Friday, October 29, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
While eating piles of pasta with Marty, Anne and Rochelle on Saturday night I told them that I was strangely not nervous at all- and it was the truth. I was excited because I know how amazing running a marathon could feel and I couldn't wait for it to actually happen but I wasn't "nervous" about the distance anymore. I know I can run 26.2 miles. I've done it a couple of times before. Sure, I had a big new goal of running a sub-4 time but I was pretty positive that after my intense training this summer I would at least have a PR (less than 4:07) and I wouldn't be heartbroken if I couldn't break in to the threes. We made jokes about the 4000+ calories Marty had eaten in that day in preparation (and consequently his growing food baby) and all was relaxed and easy going. I even slept REALLY well which never happens pre-race.
Again the school bus ride out to Grafton is the longest trip ever. It finally dawned on my kids just how far 26 miles is when I told them "I'm going to run all the way from COSTCO." Whoa. I still didn't feel really nervous but I definitely got quieter and started to go in to "game mode". It reminds me of back when I was dancing in college and getting ready to go onstage. I would stop talking to everyone and just go into my own world, visualizing what I needed to do. I was happy to have my buddies with me for support but I was already on my way inside my mind. When we stepped outside to the starting line I thought at first that I had made a mistake by wearing a tank top and shorts but once everyone started bunching up at the start I immediately began to get warm. When the national anthem was sung the sun began to peek out of the clouds and I knew right then that it was going to be a good day. I couldn't believe that I was about to run this crazy distance for the third time
I ran with Rochelle and Marty just ahead of the 4 hour pace group for the first few miles. They were planning to speed up at mile 5 and go for a 3:55 pace and I wrestled a bit with whether or not I wanted to join them. I felt so good at the beginning and I wanted so badly to go faster but I ended up keeping myself in check. The beginning of a long race ALWAYS feels good! I didn't want to mess up what I had trained for by getting too ambitious literally at the last minute so when they took off at mile 5 I had made peace with it.
My decision paid off. I realize that a lot of people don't like running races by themselves. (Of course, I know I wasn't technically by myself but with Marty and Rochelle going ahead and Krista and Anne behind me with the 4:30 group I was the only one of our crew running at this pace.) But for reason I think being by "myself" really works on race day. As much as I love chatting away in our group training runs, I am not a race talker. I am ALL BUSINESS. It doesn't mean that I'm not enjoying myself, it's just that I really enjoy cranking up my music, absorbing everything I'm feeling, and focusing completely on my goal. I did turn my music down at most of the larger spectator areas because I wanted to hear everyone cheering and to look for familiar faces. (I know I missed a bunch of you though and I'm sorry! I tried!) But for the most part I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and staying on pace. I also spent some time thinking about my mom because I wasn't a runner while she was still alive and I can''t help but think of her when I run races now and how cool she would think this all is.
I do have to say something about the spectators. As in they were SPECTACULAR. Not just the people that I knew either. It seemed that whenever things started to get tough or monotonous there was another stretch of cheerleaders to keep pushing me along. I know I'll forget people if I start naming names but I have to mention how Cheryl ran along side me at one point taking photos! I couldn't have asked for better support. Oh, and a kid dressed like Luke Skywalker gave me a high five and said the force was with me so that was rad.
I can't say that I hit the "wall" at 19 but I definitely started to feel worse then. This was earlier than last year but I was running over a minute faster per mile and it was the longest I had ever sustained a nine minute pace before. (I did all my 20 mile training runs at a 9:20-9:30 pace.) The Lakefront course is not really hilly but there are a lot of slow inclines around this point that all culminates at mile 23 at the top of Lincoln Memorial Drive. I knew the big downhill was coming but it seemed to be taking FOREVER and every time I thought I was almost there I was wrong. Crap! When I finally got there at the top of the hill though the crowd was AMAZING and I was so happy to be approaching the final miles that I got all choked up started to lose it. I saw my friend Chris yelling like crazy at me and I and I got a total cry face. Sob!
The thing about mile 23 at Lakefront though is that after all the brouhaha there are still three miles to go after you tear down that big hill. Three. Miserable. Miles. This was definitely wall territory. As soon as I got to the bottom my previous elation faded and it got rough. My pace slowed and I started to worry whether or not I could still make a sub-4 time. I was trying to do the math in my head to figure out just how much I could slow down and still get in under 4 but math is hard and I my mind was all scrambley so I didn't trust anything I was thinking at that point. I was in a total daze when I finally realized that Mark (a.k.a.OBLIVION!) was jumping up and down wearing neon yellow and screaming my name. I was so happy to see a familiar face that I yelled "OH THANK GOD!" at him as I passed by leaving him to wonder why I am such a weirdo.
Even when I got to mile around 25 and realized I had over 12 minutes to meet my goal I still couldn't tell myself that I had it in the bag. Anything could happen! Plus, this was crazy hard! Also, for the record I HATE the mile 25 1/2 marker. I wish I would have given it the finger. But 25 1/2 marker be damned I pressed on, turned the corner and headed down the home stretch. CHEERS! More cry face as I saw the official clock click over to 3:58! Then something that did not happen to me last year came over me: I had energy to kick it up the last few yards! I saw Mike cheering on the left and the rest of my cheering squad on the right and I blew past the two guys in front of me to cross the finish line. That felt good.
Hugs and crying ensued.
And thus ended my third marathon. My official chip time was 3:58:40. I would have been happy squeaking by with a 3:59:59 so I was more than thrilled.
Life is fantastic.