Sunburst Marathon

It’s over. It’s done. And I think that’s the main thing about it. It’s done.

Friday afternoon we drove down to South Bend, Indiana – a town of not much.

The expo was small – I wouldn’t really call it an expo. Packet Pickup, with a Fleet Feet Sports tent. It was hot, probably around 85 degrees, at least, and the sun was high in the sky, not a cloud in sight. This most definitely made me nervous for the next day – I can handle the heat, but my time goals can not.


We wandered around downtown for awhile, there were a lot of little places, but many of the shop fronts are empty. I can talk my husband into just about anything, as long as we can find a game store. Which was one of the only shops we actually entered.

We found dinner at the South Bend Brew Werks, I had a taste of  beer, and a sandwich. We sat at a community table, and a couple of other runners happened to sit down next to us. I asked them about what distance they were running tomorrow, and they both laughed. “Running? Well, as much as we can of the full marathon” one of them responded. “How about you?” he asked. I told him I was running the full. “Oh yeah, and what is your pace?” I looked down at the table and sheepishly told him I was hoping to run under 4 hours, or a 9 minute mile. More laughter and a disbelieving, “all of them?” Yes. All 26 miles at a 9 minute pace. They were just hoping to finish. Both were pretty friendly, and I wished them well as we finished our meal, paid and headed back to the hotel.

This race started at 6 a.m. – an effort to beat the heat, I’m certain. Up at 4:15 a.m., food, clothes, and into the car. Temperatures of around 65 to start.


I got there with enough time to check my back and make a very quick porta-potty stop. I actually managed to run into my cousins at the starting line, unplanned. It’s not a huge race, but big enough that this was a surprise. Both of them were running the half.

There was very little fanfare at the start, one of the Senators of Indiana started the race. It was crowded. The Half and Full marathons started together, and the pace signs (there were no pacers) were not spaced very far apart. An announcement came: “We’re going to start in about three minutes. When I say go you go. But you don’t go before that.” Well okay then. A few minutes later, we hear “Ready, Set, GO!” and an air horn, and we’re off.

I tried to keep the first few miles at a 9:15-9:30 pace. I tried to go out slow, but I fear I failed in this case. A lot of what we ran to start was downhill, so that helped as well. We weaved through downtown, and then out toward Mishawaka along the river. It was a beautiful morning, and running near the water was really beautiful. I watched the sun come up over Mishawaka at around mile 5, we wove down through a park across some bridges along a paved riverside trail.

After the sun came up and out of the clouds, things started to heat up. Mile 8 I took my first electrolyte tablet. I slowed to walk so that I could swallow it and the water without choking. Behind me I heard, “You can’t stop now! I’ve been following you since the start and you’re pacing me!” I swallowed my water, chuckled and started running again as the owner of the voice caught up with me. “I’m Todd.” I introduced myself and we fell into step. As we began to weave back through neighborhoods toward South Bend, I asked him if he’d run a marathon before. “This is my first. I’ve run a couple of runs over 13 miles, but this is just a training run for me. I’m going to be running a marathon as part of an Iron Man in a few months.”

Color me impressed. Running a marathon as a training run is no small feat, and he was doing really well. We continued in stride together. Miles 9 and 10 passed us by. Mile 11 seemed to take forever to find, and at mile 12 we split from the Half marathon crowd.

With just over 1,000 half marathoners, and about 400 full marathoners, the course grew extremely quiet. The sun beat down as Todd and I continued together. I held my 9 minute pace until around mile 17. By mile 18, my pace had fallen a bit, and 19 – 26 felt like a crawl. There was no shade between 17 and 25. I lost Todd for awhile as he pulled ahead of me, dug into my music, and continued to try and hold on to my mantra: “Run Wild, Run Free, Just Shut Up and Run.” I started walking through more water stops.

Mile 25: the hill. Hallelujah Hill. It’s short. It’s steep. It’s Mile 25. There was a woman standing at the top yelling. The best encouragement I could’ve hoped for.

I shuffled through the last mile, and that finish line was the best thing I could’ve seen.

I didn’t meet my goal. Were all of those training miles for naught? No. Of course not.

Overall, I finished feeling strong. I finished having run more miles than I usually run in a marathon, and at a faster pace than I’ve been able to hold in the past. I also finished a long marathon. The course was mismeasured. It truly did take us longer to get to the mile 11 mile marker. .38 miles more, if you would like preciseness. Had the course not been measured wrong, would I have made my PR? According to my watch, yes. But who knows if that’s true. This course was so curvy and twisty, that running the tangents was nearly impossible, top that by the wrong measurements, and it’s really hard to say.

I will say that I am pleased with my progress and performance. There is hope.


So what’s next? A new attempt at a different training program, and the Chicago Marathon. Follow along, and you’ll see!

See you out there running.



One thought on “Sunburst Marathon

  1. Pingback: Chicago Marathon – Gazelle Sports Foundation | Running and Writing and Life

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