I can’t believe it’s already been more than a week since I ran my first marathon! When I decided that I wanted to run a marathon before I graduated from college, The Louisiana Marathon pretty much won in a landslide. No travel, no hotel, no lottery entry, and the course ran through my beloved training routes. AND my mom would come down to walk the half.
The height of training wrapped up with a 20 miler right before New Years. Thankfully I had the last bit of winter break and the start of spring semester to distract me from the “taper crazies” (going a stir crazy when I cut my mileage from 40 mi/week to 5 mi/week).
Race weekend started with a quiet Saturday morning in bed with Netflix. I was able to eat breakfast, unlike the day before my first half, so this was a good sign! Mom got into town about 1 and we went downtown to meet Paige and Kayla for the expo. We picked up our shirts and race numbers and the signed art print Mom got me for Christmas. After walking around the expo a few times, I decided on a 26.2 car sticker and a “GEAUX26.2″ shirt.
Wary of spending too much time on my feet, we didn’t stay too long at the expo. Mom and I went to Magpie Cafe for a snack and then I introduced her to Trader Joe’s. We went home to lay out our clothes for the next day and had a late dinner with Paige at Boutin’s. They had a live zydeco band, so that plus a big bowl of crawfish etouffee helped settle my nerves a little!
Saturday night, I watched a little Netflix and then surprised myself by actually getting some sleep. Sunday came dark and early. I ate breakfast (banana, Luna bar, pb sandwich) while I got dressed and then it was time to go! Eeep!
The race started in front of the state capital and headed through downtown to LSU. My plan was to take it slow and soak it all in. The first 11 miles or so were easy. Thoughts were good, legs were light. I couldn’t believe it was really happening, and the miles through LSU were AH-MAZING. I ran by where I work, and Tiger Stadium, and around the lakes and the parade ground. All I could think was “I love this place!”
Miles 11-15 were kind of a blur – this is where the full split from the half and there were a lot fewer runners at this point. My race photo from that segment was ROUGH.
15-22 were a mental battle. This stretch was an out-and-back through a residential area. The hardest part was being at mile 16 or so and seeing the runners already at mile 22. At mile 16, the Clif Shots I had been taking every 3-4 miles started tasting like cement, so I resorted to sipping powerade and eating orange slices at the aid stations. I was run/walking at this point too, and very grateful for the track sprints I had done each week.
At 22, I felt AMAZING, so I stepped up the sprints but still held back. I was scared of “hitting the wall” but managed to avoid that. When I still felt great at mile 24, I let loose. I gave those last 2.2 miles everything I had left (and passed lots of runners along the way. Can you say confidence boost?!). I crossed the finish line, sobbing the entire way. It was a total girl moment, but I was in shock that it was over and that I had actually done it. I had actually run 26.2 miles. I got my medal, hugged Mom and Kayla, and searched out some food.
I want to talk about course support for a minute. Louisiana certainly knows how to do things right when it comes to a party. The volunteers were INCREDIBLE. They had advil and candy and posters and dancing babies and cheered for me by name (which was printed on my race bib, but I kept forgetting). To add to that, Mom was cheering at mile 25, when she knew I would need it most. All that, plus my friend Allie ran over to the race course from her house to cheer for me at 730 on a Sunday morning. I knew she would be out at mile 3, and she was, with a poster that said RUN. Best poster on the course if you ask me! But I got a bonus treat to see her and Jacee again when the course passed by again at 10.5! Allie, among many other friends, let me ramble on about “my marathon” for the past few months, and for that I am grateful!
So would I run another marathon? Yes. One day – for a charity or with a friend. (If you had asked me this at mile 17, the answer would have been a big fat no, so the week since the race has given a little perspective.)
Mom and I showered and got burgers and milkshakes before she had to head back home. I’m so glad she got to be down here for this experience, and I don’t think I could have imagined a better weekend. Spring semester of my senior year of high school, I struggled to run the one required mile. Senior year of college, I ran 26.2 miles. The marathon was difficult and rewarding and a little crazy and one more incredible memory to add all that Baton Rouge already held.