On Saturday, four months after having a baby, I ran my 10th marathon.
The extent of my training for this race was really making sure to get in a 15, 17 and 20 miler. All the runs in between were what I had time for between balancing Marshall, not sleeping, going back to work and life in general. I did manage to squeeze in a handful decent tempo runs with some speed and that felt good. I was running around 35 miles a week on a good week and there were days my confidence was high and I thought, just maybe I’ll PR.
My plan of going out at 8 minute miles, quickly vanished when I started out casually running with Brian and Joe who were running the half and Dave who was running the full – at 7:40 pace. I was super chatty (if you know me, that is not a surprise) Soon after the first mile, Dave and Joe backed off and Brian said he’d stay with me.
I knew I needed to back it off if I wanted to finish the race without going to the Chicago 2010 shuffle.
Mile 15 was my first mile that went over 8 minutes and it kind of all crumbled from there. Unexpectedly I saw my sister Shelby and niece Giovanna around mile 16… they apparently made it out to the 52nd & Meridian literally 15 seconds before I passed. Good timing and it was a nice surprise.
I held on to an 8:11-8:15 pace for a few miles, but ran into an insane wall at mile 19. I had started to pick it back up again, thinking I had regained some energy after my last gel, and could start rolling on faster, but turns out it as a false alarm. My legs were heavy and I had a bad cramp in my lower side (not the kind of cramps I’ve had in the past) and it was creeping into my back. This was getting fun.
Of course the first thing I said to Glenn when I saw him “what was your time?” I was extremely excited as I knew he was trying to break 1:20 and possibly 1:19 to automatically qualify him for the NYC Marathon. (They have recently tightened their standards… if you think qualifying for Boston is challenging… this is next level stuff) Something about Glenn, when he tells me what his goal is, if I know he’s put the training in- between that, his mental attitude and his extreme CONFIDENCE, I know he’ll get there. (can he PLEASE serve me up some of that when I go out for my next PR?!)
He told me he ran a 1:18:34. Holy smokes, I’m married to a bad ass. So I asked him to tell me all about the race hoping it would distract me from my pain. It did…. for about 2 minutes.
Just past mile 23, on Meridian was the Back on My Feet water stop, I got to see my parents who were volunteering, some of our Residential Members, Volunteers and supporters. It was a bit of a boost, but honestly I was beat and a measly smile to my parents was about all I could give.
He was somehow convinced I had fallen too far off for that, but I knew better. I think he secretly just said that to make me pick it up. Turns out I did a bit. I think my slowest miles were miles 21-23. The slowest dipping down to a scary 9:21. Ouch.
I ended up crossing the finish line in 3:33:24. I ran the first 13.1 in 1:38, the second in 1:54, with an average pace of 8:08. You do the math though, there was nothing EVEN about those splits. I lost over a minute a mile in the second half…ouch, ouch ouch. Here I am crossing the finish line– (The clock says 3:33:58 when I cross, wearing a white shirt and black tights. I just look kind of… hmmm.. pissed)
All I could think about on the way home was how there were still so many people out running in the cold and sleet and worse than running in the cold and sleet- standing at a water stop volunteering. THANK YOU times a million to every volunteer on the course. And, CONGRATULATIONS to all who finished the 5K, Half or Full Marathon. We are all on a different path and whether you were finishing your first half marathon or your 50th full marathon, you accomplished something big on Saturday.
I’ll wrap this up by saying:
As I was finishing that last 6 miles, I thought, why am I putting myself through this, this is miserably difficult. Why don’t I just focus on being a mom and balancing life without trying to run fast marathons?
I thought about Marshall at home with babysitters because I’m out running a marathon. (amazing friends Emily & Andy watched him first half the morning, Sister and Brother in-law second half of the morning… he was in good hands, but I still felt some guilt)
As it was apparent to me that I had not put the training miles on my legs to be strong for 26.2 miles. I told myself, it doesn’t always feel this bad, and while I understand what my reasoning was when I was contemplating not enduring 26.2 again anytime soon. I just can’t picture my life WITHOUT it.
It’s part of who I am. No matter how much I might get anxious about a race or a 20 mile run that I THINK I would rather not do. Every single time I finish, I’m glad I did it.
I am energized and motivated by pushing myself. Sometimes I let the thought creep in that I could be a better mom if I dedicated the time I spend on long runs and races to Marshall. BUT, I know in my heart, I’m a better mom because I GIVE myself that time and gift.
I am a more exciting, happy, thriving person because I run distance. And although I am a naturally anxious person (long runs and races do give me anxiety… it’s a work in progress, I hope it won’t always be that way), it also makes me happy, and proud and just better altogether.
I’m in the midst of picking a spring marathon to train for- and am going to try my best to be confident in my abilities and really I know I can destroy my PR, I just have to be willing to do work.