A Good Omen – Prairie Fire Marathon Race Report

I’m the worst!! So sorry for leaving you all hanging after my marathon weekend, but grad school has owned my soul even more than usual lately. But now, I’m back with the race report you’ve all hypothetically been waiting for and/or forgotten about.

As you all know, I was feeling a bit uncertain the week before the race but was determined to turn my attitude around. I spent the week before the race doing exactly what I said I was going to – repeating the same mantras over and over to myself, visualizing myself crossing the finish line, all that jazz. When the time came to actually head to the race, I felt relatively ok about it. At that point, I had done all I could do and what would be would be. The race was in Wichita, KS, which is actually where my grandparents live. Unfortunately, since I was only there for about 18 hours, I was unable to see them but hoping that being in their city would send me good vibes! As luck would have it, Patty and I had lucked into a room in the host hotel when one of the friends we were traveling with decided to stay somewhere else. We were literally 100 yards from the start and finish line! Good Omen #1.

We headed to the expo to pick up our bibs and I decided to buy a marathon sticker for my car. When I got my Jeep back in August, I refused to put a 26.2 sticker on it because I really wasn’t sure whether I would ever run another marathon. At the expo, I decided to make the leap and grab one, figuring I had to finish now!

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Patty and I at the expo! Follow me on instagram at @thetrexrunner

We headed out for dinner to a wine bar, which was really entertaining for all of us and probably really horrific for the waiter. I know nothing about wine so I really had to resist the urge to ask him to give me the one that tasted the most like Franzia – instead I just pointed at one on the menu that I couldn’t pronounce. It definitely wasn’t your standard Italian restaurant, and we all had picky runner’s stomachs, so we created quite a few custom orders. For once, I had the forethought to bring my own gluten-free pasta just in case they didn’t have any, and it paid off! The waiter generously agreed to cook mine for me with no fuss. Good Omen #2! Even better? They had a gluten-free chocolate torte on the menu that was to die for. This never happens. Good Omen #3!

Patty and I headed back to the hotel early and talked for a bit before heading to sleep. It was SO great to see her – I really miss Tulsa and living with her and Steve, so it was nice to be reunited, even if not for very long! For once, I slept like a rock before the race. Good Omen #4. Do you see where this is going?

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Me with all the Tulsa Domz before the race start! It was cold!

The race started at 7:30 in perfect temperatures – mid 40s. We had to check out of our hotel at 1, which meant we technically had 5.5 hours to finish, but about 5 hours if we wanted to shower before heading to the airport! I felt calm as we crossed the start line. Patty and I had said over and over that our only goals were to finish and enjoy the day, and I crossed the start line truly feeling that way. We planned to walk for short periods at each mile marker, but we didn’t set specific intervals, deciding instead to go based on how we felt.

The early part of the race wound through downtown Wichita, which was surprisingly cute and full of spectators! I’m always shocked when people show up to cheer for pretty much any race besides the big ones like Chicago, New York, etc. For some reason, I just don’t expect it. There were lots of fun signs and enthusiastic volunteers and a really great atmosphere!

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Crossing the bridge into downtown Wichita

Patty and I high-fived at every mile marker, which was a fun new tradition that I really enjoyed. My mindset the entire time was “take one mile at a time.” I was determined not to think about how far I had left to go, even though that normally doesn’t bother me all that much. We took fuel (Chomps for me, gel for her) every 5 miles, which also helped to pass the time. The course was promised to be pancake flat, and while that’s mostly true, we did groan on the 4 very small hills just because.

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Looking a little psychotic, but that’s a marathon for you!

 

We began to move through the neighborhoods of Wichita, which really surprised me by how beautiful and shaded they were. Some of the houses were absolutely gigantic! And of course, there were plenty more spectators, including lots of adorable kids. We also saw a lady with a huge yellow banner that said “GO TOM!” Every time we passed her, we asked how Tom was doing. I became extremely obsessed with Tom’s progress. She was everywhere on the course, so it was easy to check in.

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Made it to double digits!

Surprisingly, we didn’t take too many pictures. We were running at a steady pace and took short walk breaks at each mile marker and then longer walk breaks at the water stations. I decided that we were the “Positivity Police” and we were both responsible for making sure that neither one of us said anything negative. Realistic things were ok, such as “This is a hill.” Negative things like “I hate hills!” were not ok. I was obviously outside of my comfort zone. We ran through one particularly interesting neighborhood around miles 10-12 that was absolutely FULL of Halloween decorations. I’ve seriously never seen Halloween decorations on this level. It seemed like every yard was filled to the brim with decorations, especially giant inflatable things. It was bizarre but also very nice because it gave me something to look at.

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I mean, this is serious Halloween dedication.

At this point, I was feeling pretty great. Each milestone was being celebrated and I was feeling confident that I would finish, although I still didn’t know what time that would look like. We crossed the halfway point in right around 2:22, which I was very happy with. I became focused on getting to mile 16, because after that, every step would be a new one for me since surgery. The farthest I ran in training was 16 miles, and it was absolutely suck-tastic (I walked most of the last 4), so it was a symbolic state for me. I knew if I could get to that point and feel good, it would be a great sign and give me a lot of confidence. And we crossed mile 16 feeling great!

At 16.5, things were suddenly not so great. My heart condition started flaring up and all of a sudden, I couldn’t get my heart rate down – it was over 200 even though our pace hadn’t changed. I couldn’t breathe, and it felt like my throat was closing. I had to sit down for a few minutes while I waited for my heart rate to come down, and then we walked for awhile. I tried so hard not to let myself feel defeated. I told Patty the situation and she reminded me that our only goals were to finish and have fun, both of which we were doing. I thought about it and reasoned that my back and legs were still feeling ok at that point, and not all was lost. I just needed to do whatever it took to keep my heart under control.

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No idea where on the course this was taken, but I’m pretty sure it was not at mile 16.5.

I was able to start running again and we kept a steady pace pretty similar to where we were before. We ran for a bit and then walked, but my heart flared up again at mile 18.5. At that point, we walked for almost an entire mile. I was becoming a bit discouraged but still knew I would finish. I changed my attitude from “positive” to “realistic.” No, the situation was not ideal, but my back felt ok and I was doing the best I could. I was enjoying a beautiful day (temps were still in the mid 50s and it was cloudy – Good Omen #5!) with one of my closest friends. Things were not so bad. Of course, the fact that I only ran 16 miles on training eventually took its toll. The last few miles were a struggle, and I just couldn’t move my legs nearly as fast as I would have liked. We still didn’t walk much at each mile, I just couldn’t run very fast. I kept checking in with myself and asking if I was doing the best I could. As long as the answer was yes, I was happy with that.

For some reason, from about mile 20 on, it seemed like every spectator we passed told us we were “almost there.” As you all undoubtedly know, there is no phrase in the English language more grating than “You’re almost there” when you still have 6 miles left to run in a marathon. If I cannot literally see the finish line, I’m not almost there. Anyway, I took the first few in stride but eventually just wanted to punch everyone. I kept my head down and just tried to keep going. Patty, ever the world’s friendliest and most sociable human being, kept thanking everyone and saying hi. If I didn’t love her so much, this exuberance would have made me add her to the punch list. Still, despite my growing hate for humanity, I wasn’t letting myself think anything negative about my ability to finish the race, my speed, or anything else. I was just focused on getting to the finish line.

And get to the finish line we did.

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We did it!!

If I was a person who cries, I would have cried crossing that finish line. I got a little choked up, actually. We finished in 5:06:02, which far exceeded my wildest dreams for this event. I even had time to shower after the race! I truly thought it could be a 6 hour day and possibly my PW, but it defied all my expectations. defied all my expectations.

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Finisher shirts and medals! BECAUSE WE FINISHED.

This race felt like completely starting over. It was pretty hard to imagine that I had run 44 marathons before this. This felt like my first one all over again, and in a way, it was. I don’t know where my training will take me from here and I don’t know what my future races will look like, but I know I’m a marathoner. Turns out I always was and I always will be. Thank you all for your support and encouragement!

45 thoughts on “A Good Omen – Prairie Fire Marathon Race Report

  1. That is AWESOME!!! I am hoping to finish the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday in less than 6 hours. 16 miles is my NEMESIS. Both my full marathons I have fell apart there (1st time pulled a muscle, 2nd time my PF flared big time).

    I wish I could have my runner friends be there each mile for the last 10 miles, but I don’t know how to ask them.

    1. Good luck, Conni!! You can do it!!!!! MCM is a great race and I know you will have a blast! Definitely ask your friends – I would LOVE to do that for mine!

  2. I am so happy for you! This is my favorite blog, because you are so positive in your outlook. I hope we can run a marathon together soon. Keep on Ramblin!

  3. Dude – YOU DID IT!!!

    And you’ve ran, like, a million marathons!!

    Also, I am Patti. Seriously. I am the cheery and chipper person you want to punch, it’s okay, I’m cool with it 🙂

    And, because I’m a creepy blog reader, I commented to Ann that you look so good and happy and healthy in your race pictures! 😀

    1. Thank you!! I can be cheerful in some marathons (i.e. the ones where I feel good) but this was not one of them. I’m glad I know this about you so I can avoid punching you if we ever run together 🙂

  4. Congratulations! 5:06 sounds pretty good to this girl–having had some major leg trouble in the Indpls. Marathon on Saturday. I’m celebrating my PW (personal worst) 5:47 finish! 🙂 Congrats on a good finish!

  5. Good for you!!! That is so fantastic Danielle. I love that you were able to do the whole race with your friend, take picture (that is serious Halloween!) and have (mostly) fun doing it. Put that 26.2 on your car proudly. You ARE a marathoner!!!…and somehow I wasn’t following you on IG but now I’ll stalk you 🙂

    1. Thanks, Allie! You can bet the sticker is on my car now. We took fewer pictures than I thought we would. I guess I was focused for once 🙂

  6. This makes me so happy to see and honestly I could not be happier for you. Congrats on such a solid race and even more congrats on a comeback! 🙂

  7. Congratulations! I hope that sticker is on your car this morning 🙂 You ran a very smart race and listened to your body. Yes, moments were frustrating (OMG the “you’re almost there” makes me want to throat punch people too) but you persevered and finished with a great time. You are amazing.

    1. You bet it is, Bari! I put it on my car as soon as I got home. I don’t mind the frustrating moments because I’ve come to expect them in marathons and I’m proud of myself for pushing through as best I could. It was a great day 🙂

  8. Boom! Amazing job — welcome back to the circuit. Though I don’t know if this means you’re BACK back and ready to gallivant throughout the country, I bet it felt great to feel the medal resting proudly on your shoulders. Either that or your shoulders hurt, because that looks like some heavy hardware (can you hear the jealousy?).

    Big props to Patty for her unwavering support. Friends like that are priceless.

    1. Thanks, Dan! I think I’m back, ready to gallivant across the country, just at less frequent intervals. I probably won’t do a new state until the spring, since I’ve already got most of the states done that have marathons in the winter. It IS an extremely awesome medal and actually a course you’d probably like!

  9. I had such a great time seeing you, and running with you! It was an awesome weekend! Thanks for this blog because I had forgotten some of our adventure already! Wonderful memories!

  10. Congrats! So proud of you, happy for you, and excited for you to be back out there! Loved that you focused on the positive and took great care of yourself when your heart condition flared up!

  11. I teared up for you at the finish line. Thanks for being able to capture all the feelings we go through when running a marathon, and for reminding us that even seasoned marathoners can be battling just to finish. Wishing you the best.

    1. Aww, thank you Jackie! Yes, even seasoned marathoners battle to finish. Everyone I know would say the same thing! 26.2 miles never gets easy.

  12. Congrats! You are absolutely amazing! I did the Baltimore Half marathon this weekend and used the opposite technique of positive thinking. I used the thought, “well, this is going to suck, I might as well just suck it up and deal.” It did get me through, but I think I’ll try the positive thoughts next time.

    1. Thank you so much, Jordyn! I love the Baltimore event – still one of my favorite marathons! I generally use the negative thinking process, but it leaves me dreading the weekend itself even if I survive the race, and I didn’t want to feel like that this time. Congratulations on finishing the half – that course is tough!

  13. You know, I’m glad I’m not the only one that wants to punch people when I hear, “you are almost there”. My friends made me a sign for Mile 9 of a half one time that said, “Tasha, you are no where near the finish. Now get going!”

    1. Hahaha, I love that! That’s a great sign. I definitely want to punch people when I hear it…especially over and over and over again when I feel like crap!

  14. DOLL I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! You did it! YAHOO! Not that I doubted you for a hot second!
    I have my first (and dare I say 1 and done?) full coming up December 7. I’m up to 20 mile training runs but I keep thinking “Can I really go 6.2 more after this?” Guess we’ll find out on December 7.
    Congratulations again – you are awesome!

    1. Thank you so much, Kandace!! Ahhhh your first full, that is so exciting! Which race are you doing? And yes, you CAN do 6.2 more miles after 🙂

      1. I’m doing CIM (California International Marathon) in Sacramento on December 7. You say exciting and I am scared sh*tless! We did our 2nd 20 miler last weekend. I picked a trail next to the Monterey Bay. It rained the first 10 miles out and then the sun came out and I got sunburned… oh, did I mention it seemed to be uphill on the way out and uphill on the way back? I really thought I might die!

  15. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you! I got choked up just reading about it. Love your positive attitude- something I need to work on myself, especially when it comes to those awful hills. Go celebrate! You did it!!!

  16. I am prepping for the 2016 Prairie Fire marathon with some pace goals. I wanted to read about how others had done on this course to gain some motivation and your blog has done just that. I literally laughed out loud when you mentioned wanting to punch people in the face because I have been there! Not that we would ever really do it, but the thought crosses your mind like “C’mon people a 10k is a lot more than almost!” One thing I do love about Wichita is the spectators. There are some great people out and that is inspirational in itself. Thanks for blogging and I am sure you have had many more successful finishes since!

    1. Thank you so much, Traci! I’m sorry for the delayed response. I am so glad you liked the race report! I really loved the Prairie Fire Marathon and although I didn’t feel my best, it was definitely a great day overall. I hope you have a successful finish this year!

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