Overall, I was ready for this race. I had hit most of my training runs, a setback here and there with travel, blisters, etc. but nothing that really had me feeling unprepared. The week leading up to the marathon I was pretty antsy, stalking the weather, Twitter, Facebook for any updates, unforeseen things that changed that I didn't know about. I was ridiculously obsessing about what to wear for this race, even though I pretty much knew what I wanted to wear. (I tried to quiet my brain, but it wasn't happening). My last 20 mile long run had gone ok, but when I got home I was nauseous and had the chills so that lingered at the back of my mind. I guess knowing what a beast a marathon is, I still worry about not being able to do it. I worry. Every.Time.
Thankfully, I had some amazing bread to eat, a cross country meet to coach, packet pick-up, book fair shopping-enough distractions to keep me sane the day before.
Even more spectacular, Bill, who was not running LFM, offered to drive me to the start so I would not have to take the buses. This was so cool, as it allowed me a little extra sleep, and I could hitch a ride with my parents after who were coming to the finish to watch.
We got up to Grafton, surveyed the bathroom lines, and headed back out to the port o potties. No line there! We went back to the gym and got to chat with Bill, Mary, and Dennis. The great part of being inside was that I decided to shed my layers, and not get too cold. We met up with Jamie and Joel, he was running his third marathon. Dropped my bag off at the gear check, Joel and I went our separate ways to the start with our last good lucks.
Going into this race, I did not feel the pressure to prove anything. Last fall was my BQ, in May I PR'd, so this race I had been treating like a maintenance race, staying in marathon shape. However, knowing that I had been running pretty consistently, I knew I could probably do well if I wanted to. Talking to several people building up to this race, I got a mixed bag of advise...just enjoy it, don't try too hard, you've been doing well, why not keep doing it?!
I remembered one of my favorite Steve Prefontaine quotes, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Now I'm not a huge mantra runner, however, this struck me, why after 18 weeks of training would you not try your best, start the race, see how it feels if all systems are good, go.
I started off around the 3:30 pace group. I really wanted to be sure that I did not take off too fast. I stayed with them for a bit, but edged away after the first mile or so. I was pretty consistent hitting my miles at about 7:50 and it was feeling good. Knowing that how you feel the first half of a marathon means nothing, I tried to keep focused on one mile at a time.
|Photo by Bill Flaws RunningintheUSA.com|
When I got to Concordia, I was feeling good, got caught up in the excitement of the race and definitely ticked off a faster mile than I should have, but it was great seeing all the people and the Bill(s). A definite pick-me-up that's for sure. A few times I would focus on another runner and his/her pace, but then remind myself I am running my own race, not to get caught up in theirs.
I saw Jamie at mile 10, again, great to see familiar faces out there!
|Photo by Jamie A.|
The thing I love about this race, is that the spectators DO cheer for you by name, and it is awesome. They push you to keep pushing. Some of the miles blur together, but Bill drove by me again and I saw him and Jamie again along the course.
|Photo by Bill S.|
Knowing that I was still feeling good, but that I usually lose some steam near the end (someday I will learn how not to) I kept playing numbers games. Make it to mile 20 before you go over 8 minutes. By building a buffer I would not only PR, but would come in under 3:30. So basically the last miles were a numbers game, I knew I had it, but just had to keep it together. I did better than I thought keeping it together at the end, I saw my friend Ryan right around the 25 1/2 mile sign, I think I might have mustered up a smile, but it was weak. Then I saw Jamie and Bill in their cars trying to get through traffic to get to the finish, yelling and honking.
|Photo by Bill S.|
As I neared the finish, I was hoping to have a little fuel left in the tank, thankfully I saw my friend Alberto, he had enough energy for both of us. He cheered and ran and was so excited, that it got me out of my stupor to bring it in, I saw his wife on the other side, and was now focused to get it done. As the crowds thickened towards the finish line, I started frantically searching for my parents, did they make it? Were they lost? Then suddenly there was my mom, I saw her first, gave her a high five and moved on, wondering where my dad was, parking? further ahead? Sure enough there he was! I gave him a big high five as well and made it through the finish with my fists raised.
|Photo by Bill Flaws RunningintheUSA.com|
The first moments after finishing a marathon is a cathartic experience. You are happy that you finished, I was excited that I PR'd, I was humbled by this gift of running that has given me so much life, I hurt, I felt good, I was done.
I heard my name and saw a running friend right away and he congratulated me a great finish. Soon I found my parents, there is nothing like a hug from your parents. I am so thankful that they still come and watch me run. So thankful.
I grabbed my gear bag and did a complete change in the changing tent, grabbed a beer, and waited to connect with Bill, Jamie, Joel. I saw Igor who was pacing the 3:30 group and let him know how happy I was that he did not pass me. :)
All in all, it was a great day, weather, spectators (lots of others out there I didn't mention). We went to the Milwaukee Ale House and grabbed some lunch. I was a little weepy, because I know I've said it before, but marathon running is hard, a lot has to go right for a long time for the overall run to finish strong, much less a PR, and when that happens, you feel
|Bill and I|