Races · Running

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.

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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

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58 thoughts on “My first FULL Marathon- The Morgan Hill Marathon

  1. Congrats on officially becoming a marathoner! You are inspiring me to start running 😀 Also, I think your thighs are sexy and the world is better place with you showing them off 😉

  2. Tears!!!! Fantastic recap! You are amazing, my friend! I was wondering about the wall too and yes you most definitely know when you plow into it. So funny how we are ready to do it all over again when it’s done. 🙂 these pics are fantastic too!!

  3. Tears of joy and pride at the race and again after reading about your journey! So proud of you sweetie!!! You cannot deny that you can do anything you set your mind to. Also to Michelle – you are one awesome friend!

  4. This is wonderful. I’ll read it again, another time- little bleary eyed and teary eyed right now. What a JOURNEY you’ve been on! so glad to be watching you from the sidelines. Love you!

  5. Yay. Congrats MARATHONER! I have been anxiously awaiting your race recap. Holy hills girl! That’s quite the race to tackle for a first time. You did such a great job and how wonderful that you have such a loving and supportive family out there with you. Sending you a huge hug! Great work.

  6. Amy, you are truly inspiring. I knew that if there was anyone who could train for this TOUGH marathon in such a short time, it would be you. I have no doubt that you could finish (as well as break 5 hours). Most other courses will seem pretty easy after this one since you’ll get to do the whole training plan and it probably won’t be as hilly!
    I saw your dad watch you cross the finish line, and I saw THE BIGGEST smile on his face! He high-fived me and said, “OMG, SHE DID IT! :D” Loved seeing how happy and proud he was to witness this huge achievement.
    You are truly blessed with your wonderful family (Kyle and your parents). This is only the beginning and a tiny glimpse of the amazing things you will accomplish in the future 🙂

  7. Congratulations Amy! Sounds like it was an amazing experience! I love how much Kyle and your parents support you, not to mention your friend Michelle! Hats off to you for all the training, working and grad school – it’s a challenge to balance it all but you go there in the end! Way to go! So happy for you.

  8. Oh my sweet friend I am so so happy for you. I want to give you big hugs and cry happy tears for you. I have such dreams of running a marathon someday and you make them feel so real. Congratulations on such an awesome achievement! You are a marathoner!!!!

  9. Yay!!!!! So awesome!!! Thanks for distracting me with photos, but I did read it too! Ha, I kept waiting for the pain pic, I knew it was coming….it always does in a marathon. It’s also not uncommon to become emotional. You accomplished a major accomplishment. 😉 I do not envy those hills though! Maybe next time you register for a race, pay attention to the name of it. 🙂

  10. Ohhhhhh myyyyyy goodness gracious sakes alive, congratulations!!!!!

    Holy cow, not only did you run your first marathon, but it seems like you had an absolutely incredible, full experience! From hitting the wall to breaking through it, how wonderful!
    I have so much mad respect for you and cannot imagine how your trained through everything you have had going on!
    The best part… you already want to do another 🙂

  11. Congratulations, MARATHONER!!! I’m so so proud of you! Ha YES I cried at the finish line of my first too..and at the start line
    and this was a really enjoyable recap to read. Kyle and your parents sound like the nicest, most supportive, coolest people ever. the picture of you hugging Kyle is the cutest thing ever.

  12. Yayyyyy congrats!! So happy for you!! I agree- crossing the finish line aft my first marathon was one of the highlights of my life, too, and def the hardest physical accomplishment. Exciting stuff!!

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