There were 1755 Steamtown registrants, but only 1490 finishers. Once my actual chip time came through (4:50:20), I moved up one rank to #1317. 86th out of 96 women 35-40.

Splits: 1-10:18, 2-10:41, 3-11:13, 4-9:56, 5-10:35, 6-10:24, 7-11:33, 8-10:37, 9-11:39, 10-10:32, 11-11:03, 12-10:56, 13-10:41, 14-11:27, 15-10:58, 16-11:46, 17-10:50, 18-11:53, 19-11:28, 20-11:35, 21-15:10 (changing socks!), 22-9:58, 23-11:07, 24-11:06, 25-10:04, 26-10:42, 26.2-2:23. Average 11:08 pace.

Thanks to a combination of the bib number list, the finishing list, and the race photos, I’ve found everybody I remember from the run except the Gallowalkers. Emmy, my neighbor at the start, finished in 4:41:57; the loud young teacher in 5:19:55. Donald Teague did 5:05:58 and didn’t even place! He’s placed in his two previous Steamtowns because there were no more than 3 in the men 70 & up. The oldest woman was 65. I definitely want to run a marathon when I’m in my 70s so I can finally get a win. But by the time I’m that age, many more older women will be running and I’ll still get shut out…


When we got home, I took a shower and examined my feet. Not too bad! No blisters, just a little chafing on one foot. My 4 black toenails definitely looked like I’d pushed them a little further over the edge, and the end of both next-to-smallest toes are rubbed a little raw. Other than that, no problems. I certainly felt somewhat sore and stiff, but not on the verge of collapse or anything. I made celebratory phone calls & otherwise just relaxed and basked in the joy of accomplishment.

The best thing that happened Saturday, which I didn’t even mention yet, was related to the champagne I asked Jonathan to get for our Sunday celebration. When I got home from the expo, he said it was chilling and said “I hope you’ll like the brand.” I didn’t think much of it–we like the same stuff, I was sure it would be good–but he repeated it a little later and finally said I should look at it. So here’s what I saw:

[that’s a custom label he made with my “running puppy” logo (itself a Jonathan drawing from two decades ago)] It made me cry then and it made me smile extra on Sunday night! And here’s the “I did it!” photo:

It was an evening of perfect happiness.

I had to take some ibuprofen to get through the night comfortably, and on Monday I definitely felt more sore than after my long training runs. But I went for a nice long hike in the woods to keep myself stretched out, and that was great. I feel almost back to normal today (Wednesday).

I wore my medal to work Tuesday and Wednesday, but I’ll stop now. My co-worker Betty and her husband Bob (a surfer) gave me this great cheesy surfing trophy:

It says “Steamtown Marathon/Hilary/’Placed Good'”!

The photos are finally up today! They’re at There are 9 and most are OK, but the prices are so high that I’ll probably just get one or maybe two. It is great that there were so many photographers out there & so much to choose from, but I wish there was some kind of discount package…


What went right?

  • Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer is the greatest!
  • I followed the schedule to the letter.
  • The weather was absolutely perfect.
  • Training on the hills around here paid off big-time. In fact, the Montrose 5K is much harder, in terms of terrain, than Steamtown–it’s got worse downhills and uphills.
  • The way I broke the race down psychologically worked like a charm for me.
  • My hydration schedule was fine.
  • The superb organization & crowd support really helped.

What would I have done differently?

  • Don’t risk missing a water stop!
  • Just my name on both front & back of the shirt.
  • Put on fresh socks w/blister power right before the race starts.
  • Use the lace tabs on the tongue of my shoes!
  • I probably wouldn’t bother to change socks next time; it wasn’t worth 4 minutes.

Was it worth it, all the time and energy and money? Absolutely. It was a peak experience, just like I wanted. I have to say that I don’t feel like it’s changed my life, though. Maybe it’s partly because my race went so perfectly that I didn’t ever “go to my very limits and beyond.” Jonathan thinks that’s a silly thing to regret, and it’s not exactly that I regret it; I just wonder, when I read about Mark‘s heroic struggle, would I have be able to do that? And I tell myself, YES, I am a marathoner!…but it’s not quite the same as having experienced that dark place and come through it. “OK, so just run another one!” Although I have some marathon goals for the future–I’d like to run New York with my brother some day, if he ever seriously wants to, and if I ever got fast enough to have a shot at qualifying for Boston, I certainly would want to do that–I can’t see doing it again soon. Maybe before I turn 50. Just too time-consuming. But I will certainly keep running! It would be cool to be able to do an 8-12 mile long run every week, but it’s going to be hard to get any more than 2 miles in on a normal weekday. I’ll try, though. I want to run a 10K for the first time, and eventually beat 1 hour if I can. I’d love to break 28 minutes for a 5K. I’ll be into running more shorter races. And biking–I’ll do more biking.

I will get faster if I work at it. I didn’t do any speed training; I also could lose some more weight without becoming emaciated–not entirely sure it’s worth the effort, but it would help my speed. I didn’t take the time to seriously get into the ChiRunning principles, and I think that could help.

What’s next?

I am flirting with the idea of doing National Novel Writing Month as a crazy follow-up project to this one. There are so many things that appeal: the logo is a marathoner carrying a giant pencil! the guy who started it suggests wearing a special piece of clothing to help you be in the frame of mind to write, and I can wear my medal! this is supposed to have taught me that I can do anything if I set my mind to it! (and Jonathan told me very seriously that if I want to, he has perfect faith that I will) I’ve written more than the word goal per day (1,667) in this blog since the marathon! But I haven’t decided yet. I don’t want to commit myself if there’s a chance I’m just setting mysef up for failure.

At any rate, I don’t know how much longer/what I’ll write in this blog. But I’ll leave it up and hope that it helps one other person the way Hollie‘s helped me. It’s been great–and I’m telling you, if I could do this, ANYBODY can!

5 thoughts on “

  1. Congratulations Hilary!!!

    I was there and I remember seeing you. It was my first marathon too and I ran near you for the first half of the race. Perhaps you saw me. I was the fortyish 5’6″ guy in blue shorts, grey shirt, and blue hat (#626). I was having fun, high-fiving the kids, waving at the crowds, generally making a fool of myself. It was an incredible day. A wonderful day. I loved every minute of it.

    And it did change my life. Not because I had to fight through the wall or anything. I never hit the wall during the race either. It was because I proved to myself that I could set a seemingly impossible goal but if I was disciplined enough, if I worked hard enough, I could achieve it.

    But I did hit the wall on a 22 mile training run. It was hot and humid that day. And I started too fast. At mile 18 I felt like I was made of lead. I felt like I was made of lead and I was carrying a lead elephant on my back. But I kept running. Somehow I willed myself to finish even though the last 2 miles of the run were all on a steep uphill. It must have been the rain that saved me that day. Anyway, that was the day that tested my mettle. The marathon was a cakewalk in comparison. Anyway, it was cool to read your blog. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. Congratulations!!!

    Hey, I was there and I remember you. You might remember me too. We ran near each other for the first 10 miles or so. I was the 5’6″ 40ish guy in blue hat, grey shirt, and blue shorts (#626). It was my first marathon too and it was an incredible day. I ran across your blog by chance. Excellent story of the marathon!


  3. Hi BD! Thanks for your comment and *congratulations* on your fantastic time! And your description of hitting the wall on your 22 mile run really made me laugh. Nice to “meet” you!

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