Yall, I won a marathon. And I went sub-3. And I’m writing a race recap. But forreal, what is life?
So, before we start this thing, I want to say two things:
I had zero nerves / pressure going into this race
I peed on myself so so so much (more details on that to come)
I have talked about the in the past, but I completely dissociate prior to races. I execute things off my to do list as if they are folding a towel out of the laundry. If I start to think about mileage, I literally shut my brain down. I busy it with something else. OH LOOK A BIRD! A PLANE! Throughout this past year, I have learned a lot about meditative practices and I realize now that this is what I’m doing. I’m completely letting the nerves flow through me without becoming emotion. This is not easy, but it’s worthwhile to learn. It allows me to wake up every morning at 445am, drive to the gym or go to the track, do my workout, and never even think about it. It just gets done. I don’t say that in a “grind all day” kind of way because it’s not grinding. It’s just a habit. It’s not intense. It’s just a habit. YOU GOT THIS :)
I’ll talk about peeing later ;)
As you all know, I’m a pretty big advocate for plant based eating and macro counting (for some that are mentally healthy) within that. I find that tracking especially going into a race is vital for me to make sure that I’m doing it right and getting enough. I still did a small taper, and “depleted” carbs a few days prior leaving my system ready to absorb ALL THE CARBS on the day before. This is a method that I believe works and I have used it on many many clients. When I lower carbs a few days prior, it’s like very minimal, and then on the day before I eat 75% of my calories in carbs with the remainder split between protein and fat. It takes some planning and I don’t follow it perfect.
I ate a veggie burger and fries with ranch the night before at Savannah Taphouse, which was amazing. I had a glass of wine to make me sleepy as I was way too amped. I had about 400-500g C the day before.
On the morning of, I always do around 80-100g C split 50/50 between slow digesting carbs and quick carbs. For my slow digesting carbs, I had McDonalds oatmeal with brown sugar. I normally have savory oats so this was a real treat, and I dipped a blueberry bagel in it - ha don’t know it until you try it!
They told us we had to be at the parking deck by 6am at the latest, and the start was 7:30am. Like wtf, but whatever. Haha! Savannah is a port town, so you could either go to the expo and take a ferry to the start (ferry rides starting at 430am hahahahaha), or you could pay to park in the parking garage, which is what we did. Being the Ringley’s that we are, we got to the parking deck at 5am. I was like “Tanner, I have to sit in this car for 2.5 hours. Is this a joke?” We are always insanely early for everything haha!
I was just so so so thrilled to race. I normally wake up each morning and do my runs immediately, so that was the torture was just like not even nerves but just like EEK I’M AMPED LEGGO! At 415am, I literally popped up out of the bed, started dancing and jumped on Tanner and he was like GIRL BYE. Hahaha! But, he was SO sweet this entire weekend. Ugh, the desire to even explain how much I don’t deserve, but I digress…
At 6am, I had to pee, so we walked down to the Starbucks. There was a huge line, and it took us 30 minutes to wait for that which was honestly nice. It was warm. We just chatted, then went back up to the car. I wanted to keep warm as long as possible. At 7:10, we left the car and it was a 5 minute walk to the start. At the start, Tanner kept me warm rubbing my arms and such. At 7:20, I walked to the front of the start line, and did like that little bounce step thing. The half marathon winner was like kicking her legs in the air, so I did that because she looked cool. I did an air squat because like why not right? Then I looked around like girl, wtf you just do an air squat? LOL!
There were two guys behind me, and I asked him their desired pace. I could tell they were like HIGH KEY ANNOYED like “Um, you won’t be keeping up with us” kind of look. I was like DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME BRO? I’LL KEEP UP AND THEN I’LL BONK OKAY BUT DON’T TRY ME. He said “6:50 to start”. I thought to myself that I would keep them in my vision as I started, so I knew I was doing close to 7:00 for that first mile.
AND WE BEGIN:
The gun went off. The lady as the MC was like AGGRESSIVE. She roared the count down. 5,4,3,2,1…ANDDDDD THEY’RE OFF. I wish I could do an impression haha!
We started. I was so giggly. Like, so so happy to be running in a race that I had prepared for well and knew I did it right? Ugh, I can’t explain the emotion. Zero nerves. Just happy. I was on the heels of these guys and like “YALL ARE NOT GOING 6:50. THIS IS SLOWWWWW” and I kept looking at my watch and we were going 6:45-6:50. I was like “well thank goodness they are here or my dumb a** would be running a 6:30 out the gate”
Splits: 6:48 // 6:36 // 6:40 // 6:43 // 6:44 // 6:40
I kept with them for the first 5ish miles. I had on a long sleeve shirt, so Rob, the bicycle escort asked me if I was a half marathoner or full. With me being the full marathoner, he told me that I was in third place. I was like ‘k cool but not here for that’. It was right around this time that I passed Kelli, and met Ross. Let me go ahead and explain this dynamic:
Kelli Proctor is literally the sweetest human to walk this planet, and I would bet everyone in her life would vouch for that. In the 8-10ish miles we ran together, I just can’t explain her genuine nature, her positivity, and her non competitive nature. Oh, how thankful I was for that because I’m not competitive either. Truly. I did not come to win. I honestly didn’t even REALLY care if I got my sub 3. I wanted to have a good time and do my best.
Ross asked me my goal and I told him sub 3. He asked if I had done it before, and I told him no. He was doing the half and was wanting to go sub 1:30, so I knew our paces would be perfect together for the first half (right around 6:45-7s). He had an English accent so I was that annoying chick that asked where he was from (York, England).
Around mile 7ish maybe (I can’t keep up), Rob (bike escort) told me that they thought a girl in the front was a full marathoner, but she was a half marathoner, therefore I was in first place. I was like SHUT THE FRONT DOOR HOW FUN EVEN FOR JUST A MOMENT.
I had to pee so bad right at this point and thought how it would just have to be the first time I pee on myself because I’m definitely not stopping for another 20 miles. I tried to kinda push but nothing came, and I thought how interesting the body is that the sphincter won’t release because I was running even though my brain was telling me to pee. My belly was so distended from all the carbs and the urine that there was just … a lot of pressure. Haha!
Splits (7-13): 6:40 // 6:38 // 6:45 // 6:46 // 6:50 // 6:46 // 6:48 //
He told me second place (Kelli) was 300m behind. I was like “soooo how long is a football field because I can’t do that metric system” and this guy said “that’s about 1/4 mile” hahaha! Like the boss that Kelli is, she came back up at 8 miles (which you can see in the video that Tanner took) and said that she was feeling great. We both agreed we had no competitive bones in our body and we would just run together. We would help one another along, and we would get those sub 3’s (her first as well!) The men on the bicycles were really cute and told us men would never do what we did which was just chat and hang out.
At mile 11, Ross split off to go and finish up his half (whoop whoop), and then me and Kelli continued out on to the highway. The first part is in the downtown area and then you go out and come back on the highway that has some hills (ugh). At around this time, I thought to myself that I had just PR’d my half time, I felt INCREDIBLE going all sub 7 paces, and I was just SO.DARN.HAPPY.
(Note: My average heart rate for the race was 159 which I can’t even believe - it makes me believe that there might just have been more in the tank??)
Post Half way point:
Splits (14-20): 6:46 // 6:43 // 6:25 (oops) // 6:37 // 6:22 (dear lord) // 6:33 // 6:36
This section was way too fast, and most likely cost me in the end. This is an area for improvement next time.
At mile 15, I was thinking “omg, I actually think I’m going to go sub 3. This is INSANE. I thought to myself:
Think about the journey that you’ve had over the past year. Think about all that you’ve been through mentally and all that you’ve learned. Think about all the books that you’ve read on the brain and on endurance and how when you DECIDE and visualize something, you make it happen. Let’s do that. I promised myself that no matter how bad it began to hurt at any point, I would never allow myself one negative thought about marathon running. I would execute. I would be in pain. I would release it.
I finished that mile after those thoughts, and my watch vibrated. I looked down and it said 6:25. WOOOOOAHHHH slow ya horses Katie Ringley!!! Back at mile 14, Kelli and I had decided to conserve our energy, not chat as much and focus. Mile 17 / 18 flew by but there were also hills throughout this section (from the half point). The hills sucked both going out and coming back to be quite honest. I know they were nothing big, but they were there, and I hate hills. Hahaha! Let the record show ;) We went through a section where there was a drum line, and I was dancing with them to their music and almost tripped and fell and when I looked at my watch it said 5:40, so I think I got SO excited that I started running faster and then almost tripped because of it! DUMB. I really focused on slowing down then. With eight miles to go and the hardest part ahead, I knew I had kinda messed myself up to be honest. Like, you can’t do that in PR’s. You have to stick with your plan. Stay consistent. Stay on pace. Not go too fast.
At mile 18, I thought again about the practices of the mind. I thought about all of the youtube videos that I’ve watched on “Your World within” and I said audibly to Rick, who was my bike escort, “There is absolutely nothing that is going to stop me from my goal. Can you help me do that?” And he was so cute and yelled “YES. YES I CAN.”
By this point, I had peed on myself a little here and there but nothing major. I thought to myself that there was no way that I was going to be able to focus on not urinating plus these paces so I HAD TO get this pee out of me. So, for the next mile I literally focused on how I could pee on myself while running. It was hard, but I knew I needed to. Is this weird? Am I weird? hahaha.
When it released, y’all, oh.my.gosh. It completely released. My entire bladder. I can’t describe how disgusting I felt as it went all over my legs, soaked my socks and went into my shoes so much so that they were squishy. I thought it might freakin hit Rick riding the bike, so in my carb deleted mind, I TOLD HIM. I was like “I apologize. I’m so embarrassed, but my urine just completely released. If you smell me or see it, please don’t judge me.”
See above for when I had asked him to hit my goal and make sure I do that. Rick, in all his glory says, “That does not matter. You will hit your goal”
Hahahahaha. Y’all. Rick. Rob (second bike guy). Ross. Kelli. Blue Shirt guy coming up (Matt). What a crew. We were a team…all of us.
I frankly don’t remember mile 19 - maybe I was too busy worrying about the bathroom situation, but I knew that I was getting close to the 20 mile mark (woohoo!)
Splits: 6:44 // 6:49 // 6:49 // 6:51 // 7:04 // 7:09 // 7:23
At mile 20, I know it was totally mental, but I was like ‘oh god, I suddenly feel terrible’ and I knew that I needed to stop going sub 6:50 and know that I had cushion for my sub 3, and start aiming for right at 6:50 to be able to make it through strong for the next 6 miles. I kept calculating, and at the 20 mile mark, I actually thought I might could pull off a 2:55.
I was really careful to run the tangents. This race has like 46 million turns and so if you aren’t careful then you could add a lot to your race (I added about 0.2mile which definitely makes a difference in the end sometimes).
At mile 22, things started looking grim. I couldn’t believe that I had 4 miles to go and how good I felt to the distinction of what happens at mile 20 sometimes. I didn’t hit a wall, but the paces just did not feel easy any longer as they had the first 20. I didn’t think about anything. I meditated through the pain and the thoughts and knew that it would be over soon enough. I probably looked at my watch 500 times. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t falling back on pace to make my goal and HOW IN THE WORLD HAD I ONLY GONE 0.2MILES?! Haha! It was like every two seconds I kept looking.
At mile 25, Matt appeared. He probably saw that I was hardcore struggling and he came up strong. He told me to get behind him and ride off his pacing. I told him to go ahead so many times, but he refused. He stuck with me, and I would NOT had done 7:22 that final mile if he hadn’t been there. I’m not kidding probably 10 times he just kept repeating, “Come on. Come on. You can do it. Come on.”
You turn the corner at 26 for the final 0.2. It’s really cool how they do that in Savannah. It reminded me of Boston, and when you turn and can see that finish line, and all of my emotions began. I felt that strength that only the end of a marathon can bring, and I dug deeper than ever before. My quads weren’t just locked at this point, but rather like non functional. I wish I had a video to describe what they were doing, but I was barely able to keep on my feet. They were like wobbling, and complete jello.
I could see the tape. I knew I was going to be the one to run through the tape. I was in the stretch at the very end, and I could see the sign that said 2:58. I was going to make it. I finally let myself think. I released the meditative practice. I let myself FEEL AND FEEL DEEP. I felt every emotion from the past year…all the pain, all the depression, all the nights I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I just released while at the same time running as fast as I could.
I heard them call out my name as the female winner of Rock ’n’ Roll Savannah Marathon and I just could not believe it. I crossed the finish line and when my brain stopped my motion, my entire body collapsed. My legs like would not move forward another step, and just kinda crumbled under me.
POST FINISH LINE:
They picked me up by both my arms, and I was like “no no no someone turn off my Garmin!!” They carried me into the med tent, but I like legit was TOTALLY fine, and kept trying to say that, but I was also like hyperventilating emotional because ya know, I’d just won a damn marathon. I said “I’m so sorry. I feel so dramatic” and they gave me Gatorade, and let me sit there for a moment.
Matt (from mile 25) came into the med tent and kept telling me how great it was and congrats! Some man brought me an envelope that said “Female Marathon Winner” on the front (WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING!?). I told them I really had to pee (I had plenty left) and could I leave the med tent, and that I was perfectly okay, just a finish line drama queen. They let me go. I ask where the meeting place is for family, and start walking that direction. A lady walks up to me and says whenever I have a moment, she would like to do an interview with me. I was like “Wait me?” She laughed. I was like “girl I don’t know how I’m the person you want to talk to but they gave me this envelope and I think my legs just did that, so here I am.” I still feel that way. So weird.
We walked a little bit, and then they told me to get one of the official photos at the finish. I’m glad they did that because I would have forgotten and now I’ll have that for a memory. She had a friend that was a photographer and let me skip the line #soofficial
I hear Tanner yell my name from the left side.
He does this thing every time I PR. He has his phone in his right hand, and he raises it above his head and says “WOOO BABY WOOOO. YOU DID IT!!!!” It’s so cute, and I know his mannerisms, and I was just so so happy to see him. I ran over and he picked me up and we just hugged for like a solid minute. He kissed me on the cheek and said he was so proud but also so glad I was finished (he’s a worrier haha).
Sweet interview lady waited on me, and then after I saw T, she turned on a recorder to ask me some questions. That is this article: https://www.savannahnow.com/sports/20181103/rock-n-roll-savannah-womens-marathon-winner-ringley-at-her-personal-best
Right after the interview, I saw my friends Casey and Tracy who were yelling at the finish and had video and pictures of the entire thing. Oh my goodness, I’m so thankful for them and so glad they got to be there, and also both complete their halves!
It was literally the fastest turn around that I immediately had to go to the VIP tent. When I got over to that area, they had beer, wine, and champagne. They had all kinds of food and coffee and desserts and I wanted it all, but also wanted nothing. I just aimlessly walked around and then ended up seriously not eating anything. haha. They wouldn’t allow Tanner back with me, which was like low key weird but whatever haha.
From there, they told us that we would go to the stage. It truly all happened this fast. They separated us by half marathon, full marathon, both men and women. Before I knew it, they were calling up the marathon female winner with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes, and 15 seconds from Shelby, North Carolina, Katie Ringley. The podium was really high though and my body hurt, so I like stumbled on the podium. Hahaha! whomp.
It was an absolutely perfect day. A dream. The rest of the day just entirely a dream. I could relive that day over and over and over again. I truly do think that it might have been the best day of my life. I will never forget it as long as I live, no matter how many races I do. This race was my first sub-3, and marathon first place, and to do them both in the same race, I’m just so thankful to have the opportunity.
I know my level. I’m not a pro. I’m just a girl that loves chasing dreams and goals, and I think that these smaller races (15,000 runners I think) are such a cool opportunity for some runners that normally would never get the chance, get to break the tape. That was my Olympics, ya know? It’s that meaningful to me, and I don’t take it for granted.
I also immediately went home and showered and scrubbed and have never felt so much freedom to get out of those clothes! ;)