#6: the best 23-mile race I ever ran

I did it!_DSC0005Marathon #6 definitely wasn’t my best, but now that I think about it I guess #7 has a far higher chance of being luckier. Right?

A common phrase among the crazy runners goes as such: “The marathon is a 20-mile warm up and a six-mile race.”

If this is true, then I guess I can say I smashed the warm up. Though I usually start out slow in races, I decided to try picking it up for the first half of the race instead._DSC0088I kept it under 8:00 miles for the first half of the race and was on track to crush a 3:30!

Mile 13-20 were a little closer to 8:10, but still strong…_DSC0140And then, at mile 23, I hit the wall. Womp womp womp. “Hitting the wall” basically means you run out of all strength and energy. It really sucked and I did a very dramatic mix of walking, sobbing, and halfway jogging for the last three miles.

But, then it was OVER! I clocked in my second-slowest marathon time ever with a 3:49:17. And then ate a pizza 5x the size of my head._DSC0146In sum, here are the cons of my race:

  • I didn’t PR nor qualify for Boston (thus failing at goal #2)
  • Every muscle fiber in my body feels like somebody is wringing it out like a soggy towel, and then lighting it on fire

The pros:

  • I felt awesome for 23 miles. 
  • I stayed really positive, even at the end when I almost died (win for goal #1)
  • The scenery, weather, and course were really beautiful
  • I got a great tan
  • I still somehow got 3rd place in my age group
  • My support team was the best!!!

Alanna came out to cheer and bike alongside me at the end:_DSC0149And Anthony was my professional photographer, head cheerer, and sword fighter (this is from a history museum gift shop we played around in on Saturday)_DSC0028Plus I got a bunch of calls/texts from you guys. Thanks so much to everyone. I would have sucked even more at this race if it wasn’t for the support of my family and friends!

Even though the chip time looks bad, the pros of marathon #6 still outweigh the cons. So I’m still going to view it as a victory.

Congrats to everyone else who raced over the weekend, too!

  • Have you ever “hit the wall” ?
  • Do you usually start out a race fast or slow?
  • What’s your favorite post-race meal?

Of interest:



  1. First CONGRATS!!!!! I have never tackled the distance (only half’s for me) and I think the fact you can make your body finished 26.2 miles is amazing!

    Have you ever “hit the wall” ?
    – Yes. I hit the wall my first half marathon. I had injured my foot three weeks before and lost a lot of endurance resting it for those weeks, but I pretty much told myself that I had to finish, even if it meant crawling.

    Do you usually start out a race fast or slow?
    – I always start out too fast and then around the 75% completion mark, say that next time I’ll start out slower. Never happens.

    What’s your favorite post-race meal?
    – Pizza. Always Pizza.

    • pizza is the way to go! one tactic i’ve heard of to start out slower is to put yourself in a slower wave/corral. that way you’re stuck with slower runners and have to slowly weave forward until you hit your groove. it can be frustrating but might pay off. good luck at your next race!

  2. Andy Van Grinsven

    Congrats Mary! Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself 🙂

    It definitely takes a ton of dedication and will power to finish a marathon, and I have the greatest respect for those who tackle the challenge.

    For me, the “wall” presents itself at just the idea of running a marathon. I’m running a 6.0 mile mud run this weekend, and that’s about as far as I’m comfortable with.

    Congratulations again on completing marathon #6. I’m anxious to hear about the next one!

  3. project30in2012

    It’s all relative, you know? I always try to remember that my worse race is someone’s best. 🙂 Great job — from the pics it looks like you were cruising along nicely. Oh and my post race meals always consist of either pizza or bacon — sometimes pizza with bacon 🙂

  4. Mel

    Yayyyyy MARRRYYY!! Congrats!! Amazzzzing! You look great!

    1) The wall is usually at mile 14 or 15 for me but its more like a… Man, I’m only half way??!! After slowing down for a few miles, I can usually push through.

    2) I usually start out too fast which is why I slow down halfway through. I need to work on that.

    3) Favorite post-race meal: Anything salty and carby!

  5. I’ve never hit the wall, but we will see when I do my first full marathon in October… I usually start slow and gradually build my speed up, even for short races. My favorite post race meal is Chicken Ceasar Salad with lots of croutons!

  6. Amy

    Congratulations on #6 and your age group award! I’m sorry about your wall. You were so close! I’m glad that you’ve been able to stay positive about the whole experience! I’ve only tried starting out slower once, and I’m not convinced that it helped me in any way.

  7. Wow, Mary, congratulations! This shows you pushed yourself really hard … just a tiny bit too hard. But you finished with a really good time anyway, and you’ll know how to calibrate your effort better next time. (And I can totally relate to hitting the wall … it happened to me at last October’s Marine Corps Marathon.)

  8. Chelsea

    Yay, Mary!!! Congrats on this marathon, first of all, and double points for staying positive in light of the fact that not everything went perfectly. Plus, I think all runners could use more professional sword bearers cheering them on 😉

  9. Tina

    Trevor and I are so proud of you for having run in and completed 6 Marathons, what a great achievement!! Well done. Good to have the sword bearer with you.

  10. Congratulations. 3:49 is still a magnificent time. Though, after following your training, I can grok that you might have felt a little disappointed not to qualify for Boston in this race. Do you have other races that you can use as qualifiers?

    Your blog is one of the things that inspired me to sign up for the Brisbane Marathon on 4 August. I just submitted an entry yesterday and start training today. It will be my second marathon. I ran the first one (on 26 August 2012) in 4:17 but my goal for the Brisbane Marathon is to run about 5:15 (i.e an hour slower) and to take lots of photos of the day. 🙂

    As for your questions:
    1. I have definitely hit the wall
    2. I generally start out races too fast so I am consciously practicing slowing down
    3. My favourite post-race “meal” is chocolate and cola. It’s not a meal but it’s still my favourite post-race calories.

  11. Congratulations! A race is a race, and the pros definitely outweighed the cons!
    Another pro is that you look fantastic in the race photos!
    I always start races slow. I didn’t once and really paid for it in the second half!

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