Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Harrisburg Marathon Race Report

It has now been two days since I ran my first MARATHON! This has been such a long journey and one that I am sad has come to an end. This has also been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have learned so much about myself and am even more excited to train for my next marathon.

When I found about the NYC Marathon being cancelled I chose to run the Harrisburg because of its close proximity to my house. Harrisburg is a small race that doesn't have an expo so I picked up my bib before the race. We got there around 7:00 and the race started at 8:30. There was a nice enclosed pavilion with heaters that runners were allowed to wait in. I especially liked that there was no line for the bathroom until about 15 minutes before the start.

The race started promptly at 8:30 and there were no corrals. There were some pace groups to help runners decide where to line up. I wasn't sure where to up so I hopped in with the 4:40 group. The start of the race was not as exciting as I would have liked. I expected to be emotional when I crossed the starting line but I didn't really feel anything.

I saw my parents a few times within the first few miles and felt pretty good. The 4:40 pace group was all getting to know each other and I really enjoyed feeling that I was not alone. I also liked the idea of just following the pace leader and not worrying about how fast I was going.

In retrospect, I should not have tried to run with a pace group. There were times when I wanted to slow down some but was afraid to fall behind. I wasn't running my race and that is a mistake I will not make again.  I split off from the group around mile 12 and was so glad I did. I slowed down and ran however felt comfortable.

Despite splitting off from the group I still wasn't feeling fantastic. Miles 14-20 were absolutely brutal for me. My legs felt terrible and I didn't want to be running. There were hardly any spectators, which I hated. Around mile 18 a long serious of hills started which is where everything fell apart.

My knees hurt so badly and only felt worse with each uphill and downhill. I was just going to walk to the finish line because of how miserable I was. At almost exactly the 20 mile marker I met a man named Robert who tried to get me to run again. I didn't want to run but I wanted the race to over even more.

So I ran. We ran together all the way to the finish and those 6 miles were my favorite of the entire race. I felt the best and happiest then. Throughout those 6 miles we talked about ultra running, marathons, injuries, and life in general. There were also periods of time where nothing was said and those were just as wonderful.

I felt so at peace running with someone else. I was and am so incredibly grateful to Robert for putting me first despite the fact that I had never met him before. He ran a 50K the day before and was running the marathon to put in miles for training for his first 50 miler. I am honestly not sure I would have run any of those last 6 miles if it wasn't for Robert.

The greatest feeling during any running race is feeling strong during the last mile. I didn't feel fast but I felt in control. We were even able to pick it up during the last half mile. I never thought I would say that I enjoyed the last 6 miles of a marathon so much.

I finished in just under 5 hours, which I am okay with. I would have liked to run faster but I did what I could. It was a really hard day both physically and mentally. Some days produce great runs and others, bad runs. Sunday was a bad run day. I wish I could have changed the outcome of the race but it is what it is.

All in all it was a great experience that taught me so much about myself as a runner.


  1. Excellent recap! I did my first marathon this year as well and agree that you need to just learn from it and make the next one (and next one) even better! Congrats you marathoner!

  2. Congratulations! Any time you run a marathon and you are excited to do another, it's a success, regardless of the time.

  3. Congratulations on your first marathon! You are a marathoner and you should be very proud!