|Au départ de la course |
At the race starting line
En arrivant en France, juste avant Noël, j'ai ouvert ma boite e-mail chez ma tante et découvert que j'avais gagne. Ma première réaction a été "Merde! Il va falloir que je m'entraine!"
En fait j'avais jusqu'au 31 Mars pour me décider. A cette date j'aurais pu changer mon inscription au semi marathon. Du coup j'avais décider de m'entrainer sans me donner la pression. J'ai donc commence a suivre le programme en me disant que si pour quelques raison je ne le sentais pas, je pouvais toujours changer.
Le marathon c'est 4 mois d'entrainement pur. Mais quand on commence l'entrainement il faut déjà être capable de courir environ 20 miles par semaine. Heureusement c’était mon cas vu que j'avais a peu près maintenu le niveau depuis le semi-marathon.
Donc je me suis entrainée. Trois fois par semaine. Un exercice de vitesse, un exercice tempo et une course longue, en suivant le programme d'entrainement du FIRST. Le 21 Mars je courrais 20 miles, le 29 j'en finissais 22, le pic de mon entrainement. A ce moment la je savais que j’étais capable de finir la course.
Voila comment je me suis retrouvée le 21 Avril, a 7h30 au départ de la 3e édition du Blue Ridge Marathon de Roanoke.
When I told you about my first Half Marathon , I mentioned wanting to run a Marathon before I turn 30. Well that's done. Originally I wanted a flat Marathon. Several of you even mentioned the Marathon de Paris and I was very much tempted. But then, at the end of 2011, a running blog had a contest for a chance to win a marathon entry taking place 4 hours away. I hesitated to sign up but after talking it through with Hubby I gave it a shot.
When I arrived in France, over Christmas, I opened my email box at my aunt's and found out I won. My first reaction was "Shit! I have to train now!"
Truth is, I had until March 31st to decide. It was the last day to switch to the half marathon. So I decided to train without pressuring myself. I started a training program with the thought that if for any reason I wasn't feeling it I could always switch.
Now a marathon is 4 months of pure training. When one starts the training it's good to be able to already run 20 miles a week at least. Thankfully that was my case since I had pretty much maintained the level since the half marathon.So I trained. Thrice a week. Speedwork, tempo, long run following the FIRST training program. On March 21st I ran 20 miles, on the 29th I finished 22, the height of my training. At that point I knew I could finish the race. And that's how I found myself on April 21st, at 7:30am standing at the starting line of the 3rd Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, VA.
|Vue depuis Roanoke Mountain |
View from Roanoke Mountain
La veille de la course, il m'avait fallu réviser mon entrainement, voir les parcours que j'avais couru pour calmer mes nerfs. Me rassurer, savoir que je pouvais le faire.
Le jour même ça allait. Hubby m'a accompagne au départ. Après l'hymne national américain et quelques mots des organisateurs nous étions partis. Environ 500 personnes courait le semi-marathon et 300 le marathon, plus quelques équipes qui se partageait le marathon. Le premier mile j'y suis allée tranquille, je savais que ça ne servait a rien de courir vite. La première montée est vite arrivée. J'ai discute avec une coureuse qui avait un chouette T-shirt comparant le profil de course du marathon avec celui de Boston. On a discute un peu, elle a été surprise d'apprendre que c’était mon premier, ce ne fut pas la seule d'ailleurs.
A 5km (3 miles) les semi-marathoniens prenaient la direction de Mill Mountain tandis que nous continuions sur la Blue Ridge Parkway. Quel calme soudain, et quels points de vue aussi. De vrai moments de paix au milieu de l'effort. La montée même vers Roanoke Mountain était dure mais je n'ai pas ressenti le besoin de marcher. La descente était raide et du coup pas des plus facile. Un arret aux toilettes portable et j'etais repartie en direction de Mill Mountain cette fois ci.
Did I doubt myself? Yes, more than once. Especially since the organizers advertise the race as "America's toughest road marathon". Three big uphills and downhill: Roanoke Mountain, Mill Mountain and Peakwood Dr.
The day before the race, I reviewed my training, looking at the trail run I had done to quiet a good case of nerves. Reassure myself, to know I could do it.
On the day of, I was fine. Hubby took me to the starting line. After the National Anthem and a few words from the organizers, we were off. About 500 runners were doing the half marathon, 300 the full and a few more did a relay. I went easy for the first mile, I knew there was no point in running fast. The first uphill came fast. I chatted with a runner with a neat shirt comparing the race profile of this marathon with Boston's. We talked a bit and she was surprised to hear this was my first marathon, she wasn't alone in that thought.At mile 3, the half marathon runners went towards Mill Mountain while we continued onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. It got suddenly quiet, and what a view! True moments of peace within the effort. The uphill to Roanoke Mountain followed, it was hard but I didn't feel the need to walk. The downhill was steep and not the easiest. I took a pit stop to the porta potties and headed toward Mill Mountain.
|Mill Mountain Star|
Going up Mill Mountain turned out not to be that hard. I met another runner who really impressed me since she had just run the Boston Marathon 5 days prior!We went by the Star at the half way point. After Mill Mountain it was downhill again to get back into Roanoke. Until then I had been fine, I had taken some Clif Gel (energy gel) on a regular basis and had ran all the way. At mile 15 I was supposed to meet Hubby and switch bottles with him. Unfortunately we missed one another, so instead I refilled my bottle at the aid stations placed regularly on the course. I was about to reach the last and hardest climb: Peakwood. In itself I don't know that it's really that hard, but after 17 miles... I walked, more than once. I finally came across Hubby at mile 22, right in front of our hotel. Oh the temptation to stop! Thankfully I was still fine. I kiss to get me some motivation and I went by, leaving him his bottle and continuing with mine.
|Mile 22. Kilomètre 25|
Et puis je suis arrivée au marqueur des 25 miles. Soudain j'ai retrouve mon énergie. Il me restait 1.2 mile (2km) a peine avant l’arrivée. Donc j'ai couru avec ce qui me restait.
Barely a mile later I started feeling tired. I suddenly realized I had had nothing to eat since mile 15 except for a slice of orange. Idiot! It was a big mistake and I paid the price on the last miles. I think I stopped in my tracks and swallowed half of a chocolate gel before starting again. Although it was flat, I went pretty slow from mile 23 to 25, alternating walking (which hurt more than running) and running itself. I don't know for sure if I hit the Wall or not, but in any case I wasn't far from it. Not to mention that the clouds had made way to a bright sun and it was getting hot. To me those were the hardest miles of the race. I repeated encouraging words in my head to keep on going.But then I hit mile marker 25. Suddenly my energy was back. I only had 1.2 miles to go. So I ran with all I had left.
A girl passed me about a mile prior to the end. She was going way too fast for me to catch up and I would only realize why after the race. She was part of the marathon relay teams and still had fresh legs! I passed several other girls on the last stretch, those were relay teams too. It would be hard for me to tell you how surprised I was when I saw the clock. I was going to finish my first marathon under 4h15. I had only dreamed about it, not really believing giving how tough the course was.
I went under the finish line with tears in my eyes, proud of myself, thinking in my head "I'm a marathoner!"
Young girls in Miss outfits placed medals around our necks. All half and full marathon runners received a finishers medal. Volunteers also handed out cold water. A delight after all those miles.
Les organisateurs avait fait venir des masseuses. Il m'a fallu attendre juste un peu pour avoir droit a un massage des jambes et du dos. Quel bonheur car je ressentais de belles crampes dues a la montée d'acide lactique. Je suis descendue de la table de massage en bien meilleur état que quand j'y étais montée.
I quickly went to the food tent. Solid food did not attract me so I went for the oranges slices before finding Hubby who had brough with him a yogurt drink under my request (best idea I had). I had realized during the training that past 16 miles of running I couldn't stand solid food anymore, so drink, fruits and smoothies became my recovery food of choice. I called my Dad to tell him I finished. Shook hand with the Runner who did Boston and Blue Ridge the same week.The organizer had massage therapist on hand. I didn't have to wait long to get a leg and back massage. Such bliss when you feel your muscles cramping up following the increase of lactic acid. I came down from the massage table in far better shape then when I stepped on it.
Après une bonne douche nous étions de retour au centre ville pour la cérémonie. Ils ont d'abord annonce les grand gagnants. La première femme a fini en 3:32:4, le premier homme en 3:01:3.
Puis est arrive mon groupe d'age. Je pensais être peut être 3e. Mais en 3e place ils annoncent une fille de Roanoke, puis en deuxième place une de Washington. Je me tourne alors vers Hubby, un échange de regard qui dit que bon non je ne me suis pas placée. C'est alors que j'entends la voix "Et première des 25-29 ans, d'Asheville, NC.." En un instant je comprends (me doutant qu'il y avait peu de gens d'Asheville), je regarde Hubby et j'entends mon nom être prononcé... Voila, donc, énorme surprise. J'ai non seulement fini mon premier marathon mais je suis rentrée chez moi avec un trophée de 1ere place de ma catégorie.
Bon sachant que dans les chiffres pur je suis en effet 3e de ma catégorie. Oui, deux fille du même age que moi ont fini avant moi, mais elles ont aussi fini 1ere et 3e du classement général féminin. Or il n'y a pas de double prix en course a pied...
Then we went to see the results, curious of my chip time vs. the gun time. I finished in 4:13:54 (9:41 pace). But what surprised me was the 79 in front of my name. 79th of the marathon? 79th over 300? I couldn't believe it. I told Hubby we had to go to the award ceremony because there was a small chance I might have placed in my age group...
So after a good showe we were back downtown for the ceremony. First they started with the overall winners. The first woman finished in 3:32:3, the first man in 3:01:3.
The came my age group. I thought I might be 3rd. But 3rd place was a girl from Roanoke, and second one from Washington. I turned to Hubby, he could read my mind. I didn't place. But then I head "And first of the 25-29, from Asheville, NC...." Suddenly I understood (feeling that there were only few people from Asheville), I looked at Hubby as I heard my name being called.... So yes, there it was, the biggest surprise. Not only did I finish my first marathon, but I came home with a trophy of 1st in my age group.
Now in pure numbers, I was really 3rd of my group. Yes, two girls of the same age finished ahead of me, however they were also 1st and 3rd women overall. And in running you don't cumulate awards.
Two weeks after the marathon, I'm still recovering. Partly because I stupidly ran a far too technical trail while in recovery mode. But it's ok. I'm giving myself time to get better before thinking about the next Marathon... One day Paris...