This is a report from Academy Member Jennifer Ernst who ran her first marathon last weekend at the Indianapolis Monumental. This post illustrates the beautiful struggle of the last 10 miles of a marathon and how she successful kept herself going.
“I am so, SO excited to share that I am now officially a marathoner!! My goal was to finish in 4:30 or less, but I managed to eek out a finishing time of 4:18:19. I could NOT have done this without all of the amazing, encouraging and supportive people of MTA.
I had more encouraging texts, messages and well-wishes than I ever dreamed I would have and each and every one helped me. I will try to keep this as brief as possible, but many have asked for my recap, so here goes!”
Jennifer Ernst Marathon Recap
“As many of you know, I was very nervous about GI issues during the race. I have struggled during all of my long runs, but I am happy to report that my fueling/hydration were perfect, as I didn’t have to stop a single time during the race. I brought all of my own food for the day before the race and ate cold chicken, baked potato and green beans the night before the race (no microwave in the hotel).
I was up at 2:00 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep. I made my oatmeal using the coffee machine at 4:50 a.m and also ate a banana and drank 12 oz. of water. I met up with fellow MTA-peeps (Scott Sharp and Mark Goddard) at 7:25. I then hung out in the lobby of a hotel (to keep warm) until 7:45.
I made it to the start line at 7:45. I found the 4:20 pacer and decided I would stick with her for the first few miles to keep from going out too fast. My wave started at 8:10 and it was a brisk 37 degrees when I started. I ate a handful of Jelly Belly’s and I ditched my throw-away clothes just before the race started, which was a smart move. The heat from moving with a large pack of runners kept me warm for the first 3-4 miles.
Everything was going pretty smoothly at the beginning. I was concerned that I was going too fast at mile 6, but I decided to stick with the group and I am very glad that I did. The pacer was GREAT about telling us about upcoming turns on the course, pot holes, water station info, etc.
I felt really good until around mile 15. This is when my right hamstring started acting up. (I pulled it two weeks ago doing hills.) I decided to push through it, but it didn’t take long for my right ankle/foot to start hurting. I continued to push through and by the time I hit mile 20, I was ECSTATIC that I still felt decently well.
And then came the dreaded wall (I think).
Just before mile 21, my legs felt like lead. A girl in front of me stopped running at a water station and I had to stop for a second and walk around her. It was at this point that I realized if I stopped running, I wouldn’t be able to to start again. I briefly panicked and decided to switch from liquid nutrition (Hammer Perpetuem) to a gel….big mistake. The gel felt like lead in my mouth and I couldn’t stomach it. I spent the next 2 miles convincing myself that I needed to try to eat the gel, try to keep my legs going, and to ignore the massive cramp in my right ankle/hamstring.
At mile 23, I was still struggling. My family was sending texts every 1-2 minutes, which I could see on my Apple Watch. I really enjoyed the texts for the first 23 miles, but at this point I wanted everyone to stop “talking to me” and let me see my pace/split/times. I even yelled at my sister (who lives in another state) out loud to stop texting! 😳
Once I got to mile 24, I realized that I was going to make it to the finish line and that I was going to beat my goal of 10:00 miles. The spectators were awesome during the last two miles. There was one spectator in a hot dog suit who called my name and said, “Has Jennifer even broken a sweat? She looks like she just stepped out of a salon! Did she really run the whole time?” I gave her a big thumbs up and a huge smile. Her comment made me realize that I looked much better than I felt. I held on with the pacer until mile 25 and then I ran my heart out!
Mile 26 came and I kicked up my pace. I could hear people yelling, but I was “in the zone” and didn’t see/hear anyone. I remember seeing a photographer and I gave him a huge grin and two thumbs up. I then rounded the final corner and saw the finish line. I managed to fight back some tears while running even faster and crossed the finish line in a daze.
I had NO idea what my time was for a while. I was given a Mylar blanket, a bottle of water, a hat and a banana. I immediately dropped the banana and when I tried to pick it up, I realized that I physically couldn’t bend over. I literally gave everything I had during the end of the race and I couldn’t even perform basic functions. It was a very bizarre feeling.
My two friends who ran the half marathon found me in the finishing chute and quickly came over to me. They helped me carry my post-race food and made sure I picked up my engraved medal and got me a slice of pizza. My stomach was a mess, so I ate one potato chip (mouth was too dry to eat any more) and ate three bites of pizza. I did manage to drink some chocolate milk, which was AMAZING, and some water.
We walked back to the hotel verrrrrrry slowly and relaxed for 45 minutes before heading out for celebratory food/libations. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around downtown Indianapolis and I’m hoping that will help with post-race soreness. My hotel room doesn’t have a bath, so no ice bath or epsom salt soaking for me until I get home.
Right now, EVERYTHING hurts. I had NO idea that my entire body would hurt after running a marathon! I expected my lower body to be sore, but my back, sides and even arms are sore to the touch. All in all, it was a great experience and I am SO glad I pushed myself to this extreme!
I can’t wait to do it all again!!!!” ❤️🏃🏼♀️