciously tried to slow down, but continued to hit 7:30. Physically holding back during most of a race was a very new concept for me. I practiced this one my long runs, but I don’t have adrenalin coursing through my body on long runs, nor do I have other racers all around me.

Speaking of the other racers: letting them go by me was another new concept. I had to race without being competitive during most of the marathon. If another female who looked like she might be in my age group went by me, I got a distinct urge to race her. However, I had to be content with letting her pass and continue at my own pace. This is a strange concept to someone who endured 8 years of 5K races in middle school, high school, and college competition. I’ve even raced very competitively in the two half marathons I’ve completed. The marathon was like re-learning how to race.

I remember being very worried around miles 11-13–feeling tired already, heading into the wind, wishing that I was closer to being done. So I slowed my pace (or so I thought) and told myself to just tick off each mile one by one. And so I did, and continued to hit 7:30, but I felt comfortable and certain that I could finish if I just focused on one mile at a time. The miles felt a little faster after I began thinking that way.

I got a little kick around mile 16–a second wind, perhaps? I know mile 16 is a common time to hit the wall for many runners, so I think the combination of relief that I still felt ok and knowing that I was heading into the last 10 miles was responsible for my kick. I passed more people than usual at this point.

I hit mile 20 and it was…momentous. Just a 10K to go, but I was now running farther than I had ever run before. All around me, people were stopping and walking all around me, grimaces of pain on their faces, coaches rushing to their sides with Gu. Really, I couldn’t believe how many people were stopping. And they were strong, fit-looking men, cramping and pulling to the side while little rookie me kept chugging along. It was a bit terrifying, actually, wondering if I was next.

I began to feel terrible around mile 21, but I saw another female in front of me and she looked about my age. Also, she looked just as terrible, so I decided to pass her. Passing her gave me another kick, and I kept going. My legs ached in every spot. My feet just felt…pounded…but I kept my pace. I wanted the emergency Gu, but my stomach began cramping up and I didn’t dare put anything inside. I didn’t even grab water. I pulled out the mental fuel instead, started getting competitive,  and passed a few more people.

I saw Dan’s mom and sister around mile 23. His sister was playing her trumpet, his mother took pictures, they cheered. It was so, so nice to see someone I knew. Good pick with mile 23, Enid and Renee, I needed it.

After that, I was cruising. My body felt terrible–legs were aching, quad was screaming on every hill, slowing me down, stomach was cramping in waves and I was very afraid that I would need a trip to the port-a-potty, but I knew I was almost done. I got a little emotional in the last mile and my eyes actually teared up a few times.

I can’t even begin to describe the finish. I kicked it in hard and heard the spectators screaming my name, although I couldn’t differentiate my sister’s voice from the crowd. I crossed the finish line and the pain in my legs increased immediately. It was difficult to walk. I hobbled to get my hat, another shirt(!), and medal(!!), then hobbled to get my picture taken, then hobbled quickly to a port-a-potty.

Miraculously, I was able to find my sister. We skipped the post-race celebration because she would not have been allowed to participate. Who are these creatures who can drink beer immediately after a race anyway? I didn’t even want to smell that beer. We grabbed my bag and I stretched for awhile, and then we eventually found my car, although it was difficult. Especially with my lack of ability to walk. Dan had to go to work immediately after his race (poor, poor Dan), so it was wonderful that my sister was able to make the drive. I took her to Potbelly Sandwich Works for lunch. Yes, a small sandwich was my post-race meal. I know that disappoints many of you, who probably envisioned me working my way through a table of pancakes and eggs (or maybe twas I who envisioned that), but I did not feel like eating. The sandwich still tasted good, but I didn’t have much of an appetite and ate it just because I knew it was needed.

And then I had to get in the car and drive for 3 hours. Most of my long training runs resulted in long coma-like naps immediately following, so I was a little nervous about the drive home. However, I was on Cloud 9, calling my parents, calling MSB (poor MSB with 2 final exams today), thinking about going to Boston (perhaps…). I stopped a little over halfway to get gas, stretch, get a Driving Americano from Starbucks, and dig the Luna bar out of my trunk.

I felt awful by the time I got home. I think the caffeine was too harsh on my stomach. I felt a little shaky, but at least I finally got to take a shower. Eventually, I actually felt hungry, but didn’t want to make food or go get food, so I ordered pizza from Brooklyn Pie Company.


Now that’s a food reward! A small pizza with olive oil, garlic, cheese, roma tomatoes, and smoked baby clams. The crust was sooo good. I felt better immediately after eating this. Duh Jess, you needed some actual food after running a marathon. Looking back, I hadn’t even eaten enough food for a normal day of non-marathon running. Lesson: Eat!

My legs actually feel better today than yesterday, which I consider a good sign as far as my running goes. I made it to work today and I’m even hoping to hobble around the grocery store after work. I’m excited to sign up for another race and get right back into training, but I’m not sure when I will begin running again. Might be as early as this week, but might wait until next week. It will definitely be after I can walk normally.

This post is getting long, and yet I still feel like I have more writing in me. So, there may be subsequent posts, but I will save them. Pictures will come.

THANK YOU ALL for helping me get through my marathon training. Looking back, I started in late August, so it’s been awhile. The injuries began in October, but somehow I got through them all. Well, the quad isn’t healed, but it survived the marathon so I don’t think it will take long now.

I feel like I’m part of an elite club now. I’m a Marathoner. And I’m going to continue to be a Marathoner. I can’t wait for the next race.

Here’s my pace, broken up into segments:

Start to mile 6: 45 min. 49 sec; 7 min. 22 sec. per mile for 6.214 miles

Mile 6 to mile 13: 50 min. 36 sec; 7 min. 21 sec. per mile for 6.886 miles

Mile 13 to mile 20: 53 min. 38 sec; 7 min. 46 sec. per mile for 6.9 miles

Mile 20 to finish: 46 min. 16 sec; 7 min. 26 sec. per mile for 6.219 miles

So apparently training at 7:35 pace most of the time paid off. I’m especially proud of that last 6.2.



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  1. WOW! reading that was such an inspiration 🙂 CONGRATS again — that is so impressive. such a smartly-run race too!

  2. GREAT report jess!! you did absolutely amazing. CONGRATS on an incredible first marathon!

  3. LOVE it 🙂 you rocked that race! it’s amazing how much the excitement carries you through with a pace you never could’ve imagined. eat eat and eat some more, you must be starving still!

    so proud of you;-) and definately inspriring!

  4. Wow, Jess. You’re such a fighter. I’m sure your years of XC have helped you get here, but running is def in your blood. will you do boston?! i will be there to cheer you on if you do!!!! i don’t even really know you but i am so proud of you 🙂

  5. Congrats on the great run! I will also be running my first marathon in a month and reading your experience just made me even more excited. I am shooting for Boston, but don’t want to pressure myself too much for my first marathon. Are you interested in doing Boston? great job!

  6. You are definitely a Marathoner. I am so inspired by your story – thanks for sharing, and CONGRATULATIONS!

  7. You are SO tough. Just imagining you picking up the pace during the last 10k when everybody else is struggling and slowing down is so unspeakably cool! Don’t be silly about Boston. The only decision you have to make is whether you’re going in 2009 or 2010. 😉 I mean, you DID write “I can’t wait for the next race.” I am just salivating imagining how you’ll run without huge wind gusts blowing you back. (Or maybe it was the pizza.)

    By the way– SECOND in your age group on your 1st try? 13 overall out of females? SO COOL.


  9. Wow Jess you are SO awesome!!! Way to go!
    I loved your report! So exciting!

  10. Thanks everyone!

    Those asking about Boston: Yes, I am very interested. I want to go in 2009, but I want friend/family to travel with me, so I’m feeling it out, checking others schedules, doing a little planning, etc.

  11. What an awesome time! Great job!

    And that is awesome to have your name on your bib and for not letting any woman that looks your age pass you, you competitive wild woman! 🙂

  12. You are unbelieeeeeeeevable

  13. Also YES come run Boston!! I will scream for you so hard your head will spin! 🙂

  14. Great post!! So inspirational, really.

  15. congrats! sounds like a good race!

    and its funny to here you talk about the warm weather, cause im sitting at my desk in a northface and a parka, freezing!

  16. awesome job! you totally blew it away!! hope you are recovering well.

  17. You did a great job! I really enjoyed reading your race report.

    That feeling of letting people pass you, it’s one of the most nerve-wracking feelings ever, but it’s pretty important in a longer race.

    Again, congrats! You got an amazing time for your first marathon!

  18. Loooove the race report. Again, you did an awesome job and I loved reading your recap! You’d think you were a seasoned marathoner from given awesome first experience! Soon you will be 😉

  19. dang girl! you totally rocked that race!! congrats!!

  20. Hi- Found your blog while browsing the Runner’s World forum. I ran yesterday, too. HILARIOUS that you know the girl who was playing the trumpet! She definitely gave me a boost. Congratulations on your first and here’s to many more!

  21. so impressive and you FOR SURE are part of an elite club. I think we (you? who can say :)) can forget how elite it really is as there are a few great bloggers who run marathons (whom I read often) but when we step back? the world as a whole? FEW FEW PEOPLE DO WHAT YOU DID.

    I certainly havent…

  22. Awesome. Just awesome. Wonderfully consistent times with a bump UP (!?) over the final 10k!! Phenomenal. What have you been doing over the last few years if NOT running marathons. You must be a natural. Great job! And to think they say the biggest improvement comes between the first and second one.

  23. Thanks for the recap!! That post makes me nervous/excited to try a race myself. You are one tough chica to keep on fighting til the end despite feeling awful at points. What you talked about re:not passing people is exactly what I worry about… I can even go for a morning run without competing with the other runners… yet I know in a really long race like a marathon or a half you can’t do that.

  24. Just amazing Jessica, congrats!

  25. Blogring for white+rock+marathon…

    Related Blog Entries…

  26. Congrats on an absolutely amazing first marathon!!! That time is stunning and being able to speed up that last 10K is amazing.

    I ran my first one a few weeks ago (nowhere near as fast as yours, mind you) and the feeling of finishing still makes me shiver sometimes

  27. Congrats marathoner!

  28. wow. great post. great race. i ran that race and didnt feel nearly as good as you did. unbelievable!

  29. […] that note, here are some pictures from White Rock. I got my commemorative collage in the mail last night, scanned it, and separated the photos for […]

  30. […] These are all in random order, by the way. 4 favorite memories from 2008: 1. Running the White Rock Marathon […]

  31. […] So, I’m good for shoes, but the Nimbus 9s have a special place in my heart. They were my first marathon shoes, after […]

  32. […] Today is the 8th day after Big D Marathon and I have now gone running four times. After White Rock Marathon, I waited eight days before running at all, so today would have been my first run back if I had […]

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