My first FULL Marathon- The Morgan Hill Marathon

Finally got around to my FIRST MARATHON recap! A long one folks- sorry! I tried to add a lot of photos to distract you like children. Think of it as a picture book.


Last Saturday after my super early grad school class, the butterflies started kicking in. Marathon in less than 24 hours.

Of course my natural state is “worrier,” but this time so much more. I had some tummy issues Thursday through Saturday (due to stress), and this meant no appetite and losing nutrients, to put it nicely. This freaked me out because I didn’t feel like I had carbo-loaded properly and I was worried about water/electrolyte loss (due to said tummy issues). I also started to doubt my training! There is no way I can finish a marathon after only ~2 months of training! *spoiler alert*- I finished.

That afternoon, Kyle and I drove down to Morgan Hill to pick up my race packet. Super easy packet pick-up with the nicest volunteers I’ve ever had! They even gave us instructions on where to park so we wouldn’t get a ticket during the marathon. The only bummer was that they were already out of most of the women’s race tees. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the women’s tees were a baby Pepto-Bismol pink…no thanks. (I was given the men’s (black) tee instead.)

Kyle and I headed to our hotel to check in. Originally we were going to stay with family ~35 min away, but my parents found out what time they would have to wake up on race morning. They booked that hotel room faster than a runner with runner’s trots making a bee-line to a porta potty.

Once we got to our room, I wanted to write some stuff down on my bib. The amazing Sarah gave me the best advice for my first marathon. It really inspired me, so I decided that I would write her advice on the back of my bib to help me during the marathon.

morgan hill marathon

The rest of the night was filled with a little carbo-loading (but my biggest meal was lunch) at a local Italian restaurant, drinking Gatorade (which I hate), and stressing about things I shouldn’t have been stressing about. We all had a horrible nights sleep. I forgot my dad snores louder than a wood chipper grinding a metal pipe. Kyle ended up driving to Safeway to buy earplugs it was so bad. (Actually I never sleep well the night before, but I like to give my dad a hard time ;) )

The race started at 7 AM Sunday morning- great way to avoid heat, but man that sucked when I had to wake up 2.5-3 hours prior just to force myself to eat. I had my typical bagel, almond butter, and banana a little after 4 AM.

We left a little later than I would have liked, but I had enough time to take off my sweats, stretch, and nervously stand in the crowd.

That's 3 gels shoved in my t-shirt pocket haha

That’s 3 gels shoved in my t-shirt pocket haha

Before I knew it, we were off! The first few miles were easy but it stressed me out because I felt like I should have been running faster…and then I remembered this marathon was about FINISHING. No time goal (other than wanting to finish under 5 hours).

I didn’t really notice the rolling hills as we moved towards the mountains until later in the race. If you didn’t know, Morgan HILL is hilly. Here’s the elevation chart according to my Garmin/Strava.

Miles 1-5: 10:20, 10:03, 10:20, 10:37, 10:06 (see, slow pace)

morgan hill marathon

Probably not the best FIRST marathon to run, but I never do things the easy way. Why start now ;)

This was an awesome race, but one of the unfortunate things was that they did not close off most of the roads for the runners. There were cones, but for a large portion in the hills, you were running on a street and cars (not many) had to pass you. I didn’t realize that this portion of the race would make me feel like I was in the middle of no where, so it was AMAZING when all of a sudden I started hearing my name being shouted from a car. And there was Kyle and my parents cheering me on and taking photos.

morgan hill marathon

For the rest of the race, Kyle and my parents were always 2-3 miles ahead of me. They pulled over near the volunteer/aid stations and cheered me on. The best. Oh and the volunteers for this race were AMAZING! The volunteers (who were just cheering for people, not the aid station volunteers) drove around to make sure certain areas had enough support. And the aid station volunteers were just as awesome!

Kyle and my parents were chatting with this volunteer and she went to Cal too (she ran track)! She yelled, "Go Bears!" as I ran by, hence the thumbs up.

Kyle and my parents were chatting with this volunteer and found out she went to Cal too (she ran track!)! She yelled, “Go Bears!” as I ran by, hence the thumbs up (mouth was full of water).

Most of the middle miles flew by. It felt easy. I felt comfortable. The only thing that annoyed me was having to pay attention to fuel and hydration. For half marathons, I usually take 1 gel around mile 7 and that’s it. This beast of a distance requires more discipline. I decided to play it safe (I’m a very salty sweater- notice the super sexy back sweat in the photo above) and take a gel around every 5-6 miles. I also drank Gatorade and a few sips of water at every aid station after the first few miles. It must have worked because I didn’t feel dehydrated or fuel-lacking at all.

Miles 6-10: 10:17, 10:57, 10:13, 10:14, 10:55

I love this. High-fiving Kyle

I love this! High-fiving Kyle

Way more of my thighs than you ever wanted to see. Apparently these short rode up during the race (according to the photos).

See, one of them rolling hills.

morgan hill marathon

I continued to feel AWESOME until around mile 18ish. No pain or anything severe, I could just tell my legs were getting a tiny bit tired.

Miles 11-18: 10:28, 11:04, 9:50, 10:42, 10:43, 9:48, 10:10, 10:44

From mile 18 on I just put my head down and got to work. They threw in a couple more hills after that, which I thought was incredibly mean. I hit mile 20 and ran straight into “the wall.” Yep. I hit the wall. I always wondered what the wall would feel like and would I know if/when I hit it? Yes. You know when you hit the wall.

Those miles were brutal and I told myself to just keep moving forward. I realized that my hamstrings were the limiting factor. Definitely going to strength train those next time. I was moving so slowly that you could have walked past me faster. But I was doing it! I ran past Kyle and my parents for the last time (until the finish line) and almost broke down in tears. Every time I made eye contact with them my eyes started tearing up. They later told me that they could tell I was in pain. They said I looked great when they saw me at mile 18 and that mile 23ish(?) was a whole different Amy.

Pain face

Pain face

From mile 24 on I was pretty much by myself (actually most of the race I was only surrounded by a few people- small race). This is when I saw my awesome friend Michelle (for the second time) during the race around mile 25ish? She finished pacing her 4:10 group and then ran back to find me. Yes. She’s the most amazing person. I seriously almost broke down in tears again. Seriously. I had to take deep breaths to prevent crying because I was so happy to see her.

morgan hill marathon

My “carry me” face (Photo courtesy of Michelle)

Michelle gave me a pep talk as we ran. She told me that in just a few minutes I would no longer be a regular person. I’d be a MARATHONER!! Crap here come the water works again. More deep breaths. Cannot afford to lose that precious fluid ;)

As we neared the finish, Michelle picked up the pace and ran a few feet in front of me to give me some motivation. As we rounded the corner to the finish line, she told me to start sprinting and give it all that I had!

Love this photo. See, there's Michelle on the outside of the finish line cheering me on!

Love this photo. See, there’s Michelle on the outside of the finish line cheering me on!

I crossed that finish line and they called out my name (shocked that they pronounced my last name correctly- it’s not an easy one).

Of course I'm stopping my watch #typicalrunner

Of course I’m stopping my watch #typicalrunner

I saw my dad off to the side and almost started crying. I saw Kyle and almost started crying. And then I saw my mom and almost started crying. And then I got attacked by Michelle in the finisher’s chute. Love it.

morgan hill marathon

She’s the main reason I crossed that finish line.

morgan hill marathon

Miles 19-26.2 (or 26.37 according to my watch): 10:52, 10:59, 11:45, 11:41, 11:21, 11:37, 13:25, 12:12

Official time: 4:45:18
Age group place: 3
188 overall

This was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. You only have 1 first marathon, so it was my goal to enjoy as much as I could. And I did. I will most definitely run another marathon- with much more training. It probably won’t be until after grad school (or at least until I get the hang of school + working full-time). I underestimated the time it takes to commit to the training!

Thanks so much to Michelle for the race entry, but most importantly for being my cheerleader through it all (training and the race). She was there on those first really long runs. And she was there as I finished my first marathon! I know most people say that you only meet creepers online, but this is proof that you can meet great friends.

morgan hill marathon

Thanks so much to Kyle for being my rock. The one to calm me down when I had to fit in all those runs while going to school and working full-time. For telling me that I could do it when I didn’t think that it was possible. For putting up with stressball/cranky Amy. For feeding me ALL THE FOOD when I came back famished. For being understanding when I was gone for hours at a time on those long run days. And for attending every single one of my races, by choice, and cheering me on- rain or shine.

morgan hill marathon

Lastly (but not least), thank you to my parents for always being there to cheer me on. Every time I have a race, I never ask them to come. They just ask for the date and they put it in their calendars. They wake up at 6AM (or earlier) on race day, by choice (kind of ;) ). They wait the 2-4 hours while I run and take photos (most of these photos are from my dad!). They are my cheerleaders.

morgan hill marathon

And thanks to all of you for cheering me on. For being so supportive and encouraging! And for giving me all your advice!

I am now a marathoner.

morgan hill marathon

Taper Time

Wow. So weird to say that I am now officially tapering for my first marathon!

I’m actually not going through cranky running withdrawals like a lot of people do. I’ve been so busy with school that I have had very little spare time, and not having to go out on 1-3 hour long runs is actually nice!

run pumpkin patch

Ran past the pumpkin patch that Kyle and I used to go to. This year we are poor and will not be spending $30 on a single pumpkin like crazy people.

I’ve actually switch to treadmill running for some of those shorter runs for 2 reasons:

  1. I have been studying a lot and I want to be able to watch some TV haha. #embarrassing
  2. To slow myself down. I physically cannot run fast on a treadmill. It’s just impossible. When I ran outdoors (on some of these taper runs that I’m supposed to take easy) I found myself speeding up when I ran around other runners because I didn’t want them to think I was super slow. How stupid is that?

But man, it seems like it was only a few weeks ago that I decided to start training for the Morgan Hill Marathon.

My friend Michelle had contacted me and wanted to give me a race entry because she’s awesome like that (she is pacing the marathon!). Prior to this, I always said that I wasn’t sure I was ready for a full marathon.

But for some reason, I impulsively said yes (my only hesitation was that I had already signed up for a half marathon that is one week after the Morgan Hill Marathon. gulp.). And just like that, I began my new goal of blackening all toenails and discovering new areas to chafe.

Watching my awesome blogger friends do marathon after marathon inspired me and helped me make that crazy decision. Some (of many- so sorry if I forgot to add you to this list) of the awesome-marathon-runner-blogger-friends who seriously helped inspire me:

The 3 Cheap Runners (or 2?)

Thanks friends :)

And on to the fun stuff- my Athleta Giftcard Giveaway Winner!

rafflecopter giveaway winner

Congrats Emily!

The winner was emailed this morning.

Are you one of those people who gets cranky during tapering? Usually, yes.

Do you speed up on some of those easy runs so people don’t judge you? *guilty face*

Who inspired you to start running?

Athleta Gift Card Giveaway {CLOSED} + My first yoga class!

I know I’m super late to the yoga train (like so late that I had to chase the train to hop on board), but I am excited to say- I loved yoga!!!

Now I will no longer feel guilty about wearing yoga pants. Ha. Like I ever felt guilty about the comfiest invention ever.

After my 20 mile run on Sunday, I headed to my first yoga class with my friend Shanna.

yoga shanna me

Earlier that week, we signed up for the class using fitmob.


fitmob offers various workouts (ranging from cardio to strength training, dance, and yoga) with top trainers in many neighborhoods in the Bay Area! What I like about fitmob was that members (free to join!) can workout in various neighborhoods and you can pay weekly. Oh and members never pay for inactivity (um. you know how you say, I’m not going to cancel that gym membership cause I’m definitely going to go tomorrow… hello bag of chips. and then you pay for a year to NOT go to the gym)

Right now you can get a free 7 day trial, and we decided it was the perfect opportunity for me to try yoga! We selected a Vinyasa Flow class at Yoga Tree.

yoga tree

I had tried some yoga videos online. Honestly, I hated them. I didn’t like how slow everything was, with all the pausing (which seemed like forever), so I tended to get bored.

This class was completely different!! Vinyasa Flow moves at a faster pace (relatively speaking) and each movement flows into the next. If you were like me and thought yoga was boring, try a vinyasa flow class! Oh and I’m definitely going to try to find some vinyasa flow yoga videos online :)

I did tell the instructor (Nanci- who was awesome!) that I had never taken a yoga class before. She insured me that I would be fine, and it’s perfectly okay to hold a pose if you cannot move on to the next one. Throughout the class she stressed good form, which I loved. She said it was much better to have good form in a “beginner modified” pose, than to have bad form in the advanced pose. She made all levels feel welcome, which was actually one of my biggest concerns (feeling out of place)!

yoga tree studio

Inside the studio

It was a great workout! I thought that I was not going to be able to do anything because of my 20 mile run, but it actually helped me recover. I was able to stretch out those muscles and workout new muscles! Shanna (who does yoga frequently) told me that it was the best yoga class she’s ever been to and that the next day she was sore (so was I)! I know it was a good workout if this girl can get sore doing yoga:

Again, she's in the middle (doin the splits)

She’s in the middle (doin the splits)

Here’s your chance to win a $25 Athleta Gift Card and buy your own yoga gear (or something else)!

This giveaway will close on 10/22/14 at midnight (PST). The winner will be announced 10/23.

Click on the following link to enter! {CLOSED}

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: Those who enter may be contacted by fitmob via email. The winner’s email and contact information will be sent to fitmob and they will send you your giveaway prize. This post is sponsored by fitmob. All opinions are my own.