On the anniversary AKA runiversary of my very first race, the Newport 5k four years ago, I will provide my race recap of my first marathon, the Newport Marathon! I thoroughly enjoy the fact that it all started in Newport, and came ‘full’ circle to have my first marathon also in Newport. (See what I did there?)
I guess I’ll just go in order of events, then talk about some other things I wanted to touch base on. Saw the PT the Wednesday before and got dry needling done in both legs – YES! Actually felt really sore right up until race day. I tried to be conscious of my food and drink a few days before – lots of carbs like pizza, pasta and potatoes, protein like chicken and steak, and PLENTY of water and Nuun. There is actual science to carbo loading before a race and I can attest that it works. Greg and I arranged to have the girls sleep over his parents’ house the night before the race. I hadn’t been getting the best sleep, and I knew I needed it, especially that night. Got my race outfit, fuel, and anything else I was going to need the night before, and went to bed.
My internal clock woke me up at 4am – it was ready for a long run, just as I had trained it to do all summer long. It was raining… And I knew it would be, sometimes the weather is unpredictable, and sometimes it’s spot on. Hurricane Matthew had no intentions on giving me a break, unfortunately. We get our stuff and we’re off to Newport – me and Greg.
We get to Newport and hit the toll booth, and the guy says “You running today?” and I say “Yup!” He says “On a Sunday… in this weather… on purpose?” and we all kind of chuckled at my second “Yup!” response. We get to our designated parking lot, on Second Beach, it’s pouring outside. Greg brought the bicycle, so he can find me at multiple points of the race. I gather everything I need, hit the porta potty, and jump on the shuttle by myself. Greg planned on relaxing until he needs to ride the bike to the start. I sit next to a man who runs marathons every weekend. We talk about fueling and different professional runners, etc. A few minutes later, we’re at Easton’s Beach. Marathon man leaves, as he still has to go get his stuff. I already have my bib, so I just wait under the rotunda until it’s time to warm up. I see Donna Mathias (who was also running her first full) and we chat and wonder where my mom, Lucy, and Robin (running the half marathon) are. We pass the time. It’s actually not too bad out, temperature-wise, I mentally plan to throw my jacket off to Greg when I see him on the course.
At about 7am, I start warming up. The PT gave me a few new things to do, so off I went, plastic poncho and all. I find Greg and he gives me a good luck kiss. I find my mom and the girls (Robin and Lucy) who also give me good luck kisses! “This is your race”, Momma says.
I line up at the start. We’re told that there would be 3 waves, however, after the first wave went out, the announcer says the second and third waves will be combined. Great… well, I’m definitely towards the back regardless. I’m searching and searching for Emily, a virtual friend, and fellow BAMR with peacock-colored capris on… but she’s in the sea of runners, and I can’t find her. Next time, Emily – we must meet! I ditch the poncho, check any last ‘good luck’ texts, start my Motigo app (that has 30 cheers in the queue!), and mute my Spotify app. Beyoncé is singing the National Anthem, and I’m crying with my hand over my heart, staring at a woman raising an American flag that she will carry for 13.1 miles. I’m thinking “Wow, Meaghan, you’re already crying and we haven’t even started yet” and thoughts like “I’m here, I’m actually about to run a marathon. I can do hard things. All this work and it’s finally here. I GET TO DO THIS!”
7:37am and I’m off! I turn my music on and go. Not even a tenth of a mile in and my right foot lands right in a puddle… from that point I just said ‘screw it’ to trying to avoid them. The goal was no longer to stay dry, but to stay safe. I didn’t want to come all this way to roll an ankle attempting to avoid some water. The water was inevitable, so I let it be. I hear “Fight Song” and Rachel Platten is singing about small boats on the ocean, and here I am, looking at the Atlantic. There’s a lot of activity for it being so early, lots of spectators, cheering, taking pictures and blowing bubbles on Memorial Boulevard and it’s a great atmosphere.
I’m cruising, finding my happy pace. Not much to report for awhile. I hear “Work This Body” by Walk The Moon and the lyrics says “And I will work this body I will burn this flame, Oh in the dead of night, and in the pouring rain, Yeah, I’m a workaholic and I swear, I swear. Yeah, and one day I will beat you fair and square”. I’m thinking that this song is really speaking to me – I’m going to beat this marathon in the pouring rain, fair and square.
Then, I’m at mile 4+ and I hear the first set of cheers from Motigo – one of my best friends, Rebecca, and my awesome coworker Megan’s daughter, telling me to ‘move my lazy butt’ and another one from a coworker, Jean! They’re great! This app really boosts my mood and now I’m really singing… loudly. “Anyway You Want It” the Glee-covered Journey song. I think I’m singing well, too. Going… going… going… wicked windy on Ocean Avenue, and some seagulls almost poop on my head. I hear more cheers from Megan and her girls, one from Auntie Karen and another from my best friend, Melissa (along with some “Eye of the Tiger” for an extra boost). Anyways… still going and I see Greg at mile 9.5 on the corner of Bellevue Avenue. He’s shocked to see me. “You’re doing f*cking awesome!” and I said “Thanks! I haven’t stopped at all to walk, yet!” and then he said something about how he didn’t think he’d see me for another 45 minutes, but I kind of misheard it, as the music and I were going strong. I decide I’m going to keep my jacket, because I’m comfortable. I shout that my knees were a little sore but OK and I head off towards the mansions. At the 10 mile marker, Megan and the girls are telling me “C’mon Meaghan, you can do it… You got this, Meaghan… You can do it – C’MON!”
I’m at the half way mark and so far, I’ve eaten a pack a GU chews, and 3 GU gels. I carried my handheld bottle with Nuun in it and have already refilled it at one of the water stops. I had lots of practice with my fuel over the course of the training and I had a really good handle on it during the race. I was feeling good. I hear “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “Hooked on a Feeling” and think of my children and smile and sing. Then, more cheers! “Lucky number 13” as a couple people pointed out. My Mike left me encouraging words of how I’m an inspiration, Melissa tells me how proud she is, accompanied with another awesome song, Megan and the girls remind me I’m half way and to keep going, my old boss, Jim, leaves me a message from NH to tell me how proud he is and how all my training is paying off. Jean is back with another great cheer and I hear my first message from my kids. I lose it (again). “Love you Mommy, have a good time on your race, we know you can do it… No, Maddie, I do it. Love you, Mommy! You can do it!” So, that starts with Maddie and my in laws talking and eventually Morgan butts in to give me her own message, rightfully so. But, this brings tears to my eyes and I love it.
I run straight towards the half marathon finish line, and this is a mental hurdle… I have to stay to the right, and pretend like I don’t see people cheering and clapping and having their photo taken as they finish THEIR race… I’m only half way done. So, I just keep my head up and go. I grab a GU and proceed. Greg is there and assures me that I’m fine and to keep going. I miss my mom and the others with my apparent tunnel vision. Off I go towards Middletown.
This part of the race is mostly residential. Not as much to report on, scenery-wise. I run past the parking lot where my car is, fuel some more. I think I ate a banana at this point. I see Greg again (I hear “Take On Me” by A-ha and “Astronauts” by Rachel Platten and think of Greg and smile). He hands off 2 more GUs for me, just in case I need them. I’m starting to lose some steam. I hear several cheers from BAMRs in the Train Like a Mother marathon program, like Amy, who reminds me to relax, trust my training and soak in this whole experience. And Melinda, who was tells me how strong I am and how proud she is of me. Then makes me giggle at the fact that she’d be just starting her marathon at that moment on the west coast in Portland. Shelley reminds me to cast all the doubt of finishing a marathon and how strong I am into the Atlantic and to think of all the miles behind me, to dig deep and own this race. I also hear a very comical cheer from my Kayla and Jaxson – Kay tells me how proud she is of me and how badass I am. Jaxson is NOT badass, right Kay? 🙂 More fabulous cheers from Megan’s girls. Another coworker, Jodi, sends good vibes and can’t wait to hear all about the race next week. I hear one that makes me cry… from a coworker, who likes to bust my chops often, but we are good friends. He tells me how I am a great person to talk to and for ‘just being you’, then tells me I’m on my way to becoming a champion.
So, I hear all these AWESOME cheers… and then I stop. I walk for a few seconds. I’m tired. I’m drenched. The wind is awful, so much worse now. And it’s cold. Very cold. I’m happy I kept my jacket, because I’d be shivering much worse if I had lost it. Then I run again. I see people behind me (not many), but I know I’m not last (which, really, who cares if I was). We still had 10 more miles to go at this point. I spot a photographer, looks like he takes my picture, but maybe not. You can’t see my bib under my jacket, but it doesn’t matter to me. At this point, I’m not making the extra effort to lift the jacket to show my bib. Everything is so heavy from being soaked. I hear “Love on Top” from Beyoncé and think of my little sister Katy. I hear “Lose Yourself” by Eminem and think of Deb. I hear “Dream On” by Aerosmith and think of my Dad. I hear “Confident” by Demi and think of Jilly. I hear “Roman’s Revenge” by Nicki Minaj and think of Emma at work (who logged miles with me, as she trained for her first half).
I stop again to walk. It’s like breaking the seal when you’ve had too much to drink… if you stop once… you have a tendency to stop again… and again. Side note: I’ve never run more than 8 miles non-stop, nevermind 16. So, I take this in stride. I’m extremely proud of myself for this accomplishment. End note.
Mile 18 – what a disaster. If you look at my mile splits, you’d think I had hit the wall. On the contrary, there was no wall. Let the record be known. After I heard the last song on the playlist, “Defying Gravity” from Wicked – with good thoughts of Mike, I replayed the playlist and… I lost all audio on my phone. The music had been so vital for me – it kept me constant. And then it just stopped. It muted. So, I turned it back up. Muted again. My theory is it was so wet, the volume down button got stuck. This sucked. I won’t sugar-coat it. I needed to tough it out. Now was the time to really dig deep, mentally. My only concern… how will I get my remaining cheers?
Mile 19 comes and so do more cheers. I hear the chime and get excited! I hit the volume up button over and over to make sure it doesn’t lower. Megan is there, assuming I’m sick of hearing her voice and telling me to run a little quicker, so I won’t have to hear her much longer. I laugh. Another message from Maddie sending me good running vibes. “You can do it, Mommy”. Yes, I can, Maddie. I hear the chime of the next message, but there’s nothing there. I find out later it is my current boss, saying “Thanks for showing up” – which is an inside joke and would’ve meant a lot to hear. Knowing he did that is enough for me. Another BAMR message – this one from Jenn who sends me all her energy, that I “scoop up” and carry with me to kick this marathon’s a**! Another from Melissa, playing one of my FAVORITE songs “Can’t Fight the Moonlight” by LeeAnn Rhimes and tells me to ‘take that, world’, and as always, sends lots of love. Auntie Karen comes through again with love and encouragement.
I’m plugging along, run/walking and I talk to a few others on the course. A couple marathon veterans and one girl who it is also her first. So, we bond over that for a couple minutes. We’re still smiling, even though everything hurts. My knees have the most painful sensation. Not the IT Band pain I’m used to feeling. Something new. Something awful. I’m trying to pin point how and why I feel this way. I think it’s from being soaking wet, and in turn, carrying extra weight, and being very cold; the pounding is killing my knees. That has to be it. Well, I have to keep going. At mile 21, my car drives by me and beeps… it’s Greg and my cousin Cassie and Rebecca! I’m so surprised and grateful to see some friendly faces. At this point in the race, it was desolate. Just long long roads of no one and nothing. It was draining. Cassie offers me dry socks, but it’s a lost cause. They take off and I do, too.
Onto mile 22. This was the slowest. Mostly walking, trying to recover a little bit before the big push to the end. One woman asked if this was my first marathon and I say “yes, and last”, and she says “Nooo, they’re not all this bad!” I hear more cheers (volume up up up!), it’s Beth, from run club telling me to RUN (how did she know I’d be walking!?) and reminds me how strong I am. Momma comes in “Meg, this is your race. You got it. Just a little more and you’ll make it to the finish line. Love you! See you at the finish”. Rebecca has me laughing at her next cheer, recalling when we were 22 years old and taking shots! Oh, Beck, you’re the best. Megan is back to remind me that I’m rocking it. BAMR Nicole says I’m awesome, and rocking and to keep going and everyone is cheering and rooting for me. Kim (who I go WAY back to over a year ago with) left me 2 messages, but I got neither for some reason. But, I’m sure she told me not to barf! I take more GU and water, pull up my big girl pants and go.
The last 4 miles consist of a lot of positive self-talk and negative splits. Still slow going, but forward progress, nonetheless. I just go. The race people were pulling over in the car asking if I was OK, panicking, I knew I’d be close to the 6 hour cutoff, but we were not escorted off. So that was good. Just keep swimming. Mile 24, final cheers! Megan telling me we run more than these final remaining miles on our lunch hour (good point). Beth, again. Telling me to run, again. Tough love from her, but I needed to hear it. Melissa’s last cheer- so proud of me and lots of love. I see a cheer from BAMR Sharyl, but it doesn’t come through – so sad. One last one from Jean at work, reminding me that my dreams are coming true. And the final cheer came from my sister, Katy, saying I’m going to BEAST the end and we’re going to pop champagne to celebrate. Heck yes!
I’m almost done, at mile 24 or 25 and I see the bright yellow rain coat running towards me. It’s Cassie! She is such a sight for sore eyes. I have someone to talk to you, and distract me from the misery that is happening below my knees. I tell her we need to run. That I need to beat the girl behind me. So, we do. We run to the end. She steps off to the side and I see the home stretch.
It’s right there. I see a volunteer and ask “Where do I go?” and she replies “Just follow the cowbells!” and there is my family and friends, ringing those cowbells and cheering my name. The race announcer congratulates me and they place the medal around my neck as I cross my marathon finish line with my arms up high. Another volunteer throws a heat sheet around my shoulders and everyone greets me at the finish line. So many tears. It’s a dream come true. It’s my Momma, my big sister Ashley, my sister Lauren, Robin and Lucy, my Auntie Linda and cousin Ryan, it’s my best friend Rebecca and my best friend and cousin Cassie and especially, my husband Greg.
My time was 6:07 and I felt like a rockstar. Would I do it again? I have no idea! It’s like asking a new mom if they’ll have another baby right after their first is born… let me enjoy this one first!
I have had the best support system during the past year, but my husband is #1. I can’t thank him enough for everything.
As you can tell, I’ve enjoyed keeping track of all the details. If you want to see the chronicles of my marathon journey, check out the hashtag #meaghansmarathon on Instagram.
Things I wouldn’t change:
-The training. It works, I wouldn’t touch it. And it really enjoyed it. Even the taper, I was sceptical… but, alas, I had fresh legs on race day.
-The fuel. Again, it works for me.
-Motigo – I HIGHLY recommend using this app.
Things I would change:
-My form suffers the farther I run. No brainer.
-Running a marathon is a religious experience; Asking God to just get you to the next mile/telephone pole/water stations/etc. Praising God for giving you this ability to do this. Cursing God for allowing you to be in this much pain.
-This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
-It’s gotten me in the best shape of my adult life.
-There are so many people and groups of people who helped me across the finish line and I couldn’t have done it without them.
-Over the course of 23 weeks of training, I never found my race pace.
-I wish my GU was laced with Percocet. This became my mantra.
-I am a great (and loud) singer and air guitarist/drummer when I’m running.
-Desitin = life changing
-I’m now in the less than 1% of the world’s population- I AM A MARATHONER!!