October 12, 2014... what a glorious day for a marathon. The weather was perfect. A bit chilly to start but by finish it would be in the low 60's. I woke up at 5am to start my marathon day ritual. To my surprise, I felt ok. I had been battling a cold the week before the marathon and right up until the night before, I was very congested.
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I had finally gotten my nutrition for marathon morning and day down to the tee. Well, I guess I should have it down. This was my 5th marathon this year and my 10th overall. No 20 mile wall for this gal. I got dressed and I was out the door by 6:15am. I boarded the bus from hell. The driver had no clue where he was going. Great. But, nonetheless, we arrived to Central Park in Schenectady. First stop was the bathroom. Then I took some pictures with a fellow Marathon Maniac and some Strong Running Mamas (SRM).
I had just enough time to hit the bathroom again then line up to start my race. I had goals and so did fellow SRM, Felice. We planned on Boston Qualifying with the 3:55 pace group. The race started at 8:30am on the dot. Our pacer, Mike, had plans to keep the group at an even pace. He also told us that he planned to walk through the water stations. The first 5 miles where a breeze. So were miles 6-10. 10 miles just happened to be the highest mileage that I trained at, for my long run. I used an unconventional crossfit marathon training program for this marathon. I was super nervous. What was I thinking? 10 miles as my longest run? Not only to run a marathon, but Boston qualify?! I had my doubts. I would be happy with just finishing. I was confident that I could do at least that much. BQ, not so much. Soon enough, we were at the half-way point. I slapped Felice a high five. Half-way to the finish. My breathing was good. Actually, it didn't feel like I was breathing!
I kept making a systems check of my body. If I felt tense, I would take a deep, long breath to relax my mind and body. It was working. Mike was keeping the group right on pace. It was easy to stay with him and I liked that he walked through the water stations. He was very engaging and kept giving the group positive reinforcement. Felice was right with me. I knew it because I listened for the sound of her jelly beans. As we reached mile 20 through 21, I could remember telling myself to take it easy on the downhill. The last time I ran MH, I trashed my hamstrings at those particular mile markers. This time, I got through the downhill... but developed a cramp on the right side of my stomach. Lucky, I was able to take a couple of deep breaths and guess what? It was time to walk through the water station. Walking helped me deal with the cramp. As we continued to forge ahead, I could tell that I lost Felice. I was sad when I could no longer hear the music of her jelly beans. I looked back once just to make sure, but she wasn't there.
Soon I would enter the tunnel that led to the final stretch of the bike path. From that point on, I had less than five miles. I started remembering how I lost pace at the 24 mile marker a few years ago. I kept telling myself "it's not going to happen this time." The group grew thin. At mile 24 I was the only runner with the pacer. There were a few runners that forged ahead and others that faded away. I, on the other hand, was holding on for dear life. I lost control of my breathing but Mike was great. He helped me regain control of my breathing and told me to relax. I had to get through mile 24. It was haunting me like a demon. I get to mile 25 with the pacer and then it happened. I got to the beginning of the bridge that led to the boat launch and started losing pace, losing sight of Mike, and my BQ. All I could do then was NOT STOP! I knew if I stopped, the pain would come and it would take forever to start running again. It was time to dig deep into my soul and run with my heart. So, I did. And finish with a time of 3:54:57. With 3 seconds to spare I managed to squeaked out a Boston qualifying time for 2016! WOW, I did it!
There were many times during the race that I doubted my abilities. Only because of the very low miles I ran over the weekends in prepping for this marathon. But, I focused and kept telling myself that I could do it. I tuned out a lot of little annoying pains that I felt. The toughest part of the marathon was when I found myself alone at the end again. I fought that voice in my head that kept telling me to stop running. Mentally and physically, I won. There is something special about this particular marathon. I'm not sure what it was. But, I've gotten my best marathon time on this course (3:45:45) and now it has given me the chance to go back and run the Boston Marathon in 2016. I feel totally awesome and can't wait to do it again.
Thank you for stopping by,