Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Diane's First Marathon!

Because we all were so invested in the training part of Diane's first marathon, I asked her to write a race recap to share with everyone; she went above and beyond that, which I love!  Here's how she became a marathon runner, with a few side notes from your editor thrown in.

Hi, Diane here...the marathoner!  Wouldn't have happened without my crew, The Renegades, and all their support.

For awhile now, I've wondered if I could run a marathon.  I ran the Houston Half with Shelley, using intervals, and this made me think I just might be able to pull this off. When I crossed the finish line, I realized I wasn't tired, sore or exhausted. I felt great! Others were struggling with blisters, leg & foot pain and I must admit, I sat there very quietly - feeling guilty, thinking I had the energy to go out there and do it again. Then it hit me, intervals! That was the secret!

At first I thought I would "sneak run." Just run to get my miles in on my own - that way, if I bailed on this crazy idea, nobody would be the wiser. But I realized a flaw in my plan...Shelley! She would know. Frankly, I'm just not that sneaky but we're also on Garmin connect and we can see each other's runs. Now there is probably a way to block certain runs...but when it comes to technology, I know just enough to be dangerous. And since Shelley and Cary helped set up my Garmin, that wasn't happening.

Funny thing, on one of our short 2 mile runs, after Houston, Shelley mentioned to me how she was going to cut back on the miles. The very next Saturday's long run, I mentioned I was thinking about a marathon. Now was the time. I felt great, no injuries and running felt good. Some how her "cutting back" led her to 6-10 miles for a Saturday run and 5 miles twice a week! She was running more miles now than ever before. Her monthly total for miles was at an all time high. And I appreciate all the time, effort and support to help make this happen, especially when I knew she was hoping to run less. But what fun is that?

I had gone over a number of training plans. There are so many it's mind boggling.  But I needed one I could live with and not end up injured due to overtraining. I found one that had 3 runs/week and a long run on Saturday. I realize I have limitations and at 60 years old, I just can't run 6 or 7 days a week and survive. I had Shelley check out the plan since she had been so involved with USAFIT and training plans. She approved. And we were off and running! We would run together twice a week and on Wednesdays I would run the speed or hill workouts. As the mileage got higher, my legs were exhausted and hurting come Thursday mornings. She finally asked me if I really needed to do the Wednesday workouts since it was hurting so much. Speed wasn't going to be the issue...I wasn't planning on winning the marathon, it was a matter of just finishing. So as our miles went up, I eliminated the Wednesday workout and things went so much smoother. I learned it's OK to adjust your plan to make it work for you.

Shelley would set up our routes every Saturday morning. We got so we would run 4-6 mile loops. That way others could join us or drop off at our water stop under the lamppost at their desired mileage. Jeff would always be there to meet me and start the runs sometimes even as early as 4:00 AM. I was so glad to have the could be creepy at times that early. Jeff is a fast runner...I am not. He is used to running continuously and I have been working on intervals so adjusting to a much slower, interval run was a big change for him that he did happily. Shelley would always be waiting under the lamppost half way though my run to take over for Jeff. Cary & Julia joined in on some of our early morning runs too.

This was a challenge. I was looking for a marathon that would allow plenty of time to finish. I was willing to travel throughout Texas, even Oklahoma, Arkansas or Louisiana in April, May, or June. I found a small race in Waxahachie, Texas. The Hachie 50 at Getzendaner Park. It allows for an 8 hour marathon finish. It's only 2.5 hours away. And BONUS, the marathon is the shortest distance offered. This is a huge positive for me. They also offered the 50K, 50 mile relay, and 50 mile distances. The 50 mile relay and 50 miler started at 5:00 AM. The marathon and 50K, the short races, started at 7:00 AM. I kind of was hoping for an earlier 4:00 AM. Heck, the 5:00 AM would have made me happy but they didn't offer an early option for marathoners. The next thing I checked was last year's times. I do this with smaller races to make sure I fit into the timing. My only hesitation was the start time. Things can get hot by early afternoon in Texas.

The Renegades are an awesome group.  We got together Thursday before the big race and everybody was able to make it, even baby Mason. He even woke up so I could play with him.  I got all sorts of great and not so great advice. They gave me an inspiring 26.2 cutout and a 26.2 sticker for my car. And Shelley was able to find the perfect card! Inside it says "Cheering you on every step of the way." Talk about pressure! But I knew, if for some reason I wasn't able to make it to the finish line, they would still be cheering me on and be encouraging for that next attempt.

I drove to Waxahachie on Friday, May 5th. I had time not only for packet pickup at Academy and additional shopping - who can leave Academy without hitting the sale racks and finding some great deals -  but also time to check out the race site. Beautiful park with lots of trees. Very nice. This was going to be good!

The Key Conundrum:  I had everything laid out and set to go. My be at the car at 6:00 AM and loaded up to head to the park for a fun day of sweat and pain. My plan was right on schedule, until I reached the car...the door would not open. I have a Prius with an automatic door opener when the key is close to the lock. I had my purse right up near the door. No luck. OK, maybe it's in another bag. I start grabbing bags off the cart and holding them to the door handle. I start flipping the bags in case the key was buried in the bag and needed to be luck...HELP! OK maybe I left them in my jeans pocket from the night before, I rip open the big bag and grab my jeans and hold them to the door handle. Still no luck. OK, think, think, don't panic. I grab the big bag and jam the top of the opened bag right up around the lock. Nope. OK, PANIC! I throw everything back on the cart and run it into the lobby. I start dumping my purse and backpacks onto the couch. Then it hit me...I planned ahead and the night before put the key in my hydration pack. Reload and off to the car. Disaster averted.

Ready, Set, Go: The race was one of the smaller races that I have run in a long time. There were a total of 200 runners in all 3 races and 60 relay teams. Standing at the start, waiting for the 50K runners to begin first, I began to feel outclassed. Everyone was younger and appeared that this type of race was just another easy run on a beautiful Saturday morning. The weather was perfect, in the low 50's to start the morning off, but things would be heating up. The race for the marathon was an out-and-back 3 times. It was mostly on a wide sidewalk, which was about 80% tree covered for the entire race. This race allowed pacers, they just asked that the pacer not to take anything from the water stations and to make room for the runners when necessary. This was an open trail so there were other runners and bikers not involved with the race, but still was not crowded and caused no problem.

Course support was tremendous. Frequent water stations with a number of additional items like orange slices, watermelon, bananas, pickle juice, candies, Fizz tablets and oh yeah...water and Gatorade. The volunteers were supportive and after the first time past they knew me. The absolute best water station was near the end of the turn around. This was a tough stretch that was in the sun for about a mile. And just before you ran into the sun, the water station had disposable cloths dunked in ice cold water. Ahhhh.
The first out and back was great. Felt good and it was nice and cool. The course was heavily shaded and the trees created a very welcome canopy for running. The trail meandered around near the river where you could hear the water flowing. We ran past a dog park, a field of horses, a butterfly garden and birdhouses on fence posts at the edge of grassy fields. In the sun stretch of the course we were treated to horses grazing along the fence line. At the furthest part of the course was a fire training school.

What could possibly go wrong: The beginning of the 2nd lap, I realized my phone was already down to 52% power. Man, I had gone over all this many times before just so this wouldn't happen. I knew I would need the music for that final lap, so I powered down and went without music for the entire 2nd lap. This was difficult - I really count on that to pull me through...but I knew I would need it for the final lap. Around mile 18, just starting the 3rd lap, the blister that had started to form on my toe miles before, broke. It took about a mile for it to numb out and not be noticeable. But that's when the leg cramps began. I stopped suddenly and the cramping got astronomically worse! OK, walk walk walk...but I started walking back the way I came. Then I realized I was going in least make forward progress! Don't waste steps going backwards. By then it had subsided enough to run again. I had to really focus and just try to relax because the cramping would come and go for the remainder of the race.  I turned my phone back on and somehow the power had dropped to 23%. WHAT?! This was not the plan. I figured, what the heck, listen to the music til it dies a slow and painful death.
There were, what appeared, to be very comfortable benches and swings all along the trail. And by this point  in the race I was eyeing them but also knew if I even sat down for a  minute,  I probably wouldn't have made it back up. Rounding a curve, around mile 21.25 I saw my husband John walking towards me. We kept moving forward towards the open sun stretch that I was dreading. But when we emerged from the wooded trail, I saw Mick, Heather, and Ben, my sons and Mick's girlfriend! They had traveled all the way from Austin to support me! And this is where I needed it most. They stayed with me on the open road for about a mile in the hot sun while John ran to his car and recharged my phone. At that point Mick, Heather, and John drove to the finish line while Ben stayed with me for the remaining 4 miles to the finish. We were also joined by Melony, better known as Marathon Mel, and the 3 of us powered through the remaining sun and back onto the shaded path. We stayed together, Ben and Mel with encouraging words.
Marathon Mel, Diane, and Ben

Things start to heat up: I was struggling, big time, but kept chugging along. Mel and Ben were chatting away...I was focusing on not cramping, and breathing.  I had even gotten to the point where I was having a hard time getting my water bottle out of my hydration belt. That's where Ben came in and just carried it for me and handed it to me when I needed it. He would also be in charge of refills at the water stations. We were closing in on the finish, only a mile and a half left. It just so happens this is where we run beside a cemetery for a few hundred yards. They did have a few openings and the last trip past I thought I might just collapse in an open spot...but it was in the sun and the sidewalk was shaded. Ben actually pointed out rows 34 and 35 had openings if I was interested. I guess I looked as bad as I felt. Gotta love that kid!

Grand Finale: With about a quarter mile left Mel went ahead and sprinted in to the finish. I was still focusing on one foot in front of the other and not falling over. Ben pealed off and I tried my best to look like I might have at least something left in the tank as I made it across the finish line.

Good news, Bad news: I finished...but ended up in the back of an ambulance hooked up to an IV. A bit dehydrated & my BP had dropped to 80/50 but after a pint of saline, I was feeling pretty darn good. Big thank you to Jett & Yaser, the from Ellis County EMS. They did an exceptional job taking care of me.

And once recovered...we went to the Smoothie Factory for a refreshing cold smoothie to celebrate with my Race Day Crew.

Take away: This is the prefect small town race. I would highly recommend it to anyone attempting their first long distance or coming back for more. The Race Organizer did such an outstanding job with details that make it a runner friendly race. I am hoping to convince The Renegades to add this to our race schedule...The relay is a minimum of 10 miles/person...what's 10 miles Shelley? Or we could go for a marathon...(editor's note:  that would be a big NOPE for me, HA!).

Just after finishing with Assistant Race Director & Founder of Waxahachie Running Club, Russell Williams. The Race Director, Paul Box is not pictured...he was working hard.
The very cool wood medal!

Editor's note:  I have to interject here with what was happening on the Renegade side of this race day.  Diane had started a group text when she began the race, and once she realized that her Garmin LiveTracking wasn't working, she was sending texts to me occasionally, during her walking intervals, saying what mile she was at.  Jeff and I were driving to Dallas while she was racing, as we were flying out to Orlando that afternoon - otherwise, we absolutely would have been there to support her.  So she'd text me, and then I'd text Cary, and all was well until I got this text from her:  "18 plus started 3rd and final lap.  3 laps total.  Dying.  Heat." - and then, radio silence.  I was watching the time, knowing when she should be finishing, and heard nothing.  Cary texted me, asking if I'd heard from her, and we tried to stay positive, just hoping that the battery on her phone had died and she wasn't in the medical tent.  Well, as you saw from her recap, she did end up in the back of an ambulance!  Eventually she felt well enough to have her son Mick send us a group text, and dictated what to say.  He paused, and asked her "do you really want me to send this?" - I'm not sure if her wording surprised him, or if he thought we'd be offended...but he doesn't know the Renegades.  Along with this picture:
ACK!  Not what we wanted to see!!

Her text read "1 and f@#king done!"  Yep, I can totally understand that.  Thankfully her sons kept us informed as to how she was doing immediately afterward, and like she said above, she had excellent care from the local EMS.  And it probably comes as no surprise that when Diane and I had dinner on Monday night, she was already talking about doing another marathon.  She's hooked!


  1. Goodness, this race report was so good it has me wistfully thinking of my own marathon days and wondering if I have another in me?

    CONGRATULATIONS DIANE! What an accomplishment! You can now put yourself in the small percentage of population called marathon finisher.

    Having run a few of those myself I can tell Diane that next time, she'll run smarter, fuel smarter, and probably have a better race overall. I admire that she chose such a small race - most first time marathoners would have picked a big one so they wouldn't be alone.

    Great job, and you deserve every moment of feeling proud of your accomplishment!

    1. Thanks Helen! As crazy as this experience was, I really think I want to try it again, but in cooler weather - And take your running advise for an easier finish!

    2. Diane, you should plan a destination marathon - come to New England for a fall marathon and you'll definitely get that cooler weather. Plus, you'd probably run faster since you would have been training in heat! Or you could go for the Marine Corps Marathon, always held the last Sunday in October. That one is weird weather wise - it could be cool or it could be warm but again after training in TX heat I'd bet you'd be fine. It's my very favorite marathon EVER - yes it's big, but great crowd and race support, you get to run by all the national monuments, and there's nothing like having a cute Marine put your medal around your neck at the end!

    3. I'll have to look into those marathons. Destination races are so much fun

  2. Wow, even thought this didn't end quite like she had planned, it did have a happy ending because SHE FINISHED 26.2 miles!
    Congrats Diane! Thank you for sharing this journey with us! I feel like I know you through Shelley's blog and have been rooting for you!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate Shelley, Jeff & the rest of the Renegades for their encouraging words and the many early morning runs in order to make this happen.

  3. Replies
    1. Wow is right! I still can't believe it! But I have the 26.2 sticker sticker on the it must be true!

  4. Wow Congratulations Diane! That's fantastic!

  5. Awesome recap! Congrats Diane. What an amazing accomplishment. Can't wait to hear about your next adventure!

    1. Thanks! There is no way my next race could come close to this craziness. Right?!

  6. Very impressive, Diane! Congrats on achieving your goal!

  7. Congrats on becoming a marathoner, Diane!!! And how cool that your family was there to support you toward the end :)

    Love the photo text to the Renegades LOL! I think most non-runners would read this and think "why would you want to do another marathon if this one landed you in an ambulance?!" And pretty much every runner would understand :)

    1. Thanks...I can't believe I'm already googling "marathons" to find one this fall or winter. And you are so right...runners would understand.

      And when my friend asked on Monday morning how things went, I heard myself saying GREAT...I finished before I ended up in the ambulance.

  8. Congratulations, Diane! It was so fun to read along as Shelley trained with you. And even better to hear the whole story from your perspective. I can't help but wonder if I might not have done the same thing--gotten dehydrated. I tend to not drink much when I am exercising. Anyway, congratulations again, and thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Thanks. I really thought I was drinking plenty of Nunn and water. But I know I was sweating a lot, I felt like a human salt lick by the time I finished.

  9. What a wonderful, inspirational story. Congrats Diane!

  10. Yay, Diane. Awesome accomplishment, and awesome recap.

  11. Best recap I've read in a long time! Congrats Diane and WTG Renegades for all the course support!

    PS I had iPhone issues at a race once--now I go on airplane mode as soon as I start. No more power loss.

    1. Thanks...the phone running out of power was so frustrating! I had a great playlist going too. I like your idea of airplane mode. Great idea!

  12. Congrats Diane! I've loved following your training. Totally laughing that you were going to try to keep your marathon training secret at first, lol! P.S. You CAN hide certain runs on connect (just make it "private").

    Funny enough, when I was in Dallas last, I met someone from this town! It sounds like a nice race. I wonder if they would consider moving the marathon start time up.

    I love love love the picture of you running and looking so happy. And that your family surprised you by showing up! You ran a strong first marathon (believe me, it would be odd if you didn't struggle at the end). I'm happy the meds were so helpful, and hope you're feeling great now! HUGE CONGRATS!!!

    1. Hush Kim, don't tell her how to hide runs on Garmin! ;)

  13. Congrats Diane! I'm glad the ambulance visit was brief!

  14. Congrats Diane. You are very lucky to have Shelly and the Renegades as training partners/friends.


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