It has taken me so long to get this up, because I’ve been trying to process the race before attempting to write about it. Turns out, I should have just sat down and wrote this recap earlier, because it would have actually helped me process it. Live and learn, people.
To save some of you the agony of having to read a long recap, I’ll start with the facts. I ran a 3:39 marathon. I did not qualify for Boston, but I am okay with that. I started out too fast. I finished too slow. My quads pooped out on me. I beat my marathon PR by 38 minutes. I ran the race of my life.
For those of you interest in more, let’s back up. I flew back from Bellingham on the Friday before the race and had a magical reunion with FW upon landing. I was a little worried about the flight/time change and the effect it would have on my legs, but I wore compression socks on the plane, rolled when I got home, and got to bed at a decent hour. I made myself wake up at 9:00am on Saturday, even though my body wanted more. I had a fantastic shake out run along my favorite path (West Side Highway), and was feeling nice and loose by the time I got in the car.
Felt so good to be back the WSH…
To say I was nervous is an understatement. I wanted to totally freak out, but instead, I obsessed about the day’s schedule (it’s a great quality, one that makes dating me a treat I’m sure). Thankfully, we arrived in Philly right at 3:00pm, to check-in at the hotel and head to the expo.
See my crazy face? That’s what expos do to people.
I’m going to say it: I hate expos. There is way too much energy, way too many people, and way too much pushing. So we went in, got my number and bag, took a few obligatory photos, bought some weird clothing to wear to the start, and got the heck out. And after a little break at the hotel, we went to a lovely dinner with my support crew at a delicious Italian restaurant in South Philly. I managed to get back to the hotel in time to prepare my outfit for the next day, and get to bed in a decent time.
Everyone else seemed overdressed; I ran in my shorts, tank, sleeves and socks. No way was I going to overheat!
My alarm went off at 5:00am and I got up easily. I had plenty of time to get dressed, braid my hair, adjust my outfit, and get ready to leave. I have no idea how it took me 45 minutes to do all that, considering I did not shower, but it did. At 5:45 I went down the hotel lobby with my Clif Bar and water and hung out with the rest of the runners waiting to head out to the start. When 6:15 came around, I went out, despite the fact that many runners stayed inside (I tried to be cool, but I just couldn’t). It was 41degrees, and I was ready to run.
Ready to go! Also, the GUs in my bra completely cut up my chest. I do not recommend.
I started off too fast. My plan was to run the first 10 miles between 8:05-8:20, but I ran too many 8:00’s and 7:50’s. It was tough to hold a pace, because it was so crowded, and in order to maintain the pace I wanted, I ended up having to sprint by groups of people. [Side note: it will continue to mystify me how/why people who know they are not running 3:30 marathons start so far up in the corrals.] As a result, I ended up running faster than I intended, and that coupled with my pent up energy resulted in a fast start.
I went on to run the next 8 miles at marathon pace, between 7:55-8:10, with a few at 7:50. I should have held back, but my body was going and I tried to trust it. At mile 18, I slowed down a bit, and sure enough, had to battle my way through the wall. My quads were tight, my IT bands were starting to talk, and I got scared. Not of finishing; I knew I would finish. I got scared of losing my goal.
c/o FW. Love the neon.
I pushed and I pushed, but it seemed like the more I pushed, the more I slowed down. It was around mile 19 that I knew I lost the 3:30 marathon. And it didn’t actually upset me. I knew that I had been pushing hard, and that I couldn’t have pushed harder, so I accepted it. And I went to the bathroom because I had been needing to go. If I wasn’t going to hit 3:30, I sure as hell was going to be more comfortable!
I made it through the wall to mile 22, after a mindset change and a much needed bathroom break. My only plan for the last 4 miles was to run, and do the best that I can. I was hoping for under a 3:40, and I did everything I could to get there. I knew my cheer squad would be waiting for me near the finish, and I put all my efforts into getting there. And boy, did they help me along! Half a mile from the finish, their cheering sent me running, giving it everything I had. And I made it in there, for a 3:39:08 finish. I averaged 8:21 minute miles, came in 108th out of 4,360 in my division, and 2,219 out of the 10,359 marathon runners.
Was I disappointed I didn’t qualify? Yes. I allowed myself to feel it for a moment, but while I was limping towards the family meeting area, drinking my chicken broth and water, I reflected on what was absolutely the race of my life. I had taken 38 minutes off of my prior marathon PR (4:17). I had run a strong and healthy race for the first time in my life. I had trained for weeks (since July!) and poured my heart and soul into the training. There was nothing to be disappointed about. No, I didn’t BQ. But I completely changed my profile as a runner, and ran a race marks the beginning of a new era. I am proud of myself, I am happy, and I am not disappointed. I killed that marathon
Are there things I could have done differently? Absolutely. I need more practice racing, and running a race with an actual pace plan. I need to improve upon my speed workouts – getting used to running fast and feeling uncomfortable. I could do more strength training so that my legs are stronger. But these are things for me to work on in the future, and will come with more experience. I’m looking at them as my long term goals, and not something I should have done.
Personal photographer, cheerleader, and love!
I have to give a shout out to my fantastic cheering squad. In this 26.2 mile race, they saw me four times. And each time, they cheered for me like I was THE runner. That support means the world to me, and makes such a difference when the miles get tough.
Maker of the sign, leader of the cheer squad, and BFF, LC.
And a HUGE thank you to all of you: the support you’ve given me throughout my training helped me more than you probably know. When I was struggling through those tough miles, I thought of all your kind and encouraging words, and I felt better. I couldn’t have done it without all your support; a million times thank you!
The best running photo of me ever taken. Thanks, FW!