It’s time for my three-phrase, post-race summation! For the Monster Mash Marathon on Saturday, October 20, 2018, I’d like to use the following—solitary slog, poop (not my own), and lost Gu.
Since hubs had to pick up the Mature Kindergartener (MK) [because really, she’s no longer a toddler, nor angry, and is growing up way too quickly] on Friday from school, my awesome Smyrna Clayton Running Club friend Jenn picked me up to go to packet pick-up around 3:30 p.m. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!) Jenn was running her first half marathon, so I was wicked excited to be able to support her.
Like last year, packet pick-up was very simple and quick! This year’s t-shirts for women were pink with white lettering/images, I got a giant-sized Kit Kat, some Hammer gels, and a nifty race magnet. I was so looking forward to the huge Snickers like last year, but maybe others got that! (Jenn, what did you get?!) And I was glad to get another magnet, because my half magnet from last year fell off the car. Grumble.
I thought it was interesting that my last year’s half marathon bib number was 252, and this year’s full was 152. My house number growing up was 252, so I have an affinity for 5s and 2s. (I’m weird. I know.) There was a number on the back of the bib as well. Mine matched my bib number on the front, but Jenn’s didn’t, and others’ didn’t as well. I can’t figure out what that was.
I also received a wrist band that I was told would get me onto the race track on race morning. (Because if you recall, the race starts on the Dover International Speedway, where you run the first mile on the track itself!) I’m not 100% sure why the wrist band was necessary, since no one ever checked it. And I don’t think it was to redeem beer at the end of the race, but who knows?
I went home and laid everything out that I thought I’d need. I pinned my race bib to my black capris, charged my headphones, pinned on my Gus to my Tivuzo running pack, and so on.
During my lunch break earlier, I ran out to get some Gus, because I knew I didn’t have enough for the race. I got six total at Dick’s Sporting Goods at our local mall. I wish I had gotten to a local running store, because Dick’s Gu flavor options weren’t the best. I went with Blueberry Pomegranate (Roctane), Tri-Berry, Chocolate Outrage, and Vanilla Bean. I had a Toasted Marshmallow one as well, but I wasn’t too sure that would sit well with my stomach. My normal routine is to have an Espresso Love Gu first, since I don’t eat or drink anything before the race, so it’s kind of like having my morning cup of coffee. But alas, that wasn’t in the cards this time.
I’ve heard iffy reviews of the water stops/aid stations at this race, and I was nervous that I wouldn’t have enough water along the course, so I brought my Orange Mud hand-held water bottle with me. I’ll be honest, I’ve never run long distances with this hand-held. I was sure that I’d hate it, or it would become annoying. However, I knew that I didn’t want to bring my hydration pack with me, so this was my next-best choice.
I also brought throw-away gloves, my Race Advisors #GoSpeedy headband, a visor, and a trash bag (more on that in a sec). Last year I remember it being very sunny, so I figured I’d need the visor. I really need to invest in some Goodr sunglasses!
When I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on race day, the first thing I heard was rain pounding the roof. I had been eyeing the weather forecast all week, but the chance of rain looked fairly low to me. Sigh. I got my stuff together, slathered myself with enough Body Glide to choke a horse, and then grabbed a trash bag to create a makeshift poncho. One of the worst things that can happen to you during a long run is getting wet, which in my mind equals gag-inducing chafing!
Jenn picked me up around 5:45 a.m. (because Tom was supposed to take the MK to a Girl Scout even before coming to meet me at the finish line—thanks hubs, even though the MK didn’t go because she had a cough), and off we went! There was zero traffic along the way, and we had ample parking at the stadium. We sat in the warmth of the car for a little while until we used the bathroom (an actual bathroom, people) and crowded around Miles the Monster before race announcements started. Here I am before the race in front of Miles. I’m trash-bag chic!
You can see my glorious trash bag around my neck, and I’m holding three fingers up. No, I’m not doing a wonky version of the Girl Scout pledge, silly. This was my third full marathon.
Thankfully by that time, the rain had all but stopped. Everyone was herded into the stadium to line up at the starting line, and Jenn and I lined up behind the 2:30 pacer. I wanted to run as much of the race with Jenn as possible. Running on the racetrack wasn’t quite as bad I remembered it to be last year, and it was fun to see a few spectators on the sidelines.
I was glad I brought my visor, layered up, and brought gloves, but it surprisingly wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be. I shed the gloves and trash bag after the first mile as we exited the track.
Jenn and I chatted along the way, and it was so nice to have someone to run with! We saw our fearless SCRC leader around Mile 5, which was awesome. We also saw another SCRC member, Kathleen, who made a sign for us that said, “Run, Jenn, Run! Run, Becky, Run!” etc. That made us both beam!
I stayed with Jenn for the first eight miles until the half and the full courses split. After that, I ran primarily by myself for the rest of the race. More often than not, I was completely alone, which was a little spooky. I was armed with plenty of Another Mother Runner, Marathon Training Academy, and Run, Selfie, Repeat podcast episodes plus a music playlist, but it was odd to be completely alone for long stretches of road.
For the most part, you’re running alongside cornfields, rural houses, and farmland. Oh, and trying to dodge horse poop most of the time.
The course was marked with orange arrows (stickers), some cones, and of course used amazing volunteers to help steer you in the right direction.
At one point I saw miniature horses in a field, and I literally said out loud, “Hi, horsies!” I think I was just grateful to see another living thing along the course haha.
There were two areas that were out-and-backs, so during those points I could see runners in front of and behind me. At one point, I saw the 5:00 pacer well ahead of me, and the 5:30 pacer/group were quite a ways behind me, so I knew I was plodding along at an expected pace.
I took one Gu every four miles until Mile 16. I have no clue what happened, but I lost two of my six Gus along the course somehow. Ugh! I knew that some of the aid stations were supposed to have Hammer gels, so I didn’t worry too much. I’ve never used that brand before, but my body seems to react OK to most gels/Gus, so I thought it would be fine.
At the Mile 16 aid station, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the MK’s former preschool teachers, Ms. Susan! I was so happy to see her! That happiness quickly faded, however, when she told me that they had run out of Hammer gels. WHAT?! The volunteers kindly offered me Pop Tarts, granola bars, and other treats, but I wanted a gel, darn it. I begrudgingly grabbed a granola bar, knowing that I’d need something later on.
At the next aid station they didn’t have gels either. Nor did they at any other stop along the course. Thankfully they had water, and even some water pitchers so that it was easier to fill up my hand-held, but having no gels was ridiculous.
As I choked down one of the dry Nature’s Valley granola bar pieces, I wondered how trail runners eat actual food during races! I guess you get used to it, and maybe you’re running slower than for a road race in some spots, but it just seems like a huge feat to me. Kudos to you, trail runners who eat food while running! I had one half at Mile 20 and the other at Mile 24.
Between Miles 20 and 23 seemed like the longest miles of the race. I wasn’t in any pain, but I did take longer walk breaks, and at that point I was getting antsy to finish.
Around Mile 25, I was running behind a mother who was joined by her son for the last bit. It was so heartwarming to see, and I apologized to them for running/walking so closely behind, but I was using them as motivation. They introduced themselves, and we chatted for a few minutes. I turned on “High Hopes” by Panic at the Disco, picked up my tempo, and finished the race strong and with a smile on my face.
I saw Tom and the MK at the finish line, and they had added a few touches to their awesome sign!
It was so good to see them, earn my HUGE medal, and wrap myself in my “cape” a.k.a. the silver thermal blanket.
Although I wasn’t starving, I was looking forward to the post-race food. I didn’t see any bottled water at the end (which you’re normally given), nor did I see any food in sight. I sort of remember this from last year, but it wasn’t as important to me after running the half last time.
This time, all I wanted was a bottle of cold water and a soft pretzel. Nope, that wasn’t going to happen! Instead, they did give Grotto pizza and beer to all finishers. It was a bit underwhelming, and we didn’t stay long because there really wasn’t anything else to do or eat.
Before leaving, we ran into another friend, Jennifer Accord, so we chatted with her for a few minutes. The MK wanted to run around Miles the Monster a few times, etc. but I was ready to go home, take a hot shower, and take a nap!
Overall, I would run this full again. You just have to be prepared with your own nutrition, come armed with music/podcasts, and bring your own post-race food and drinks.