Sorry this one took so long to post!
I drove up the night before since I needed to pick up my bib at the Expo. I left my house about 1 PM. The drive was not bad. I got to Raleigh about 4 PM. I knew the Expo was closing at 5 and I want to shop a little. As I entered Raleigh, the traffic was crazy. I knew it would be bad since the roads were closing for races and more people were in town. I didn’t expect this bad. I drove around for about 10 minutes until I finally found a public parking deck. It was only a couple blocks from the Expo. I got to the Expo with my signed waiver in hand. We had to go downstairs. There was a balloon arch of letters at the entrance that was pretty cool.
Bib pick up was easy. I was 20240. I looked in the official merchandise since this was my first full marathon, but didn’t see anything I liked. The Expo was a decent size. I tried to walk around the whole thing before it closed. I almost succeeded. I stopped to buy Maui Jim sunglasses and that took some time. I did pick up info on a few races I hope to do next year. I was going to prepay for parking, but it was already sold out. So, I decided just to get up early and use the free deck they gave directions to in the race instructions. By this time, they were making announcements about closing. So, I proceeded to the exit and stopped in the bathroom. I made my way back to my car and paid for my parking. I was briefly considering using the same deck for the race, but wasn’t sure I could find my way back to it. I put in the address for the Holiday Inn Crabtree and was on my way. The drive wasn’t bad and was shorter than I thought. I knew I’d be making the trek in the morning so it was nice to have seen it. It did point out to me the differences between Raleigh and Charlotte, though. The atmosphere is just completely different. I think Raleigh is more artsy and laid back and Charlotte is more urban and fast-paced. No wonder they can’t understand each other.
When I finally got to the hotel, it wasn’t bad and the area had a lot to offer. The hotel is older and is still under renovations. The lady I talked to at the front desk was extremely friendly and helpful. She gave me my key card and I made my way to the room. When I went to use my key card, the door opened and a housekeeper came out. We both jumped. The room was pleasantly nice.
The WiFi worked great and the TV had good channels. I hung out in the bed checking email for about 30 minutes. Then I decided I needed some dinner. Luckily, there is a mall across the road. I found the back way out that led to a stop light. Before I left, I had decided on an Italian restaurant. I found a parking space and entered the mall. It’s really not a bad mall. They even had a store to get gear representing the local colleges. I thought about stopping to get my husband something, but then decided not to. Eventually, I found Tomato Pie. The service was a little slow but everyone was friendly. I got pesto pasta and decided to skip the salad bar since that can sometimes cause me issues. The pasta was good. After dinner, I went back to my room. My key card did not work and I realized I hadn’t tried it before. So, I went back to the front desk and the same lady helped me. She gave my a new card that worked. I went back up to my room. I set out my running clothes and watched a little TV. Then, I tried to sleep.
The alarm went off early. I got up and was ready quickly. I made sure I had everything packed up. I stopped by the front desk to check out. That was really easy. I then took everything to my car and plugged in the parking deck in my GPS. I was able to get in and find a spot easily at 5:30 AM. I thought more people would be there since they wanted everyone parked by 6. I walked with a few others to the starting area.
We still have almost an hour until the start. So, I walked to the bag check area. I didn’t need to check anything but knew they had some food. I ate a banana and drank some water. I talked to a few people there and then grabbed a bagel and ate it on my way back to the starting corrals. I was in corral 20. I met up with other Half Fanatics for a pre-race picture.
After that, I decided to use the port-o-potties. The lines were not terrible and did move well. Once I was done, I headed back to my corral. I ran into a friend of my husband’s. He told me some of my friends were at the very back. I went back and talked to them briefly. They were all doing the half. In this race, the half and full start together. I knew most people would be doing the half. Soon, the ropes were put up dividing the corrals. I made sure to get in 20. I talked to the people around me as we waited for the start. Finally, about 10 minutes late, they did the National anthem and started the race. Once it started, the corrals moved forward at a good pace.
They started about a minute apart. Since the start was 10 minutes late, I started worrying about making the first cutoff. You had to be to Mile 8.5 which was the full/half split by 9:50 AM. If not, they would force you to take the half. The full time limit was still 7 hours from the last person to start, though. I was not running with anyone, so I set a good pace. I was running near someone who had an injury and wasn’t sure if she would complete the full or opt for the half. Every time I saw her, I asked how she was doing. The first few miles came pretty quick.
There was a lot of bands and music to keep us motivated. The first water only stop was after Mile 2.
I think there were 2 bands between Mile 3 and Mile 4. One was on a corner in a park.
The other was on a straight stretch.
After passing Mile 4, I caught up to the juggler.
I stayed by him most of the next 10 miles.
This mile had a lot of beautiful homes and many people out cheering. Then came the band in kilts.
How can you beat this? They really cheering me up. At Mile 5, I was still going strong.
Next came a bluegrass band.
One of the Half Fanatics was not running and made a sign with all the runner’s names from the group.
It was very thoughtful and much appreciated. There was a water stop right at Mile 6.
The 10k mark was shortly after that.
Mile 7 was right at a church.
I can only guess these were some of the parishioners out cheering us on. Next came another band.
At Mile 8, I knew I was going to make the cutoff.
Only 1/2 a mile until the split!
The split was well marked and they gave a lot of warning.
I saw the injured girl here. She was really torn on whether to try for the full or just go the half. I think she ended up doing the half because I didn’t see her again.
I had a picture in my pocket of a little girl named Kenzie. She is battling cancer and had a relapse. Her picture helped motivate me the full marathon. I had to get a picture with it at the split. I had overcome my first obstacle. The crowd of runners really thinned here. As suspected, more people took the half marathon route.
There was a group of 4 runners ahead of me.
I believe they were a Galloway group. I talked to them and leapfrogged them for a little while. Next came another band.
Mile 9 came and I was still feeling good.
We saw marathoners on the opposite side returning. The next band was actually on the opposite side of the street.
At Mile 10, the signs changed color and were only for the marathon.
In this area, we could hear the DJ.
She was mostly encouraging the people coming back getting to Mile 20. She did give me a shout out for my colorfulness. There was a water stop right before the next band.
I think I missed the Mile 11 sign during the water stop. We ran by the NC State Football stadium.
We then turned right to make a loop around the PNC arena where NC State plays basketball and the Hurricane play NHL hockey. Mile 12 was in the beginning of this loop.
I was starting to feel the oppressive heat at this point. I started talking longer walk breaks, too.Mile 13 was right before the end of the loop.
At this point, I started running with my running buddy for the rest of the race. Another band was in this stretch.
Mile 14 was in the middle of a straight, hot, uphill stretch.
There was a great DJ in this section.
This spoof of the Krispy Kreme sign was extremely appropriate.
There was no shade on this road and the sun was beating down. We turned left for the last part of the out and back. We ran by farms at this point and there was a smell. It did not really bother me, but some people did comment on it. Mile 15 was at the beginning of this stretch.
I think the band was on the opposite side of the road right around this point. We kept up our intervals as best we could until we got to the turn around.
Luckily, there was some shade in this area. Coming back was mostly uphill. We did modified intervals. The heat was getting to me and I didn’t want to push myself too hard. I let my running buddy go on ahead because she walked faster than I did. I knew I could catch her on running intervals. Mile 16 was not too far from the turn around.
You can see my running buddy ahead of me by the speed limit sign. Not too long after this, the final runner came by on the other side followed by an entourage of vehicles. I didn’t feel too much pressure at that point. Soon, we got back to the area with the band.
Before long, we were turning right back onto the main road. Here we hit Mile 17.
You can see the blurry guys just beyond this that handed us ice to hold on our necks. I loved the banner on this overpass.
The police officers did a great job of letting traffic pass only between runners and not stopping runners. Mile 18 was just before we got back to the arena area.
The band was still there on the opposite side of the road.
After turning the corner in the arena area, we came to the next band.
Mile 19 was just after the arena area.
When we got to the next water stop, you can see the guys beginning to break things down on the other side.
We passed the first DJ.
She was great encouraging us to keep going. This is when I started getting anxious about the sag wagons. You can see one on the left side of the road letting people out. Shortly after the DJ, we passed Mile 20.
We started looking over our shoulders to make sure we couldn’t see the last runner. Before long we were at Mile 21.
At this point, my running buddy and I were encouraging each other. We kept saying we could do it. It’s amazing what having someone else to encourage and support you can do. There was a band on the opposite side of the road at this point.
We made it to Mile 22.
This stretch has a lot more shade. There was another band here.
After the bridge in the distance, we still could not see the last runner. We had to start dodging the little caterpillar like things hanging down from the trees. They did get annoying. Next we came to Mile 23.
My running buddy recognized the people ahead of us. I think they had already been moved forward on the course. There was another band on the opposite side of the road.
I really appreciated all the bands staying to the end for us back of the packers. I know the crowd listening to them must have been very small. Soon we got to Mile 24.
I had long since stopped using my intervals and only used the watch to gauge when to take a GU. Incidentally, I took one after 45 minutes and then every hour after that. I ended up taking 6 GUs in all. They did give out Salted Caramel on the course so I took one. There was another band playing in this stretch.
You can see the clean up guys got in my picture.
Mile 25 was back in the neighborhood area.
I knew I had blisters on my heels at this point. I was not going to let them stop me. I hadn’t really been running except for some small downhill stretches since Mile 20. Next came this Michelob Ultra area with a band.
Not many people were here when we came through. I should say at Mile 21.5 we merged back in to the half course. They were all long since finished, though. Finally we were back on the streets of downtown. I knew it was almost over. I saw Mile 26.
I was going to finish! I could see the finish line.
I actually had enough left to run (jog) from where the finisher’s chute started through the finish line. I got my medal and a bottle of water. Then, I found my running buddy. She had pulled ahead of me in the last mile since we were walking. Since we were some of the last finishers, we got a picture, actually several, with no wait.
They let us take a protein bar in each flavor. We also got chocolate milk. It turns out we were in the same parking deck. We decided to walk together to find it. On the way, we ran into a reporter for one of the local channels. He interviewed us after telling us 2 people had died. I feel terrible for those families. It was hot and would have been easy to push too hard. I’m not sure what happened to them, but hope that was not what it was. After finishing the interview, we finally found the deck. We did the stairs to the level we were parked and I found it was easier than I thought it would be. I was sore. We said goodbye and I made my way to my car.
I had a pair of sandals in the car. So, I took off my running shoes and socks and put on my sandals. This is where I first saw that the whole back edge of both of my heels were large blisters. I plugged my home into my GPS and got on the road. I did stop just outside of Raleigh at a gas station to change my clothes. I took baby wipes and wiped myself down as I changed. The only things I left on were my calf compression sleeves. I did put on light compression pants since I knew I would be driving for 3 hours. I had a spray Biofreeze that I put on my legs. I also took Tylenol. The drive home was relatively uneventful. I did have to stop at one rest area. I’m sure I looked funny with my medal, race shirt, and compression pants.
Once home, I got a great reception from my family. At this point, I do not plan to run another marathon. I might be convinced to do that half of this in the future. I really need to increase my speed before I even think about trying another marathon. I finished in 6 hours and 44 minutes. This was just way too long. Overall, this race was good. They had plenty of support and bands on the course. I was surprised there wasn’t more issues since it was the inaugural. This encourages me that next year will be great. However, if I do sign up, it will be for the half.
My GPS was slightly off and only reported 25.84 miles.
12:47, 12:37, 12:56, 14:22, 13:17, 14:36, 14:05, 15:16, 15:12, 13:57, 14:08, 14:38, 15:38, 13:56, 15:36, 16:03, 16:33, 14:46, 17:48, 16:55, 16:48, 16:03, 15:55, 17:40, 17:53, 15:42