It was a great experience to run my first marathon at home in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois on April 26th. I decided to run with the 3:50 pace group and met a lot of interesting people on the course. Our pacer Steve had run 13 marathons in one year and I connected with others who traveled across the country to run different events. The Walt Disney World marathon was the group’s favorite and most had run the Goofy Challenge: a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. For the first part of the race I ran with Cynthia, a nurse who told me she began running in her late 30s after she gave up smoking and qualified for Boston in 8 months. The first part of the race was pretty easy and I was running a PR for a half marathon with a 8:30 mile/pace. All that changed at mile 14 when fatigue started to set in. The next couple of miles were a challenge and I ran with Bryan, a local resident who was also running his first marathon. At mile 17 I took a Gu Gel, stopped to drink some water, and threw up. But I kept on running and didn’t stop. There were no bathroom breaks and I only stopped to walk at the water stations. Bryan needed to rest by mile 20 and I continued on my own for the rest of the race. By this point my feet hurt, my left knee twinged with pain that thankfully went away, and I felt chafing. Miles 20-26 were tough and I really slowed down running a 9:30 mile/pace. It wasn’t easy and I had to dig deep to keep on going. The local residents of Champaign made a huge difference with their cheers and support as we weaved through suburban neighborhoods late in the race. Before I knew it we were at Memorial Stadium and the race was finished. It was a wonderful run and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
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