It's been 5 days since the journey of the marathon. I'm no longer sitting down and getting up as though I'm 9 months pregnant and I'm no longer walking down the stairs backward. Today will be my first day running since the marathon and my first day running without a plan in 20 weeks.
I started training for the Wrightsville Beach marathon the first week in November, one day after a half marathon race. Thanks to my friend Jill, who entered my half time into a race predictor calculator, she told me that I could potentially Boston Qualify, which begun my BQ or Bust plan.
This time around, 11 years since my last marathon, I trained smart. I gave myself a long plan to allow for travel, illness, injury and life... all of which occurred. I took rest days, I continued speed workouts and I cross trained.
Lots of variables can happen on race day, which is the scary thing about the marathon, unlike a 5k, if you have a bad race, you can't just do another one a week later. Thankfully, all the chips feel right on Sunday.
I rode my bike to the start with not much time to spare, which was very purposeful to help prevent pre-race jitters. Instead, I spent time at home, while talking to my gubs, Matthew, who was in town for the week, visiting and cheering. With less than 10 minutes until the start, I arrived feeling relaxed and excited.
My goal was to run a 3:37, giving me a bit of cushion for my 3:40 BQ time. I literally had no idea if it could be done, considering my fastest marathon to date was a 3:54. I wanted to keep around a 8:15 per mile pace and I wrote the time where I should be at 5 mile increments on my arm.
The race started and before I knew it I was running past my house and cheering section at mile 2. My friend Frank picked me up around 4 and ran for a few miles with me. We picked up the pace a bit, which made me nervous that I would blow up later, but I loved having the extra cushion in time. He also helped put some positive mantras into my head that I would use for the rest of the race. By the time I arrived back at my street and cheering section around mile 13, I was about 2 minutes ahead of my 3:37 time. I was stoked, but also knew there was 13 miles left and the race was really just beginning.
The course got a lot slimmer. There were a ton of half marathoners, who were now finished and some spectators has left, so it was getting quiet. Frank picked me up again around mile 15 and got me to 18 where another friend was waiting. During our time together, we managed to pick up another minute cushion. By the time I met up with Leslie at mile 18, I was feeling great about being so far ahead of plan, but starting to feel REALLY tired. We ran 6 miles in a quiet gated community together and if it were not for Leslie, I would have been in a bad place. Her positive comments were extremely helpful for my tired mind. She helped keep the pace, so I didn't have to look at my watch all the time, helped fill my hand-held water bottle and even carried it for me at the end when it felt like it weighed 50 pounds. Dramatic, I know (but true).
Miles 24 to 26.2 are well crowd-supported. I saw my friends who ran the half marathon. There were cheering, screaming and flashing me, which made me teary that they stuck around after their race to wait for me. Leslie told me that I was ahead of plan and could relax a bit until the finish, which was awesome because I was really feeling the miles.
I saw my hubs around mile 26 who didn't realize that the start time was 6:35 and not 6:30, so he thought I was five minutes off, which led him to running behind me angrily screaming "hurry up", "you gotta pick it up". This didn't go over well, especially after running 8 peaceful miles with Leslie.
After shooing Dave away, I rounded the corner to the last .2 into the finish.
Frank popped in again (as he does) and pushed me down the straight away finishing in 3:33.49. I qualified for Boston and had a 21-minute PR. I was so thrilled, the tears pretty much were non-stop for an hour. Seeing my friends and family at the finish line and knowing that I had reached my goal after 20 weeks of training was just a little too much for me! It literally takes an army to run a marathon, between my training partners, my friends who paced me, all who offered advice during those many weeks and my family and friends who put up with me during training. I have to say that I have a pretty awesome army of friends, family and training partners!
While all of this is fabulous, I probably won't run another marathon until Boston 2016. It's a lot of training and it takes such a toll on the body. I'll continue to run and race 13.1 and less, but I'm excited to get back to living life as a non-marathoner. I want to starting riding my bike again, get back to surfing and SUPing and all the other things I was too scared to do these last 20 weeks for fear of injury. Sunday was a day that will be remembered for sure.