I cannot believe that I ran a marathon this Saturday! If it weren’t for my incredibly sore legs and gimpy foot reminding me that I did it, I might have thought it was a dream. Everything about the experience was very surreal and inexplainable, but I am going to try to give it a shot in this entry.
I now understand why only 1 % of people will ever run a marathon. Call me cocky, call me naive, but I really did not believe it was going to be as hard as it was to finish those last few miles. I started out incredibly strong the first 17 miles, maybe a bit too strong because the worst thing you can do is start out too fast but I felt great so I just went with it.
It was perfect running weather, a little bit cool when you start, but then 4 miles in you are shedding layers quickly.
I thought not having an ipod would help me “experience” the race better, and for the first half of the race it was incredibly nice to listen to the chit chat around me, hear the pitter-patter of other people in my pace group, and enjoy the bands and fans that had gathered for support. The bad thing about the marathon is that all that nervous excitement and adrenaline that is pumping for the first half of the course slowly starts diminishing as you continue towards the finish line.
I had been training hard and assumed that since I had run 22 miles in my training that the extra four would be no problem. Not so. I began to regret not having the ipod at about mile 18. I had just finished a pretty tough part of the course crossing the Lee Bridge strong running about 7:50 miles up until that point, but I realized I knew no one around me. My running partner in crime Katherine was having some upper respiratory difficulty and I had lost the pace group somewhere by a water stop. Main street in Richmond has a very very slight incline, nothing that should really be an issue, but for some reason I just started to die. I could see the pace group in front of me, but no matter what I could do I couldn’t get back to those sub 8 minute miles. I kept going but by mile 21 people around me were beginning to do the whole vomit and walk thing and it really did begin to play with my mind. I really felt like I was on The Road, by Cormac MCarthy.
I felt trapped like I couldn’t get out, couldn’t stop, didn’t know how to keep going, and like this road ahead of me was just never ending. Everyone around me looked like zombies. People’s dried sweat began to whiten with salt across their faces, residual goo from gels were smeared across their mouths, and stiff quads led to walking dead-esque strides. I now understand what hitting a wall feels like. My legs couldn’t move anymore, my back felt tight, my stomach was screaming at me, and my head was just like wtf are you doing!? Luckily I saw my coach Perry around mile 23. He leveled with me and just said that I had to finish, I was three miles from the finish line, and honestly walking there would be harder than running. He told me to get in control. To focus. To make a bargain with myself that I am only allowed to walk or slow down after I get to a water stop.
I was in tears at that point out of pain, frustration, and just utter hopelessness, but I squawked that I really wanted to qualify for Boston and I was so close! He is the greatest coach for me because he was blunt and just flat out called it as it was, “How bad do you want to qualify? You can do it, but obviously you have got to run girl, you gotta go faster, if you want it you have to go get it.” So I did. They say that marathons are all mental so I just trudged on. I found a pace group leader who was very energetic and called me out and told me that I wasn’t quitting and to just stick with him. So I just ran my little heart out and found strength. Once we got downtown it was easy again. The roads were downhill, the spectators started thickening, and I could literally smell the finish line. My watch showed that I was just one mile away and that if I could maintain the pace I would barley qualify under a 3:35 time for Boston.
There is no greater feeling than crossing that finish line knowing you can finally stop moving after being in constant motion for 3 hours and 34 minutes. I got a medal, I got a banana, and then I just started crying. It was happiness, sadness, pain, and just utter elation.
I saw one of my best friends Anne and her Aunt (also named Anne…so we call her Auntie Anne, yes like the pretzels) and cried with them. I got interviewed on camera by Sportsbakers where I did undoubtedly one of the most awkward marathon interviews ever, I would be shocked if they showed it as I was talking a mile a minute blubbering on between laughing and sobbing. Once I turned around my papa (Papa Typod) was there and he was just so proud of me it was the greatest feeling ever.
I cannot believe how many of my great friends came out and made signs, took videos, and cheered me on I am so thankful to all of them for their support.
I imagine running a marathon is much like having a baby. It is incredibly painful but incredibly rewarding at the same time. If someone were to ask me if I would run one again I would shudder and probably say no, but then again I loved the feeling I got when it was over and I am sure in a week I will have forgotten the rough patches and only remember the sweetness of finishing and say yes I will 100 percent be doing one again. Here are some of my stats from the race:
Crossing the 10k mark: 49:23
Crossing the Half Way point (13.1) 1:43.50 (that is faster than my fastest half time- woops)
Crossing the 20 mile point: 2:39:34
Crossing that damn finish line: 3:34:22
I came in 531 out of 5000 some people, 82nd out of all women, and 17th for my age group (20-24). I am very proud of my accomplishments and though I am very happy to have some more time for friends and family now that training is over, I will miss my long Saturday runs with my team so much, that I might just have to do this whole marathon thing again after all!
All of those drinks are mine. I was thirsty. I needed to rehydrate. I keed I keed.