The weekend of the race I headed downtown on the Friday for Race Kit Pick up with my friend Janice and WITHOUT KIDS! A first for me! I so enjoyed actually being able to wonder about the expo and shop without having two kids in tow. The Saturday before the race I spent the entire day nursing phantom pains in my leg and calves that came out of no where and were likely only in my head. My amazing husband gave me more then one calf massage that day. I hydrated, and rested like a boss and went over my race strategy a thousand times. I even managed to sleep fairly well the night before the race.
The morning of the race I was up before my alarm, the butterflies dancing already! I had my breakfast fuel, packed my kit, got dressed and took 26.2 Selfies of myself in my run gear LOL. I was heading to the race with my girlfriends Sharon and Janice, also running the Marathon. We were smart and had executive cab booked to take us downtown.
GOOD LUCK SIGN NO. 1: I used executive cab for my first marathon and he remembered me!
The weather the morning of the race was cool and not hot, I decided on not taking my Camel Back and to use the water stations instead. Sharon and I found the 4:15 pace bunnies and got in our Corral.
GOOD LUCK SIGN NO.2: same 4:15 pace bunny as my first marathon! Seriously same guy!
The gun was off and so were we! My goal pace for the race was 9:47 min/mile and I hoped to stay around 9:50-9:55 for that first 3 miles and not go out to fast. Writing this blog so many months after the race I can't remember how well I did at that. I do know that around the third mile I met up with my freind Sharon who was doing 10 and 1's and running with the RUN/WALK 4:15 Pace Bunny. We said hi had a quick chat, which was so surreal as I have never talked to anyone DURING a race like that before. Just meeting up and saying hi like you ran into them on the street. I was stuck in the walk/run group at that point and it was not fun. I am a wee bit competitive and they RUN FAST in their 10 min before they take a walk break. I had been doing so well at ignoring the crowd and running my own pace, and not weaving and surging around runners. I found myself trying to keep up with the pack. I chatted some more with Sharon and was enjoying the company and even started to question if I should just ditch my plan and run 10:1's with them. But I decided to stick to my plan and moved way off to the side, and mentally put my head down and tuned into my own race.
I checked my watch often and was surprised to see that my avg pace seemed to be around the 9:30 min/mile mark. Much faster then my planned pace. But I felt really good. I kept trying to tune in and dial back as well as to not watch my watch to much. My goal was to hit each 5km in 30min and I was doing that ok. Around 15km I ran into some knee pain running on a slanted road and my mind went instantly to the OMG I am screwed place. But I calmed myself down, slowed a little, and even took a quick walk break to shake it out. I focused on my music and it went away.
I feel like this having been my 5th Marathon, I had a lot of experience that came into play to help that day. I knew to step to the side and run my own race. I knew that taking a short walk break early on to shake the tightness out would be better then slowing down more and more with pain later on. I also knew not to get ahead of myself and that despite the fact things were going really well, I knew that they could all go to crap pretty quickly.
Having decided to walk through the water stations was a really good idea, unlike the last time, I didn't feel like I struggled to get my pace back. I felt renewed after each little break and less stiff and my pace came back "fresher".
I remember hitting the half marathon point and being surprised that I was there already...it was all so surreal. I think my time was 2:07-2:08 pretty much what it was on my first Marathon. I was feeling very hopeful but again trying to not get too excited.
I caught up with Sharon and the run/walk group sometime after that, we had another little check in and chat. I loved that we kept meeting each other and having little chats. We would separate again and meet up again. My pace starting picking up around mile15, I was feeling really good, mile 16 still feeling good and really starting to feel hopeful. I was ahead of the 4:15 pace bunny.
Mile 17 I was high as a kite on endorphins, the runner's high hit me! That has never happened that far way from the finish before. At one point I looked down and I was running my 5km pace! I slowed down right away knowing this was not smart. I remember saying loudly in my head. "MARATHONS ARE FUCKING AWESOME!" My pace that mile was 9:03 min/mile.
Mile 18 I slowed right down to a 10:03 min/mile pace and no longer thought that Marathons were awesome.
At this point I KNEW, I BELIEVED that my goal was in sight! I just had to keep it together, be smart and keep going! It was hard not to feel the butterflies building.
Before long I hit 20 miles and now it was RACE TIME! The last 10km, this is where goals are met or lost. I had prepared a special playlist of songs and motivational audio files to keep my going. I had stuff like this playing for me.
I ran with goosebumps! I also had messages from kids, the same ones from that first race playing. Their little 3 years ago voices cheering GO MOMMY! Your strong Mommy, Your Awesome Mommy!
22.6 miles, yes that exact point, I looked at my watch and thought OMG I still need to get to 30! I can't do this, I'm done. I got confused here, my mine was fuzzy, I thought I had to hit the next set of 10 miles. I forgot that I "only" had to go to 26.2. I ran for a little bit feeling defeat coming. Then I clued in that I had just about 5km to go. I can could do this.
Those last 5km hurt! They hurt! My hips were so tight, my legs so heavy. I was so tired. The Pace Bunny caught up and passed me at some point. But I had my messages playing.
For the first time, I did not start the negative reel in my head. I did not start giving myself excuses and reasons why I did not meet my goal. I kept going. I was slower. But I knew that if I just kept going I would make it. I have limped the last 7 miles of a marathon, I could do this! I did not give up on myself that day.
I hit 26.2 miles on my garmin at 4:11:58! I was so proud of myself. I could hardly believe it. But the finish line was not even in site. This is the part of the marathon that is truly the worst. I am done, mentally I am done. My watch pace had me getting here...but now I have no idea how far the line really is and will I squeak in my goal? How much zig zagging did I do? I had to pick it up! It was incredibly hard to push here, it took so much effort. I saw some green arches finally and thought thank God! But no! It wasn't the finish line, WTF! I actually said something to that effect out loud!
Finally I crossed the finish line at 26.64 miles with a time of 4:15:47! I'm taking that as goal met! The 4:15 is in there and I hit 26.2 well under that!
Most of all I ran with joy that day, I took it all in and actually enjoyed myself. I ran because I chose to, and not because I felt I should.
The very best part of the day, the part that made it all worth it was when I finally saw my kids waiting for me at the finish line. I did the Ugly Cry!
I did it!!!!!