Friday, November 29, 2013

Guest Blogger: Kimberly Knapp Schwartz, "My Marathon Cherry Has Been Popped!!!!! Marine Corps Marathon, 10/27/13 "

I would like to introduce Kimberly Knapp Schwartz, a Team In Training (TNT) running I got the
pleasure of meeting and training with for her first marathon ever!  Kim is a great example of what can happen when runners commit to our TNT training runs and show up ready to hear the advice and guidance offered as part of their perk of raising a few thousand dollars for Cancer Research.   

Many runners I train with tend to run their long run training too fast, at least at the start of them. Bonking is common and often distressful.  It is also part of the learning process.  Kim is a great example of what someone can do when they focus on slowing things down early and learn how to negative split a long run.  Early on, when long runs hit around the 15 mile mark, Kim had a little trouble holding her pace for the entire way.  We worked on slowing down the pace early and getting faster each mile.  

For each of her 18-22 mile long runs, Kim demonstrated the fine art of discipline and self-control, starting runs easy at 10:30 and slowly chipping away at the pace until the entire run averaged just about 10:00, with our final mile breaking 9:00 and our final tenth's breaking 8:00.  Very few people I train for their very first marathon are able to negative split their long runs like she did.  It takes confidence and patience and an understanding of how to fuel herself well.  Once she figured all that out, I had high hopes that she was going to have a fantastic first marathon ever!.

Here is Kim's Report about her first marathon!

My alarm goes off at 3:40 am and I bounce out of bed.  The day is here, holy shit… the day is here! It’s finally my day, my day to become a Marathoner. I’ve put in all the work and am so excited but also beyond nervous.  For the past 2 days I’ve been in DC and haven’t been able to contain my nerves.  I think I’ve been driving my roommate “coach sue” nuts :) .
You see back in May I signed up with TNT (team in training) and now its race day.  I’ve always wanted to run a marathon and decided to do it in memory of my dad that lost his battle with Leukemia 21 years ago.  I was able to raise almost $4,000 to help find a cure.  My three kids, husband, mom, step dad and mother in law all traveled to DC to cheer me on.  I knew this would be an emotional journey, but I had no idea how emotional it really would be.   

Ok so back to 10/27/13, I take the metro to the staging area with my NJ TNT teammates; we have almost 2.5 hours to wait around.  I take some pictures with Marines, bullshit with the girls and do everything I can to NOT think about the race.  Now it’s 7am and Holly, Jessica and I decide it’s time to use the port-a-potties and get in a massive line.  We feel as if we are barely moving, time keeps slipping by and we are all getting pretty nervous.  The sun has finally come up and we see swarms of people heading to the start… oh no, I have to pee and we still have people in line before us.  We see Marines parachuting in with an enormous 7,800 sq foot American flag we know the National Anthem must be playing but are too far from the start line to even hear it.  Finally we get to the potties, and now it is time to all out sprint to the start!!! We have to meet Margo (our TNT staff person) at the start to get all our “race day crap” We left it at the staging area, not expecting to be in the port-a-potty line forever.  I shed my throw away sweats and am now fumbling to get my watch started and my handheld fluids together.  I quick take a gel and wash it down with some swigs of Gatorade.  

Seconds later, the Howitzer goes off, it’s go time… the crowd starts moving and soon enough I cross the start line.  Holly and I are near each other, and now plan to run together till one of us feels stronger or can’t hold pace.  I know she is hoping for a 4 hour finish time. I secretly am too, but had full intentions to run with the 4:15 pacer.  I have no clue where the pacers are, so this is a perfect plan for me.  Coach Shannon and I had discussed not to start out to fast.  I was very conscious of paying attention to my Garmin in the first few miles to get a feel for the race.  Around mile 4 I felt a heavy strain in my left calf, and just hoped it didn’t get any worse.  The crowd support was amazing and before I knew it I was at the 10k mark.  My mantra was “it’s just a long training run” and I kept repeating this in my head.  At this point I’m feeling goodreally loving the run & soaking up the entire atmosphere.  But I know I have so much ahead of me, I see the faster runners now, since miles 6-9 are an out and back.  At the 7.5 mile mark we turn and it gets rather crowded, I feel my pace slowing, but there is nowhere to go.  I take a gel, drink my Gatorade and start to settle back into a good pace.  I know I’ll be seeing my family soon.  We mapped out the spots they would be and my husband will have another handheld with Gatorade for me.  There they are, I spot them around mile 10, and I see my step-dad first with the giant foam TNT hand I gave them.  Then I see my mom and hear her yelling “Go Kimmy” and we lock eyes, her eyes are filled with pure pride and I understand that look so well.  I start to get really emotional but am able to hold it in.  I give my three littlest fans high fives. Mike starts to run with me, he tells me I’m doing great, gives me my Gatorade and a quick kiss.  I give him my right arm warmer.  I am petrified to take my left one off, I’m certain while taking it off I’ll screw up my watch.  So I just roll it down. I know I should see them again around mile 17.  WOW, that was amazing to see the pride in all of their faces even if it was just for a few seconds.   

Ok back to running now I’m headed into Hains Point (miles 12-15).  I know Coach Sue (TNT coach) is stationed here.  We see her she asks how Holly & I are doing.  We both say we’re feeling good and she gives us encouragement and sends us on our way.  It’s a park with almost no crowd support, but as I enter I see signs lined up with photos and KIA dates of recent fallen Marines.    I read as many as I could, the tears were flowing down my face and I realized I was having trouble catching my breath.  This was gut wrenching, at this moment I thought so much about my brother that had served and my brother-in-law who is currently serving.  I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve our country.  I remember thinking I need to get my head back into the race.  I see the Half Marathon mark coming up and my time is 2:01:10. Ok, this is good but not sure I can hold this pace.  I give Holly encouragement, saying “we got this” it’s only a Half Marathon left.  My legs feel good other than this strain in my left calf but it hasn’t gotten much worse.  I’ve been taking in lots of fluids and every 4-5 miles I’ve been having a gel or beans.  Mile 14 seemed to be my toughest mile; I needed some crowd support or something to get me going.  We were coming up on an aide station, hmmm… what do they have here on sticks??? I see Marines handing out tongue depressors with something … ah, Vaseline.  No thanks, I was all body glided up and feeling good.  I heard one guy actually ask the Marine where I put this.  Really dude, if you have to ask maybe you don’t need it because if you took one look around it was pretty obvious where the boys were putting it :).  This was exactly the little chuckle I needed right now to get me out of a fog.
I’m happy to be out of Hains Point and heading towards the National Mall now.  Mile 17 approaches and I spot my family again, this time the kids are jumping up and down with their “mom rocks” shirts on and “go mommy” signs.  I give them all thumbs up; grab more Gatorade from the hubby an extra gel and a rice krispie bar for a little later.  I know I’ll see them again at mile 22.  Wow I can hear the roars of the crowd as I enter the National Mall, I feel exhilarated! I’m not letting my calf bother me at all, I’m running strong.  I have my name written on my arms with a sharpie and on my TNT singlettons of people are yelling “GO KIM” and “GO TEAM” I love it, it propels me forward. I yell out thank you and give thumbs up! Holly and I are now running with another TNT participant Danielle.  

Around mile 19I notice Holly is starting to slow down, soon she says go ahead and it’s just Danielle and I. I’m concerned for Holly, not sure what is wrong and I hope she’s ok but I feel strong and need to go ahead.  Mile 20 hits and we head over a one mile bridge.  No crowd support, it’s a long mile and ends up being one of my slowest at 9:40. I turn my phone on to get some tunes and hope it inspires me to move faster.  I’m trying to do math and since my Garmin is off by .3 miles and I’m in the middle of running a marathon it’s making it a tad more difficult to figure anything out! Finally we’re over the bridge and into the crowds of Crystal City with only 5.2 miles to go.  Danielle falls behind and I pick up the pace. I am feeding off the crowds, this is where I see my favorite sign of the race “Run now, poop later and never trust a fart” ha-ha, love it!! And the chick was wearing a whoopee cushion costume.  I was laughing out loud.  I’m at mile 22 now and looking around for my family, I know they will be here this was the plan.  I end up not seeing them.  (I later find out I was moving too fast and they were afraid they’d miss me at the finish if they went to this stop) Oh well, I eat the rice krispie bar and keep moving.  I run past the beer stop I heard people talk about at mile 23, not really what my body needs right now.  Excited to see a fluid stop ahead I get to the side and am sadly disappointed when I realize it’s a cup of Dunkin Donuts munchkins.  Believe me when I say I wasn’t the only one around pissed that it wasn’t water.  UGH, no thanks even if it is a hot Marine trying to hand it to me :).    

I hit mile 24 and can’t believe I have only 2.2 miles left and I’m done.  I’ve been on top of my fluids and gels this entire time and haven’t hit the wall.  The night before the race I read a post on how not to hit the wall.  Honestly it had never dawned on me that I could run a marathon and NOT hit the wall.  I thought it was inevitable and just a matter of time till you did.  You always hear about THE WALL… the freakin WALL. Obviously if I had talked to any of the TNT coaches about this I’m sure they would have set me straight but I never did.  I wanted to get a last bit of calories in, but couldn’t stomach another gel so I grab a handful of gummy bears from a stranger cheering us on.  These seemed to do the trick.  

Almost to mile 25 and I felt a cracking sensation in my right ankle.  Hard to explain what it felt like, but I knew it hurt like hell and was not a feeling I’d ever had before.  I wasn’t sure what to do, but knew I was going to keep moving as long as it let me.  Halfway through mile 25 and I was numb to the pain and I knew it was go time, if I had anything left I had to move it now, still thinking I could be under a 4:10 finish (you will soon learn I’m real shitty at math especially at this point in a marathon).  I’m shocked to see so many people stopping to walk at this point in the race; really the end is basically in site!! This is how I trained to finish strong.  

I hit mile 26 and the finish line is in site at the Iwo Jima Memorial.   This .2 miles is straight uphill and the crowd is roaring.  I hear the Katy Perry song, Roar being played on the sound system and find it very fitting.  I muster up all the strength I can and start weaving in and out of people up this hill.  I realize my family is in this crowd somewhere but I am in such a zone, I have my head down and I see many Marine boots lining the hill, cheering us on.  I look up and know I’m seconds away from realizing my dream and at that moment I run as fast as I possibly can over the finish line with my hands in the air I remember to stop my watch.  

My eyes flood with tears, pure tears of joy that I can’t hold back nor do I want to. I’m overcome with so much emotion I think about my dad and how much I miss him. I am so proud of myself and at this moment I know without hesitation I’m hooked.  This was one of the best days of my life!! I shake every hand of a large line of Marines until the last one placed my medal around my neck and salutes me.  I tell every single one of them thank you for their service.  At this point I realize I don’t even know my finishing time, I look at my watch and it reads 4:04:28!!!!!!  I told you my math was off :) Official time was 4:04:21.  I go to the Iwo Jima Memorial and have my finisher picture taken.  I then quick call Mike to see where he is, he says I just got a text alert you crossed the finish line already, I never even saw you finish.  Oops, sorry babe!  Him and my mom were on the hill, but just hadn’t seen me come up it.  Mike, mom and I meet up at the TNT tent and once again all I see is pride in their eyes.  We then head to see the rest of the family just outside the finisher area.  What a sweet reunion it was all the kids were excited to see my medal and gave me lots of hugs and kisses!!  

This race was about so much more than just running a marathon.  To me it was a journey that my dad and I took together.  Although he wasn’t with me physically his spirit was absolutely with me every second of the race.  I thought of him and all the other names I wore on my singlet that day throughout the entire race.   

I am so grateful for the amazing coaching I received from Coach Sue and Coach Shannon with TNT.  I was typically paired up with Shannon on my long runs and we clicked.  She taught me so much about hydration, nutritionpacing, etc. all the ingredients to make up a great race.  Without her amazing support I wouldn’t have had such a successful first marathon.  I can’t thank her enough for being part of my journey.  I look forward to working with Shannon again and her coaching me to a sub 4!!!! 

Division 347,  Gender 1554,  Overall 5773 
Official Finishing Time 4:04:21   
Garmin Showed 4:04:28 (I was late to turn it off), 26.52 miles 

M1 – 9:22 
M2 – 9:24 
M3 – 9:10 
M4 – 8:30 
M5 – 9:10 
M6 – 8:39 
M7 – 9:15 
M8 – 9:12 
M9 – 9:05 
M10 – 8:45 
M11 – 8:55 
M12 – 9:03 
M13 – 9:07 
M14 – 9:32 
M15 – 9:08 
M16 – 9:18 
M17 – 9:42 
M18 – 9:45 
M19 – 9:23 
M20 – 9:40 
M21 – 9:14 
M22 – 9:23 
M23 – 9:14 
M24 – 9:29 
M25 – 9:30 
M26 – 9:02 
M27 – 8:40 

Finish Time 
Finish Net 
Finish Gun 
Net Time 
Clock Time 
Time of Day 
Pace Between