Follow me and my ramblings about running, eating, and teaching, as I train for my first-ever marathon in May 2014.
4 weeks ago you got me through a full marathon without walking a single step. Why are giving me a hard time with a 4 mile run?? Pull it together!!!
(Seriously though… It’s like my brain dug so deep that day that it still has yet to mentally recover even though my body certainly has. Annoying!)
Well, it’s official. I am a marathoner.
I can’t believe it’s over already. I’ve finally accomplished the goal that I’ve worked at for 4+ months. It was an amazing day and I want to share it with the world! So, prepare yourself for a long read…
My alarm went off at 5 am. I slept surprisingly well considering I was full of anxiety the entire day prior to the race. I immediately got myself a small cup of coffee and forced myself to eat a cliff bar. Over the next hour and a half, I slowly got ready, loaded up my hydration belt, and we headed out the door of the hotel a little after 6:30.
The starting area was a 5 minute walk from our hotel rooms, so we arrived by 6:45. I wanted to warm up and did a little jog down the street. Once I started to move, I realized that I was no longer nervous, but rather totally fucking ready. I felt awake, strong, and ready to go.
My husband and friend arrived shortly after that, so I stretched it out in their company, hit the port-a-potty one last time and headed to line up around 7:20. I looked around to find the 4:15 pacer, and when I finally did I hung out behind him. Finally, after the national anthem and the starting gun, it was time to run. A nice slow walk to the starting line, and then we were off.
I decided that my strategy would be to stick with the 4:15 pacer, and should I feel good enough to go faster, I would do so. This seemed like a smarter strategy than starting with the 4:00 pacer and possibly regretting it later.
Right off the start, I noticed that the 4:15 pacer seemed to start off incredibly fast, which was surprising. I decided to start at a pace that was comfortable for me and not worry about it. I know it takes me a couple of miles to feel good usually, and figured I would catch up eventually.
Over the course of the next 26 miles, I went through many of the stages from the “8 Stages of Marathon” video that I’m sure many of you have seen.
Excitement: The first 10 miles, were pretty great. I ran without music until mile 11 and was really just trying to take in the experience and atmosphere of the race route. I chit chatted briefly with some fellow runners (I’ve never done that before), I high-fived kids (I’ve never done that before) and I listened in on other people’s conversations. The highlight of the race was around mile 7 or so, when outside a huge, beautiful house, a guy and girl were BLASTING the Rocky song and cheering on the runners. So awesome! (But I kinda wished they were at mile 22 later on)
Denial/Shock: Around mile 11, I started to think man, I’m not even half way yet. Mile 13… okay, now I’m half way, and I totally have another 13 in me.. right? (right??) Around here I spotted the 4:15 pacer (over heard him talking about how they were ahead of pace) and eventually passed him and his little group at a water stop.
Isolation: A good chunk of the 13-22 miles were on a bike trail. Spectators were now spread thinner and it seemed as if the trail was endless. This is when I started to really want to be finished and started listening to some music here and there. I took in lots of fluids/bananas/GU. More than ever because I really wanted to avoid hitting the wall.
I passed an elderly gentleman who had a shirt on that said 3,100 marathons. AMAZING. I congratulated the man on his accomplishments upon passing me, though at the same time remained amazed that this guy had been ahead of me for 70% of the race. Most in-shape elderly man I’ve ever seen.
This is also when I began going through waves of emotion. I’m not sure if it was exhaustion kicking in (probably) or raw emotion about the feat I was in the middle of accomplishing, but on several occasions, I basically started crying and choking up, and had to tell myself to pull it together because it was making me breathe all asthma-like. It definitely wasn’t crying from pain, it was joy. At this point, I thought for sure I would be hysterically crying when I arrived at the finish line.
Despair: Around mile 18 or so, I started to feel the fatigue, but stayed strong mentally. The more I self-talk, the more desperate I am feeling, and boy was there a lot of self talk. In my mind, I was just running to mile 20. So, I counted the miles to then.
Once I reached 20, I just thought about reaching 24. Problem with that was that miles 20-24 were on the water and the wind was RIDICULOUS and of course blowing right in my face. I feared my bib would come off or the wind would blow me directly into the water. I reached mile 22 and told myself just a 5K (I tricked myself into thinking I only had to get to mile 25, because the last mile would be easy and exhilarating).
Affirmation: At the end of mile 24, there was a major uphill and then a major downhill. At the top of the hill, everyone was yelling its just downhill from here. Little did they know how much that downhill hurt. Oh my quads were burning. So painful. But I was SO close. Just 2 more miles! My family and friends were waiting for me and I could do it. I was going to finish under 4:15, I just had to keep going. The faster you go, the sooner you finish became my mantra.
Elation: About a half mile before the finish, I spotted 2 of my friends and I almost exploded from excitement. I started waving my hands and yelling and they saw me and were yelling back, I high fived them and I felt the adrenaline rushing to get to the finish.
The whole last mile or so of the race went right through the downtown of Providence and it felt so cool to run directly down the middle of the street. I kept looking for the inflatable finish line and it felt like FOREVER until I finally spotted it and I knew I was going to make it. When I arrived closer and closer I realized how many people there were and I started to panic that I wouldn’t see my family. I was looking frantically left and right and finally I found them and they found me and it was the happiest moment of my life. I finished strong. 4:11:23.
I saw my sister (who finished her first ever half marathon about an hour before I crossed the finish line) come running to me and we shared a giant hug.
We accomplished something great that day and we accomplished it together.
I couldn’t have asked for a better marathon experience.
But the question is… what race next?
In 12 hours, I will be awake and preparing for the long awaited Providence Marathon. I didn’t feel anywhere close as anxious as this on the eve of previous half marathons. This is like a whole new beast. A distance I’ve never run.
All my other races, I knew I could cover the distance. It was just a question of how quickly.
Tomorrow is different. Do I go out at my goal pace and risk having a terrible last few miles? Do I play it safe to be left wondering if I could have broke 4 hours with a little more pain and suffering? My race plan for tomorrow keeps shifting, along with my confidence.
I’ve been taking it so easy the past couple of weeks that I’m really just looking forward to a nice long run. Let’s hope I feel the same way when the time comes to cross the starting line tomorrow.
For the first time in a long time, I went to watch the Boston Marathon yesterday. Of course, this was a special year, due to the circumstances of the last Boston Marathon. That on it’s own made it really special for me to be able be a part of it, even if it was from behind big metal barriers. But, my recent marathon training and goals really gave me a new perspective on this race….
As a former BU student (graduated in 2006) I grew to love this race. I remember watching this race year after year. I remember feeling like such a dork, with almost constant tears in my eyes, watching people run. I was twice a spectator on the last .1 of the race and twice a spectator at mile 25, right outside my apartment. I LOVED this day. I found it so powerful to watch people run this race and get to cheer them on. I simply loved it. This day was more than a day to party in the streets to me. I really loved the marathon.
That said, on more than one occasion, I (drunkenly) proclaimed that next year I would run the Boston Marathon. (I never said I didn’t participate in said partying). Of course, I never did run the Boston Marathon, nor did I have any comprehension of the true commitment that such an undertaking would require. That didn’t stop me from truly wanting to be part of the magic, even if it was heavily fueled by underage drinking.
Now, fast forward to 2014. I’m actually training for a marathon. It’s happening. And this year, from the sidelines, I couldn’t help but watch and think… why aren’t I doing this? Why isn’t it me running down Beacon and hearing other people yell one more mile?
I’ve discovered, at the age of 30, that I really do have it in me to train for a marathon. And, I’m enjoying it. Loving it, actually. Something I truly never thought I would do (besides those few drunken hours as an undergrad spectator of the Boston Marathon.) The Boston Marathon is a race that I love. I loved watching it in person, when I lived right in Boston. When I moved out of the city, I loved watching it on TV in the comforts of my own home.
So, the question is, why didn’t it occur to me sooner that I should be a part of this race that really holds a special place in my heart?
On several occasions, people have asked me if I’ll keep running after I finish my marathon in May, or, what marathon I’ll do next and in the past, I’ve laughed at them. Telling them that I’m totally “one and done” and I won’t be doing any more marathons in the future. But…. the next time this conversation occurs, my answer will be different, as I think about my love for the Boston Marathon.
Maybe. Maybe just one more.
Well today’s run was a disaster. Or close to it.
I made it 20 miles, but it was really tough. I was planning on going 21.5, just to get a little closer to 26 than my plan actually called for. That extra 1.5 was not happening today.
I knew at mile 11 it was going to be a struggle, and my gut feeling was right. It was just painful and slower than I was hoping for. 2 weeks ago I ran 19.5 and felt pretty good, strong, and confident. Not today.
I refuse to believe that today was so tough because my body isn’t ready. My body is ready. I’ve worked my ass off So, I’ve come up with 3 reasons unrelated to my preparedness for why today’s run was so hard compared to 2 weeks ago.
1. Hydration (or lack thereof). Just hadn’t hydrated enough this week. Simple as that.
2. Heat. I underestimated the impact of running in 65 degrees vs. 45 degrees. I was overdressed and my poor hydration had an even stronger impact.
3. Food. I was trying to wait for the sun to come out before leaving for my run so I didn’t leave until noonish. I didn’t exactly have a meal before running (clif bar, mango, coffee) but that’s not enough considering I had a smallish dinner last night.
I’m pretty disappointed that my last long run felt so terrible. It doesn’t make me feel confident and I’m questioning my time goal I had previously thought possible.
Trying to tell myself that I’ve learned some sort of lesson here, which I have, but… still feels like a let down.
Well, this is it.
The last long run of my marathon training.
I’m ready to begin slowing down…tapering. I’ve been working my ass off the past few weeks and I’m mentally and physically ready for fewer miles.
Yet, at the same time, I’m a little sad. I’ve grown to love spending 3 hours of my Sunday out on the road, followed by 3 more hours of laying on the couch, refueling (aka stuffing my face), and drinking Gatorade.
Here’s to 21.5 miles!