Find me at my new website/blog Eryn Whalen Fitness
It’s been just over a month ago since I ran my first marathon. I know it may seem weird that it took me this long to write up a review, and maybe it is, but it was just so personal that I guess I wanted to keep it to myself a bit longer? If that makes sense. Plus I didn’t want to rush writing it. Believe me, it’s a memory engrained into my very self and I doubt I’ll ever forget any of it!
The marathon was on Saturday and we left late Friday morning. The kids did sooooo good on the car ride over. The five hour drive from Spokane to Seattle went pretty quickly.
We got in a little later than anticipated due to some construction. We were going to go straight to the trade show and pick up my packet, but decided last minute to check into the hotel first. Evelyn needed a change and Tyrion had to go potty (we are potty training) and I didn’t want to do it in some random restroom.
We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn. It was a great price because of the marathon. The rooms were large, we got one with two queen beds and Tyrion was in heaven. The bathroom was spacious and everything felt clean.
(view from our room)
After everyone was changed and happy we took off toward Century Link and the Rock ‘N’ Roll expo.
I will admit I was slightly disappointed we didn’t get to hang out at the expo longer, it was so cool! However we had two tired babies on our hands, and my friend Megan and her family had went straight to the expo and waited for us, (She was running the half marathon and drove in from Spokane too.) so they were pretty done as well. They also have two kids, and babies who have been in car seats and then strollers all day turn into cranky pants!
It was so huge though, tons to see.
Megan wanted to do the Cheesecake Factory for dinner so we headed on over, however we drove by and I was like, no way! (It was about 7:30pm) The line was out the door and I called Megan and said my kids would make me die a slow and painful death if I made them wait that long for food! We ended up meeting at our hotel and eating in the downstairs restaurant. It wasn’t the Cheesecake Factory, but it worked. If I ever run the Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll again I would want to be there for a whole day before hand to hang out and be more relaxed, taking in some of the sites. It wasn’t in the cards this time though so we went with the flow.
We had a quiet dinner and then headed upstairs (Megan and her family were staying in another hotel about half a mile away) to get everyone settled and in bed!
Tyrion thought he was so cool to get a huge bed all to himself.
I thought the hotel would have breakfast in the morning but I had to be up and out before they served, so Travis was amazing and went out to Whole Foods to get me some muffins, juice, and bananas so I would have my choice in the morning.
Before bed I showered, taped up my left knee, put out my gear, and hit the sheets!
It had been raining on and off all evening and through the night, so each time I got up I would look at the weather app on my phone praying it said clear skies for Saturday.
Evelyn woke up a couple times for a bottle, and Tyrion woke up at 4am whispering, “Mom . . . mom . . . mom.” I went to his bed and asked, “What Tyrion?” And all he said was, “Hi!” I laughed out loud and squeezed in next to him on his jumbo bed and we snuggled until my alarm went off at 5am.
I got up, made coffee and had a muffin.
The weather app finally changed and said it wasn’t suppose to rain until 1pm. Perfect!!!! My spirits where high while I got ready!
P.S. PRO Compression socks were such a big part of my long runs and marathon. When they heard I was running my first marathon they kindly sent me a pair. I was so grateful and excited to try them out. They helped keep the swelling down and blood circulating! My leg recovery was a lot faster when I wore them versus not. Check them out here!
After getting ready I kissed Travis goodbye and left to walk down to the Elephant Car Wash to meet up with Megan and head to the start line.
I love the pre-race excitement. There was hundreds of people walking to the Space Needle start line from all over the city and it brought me that deep down, belly filled excitement.
We found our starting area and settled in.
I can honestly say I wasn’t nervous. At that point, standing there about an hour away from the start of the race, I took a deep breath and trusted my training plan and the effort I had put into the last 8 months. I worked hard and felt as ready as ever to tackle the miles. All I had was excitement for everything I would see, experience, learn, and the knowledge I would gain when I hit the finish line.
Like most races they started bit late and we crossed the start line at 8:01.
I ran with Megan for just under a mile and then took off on my own.
It was pretty crowded for the first bit, with the 5k, 8k, 10k, and half marathon people all together.
But the energy was AMAZING. People stopping everywhere to cheer us on.
Saw this guy, who has ran practically everywhere. How cool is that!?
His shirt says, “Finisher Marathon Race (26.2 miles) In All 50 States Plus D.C.” I mean, wow. Just wow.
My pace was a bit fast towards the beginning, high 9’s to low 10’s. I kept trying to slow down but the energy of everyone spurred me on and I was caught up in the moment. I realized right away I would need to use the restroom soon-ish, but passed the first few over because I would have been waiting for at least a half hour. Was not ready to lose that much time just to pee!
We weaved through the city and past Century link, our final destination and I told it, “See ya in a few” as I rounded the next turn.
It started to thin out a bit and I tried harder to keep a decent pace. I knew I would have to use a bathroom soon, and finally found one with no line about mile 8. I took a quick pit stop and then hit the road again.
About mile 10ish it started to drizzle and didn’t let up until mile 17.
There really isn’t much I can say about the first half of the race. I kept a decent pace, was happy, felt great, and was super entertained by everyone and the scenery. Rock ‘N’ Roll knows how to put on a race, that’s for sure!
I drank Energize from Beachbody’s performance line at the start, and had a pack of Sport Beans, Shot Blocks, and a GU with me. At about mile 10 I decided it was time to take the Beans since I didn’t want to get to a point where I felt I needed them. My priority was to try and ward off those feeling before they were even really there.
Finally the half marathoners moved to the left and a sprinkling of us doing the full went right.
As we rounded the corner at Lake Washington I saw up ahead a small group following two pacers. There were too far ahead to see their finish time, so I decided to slowly speed up until I caught them and figure out if I wanted to keep pace.
We ran around Seward Park and ever so slowly I caught up. Right as we hit mile 13 I hit the pack. Their finish time was 5:10 hours, and that was exactly what I was going for so I decided to slow pace again and keep it, which averaged about 10min 45sec per mile. At that point it felt easy. (Notice I say that point!) At exactly 13.1 they switched out the pacers for fresh ones, and we got two sweet young women who seemed ready and eager to take us to the finish line!
Side story, I got completely emotional and even started to cry at one point. For what seemed like a couple miles, there were pictures along the trail of military personnel who had lost their lives for our freedom, so we could be there running a marathon that day with no fear, and it really affected me. I’m so appreciative to everyone who puts their lives on the line for my freedom.
After the photos there was about a mile of volunteers holding American flags. Honestly gave me goosebumps. It was beautiful.
The rain was coming down pretty steady at this point, which didn’t bother me much. I was sooooo glad it waited until we were nice and warmed up and didn’t pour on us as we were standing still at the start line. That would have started the day off in an icky way. But the rain on already warm bodies didn’t do much, and as we got to the Lake Washington floating bridge it cleared up entirely.
As we made our way onto the bridge and hit mile 17, I could see the mile 23 sign for those coming back the opposite way, and realized that a lot of the remainder of the marathon was going to be spent on this huge bridge.
At first it was pretty neat to be above the water on this huge bridge, but then it morphed into just running, on a road, and I was getting tired. . .
The only time we walked was through water stations, and as soon as our cups hit the garbage can we were running again.
As we made our way across the bridge I wasn’t the only one feeling tired. Our little group following the pacers had been slowly dwindling until there was about three of us at mile 18. As we made our way over the bridge and through the first tunnel I looked over and there was only one other girl following them. And at that moment I realized how tired I was.
After what felt like a small eternity, we made our way off the bridge and directly into a long tunnel. Again, the tunnel was cool at first, but the stale humid air got to me after a while, and I couldn’t wait until I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. We ran for about another half mile outside the tunnel before they turned us around and we headed back.
My Map My Run App did awesome until we hit the tunnels, and at that point I had to just guestimate and go by the mileage signs, because the app was freaking out.
(In NO way did I run 32 miles)
I had taken my Shot Blocks and GU a while back and was feeling depleted. They were passing out another brand of GU at mile 14, which I took and placed in my belt, unsure if I wanted to try something new at that point. Once we hit mile 21 I knew I was going to have to attempt it, or else my pace was going to slow. My legs were tight and I felt off, that feeling you know you get when your body is asking for more fuel.
I said a little prayer and downed the GU right before we hit another water station and headed back through the tunnel to the bridge again.
After mile 18 no more pictures were taken until I crossed the finish line. I was mentally and physically exhausted. The furthest I had ever ran in training was 20 miles, and after mile 21 I got a little scared and for the first time wondered if I could run the rest of it or if I would have to resort to walking. The wind was picking up on the bridge so they removed mile markers 21-23, that and my app being off and I started to panic when I didn’t see any more markers. Right as we got off the bridge and hit our last tunnel I finally asked one of the pacers what mile we were at, wondering if I had imagined seeing the mile marker 23 when I first hit the bridge.
She said yes, we had just hit mile 23 and at that moment I didn’t think I had it in me to keep pace anymore and said, “Thank you, you ladies have been great but I’m going to have to say goodbye, I can’t keep this pace anymore, but thank you so much!”
I vividly remember who I now know to be Katie, (she found me on FB after the marathon!) look at me and ask my name. I told her and she said, “Eryn, I know your name now so you’re in trouble. You are not quitting. All that’s left is a 5k and you can do that in your sleep. So come on, keep pace, you’ve got this!” And I didn’t think that I did, but I tried because she didn’t know me, but she still believed I could do it, so maybe I really could.
As we were mid-way in the tunnel I looked over to find a lady on all fours, being comforted by a guy at her side as she was sick all over the concrete. And I felt so bad for her, but at the same time as I prayed she was okay, I looked forward and kept going, because if I thought about anything else besides putting one foot in front of the other for more than a second I wasn’t going to make it.
Anytime my pace started slowing I would see Katie look back at me as she offered me encouraging words, so I would pick up my legs a little bit faster and catch back up again. Those last few miles I felt so heavy, like my legs were the size of an elephants and the whole world was resting on my shoulders.
One last water station and it took everything I had to ease into a run again. But I saw Century Link Stadium right in front of me and knew that the finish line was behind it.
Katie shouted encouragement to me the whole way and I’ll forever be grateful to her for getting me to the end. Right as we were about to round the last corner I yelled to them both, “Thank you so much, there was no way I would have been able to keep this pace and finish like this without you.” And Katie looked back and said, “Yes you would have, now go! Sprint to that finish line!” And I did, and as I finally saw the finish line I looked to the right and there was Travis and my babies cheering me on and I almost lost it. This was the end, everything I had worked for and dreamed of since signing up one year ago.
And I crossed the finish line. Best. Feeling. Ever.
They were handing out waters and Power Bars and I drank a whole bottle and inhaled the bar, and then went over to the side tables and downed a fruit cup.
Travis and the kids found me, along with Dean, Travis’s dad who had come to cheer me on too, which was just so sweet.
I got my medal and then went to stand in line for my Marathon Jacket.
We talked a bit and our original plan had been to head to Travis’s parents house so I could shower and relax before heading home, but I knew if I sat down there was no way I was going to be getting up anytime soon, so I said I wanted to go straight home from here.
Travis looked at me and understood, so we said goodbye to his dad and headed to the car to get on the road.
One we were settled and I was finally able to relax in my seat Travis told me to look down in the small door compartment, where I found the shirt I had been eyeing at the expo, along with a marathon sticker for my SUV.
And I don’t think it was until that moment that I realized how supportive Travis had been through all this. Running isn’t his thing, and even though he didn’t understand my drive to do this fully, he knew it was important to me and so he helped, in so many ways, make it a reality. From watching the kids after he got home from a long day of work, to picking me up when I couldn’t run any further, to switching things around at work so he could come and make sure he was there to watch me finish. Loading up the hotel room just that morning, checking out solo with two kids in tow, and making it into Downtown Seattle to make sure they were there to cheer me on.
And so we drove home.
I had to get out once to use the restroom and I have never in my life been so sore. It took forever to get out of the car, let alone use the bathroom. The moment that evening I sat on the couch, home and cozy, showered and clean with a beer in hand and pizza on my plate was the best!
Will I do another marathon in the future? Heck yes!!!!!! Will it be in a few years? Probably. I’ve got several other goals I have to cross off my list, but forever and always running will be close to my heart.