Charleston Marathon 2014: Before the Race

I started writing a race recap but quickly realized that I had a whole weekend of experience I wanted to remember, not just the race itself. It was just too much to put into one post so I'm splitting it into 2 parts.

Thursday I had class until 11, then came home to run my last 2 miles before the marathon. I had gone back and forth over doing those 2 miles or just skipping them (giving me 2 rest days instead of 1), but run Thursday/rest Friday/long run Saturday has been my schedule for a long time now, I stuck with it. I honestly don't think it helped or hurt me in any way, but it might have helped me mentally just a little bit (I think I would have started to go super crazy with 2 days off from running).

After a quick run we packed up the car and got on the road. I was on an emotional roller coaster all dat. One minute I was fine, the next minute I started to get anxious. I started to think that maybe driving down Thursday was a mistake, since I still had all day Friday to freak out! When we got into Charleston we met my cousin for dinner at an Italian restaurant carb loading FTW. After dinner we headed to my grandparents', where we were staying, and talked to them for a little bit before heading to bed. We were both exhausted!

Friday morning we slept in a little bit before getting ready to head to the expo. I really wanted to pick up my bib ASAP, and I was hoping to purchase some merchandise to commemorate my first marathon. I have had a design from last year's marathon as the background on my phone for the last 3+ months
and I was really hoping to pick up a hoodie of it.

It was surreal seeing the word "FULL" next to my name when I looked up my bib number. And again when I picked up my bib. And again when I verified that my timing chip worked. Not gonna lie, I felt like I was part of the "cool group." On the other hand, I also felt like a total impostor. Like when it flashed up on the computer screen when I checked my chip, I almost wanted to look around and be like, "I hope nobody saw that because full?! Lol, no, not me!"

I knew the expo was going to be smaller than what I am used to, but in the back of my head I think I had held out hope that it would be a bigger event than it was. On the bright side, it being smaller made packet pick-up easy. My next stop was to get my race shirt. I saw a few days before that I had put medium for my shirt size but probably needed a small - no biggie, I was sure I could exchange it. I asked the volunteer who gave me the shirt about exchanging and she told me nope, not gonna happen today, but I could do it after the race. That irritated me a little bit since I have never not been able to exchange my size (most races I've done have a whole shirt exchange table set up!), then I got really irritated when no one could even tell me where I would need to go after the race to exchange it. (For the record, I ended up exchanging it no problem race morning). Also, can we just talk about this shirt for a second?

Crickets...Yeah, that's what I thought. I'm not a huge fan. If it didn't have the significance that it does, I'd probably just toss it in a drawer and never look at it again.

After the race shirt debacle came the hoodie debacle. They didn't have the exact hoodie I was looking for, as pictured above. My only option was a size too big, and with a guy on the back instead of a girl. They had shirts from this year (luckily last year's don't say the specific year, just "3rd Annual") but I didn't like the design. I know it's a silly thing to get worked up about, but I'm extremely sentimental for one (and really wanted that specific hoodie since that picture has been my constant reminder of what this means to me for the last few months), and I was already on edge anyway. I was starting to cry and I didn't know what to do, so I walked out of the gym and just started walking down a hallway. My husband caught up to me and gave me a hug and talked me down. I walked back through the expo again and decided to purchase this shirt from Fleet Feet, just so I had something actually wearable from this event.

I was still sad about the hoodie and must have walked through the expo 2 more times, stopping at their booth each time, looking and sounding like a crazy person. Finally my husband convinced me to just go ahead and get it, that way I have it (Arrested Development anyone?).

With that finally settled, we left the expo. Ready or not, I was all set to run my first marathon!

After the expo, my parents were getting into town, so we went back to my grandparents' to meet up with them. My dad, husband, grandma, and I went out a little bit later to drive around, and we ended up driving a lot of the marathon course. I had already watched a video of the course, but driving it gave me a lot better sense of the course. I hadn't planned to do this, and at the time I wasn't sure I really wanted to (there were parts that looked long and boring and I was thinking maybe it would have been better to not know that ahead of time), but it actually did help me to know where I was a little bit better on race day. 

Later that night I of course made my traditional, pre-long run pasta for dinner. I finalized my playlist. I almost forgot to eat my Cheerios (another ritual). Before I went to bed, I laid out all my gear just to make sure I had everything. I am so glad I remembered gloves. I never even considered that it might be cold enough for them, but for some reason on my last run the thought occurred to me to pack them just in case!

On Saturday, the morning of the race, the first thing I felt when I woke up was relief. Is that weird? I had been anticipating this day for sooo many months now, and for it to finally be here really felt like a weight off my shoulders. Even though I hadn't done anything yet. As I was getting ready I felt some nerves, but I was much calmer than I thought I'd be.

Before we left I found out something I already pretty much figured out, but it was supposed to be a secret: my dad was running the half marathon! I had hoped for us to do the full together (would have been his first also), but then he got injured. The half seemed better than nothing (both races run together for the first ~almost 10 miles), but that didn't look too promising for a while either, so he had me thinking he wasn't running at all. But it turns out he was planning to surprise me all along!

On the way to the race, I made my husband scribble some motivational quotes on my hands. I made him do this before a half marathon I was trying to PR last year, so now it's just kind of....a thing for big races (unfortunately it doesn't work for triathlon...swimming and all, ya know). My life rule is, "You can never have too many motivational quotes on your person."

We got to the race about 30 minutes before the start. It was in the 30's at the start, much colder than I ever expected! I was worried about this race being too hot for me, but that was not a problem today. We mostly hung out in the gym where it was warm! 

With about 10 minutes to go, I REALLY needed to nervous pee one last time but the porta-potty lines were ridiculously long. I was standing in line at 7:55 - 5 minutes to go - when I decided I'd just go along the course if I still had to. As I was walking to the start line, some other people were running into some bushes to pee - so my mom stood in front of me while I did too. No shame. The race announcer was actually counting down the last minute while I was mid-pee. Not exactly how I expected to spend those last seconds before my first marathon!

And...that's how I got to the start line of my first marathon! I keep track of all my running data nerd alert and at the moment I took this photo, I had exactly 1723.03 lifetime running miles under my belt. Only 26.2 more and I would be a marathoner!


  1. That's so awesome your dad could do the half! I like the idea of the motivational quotes! Haha I'm nervous about the bathroom situation at my race because I'm really good at the nervous pee! Can't wait to hear about the race!

  2. So sorry about all the expo drama.