Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Steph Says: Zydeco Marathon Race Recap

So in case y'all missed it, I ran a marathon.

Let me start by saying that it was one of the most difficult, heart-wrenching, painful, exhilarating experiences of my entire life. Right up there with childbirth.

Did it just get weird? Sorry. Moving on.

The morning started out perfectly, considering that earlier in the week we were looking at 100% rain. But the weather gods smiled upon us and it was a beautiful, DRY, slightly chilly morning! My run group met up at 6:30 a.m. to snap a quick picture and then headed for the bathrooms, and then the start line.

This year there were corrals with expected finish times. We snuggled in (it was a tight squeeze) behind the 5:00 finish time pacers and made our way to the starting line.
I decided to not use my phone's GPS to track my run because I didn't want it to die on me halfway through the race and cause a flip-out on my part. My phone is kind of temperamental, and when I have too many apps going, it likes to have meltdowns (similar to my almost-two year old). It was definitely different to run without hearing my average pace every mile, but it kept me more focused on surviving and less on my speed. I'm still not sure if that was a good thing or not!
I like my photobomber on the left.
So the race begins and my friend Leigh Ann sticks with me through most of the first 6 miles- through the Saint Streets, downtown, UL's campus, Girard Park, and the Oil Center. I was averaging a little over an 11 minute mile according to Leigh Ann when I hit the dreaded hills of Bendel Gardens, but I was still feeling really good at that point. The spectators and signs along the course REALLY helped with that! One house along the route had a fun jump in the front yard and a live band playing in the garage! I couldn't pull out my phone fast enough to take a picture, so you'll just have to trust me that it was perfectly hilarious and highly motivational.
Ain't nobody got time for that.

Almost to mile 9, heading back to the Oil Center, I saw my mom waiting for me! I was so happy to see her face! She gave me the little rah-rah that I needed and I continued on towards downtown. Somewhere on Congress Street, around mile 12, the 5:00 pacers caught up to me and passed me up. I tried to keep up, but I still had over halfway to go and I didn't want to waste too much energy too soon. I tried to keep them in my sights, though. (What a precious idea that was.)

The worst part of the Zydeco is that it's a double loop marathon. So when you turn the corner onto the final stretch, there's the finish line ahead of you to the right, and there's a small sign that says "second loop" with an arrow pointing left.


I could see the time by the finish line, and it said 2:39. Since it took 7 minutes to cross the start line, that put me at a 2:32 half finish time... Only two minutes slower than my time at the Cajun Country Half in December! That is a pretty big accomplishment for me, considering that I wasn't pushing myself as hard as I could have. Again with the conserving energy and all that. Onward!

I took the left fork and gritted my teeth for round two. I remember doing a mental check of how I was feeling, and all of my usual aches and pains from my training were nowhere to be found. I now realize that it was because something new and different and ten times more painful was waiting for me!

Somewhere around mile 16-17, my IT band just decided it was done. DONE. I had never before, not even once, had trouble with my IT band. In fact, I didn't know where the damn thing even was. But it made itself known to me somewhere in the Oil Center by tightening up like a stretched-to-the-limit rubber band. At that point, it became very difficult to run, let alone walk, without a limp.

This sucker.


So I'm limping along and all of a sudden, everyone who passes me starts talking to me. 
"Are you okay?"
"We're almost there!"
"Dig deep!"
And my favorite- 
"Is this your first marathon?"
I mean did I have a sign on my back that said "IT'S MY FIRST MARATHON, PLEASE HAVE PITY ON MY SOUL"?!?!? At least all of the conversation took my mind off the pain! I met Ted from Virginia who was running his 71st marathon and Edward from El Paso who had run an Ultramarathon the day before. We were all struggling together in this little pack through Bendel and back into the Oil Center. 
Somewhere along Coolidge I hear a car engine behind me, and lo and behold, it's the sweeper car. The "sag wagon," if you will. I whip around to my new buddy Ted and said, "There is NO WAY we are the last two people." To which he replies, "Oh yea, honey, we are about to achieve celebrity status."

Well, this celeb sped up a teensy bit and, once out of Ted's immediate vicinity, started bawling. Every doubt I've ever doubted starts running (ha) through my head. You're too fat for this. What made you think you could run a marathon? You're not going to finish. All that training was for nothing. But somehow I managed to snap out of it. Probably because I heard Ted holler at me that he sprints the last mile, so unless I wanted to be dead last, I had better get to steppin'.

I took the advice of those 47 chatty people who passed me up and I dug deep. I limp-ran my way to the final stretch down Congress and I see Leigh Ann running upstream toward me- that doll had stuck around to see me finish and she was coming to cheer me on through the last quarter mile.

And there it was- the finish line. I saw The Hubs on my left and started to tear up because I was so happy to see his grinning mug. As soon as I ran across that finish line, I was overcome with emotion.
I did it.
This girl, who couldn't even run down the straight part of the high school track, who weighed 275 pounds less than two years ago, who used to avoid aerobic activity like it was my job, completed 26.2 miles on my own two feet in less than six hours. I might not have accomplished my goal of doing it in close to 5 hours, but still... I freakin' did it.

My girls who cheered me on!

My official time

Once I could finally gather my thoughts and emotions, and walk with less of a limp, The Hubs and I went on a little day date to Grub Burger Bar for a much-needed and well-deserved feast. I got this milkshake called the Kitchen Sink... it did not disappoint. I love the combo of sweet and salty and this one has chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, peanut butter, coffee grounds (what?), potato chips, and pretzels. Ohhhhhh yum. 

And I ate every last bite.
Because I ran a marathon.


  1. Stephanie, this is exhausting. I'm tired just reading about it. You are such a WINNER in all areas of your life. Sooooo proud.!!!

  2. Perfection. I hope you're as much an inspiration to yourself as you are to me (and I'm sure countless other people).