Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:45. I got up made breakfast and ate. At around 5:45 we all headed to the race start. It was a short drive and we found an awesome empty parking lot only a couple of blocks from the start. I never park where they tell you to park, because DUH that’s what everyone else is doing. I like being different. Sometimes it works for me.
We hung out in the car, put on my body glide(turns out it was not near enough), and got ready to rock Columbus. It was still dark when we made the walk to the start. Much to my surprise it was a party. Seriously LMFAO blasting on speakers, lights swirling around in the early morning sky. I started dancing while walking. Don’t mind me – I’m just running a marathon today.
I was surprisingly NOT nervous at all.
The port o pottys were plentiful and I never had to wait more than a couple of minutes in line. AWESOME since I literally used the bathroom no less than 15 times(not exaggerating – wish I was). After my peeing debacle at the Boston Marathon in 2009 my pre-race routine has become very strict. I drink TONS of water, nuun, and tea the day before. I basically live in the bathroom. Then I drink when I first wake up – giving my kidneys etc plenty of time to process the water and get rid of it. I then drink about 8 ounces of water literally 5 minutes before the gun goes off. This water won’t get processed right away (hence I won’t need to run to the bathroom) but will keep me hydrated during the race.
Staying hydrated is something I have struggled with at all 16 prior marathons I have run. I noticed a dramatic difference in my performance at Hood To Coast because of all the nuun I was constantly drinking. I knew this little key could mean the difference between a 3:10 marathon and a 3:20 marathon. I planned and executed this plan flawlessly.
Before I left my mom to go to my coral, she grabbed me and said a prayer with me. It’s the first time we have ever prayed together at a race. After I said amen – I looked up in the sky and saw a GIANT number 8 on the top of a building. It lite up the night sky and looked like it was there just for me to see. She said you are going to do great sweetie. I remember her saying this but I don’t remember that I just said I know to her. She told me this after the race.
I’ll stray from my story for a second.
I know many of you have been wondering what my deal is with 8:18. I’ll explain because it fits in with how I knew I would do well at this marathon, no matter what.
I personally believe 8:18 is how God speaks to me. He speaks to all of us differently and it is up to us to recognized how. Now before you think I’ve gone mad and write me off as a crazy Christian who has God speaking to her in numbers. Just listen…maybe I’ll make a believer out of you eventually.
There are people in my life who think I’m nuts when it comes to 818, others after years of me talking about this and showing them, believe, and still others believe right away.
I first started seeing the time 8:18 in high school. It meant nothing to me at the time, but I remember seeing it, thinking it was odd that I always looked at the clock at 8:18 and thought nothing more of it. Later on in life when I met Eric, I told him about it. We both started seeing it more and more. Despite being sceptical of me, he agreed that it was VERY weird that I always saw it.
Fast forward a couple of years and we were engaged and frustrated with the planning our *dream wedding* We looked at the calendar and saw that 8/18 was a Saturday – loving the number 818 we decided that maybe we should put planning on hold and have our wedding the following year on Sunday 8/18. Then we realized the next year was a leap year and 8/18 would fall on a Monday. We decide then that we would get married the following week on a date we both loved. It would end the wedding planning madness. We did not tell our friends we were getting married, just did it. It was amazing and was a *dream wedding* with out all the cost, frills, and stress.
My faith has wavered over the years. I’m not afraid to admit it. There have been times that I have been disillusioned with Christianity as a whole and it’s pushed me farther away from Christ. In the past two years my faith has grown, as I have realized that I do not need to worry so much about Christianity as I do about my personal relationship with Christ. The stronger it gets the more I see the number 818.
You may think, Dorothy you just noticed the number 818 more because you are aware of it – but I’m telling you some of the places I see it are not just because I am aware – they are there and it’s FLAT OUT STRANGE/CRAZY.(more on this in another post)
At Hood To Coast some of my teammates asked me what the deal was with 818. They had seen me tweet it before and I tweeted it during the race. When I see it on the clock and am near my phone – I tweet 8:18 #neverfails
Our van driver who happened to be the president of Nuun tweeted me a Bible Verse one day — Romans 8:18.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
I think it’s applicable to so many things in our lives, but it especially seemed fitting describing the pain of a marathon and the glory that follows. There is glory in any marathon finish, no matter the time. I knew from that day forward that there would be glory at my marathon this fall. It’s not that I think I am some super stellar runner. It is that I had FAITH in the signs I believed God was sending me.
So there you have it. I love the number 818. I like the time 8:18. I love that my anniversary is 8/18. I love Romans 8:18.
Back to my race story….
I was in coral A – for people aiming for a 3:10 or faster marathon. I felt like I didn’t belong there for a moment but then quickly silenced the doubt demons. I had no time for them today. They would not drag me down. Only positive PUMP ME up thoughts were allowed.
In the first mile I got passed and passed and passed. I was running way slower than a 3:10 pace but that was what I wanted. I think the only way to reach your full potential in a marathon is to start slow and finish fast. Time in the bank doesn’t work. Even pacing works, but if you can evenly pace a marathon, you could have run it faster if you negatived split.
Around mile 2 I started to feel chaffing in my arm pits. The body glide had mostly rubbed off onto my throw away shirt. UGH. It hurt. There was no way I was going to let chaffing ruin my race. When stuff like this happens – I really just think to myself – is this all you got Satan? Chaffing? So I said a little prayer to God to help me disconnect my mind from the pain and to not think about it for 24 more miles. I tell you the honest truth that I didn’t really think about it till after the race. Today 4 days later it is still what is hurting me the most. It is an open wound and it sucks.
My goal was to feel like I was out for a casual run. No racing. Around mile 8 I decided it was time to turn on my legs and pick up the pace. Surprisingly it felt comfortable running close to a 7 minute pace. I smiled. My training had worked. I was happy knowing that I am my own best coach. Sure I get advice from others, and research mad, but I know what works for me and what doesn’t. My plan worked.
At mile 11 I passed the 3:15 pace group. I smiled knowing this is EXACTLY why I don’t run with pace groups. (I’ll get into this more in another post)
Mile 13 was one of the hardest mentally in the race. The half marathoners were about to finish. There was tons of crowd support, so that was helpful, but the mile was a slow incline. It hurt. 6:59. I looked at my watch in amazement. I have never seen a 6 in a marathon ever. Back when I started running I was happy to see a 9 in a marathon much less an 8. It’s insane how the human body can progress. A 6? Me – I ran a 6.
From then on I just coasted. I did not listen to music and it was the right choice. I did need something to distract me from this race. I wanted to be present in the moment. I wanted to talk to God. I wanted to talk to myself. I wanted to reflect on where I came from and what has happened in my life. I wanted 26.2 miles of seeing what I was made of.
I was out of water by mile 10. I wanted to ask spectators for their water when I saw them holding a bottle. I started to get water at the stations past 13 but it was aggravating. I can’t drink well on the fly. It splashes in my face and breaks my stride. I loose my breath and throws me off. By mile 16 I started yelling up ahead asking if they had bottles to pour water into my bottle. I’ll never get why races don’t do this more. Saves money on cups and is better for the environment. At around 18 a volunteer finally yelled back to one of the volunteers to run with me and pour the water. The volunteer didn’t get it and just tried to dump a cup of water in my open bottle as I ran past. HILARIOUS. A tiny bit made it in my bottle the rest landed on me.
My foot started to cramp. BAD. It hurt so bad I thought the marathon was over. I calmed my breathing down and said out loud. I believe you God.
I believed that HE wanted good for me that day. I believed HE had heard my prayers.
Around mile 19 the cramp was gone and my husband popped out of no where!!! I have never been so happy to see him in my life. Seriously my heart skipped a beat. He looked so cute carrying my water bottles and running in his trail shoes. I felt lucky inside. Here was my husband helping me achieve something he knew meant the world to me. He calmed me down with his words. He believed in me.
I was so tired I told him that I would love for him to run with me for as long as he could stick with me. His knee was hurting and going from zero to 7 something pace in no time flat is not easy to do. He stayed with me for about a mile. At which point we saw Chloe, Miles, Colton and my beautiful friend Ashley and her family at the water stop. I couldn’t muster a smile, I was in pain. But I manged to wave.
I repeated Eric’s words to myself in my head – just coast till mile 25 – then kick it in. You are one of the top women (top 50) – you can do this. I thought to myself – today you will run a 3:11 or a 3:13. I don’t know why but I just know it will be one of those two times.
As the miles went on I passed person after person who was hitting the wall. It’s a different world up there. A 3:13 marathon is very different from a 4:20, from a 4:56. It felt great inside thinking that I knew what it felt like to run all those different paces. To know what it’s like to run at the back of the pack and be pushing my hardest and to run at the front of the pack and be pushing my hardest.
I kept waiting for the promised downhill finish. There were hills. Not high ups and downs, but gradual inclines that never seemed to descend.
Through the marathon I said to myself: It’s not IF you are going under 3:20 today it’s HOW FAR under 3:20 you are going. I said the same thing to myself at B & A Marathon in 2010. It’s not IF you are going under 3:30 today it’s HOW FAR under 3:30 you are going. Every time I started to have a negative thought, dwell on a pain – I repeated this over and over again. I told myself – YOU can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. The mental game is JUST as important in a marathon as the physical game.
My garmin clicked 26. I had run on feel the whole marathon. I had never calculated in my head what my finish time, could be, would be. I just ran like I run a long run and waited for the time to come.
When I made the turn for the finish I saw on the clock 3:13. I ran my heart out to finish before the clock turned to 3:14. I smiled in my heart. 3:13 – just like I had thought. (to see my splits check out this post)
I didn’t cry when I finished. My body started immediately cramping. A volunteer walked me to the pictures and then walked with me till I found a place I could sit down. I huddled under my space blanket and just smiled. Did that really happy? Did I really just run a 3:13?
As I thought about it more I got happier. It was an 8 minute PR. I saw an 8 at the beginning of the race. In my head I pictured the 8 and the outline of my body as the 1 and my 8 minute PR standing to the right of me.
I was the 37th female, 10th in my age group, and the 2nd 29 year old to finish. I was the 309th finisher overall out of 4,740.
God is good.
10 more days till #18… Marine Corps Marathon 2011