It hasn't even been a week since I completed the Columbus Marathon, and the endorphins are still going! For the first time since the Glass City Marathon in 2010, I can say that I'm 110% proud of my 26.2 accomplishment!! There's so much I want to blog about because I don't want to leave anything out from one of the best experiences of my 28 years of existence, but here's my best attempt to report it all...
Going into Columbus, I didn't feel as focused as I have for previous marathons. I was being much more liberal with my diet, consuming excessive amounts of adult beverages, sleeping inconsistently, and well...having a lot of fun! Maybe that was just the formula I needed to make it really happen this time! My goal was to run a consistent 7:30min/mi and to not choke, LBJ style, as I have in my most recent marathons. Both at the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2010 and at the Boston Marathon in April 2011, I had strong starts that I wimped out on near the mid-point of the race. I just couldn't maintain the mental stamina to push my body 26.2 miles at the pace I had trained so hard and long for, and developed a "ehhhhhhh enjoy the experience!" lackadaisical attitude that had me lightly trotting to the finishline. After both marathons, when people asked me my finish time, I'd say it begrudgingly knowing I was capable of doing so much better. I wanted revenge on myself, and a flat-fast course to make it happen. I knew NYC was a big risk, so I decided to squeeze in Columbus prior to NYC to see what I REALLY had...
I drove down to Columbus with my friend and training buddy, Jen, and her husband, Sam. They were kind enough to bring me along with them and to let me stay at their relative's house with them. Considering how insanely expensive NYC is, I was glad to be able to save some money, in addition to the great company! I typically travel solo for my race experiences, so it was fun to have people around that I could share the experience with! We went to the Expo, watched the OSU game, had a delicious dinner, and lights were out by 9pm. Going into marathon #7, I was prepared for a sleepless night as usual. For whatever reason, sleeping the night before a marathon just doesn't happen. I woke up WIDE AWAKE at 3:30am, and just laid in bed until 4:15am. Funny enough, I was up before the people we were staying with got home from the bar! hahaaaaaa ;-)
|At the expo with Jess!!! Well, sort of!! hahaaa She's the poster-girl for the CLE Marathon!!|
SOOO I did my normal pre-race routine, and was out the door by 6am. The second we stepped out the door, I just KNEW it was going to be a great race. I just had this instinctual feeling that Jen and I were going to rock out...it's hard to explain but I could just feel it!! We got to DT Cbus, parked the car, and headed to the race area. I honestly had NO CLUE where the start was, what the course was going to be like to plan a good race strategy, or any real expectations for the marathon. I've been so busy and distracted with other things in my life lately that I just didn't really think about it. And, maybe this was another part of the formula for my success?
Well, the start to this race was less-than-ideal. I ended up waiting in line for a Port-A-Potty for 30 minutes!!! I also unfortunately had a less-than-polite exchange of words with a rude girl that cut the line while I was waiting. A man standing next to me also made this girl aware of her less-than-classy behavior, and we actually made this girl cry. Haha! OOPS, but it's so unbelievable that someone would have the audacity to cut a HUGE line with people all running the same race that starts at the same time. GRRRR! SO, it was 7:20am before I got into the Port-A-Potty, and the race started at 7:30am. I was FREAKING out. I like to feel calm, collected, and prepared before I race. But, factors that I had no control over were preventing this from happening. As soon as the Port-A-Potty drama was over, I attempted to find my corral. The race start was SO UNBELIEVABLY JAM PACKED. I don't think I've ever seen such chaos before a marathon. I was stuck in people traffic, and the race area was fenced in. My watch said 7:25am, and I had NO CLUE how the heck I was going to make it to my corral before the gun went off. So, I put up my skinny elbows and just pushed through the crowd praying to God I was going to make it. I never made my corral, but managed to get up to corral C. It was 7:28am at this point, and I met some really nice women that calmed me down. Again, as I've said over and over again, runners (with the exception of the RUDE line cutter) are the NICEST people in the world! I jumped around a bit, threw off my long sleeve shirt, and was ready to ROLL! I said a few prayers, saw some cool fireworks, and then the gun went off!
Going into the first mile, I glanced around for the 3:15 pace group. Although I didn't have any intentions of finishing 3:15, I at least wanted the potential goal if I was feeling it near the 13.1 mile marker. Since I didn't make it beyond corral C, the 3:15 pacers were waaaaaay ahead so I gave up on it. I did, however, find Jen! She was just hoping to run a 3:30, so we weren't running this race together. I gave her a quick shout out and wave, and off I went. I finished the first mile right around 7:30, so I was a happy girl! It's hard to hold back with race adrenaline juices flowing, but I managed to stay in control. Then, in the second mile, I ran into a guy that ran the River Run 1/2 Marathon. He congratulated me on my race, and that was JUST what I needed to feel that I actually had the potential to do something great that day. There was no way I was letting myself choke this time around!! Then, my new running buddy Rose appeared!! We ran the River Run together for the majority of the race, and I was SO excited to be able to run with her. She's a great, consistent runner with a 3:20 P.R. and with goals to run a sub 3:20. We stuck together from that point on.
10K at 46:03, a 7:24min/mi average. This was a little faster than anticipated, but the energy of the race was taking over me! I kept going, attempting to stick around 7:30 +/- a few seconds with each mile. I felt so great, and knew I just needed to keep this mentality all the way through. Coming to the 13.1 mile, I was at 1:37:27, a 7:26min/mi average. I felt awesome and tried hard to stay focused as the half marathoners turned the corner to the finish. I took my second gel at this point because I knew I'd need the extra boost to ensure I could maintain a strong second half. I had NO desire to choke at this point and there were no feelings of "just enjoying the scenery." I wanted to OWN this course and there was no way I was walking away without a P.R.! As I came to mile 16, I felt that I needed to step it up. I pulled away from Rose and a few other runners that joined our pack. Mile 20 was still a bit away, and there are no guarantees on how your body is going to feel for those last 6 miles. I didn't want to bank on a strong finish, so I picked up the pace at mile 16. I was passing people left and right, and just kept focused on trucking along! The crowd was a bit more desolate at this point, which made this part challenging. However, I came across the OSU basketball players that were volunteering on the course. A few 'HEYYYYYYYYY GIRRRRRRRRRL you look GOOOOOOD's were totally what I needed to perk up! hahahaaaa...Then, a few of my former students saw me and gave me a shout out. AHHH it was AWESOME and exactly what I needed at what turned out to be a pivotal point in the race! I was running strong and felt great despite running a 7:30ish pace for 16+ miles!
Once I got to mile 18, I felt the distance for the first time. I grabbed one of the gels that were distributed by the race volunteers and decided to save it for the 20s. I took the last gel I brought with me to get my head back in the game, and it WORKED! I didn't plan on using another gel until mile 21, but listening to my body was definitely the right decision. I felt great going into mile 20, and kept pushing! I was 2:28:54, a 7:26 min/mi average! I knew I had this, and just prayed that I could keep going strong. Once I got to mile 23, the pain was setting in. I felt my pace drop, and I decided to ignore my watch and focus on finishing. I did the math and no matter what, I was in for a P.R. if I just kept trucking. Once mile 24 came around, it was literally like "BOOM WALL"! I said to myself, "F&*#! The wall!" I took the gel I had grabbed from the volunteers at mile 18, and sucked it down. The spectators REALLY helped me keep going, and told me how great I looked and how awesome I was doing. I took their word for it and kept pushing! I felt AGAIN like I had to go # 2, similar to how I felt towards the end of the River Run 1/2 Marathon. But, I ignored those bad feelings and just focused on getting one foot in front of the other. It was distracting seeing people walking, slowly trotting, and I felt guilty passing people at that point. But, there was no way I was giving up on myself!!! Unfortantely, I was totally non-verbal at that point and didn't have enough in me besides thumbs up for the people I was passing. Once mile 26 showed up, I kicked it into gear. I knew I had a P.R., and I wanted it to be a strong finish!! I flew through the finish line, hands in the air, and tears in my eyes for this well-deserving, awesome accomplishment!!! My Garmin had already gone off, but the clock said 3:17 so I was SO happy because I knew I had to be under it since I started in corral C. I soon discovered that I ran a 3:16:02, a 7:29min/mi average!!!!! Not only did I P.R., but I ran below my goal pace, I didn't choke or give up at all, and had SO MUCH FUN along the way!!! I've never finished a marathon feeling so proud, exhilarated, happy, and accomplished all at the same time! Truly one of the best experiences of my life! Plus, Jen ran a 3:22 so we were both on a high!!! I'm SO proud of her and her accomplishment, and am SO happy I was able to see her surpass her goal!!
So, what does this mean? I'm back in Wave 1 for Boston this year and I'm qualified for Boston in 2013. But most importantly, what this means for me on a personal level is almost indescribable. I learned the importance of having faith in patience. Although it's difficult to maintain, it is key to really reaching any goal you set for yourself. Also, the sense of gratification that comes along reaching your goal as a result of determination, dedication, and hard work is the best feeling in the world. I trained through one of the record hottest summers, fought through feelings of self-doubt and negativity, and managed to find purpose in what I thought was becoming purposeless. I truly believe that no matter the obstacles that may come in the way, if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can reach whatever goal you find worth achieving!!! DON'T STOP BELIEVING!!! :-D
...and it's not over! In two weeks, I will be getting myself ready to roll for the ING New York City Marathon. What are my goals for this marathon? To have fun and get an awesome medal!! I'm in taper-mode, and haven't missed a workout since running the marathon Sunday. Yes, this is moderately insane. But, it will be so worth it when NYC is checked off my running bucket list!!!
So, I'm finishing up Week 16 with 582.44 miles under my belt.
My Week 17 NYC marathon training plan (based off of Hal Higdon's Advanced-2 Marathon Training Program):
Monday: 30 minute tempo
Tuesday: 40 minutes cross training
Wednesday: 4 mile pace
Thursday: 4 miles easy
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 3 miles easy
2 weeks until I'm dancin' in the streets of one of the best cities in the world!!!!! :-D :-D :-D