It’s been three weeks since Marathon #21.
A LOT has happened since then – including the wonderfully painful Marathon #22.
I don’t want to forget #21 mostly because I was happy, really happy. So here I sit, a in a state of self induced force, writing my own words down so years from now #21 doesn’t mesh together with all the others. It’s remarkable how the mind can forget pain. The marathon is about pain, so it’s easy to see how even though it’s a wonderful often blissful experience for me, my mind blocks it out.
Childbirth was like a marathon to me, only MUCH harder. I remember vividly being in excruciating pain during labor with Miles. Having been in labor for over 24 hours with Chloe I knew the pain would not soon end and unlike a marathon I couldn’t just take a time out and walk, gather my strength and return to it when I was in the right frame of mind. I knew however that once my little man arrived I would forget the pain, so I repeated, dare I say chanted to myself YOU NEVER WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN, YOU NEVER WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN. I wanted to remember the pain so I would be happy with two children, a boy and a girl. In part the chanting worked. W
hen I found out unexpectedly after B & A Marathon 2010 that I was expecting my third baby the FIRST thing that came to mind was YOU NEVER WANT TO DO THIS AGAIN. I panicked and when I panic I reach straight for food. I left my husband and two littles at home and went to Cold Stone and bought the biggest peanut butter smothered ice cream sundae I’ve ever eaten. Yes, in case you were wondering, it did make me feel better and helped to calm my mind. The pain was coming whether I liked it or not, but the joy at the end would last a lifetime, much like the marathon for me.
Friday I had to decide if I was going to interview Shalane Flanagan over the phone or in person – I was torn. I wanted to meet her BADLY, but I also worked hard, very hard for a PR. I know my body VERY well and I knew that if I spent the day running the kids around from babysitter to babysitter and making the trek from the burbs into DC there was NO way I was going to be rested enough to run a PR.
I went back and forth but ultimately decided this was one of those things that was worth sacrificing a PR for. Sometimes you have to seize the moment – opportunities only last so long before they pass you by.
Saturday I woke up early – cleaned the house – got the kids ready – got ready myself – left before 10 – dropped them at my in-laws headed to DC – made it just in time to see Shalane at 12 - stayed there for an hour – then rushed back to get the kids – changed Chloe into her ballet stuff – rushed her to her Halloween ballet show [we barely made it in time] – sent two littles off with my dad and his wife and met up with my mother in law to give her little #3 for the night – by the time Eric and I got back home and sat down it was 5pm. We messed with itunes to download some last minute songs to my playlist – ran out again to Target to get some peanut butter and gluten free waffles for my pre-marathon breakfast and were back home by 6:30. I gathered all my stuff together and then got ready for bed. NOT EXACTLY the day I would want to have before attempting to run a PR and go under 3:10 in the marathon.
Went I went to bed a said a little prayer. Dear Lord – Please give me your kind of strength tomorrow. Please help me to feel happy the entire 26.2 miles and not let that happiness be tied to the number on the clock.
4am my alarm went off. I jumped out of bed. It was racing day and for this running addict marathon racing day is just about one of the best days all year!
By 6 am we were parked and heading towards the start. By 7 am I was resting under a tree waiting for the race to get under way. I am a FREAK about getting to marathons early. I have a reoccurring nightmare that I am late to a marathon race and so to make sure that never happens I get there before some people even roll out of bed.
I was glad to see my speedy running friend and Jess before the start. Jess and I agreed that we both would start out together and then wish the other well. We were both in shape to run under 3:10 but we knew that we had to run what the day gave us. There was no telling who would finish ahead of who that day.
My goal was to start out at 7:45 pace and stay relaxed for the first 8 – 9 miles till I rode out the hilliest portion of the race. After that I would drop down sub 7 for as long as I could and pray that I ran a smart race and didn’t hit the wall come 20/22 miles.
The race started out according to plan.
- Mile 1: 7:45
- Mile 2: 7:45
I remember thinking to myself that an awful lot of people were running way too fast. It sounds absurd to say but honestly you have to know how to run MCM to run a good race on that course. You can’t run your heart out from the begining and it seemed VERY crowded up towards the front 1/4 of the pack.
Slowly in those first relaxed 9 miles I started to see runners who had been ahead of me for miles slowly start to slow. When they were slowing I was picking up pace. I felt like I was running smart and that possibly, just possibly I could PR even though my legs felt tired.
- Mile 3: 7:24
- Mile 4: 7:07
- Mile 5: 7:24
- Mile 6: 7:21
- Mile 7: 7:37
- Mile 8: 7:10
- Mile 9: 6:58
- Mile 10: 6:55
- Mile 11: 6:54
- Mile 12: 7:07
- Mile 13: 7:15
The wind on Haines Point seemed unbearable. It came at me from every direction and I found that I was having a hard time catching my breath. The effort was the same as the miles before but the pace was slowing. My abs started to cramp and my stomach didn’t feel great. I ignored the signals my body was sending becasue I had no time for pain. I knew it would hurt and I didn’t want to run anything over 3:20 end of story.
- Mile 14: 7:27
- Mile 15: 7:28
- Mile 16: 7:22
- Mile 17: 7:21
- Mile 18: 7:27
- Mile 19: 7:10
- Mile 20: 7:23
Somewhere around mile 14 it clicked with me. I wasn’t going to PR, not even close. I would have to run 6:45′s for most of the rest of the course or faster to hit the time I wanted and that just wasn’t going to happen.
I didn’t get upset. I thought about my FANTASTIC day the day before. I thought about how grateful I was to even have the ability to run and even more so how much I enjoyed marathons.
No marathon is ever a bad marathon to me.
I’ve never said – WELL I REGRETTED THAT. It’s just not like that for me. I love them all.
I love them so much that even though I want to run fast and have the dream of one day seeing a 2:5X on the clock I’m not sure if I am willing to fully go after that dream if it means that I can only run 1 or maybe 2 marathons a year. I want quantity and quality and am will to sacrifice a little bit on quality to get quantity. It’s who I am and I don’t regret it or feel bad about it. It’s what makes me happy and that’s what matters. The older you get the more you realize you need to listen to that little voice inside that tells you it’s okay to do things that make you happy. That everyone doesn’t have to agree with the choices you make. It’s your life and we only get this one shot, this one chance to make it great.
I high fived little kids. I smiled and waved at photographers. [my race photos are some of the happiest I have ever seen of myself - I truly was smiling the entire race]
- Mile 21: 7:25
- Mile 22: 7:36
- Mile 23: 7:42
Mile 23 I started to loose it. I felt sick. My stomach hurt. I told myself that this could be my last marathon I ever ran. It’s something that crosses my mind every marathon. Literally every marathon I have points where I am elated to be running 26.2 miles and other moments where I want to quit running that exact moment and never run a marathon again. Maybe that’s why I like them – maybe that is the beauty for me – that I always want to quit but I keep going and I get to the other side. The side that is filled with bliss and happiness.
- Mile 24: 8:28
- Mile 25: 8:13
- Mile 26: 7:49
Mile 26 was rainbows for me. Literally I was FREAKING happy. Really freaking happy – which is just about the most awesome feeling in the world to have at mile 25. I was cruising to a sub 3:20 marathon finish on the same course I ran my first marathon on in 2003 over an hour faster than I ran it then. Who cares I didn’t hit my time goal. I got to CHAT it up with Shalane Flanagan, see my daughter twirl around on a stage and hang out with family and friends ALL WEEKEND long.
It literally was one of the best days of my life.
In true MCM fashion – I wanted to walk up that damn little hill. If it weren’t for the spectators cheering me on – I might have considered giving up at 26.1 miles, but I didn’t. I pressed on and finished my 21st marathon in a time of 3:17:14
- Mile 26.2: 8:18 average [of course this was my average..... I know I say it all the time but I'll say it again - I can't make this 818 stuff up]
After the race I hung around and waited for my friend Jess to finish and another running friend. Both had set pretty big PR’s. Is it strange to say that their PR’s made me REALLY happy. That somehow their PR’s were enough for the day. It didn’t matter to me that I finished 12 minutes off of what I wanted to run, what I felt capable of running, their happiness filled me to the brim with happiness.
On our walk back to the car we bumped into Shalane and her husband again. Imagine how awesome it felt that she not only remembered me but seemed genuinely happy to be chatting with us. I felt like I was talking to an old friend. She is so adorable, down to earth and just plain real. She doesn’t make you feel any less of a runner than she is. The one common thing I have found among all elite athletes I’ve met is that they not only genuinely love the sport of running but that they appreciate that we also put in hard work and we care like they care – they just happen to have the talent and the ability to take their running to another level we can only dream of, but that doesn’t mean we love it less or don’t work at it just the same way they do. I hope my life path crosses with hers again – I truly do.
I celebrated #21 with a lovely lunch with my husband and a GIANT BEER. It was the first time I’ve drank a beer post marathon but it certainly won’t be the last.
Want more Mile Posts, Shalane or Nissan Innovation For Endurance:
- Mile Posts on twitter – @mileposts
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- Mile Posts on instagram – http://web.stagram.com/n/mileposts/ or @mileposts
- Nissan Innovation For Endurance on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/innovationforendurance
- Nissan Innovation For Endurance on the web: http://innovationforendurance.msn.com/
- Nissan Innovation For Endurance on pinterest: http://pinterest.com/nissanife/
- Nissan Innovation For Endurance on twitter: https://twitter.com/NissanIFE
- Shalane Flanagan on the web: http://www.shalaneflanagan.com/
- Shalane Flanagan on twitter: https://twitter.com/ShalaneFlanagan
- Shalane Flanagan on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShalaneFlanagan
*Eric ran all over the MCM course handing me new water bottles and gels. I looked forward to getting more water with out having to stopped and honestly knowing he was up head helps motivate me to run. I love running marathons solo but I also love having a support person to cheer me on motivate me as well. I can’t thank him enough for spending the day helping me attempt to run fast for me.