I ran my first marathon 2 ish years ago in Virginia Beach on a cold, rather blustery day. I know what my experience was like, but much like childbirth, you sort of forgot what the actual day is like, and you romanticize the idea of a marathon, only remembering the feeling of crossing the finish line and smiling a lot for pictures while you hold up your medal. Or, as it were in my case, bawling like a baby whilst your husband snapped pictures of your blotchy face.
I thought it was important to talk about Rock ‘n’ Roll through the eyes of someone who’d just done it, and had just done it for the first time. So without any further blathering on, here is my amazing friend, Liz!
Liz is in the pink in the middle, just after completing 26.2 miles in 4:45:06, which was her GOAL!!!
- Introduce yourself! Name, how do you know me, and what do you do! Hello! My name is Liz Passannante, I am 25 years old and currently live in New York City. Cheri and I go way back to my freshman year of college when I joined her a cappella group Twisted Measure and we’ve been friends ever since. I work in HR for a consulting firm in NYC, and have been dabbling in running for a few years now.
Liz caught my attention during her audition. She was really cute, fearless, and admitted to fully appreciating Nicole Richie at the audition. I was hooked then!
- What made you decide to sign up for a marathon? What running had you done leading up to it? I decided to register for the Raleigh RNR Marathon kind of on a whim – I had run a few half marathons and always felt the ultimate goal would be to run a marathon. I started running after college when I signed up for the More Magazine Women’s Half-Marathon in Central Park. It was really a life-changing day – that race is still my favorite to run. I always hated running in high school and college, but found myself wanting to stay active after I stopped playing sports. Enter running! This past October I really just kind of decided to go for it – I registered and set off on my training plan!
- Tell me about your training process? Since it was a spring race, I know you had to do some winter running/possibly modify your training? What did that entail for you? I started running regularly again in November 2014 to build up a baseline before launching into the training program. I started really increasing my mileage in January, just in time for one of the snowiest winter’s we’ve had in recent history. I think the biggest trick with Winter running is to prepare, prepare, prepare before long runs. I would make lists for myself of everything I needed, and it took a few tries to get it right. I usually pushed back the start time of my runs until about noon or 1PM so I could hit the warmest part of the day. On the coldest days I would wear 2 pairs of tights, a thermal layer, my winter running jacket, a neckwarmer, earwarmers and gloves.Keeping all that gear in one place was surprisingly difficult (ex: a few times I left gloves or my watch at work, and would have to swing by the office on my way to the park). I also don’t have a washer/dryer in my building, so it was also a task keeping everything clearn! I did some of my shorter runs indoors, both by booking gym time on ClassPass (best thing ever) or by attending classes at Mile High Run Club (<<<so much fun). My most memorable run was probably when I ran in 8 degree weather in Vermont on a ski weekend – FUN!!! Overall though, I was usually able to find one day of the weekend where it was bearable.
- Why did you choose the race that you chose? I chose the Raleigh RNR for a few reasons. 1) It’s always been a goal of mine to run the NY Marathon, and I was advised to run one marathon before tackling New York so that when the time came I could really enjoy the experience of the NY Marathon. I think looking back that was smart – I have a much better idea of how to train and what to expect, and now am genuinely looking forward to when I will (hopefully) get to run that race! No first time race jitters there. 2) I wanted to run a race where I was close to my family, both because I like spending time with them and because logistically it made things much easier. My mom took me to the expo, the starting line and we had an awesome lunch all together after the race. It would have felt lonely without them, and seeing them along the course was such a great motivation. Race day would have been way less fun without them – my sister even hopped in for the last stretch which was a really cool memory for me.
- Okay, race day. What were you jittery about? Looking forward to? I think I was most anxious about 1) hitting “the wall,” and 2) not being able to keep up with the pace group. I think I can say pretty confidently that I did not hit “the wall.” As Cheri can attest, there were a few times especially towards the end where I needed to walk, but I was for the most part able to push through. I definitely didn’t feel like I was going to die or anything (although I probably said it LOL). I also for the most part was able to keep up with the pacers, which is good for me because they were amazing. They were so so helpful, and I knew that staying with them for as long as possible would be key to me hitting my goal. I lost them a little during the last mile, but I think I ended up finishing only 2-3 minutes behind them?
- Talk to me about your nutrition leading up to/on race day? I kept things pretty normal leading up to race day. I didn’t drink for the majority of the 2 weeks leading up to the race but that was mostly to make sure I was well hydrated. The night before I ate some delicious gluten free pasta, and the morning of I had a luna bar, hot tea and water. During the race I used 2 flavors of Gu: Tri-Berry and Jet Blackberry (delicious). The plan was to take them at 3, 10, 15 and 20. I ended up taking one at 19 because I started feeling tired and I felt like I wanted to get ahead of any potential crash.
- Talk to me about the race. What time did you wake up? Talk to me about your outfit (silly, important tho!). Talk to me about the day. How long did you feel good for? When did you start to feel rough (if you did at all)? Did you run with pacers? What factored into your decision to use/not utilize a pacer? Race day I woke up at 4:20AM because we needed to be out the door at 4:40. I tried to pick clothes that I had run in many times before, but it was hard because I’ve been training in cold weather and race day was warm! I wish I could have worn shorts, but it was just risky because I hadn’t trained in them and the last thing I needed was some type of wardrobe malfunction. I honestly felt great up to mile 18. I feel like I looked up and we were at mile 13, and then again at 17 when Cheri joined. At 18-20 I started thinking to myself “this is getting really hard” but overall the race flew by. I could not believe when I crossed the finish line. As I mentioned above I did run with pacers and am so glad I did. I wanted to stay with them for majority of the race because I felt like I would probably really benefit from having a group later in the race. I was confident in my ability to push myself through 20, but felt like having the extra motivation during the last 6 miles could be helpful. It was such a lifesaver. = The pacers were truly amazing – they had an altitude specific pace plan and they did such a great job telling us when we should bank time or when we could dial back and take a rest. I definitely lost them a bit on the last mile but really feel like I was able to stay on target due to their help.
- And finally, what’s your takeaway from this experience? Would you/will you do this again? I had such an amazing experience training for and running my first marathon, and I would totally do it all over again (and hope to this fall for the NY Marathon!) I was initially dreading the training process but by the end I really enjoyed it overall. The hardest part surprisingly was fitting in runs during the week – I weirdly started looking forward to my long runs and feel like I don’t know what to do with all of my free time now that my weekends aren’t going to be dominated by training! My key takeaway – if you want to run a race, any length, just go for it! I hated running in high school (ask my parents). When my field hockey coach made us run 3 miles I thought it was the hardest thing in the world. Little by little I trained, improved and learned how to enjoy myself! I also need to give credit to you, Cheri Armour Samples, because you definitely have inspired me to run races far beyond what I believed I was capable of doing (hello, marathon). My race day was so fun and you were such a huge help to me – thank you!!!
And that’s it! An extremely well-prepared marathon first-timer!
How was your first race (ever)?