What it feels like to run your first marathon.


I might not look happy in that photo, but I really, really am.

When Tony and I pulled into the University of Southern Maine parking garage, it was torrential rain. I looked out at the runners around me (who were intelligently wearing rain jackets or trash bags, which I did not think to do), and I thought, “Do I really want to put myself through this for five-plus hours? Really?”

That was the only point in this whole training experience where I really, really wondered if I had it in me. Before, the marathon had felt to me like a forgone conclusion. Of course I’m going to do it. Before, quitting never felt like an option. Training pulled me forward like a force beyond my control.

But today it was so … wet. So wet. It was heavy rain. Not misting. And I knew how much harder that was going to make it.

So I stood there entertaining the idea of quitting, but Tony didn’t let me entertain it for long. He knew I wasn’t going to back out now. So we walked out in the rain.

Before the start, I found my training buddies Wanda and Jen. I also found my long-time friend Kate from Bangor, who always “liked” my Couch to 5K posts on Facebook when I started running. I ran most of the race with Kate, and a good part of it with Wanda, too.

At the start, it was raining heavily. And it continued to rain heavily for the hour after that. It was just SO miserable. Wanda was with me at that point, and I thank god for her, because she did a great job staying positive when I just did not want to do this.

Aside: Whoever you are, Pookie, I loved the signs your friends made for you. One was, “It’s OK to poop your pants.” No, I don’t think that was OK, but it inspired interesting conversation. I think if you had to poop your pants on a day like today, most people wouldn’t notice.

We followed someone for awhile who had the shirt that said, “The difference between a journey and an ordeal is your attitude.”

So true.

Around mile 15, I needed to pee. I can’t believe I held it in that long. There were no porto-potties in sight, so Kate and I peed in the woods. I can tell in the splits because its the only mile after the first one over 12 minutes. So worth it though. I felt so much lighter afterwards.

Later, we saw a sign, “Use the porto-potties, not the woods.” This, at the time, was hilarious.

At the last five and a half miles, Kate’s dad joined us. I stuck with them a little longer, but couldn’t pick up the pace. I felt so depleted and I told them to go on without me.

Everything burned. It took all my Chi and focus to stay steady through the end.

I could not walk after mile 20. Running after walk breaks was incredibly painful, so I just kept running and tried to keep my core engaged and shoulders back and back straight.

The splits (with the corresponding heart rate):

  1. 12.18 87 (probably warming up the monitor)
  2. 11.35 142
  3. 11.30 136
  4. 11.05 139
  5. 11.26 138
  6. 11.30 140
  7. 11.29 139
  8. 11.33 140
  9. 11.08 138
  10. 11.47 138
  11. 11.01 139
  12. 11.35 140
  13. 11.21 141
  14. 11.40 142
  15. 12.20 144 (bathroom break)
  16. 11.13 144
  17. 11.47 152
  18. 10.44 152
  19. 11.52 150
  20. 10.42 151
  21. 11.20 155
  22. 10.48 154
  23. 10.28 157
  24. 10.37 161
  25. 10.47 156
  26. 11.04 154, 2.11 165 (.3)
According to my watch, my lactate threshold is 137. I did a crummy job staying under that, which is why I think I feel so terrible after the race. Everything burned. It burned so bad. And I was so wet. And cold. But I was not a wimp.

I crossed the finish line with a time of 4:56:59

beating my goal of 5 hours.

Tony was at the finish line with his camera. 🙂

Some friends crossed earlier, some crossed later. And it all felt great on the other side.

I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

And would I do it again? You betcha. I can’t imagine anything harder than running for five hours in the pouring rain, so I know the next marathon will be easier!

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

I'm a new mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, our daughter Felicity, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.