I’m walking without pain and have gone for my first post-race run which means that this recap is overdue. I’ll try to keep it a reasonable length. Honestly it seems so surreal. I know I did it but it seems as if it was just a great, though muscle soreness inducing dream.
The night before the marathon I was having so much anxiety I could not get myself to go to sleep. This was the first marathon I got to sleep in my own bed before. That came with some relief but also anxiety that I’d oversleep. Combine that with Anderson waking around midnight, I slept for about four hours. When my alarm went off at 4:30 am, I sprung out of bed. I went downstairs, threw some bread in the toaster and triple checked that my Garmin actually had fully charged overnight.
I sat down to eat my toast while I watched the conclusion of Spirit of the Marathon: Rome. I was lucky, my body worked with me – one less thing to worry about once I got to the starting line. About 5:30 Anderson woke up. I nursed him, finished getting dressed and hopped in the car. My wonderful husband drove my friend Hazel and me to the starting line.
We checked Hazel’s bag, hit the porta-potties and eventually split up into our respective corrals. I talked to some nice people as we waited to start the race. Just before my corral was about to start, I found my running BFF Amy. I was so excited! We hugged each other and squealed with excitement. Squeals over, it was go time. My goal was to not go out too fast.
The first two miles flew by. In fact when I saw the Mile 2 flags I commented that I thought we were only a mile in. I must have been so distracted by the beautiful church bells that I missed the first mile marker. After a relatively slow first mile, Amy and I hit our stride, still running side by side. We passed the 5k point at 27:06 (8:44 min/mile avg). At this point we were almost right with the 3:45 pacer.
Again, this portion of the race flew by. There were a ton of turns in the first 10k. By the mile six marker, I was about a tenth of a mile ahead of the mile markers. I was trying to work the tangents, but it was really hard. I was close enough to the 3:45 pacer that I could see him but unlike at Nike, I decided I was not going to push to stick with a pacer. I was going to run my race. I hit the 10k mark at 53:39 (8:38 min/mile avg). It was right around this point where I lost Amy in the crowd. We agreed that while it would be fun to run together, but we should run our own races. I was sad to lose her but was feeling so good!
Honestly it’s kind of a blur. There were tons of spectators. Some of the roads got so narrow that it was almost like running through a tunnel of people cheering. I was still feeling great and keeping my pace in the 8:30 range. I took a my first gel just past mile seven. Like with my training I was aiming to take a gel every seven miles. With my pace it was every hour.
I was approaching mile 12 when Josh and my mom called. They told me that they were going to be at the top of the little hill near mile 14. I think I got a little pep in my step knowing I was going to see them soon. Surprisingly, I was hitting negative splits, very slight negatives, but negatives nonetheless. Half marathon point 1:52:34 (8:35 min/mile avg).
I was just finishing my second gel when I turned a corner and spotted my family. I was so excited to see them. I started waving wildly with a huge grin on my face.
I was tempted to stop to give them hugs and kisses, but decided I didn’t want to lose my momentum. The course flattened out with some slight downhills in this stretch. I was running comfortably but was trying to conserve some energy as I new the longest hill of the course was just around the corner, as was the dreaded wall – or so I thought. 30k time – 2:40:03 (8:35 mile/mile avg)
The start of the hill. The hill that wasn’t so bad on our training run but felt a bit more difficult during the race. A lot of people started to walk. People who live in the beautiful houses lining the street were out roasting marshmallows and blaring music. I was waiting for the wall to hit as I ran under a big blow up ‘wall’ and took my third gel. These miles have consistently been difficult for me during my previous marathons.
I started thinking about walking. I was debating with myself if I needed to walk or just wanted to. I just wanted to. I pushed past the desire because Josh called saying they were just past the water stop at mile 23. I also started calculating potential finish times. I hit Mile 21 at 3:01:24 (8:38 min/mile avg). I knew unless something terrible happened, I beat my 4:11:53 PR and that I was likely going to go sub-4. That was added motivation to keep it up.
Fourth and final gel down, I finished the water in my Fuel Belt. When I spotted my family, again, I had a goofy smile on my face.
I undid my Fuel Belt and tossed it to them. Now empty, I just didn’t want to wear it any more. Somehow I still hadn’t hit the wall. I was thankful but still waiting to bonk. My IT bands did make their presence known. They really seized up. I decided that I’d walk through the rest of the water stops to loosen them. It worked well. It slowed my pace but I didn’t really care because I’d hit the 24th mile at 3:30:07 (8:45 min/mile avg) and calculated that if I slowed to a 10 min pace, I’d still finish around 3:53-3:55.
The Final 1.2 Miles
With just over a mile to go, I realized the wall wasn’t coming. I had done something right, because I never felt like crying. I never wanted to quit and never said that I would never run another marathon.
My IT bands were still yelling at me, but I couldn’t walk in the last mile. The bells of the Cathedral starting ringing as I spotted it’s dome. I knew once I turned the corner and approached the cathedral, it was downhill to the finish in front of the capital building. It was about the time I saw the finish line that I started getting emotional. I looked down at my watch and it said 3:48. I could not believe it. I decided to pick it up as much as I could. I thought I might just be able to hit 3:50.
I started moving my arms faster, willing my legs to move. I knew I was 8 minutes behind the clock time. The clock read 3:58:XX. I raised my arm, fist pumping as I crossed the finish line, ecstatic that I just ran an amazing race.
Jess Finishing TCM
Official Finish Time: 3:50:28 Avg. Pace: 8:48 min/mile
Of course, as soon as I stopped running, my body stiffened. I got my medal, space blanket, and took my finishers picture before calling Josh.
I was all choked up as I spit out that I did it. I blew my old PR out of the water, I not only finished sub-4, I finished 9:35 minutes under four hours. I had cut 21:35 off of my previous personal record.
I kept walking to get my finisher’s shirt and found a spot on the grass to stretch. Getting up was ROUGH. It took me a good 10-15 minutes to get myself up and over to the family meetup area. I was greeted with big hugs and Ella telling me she was proud of me. That got me. Anderson was also excited to see me, mainly because he was ready to eat.
With my warm sweatshirt and slippers on, I was ready to head home. Of course as soon as we got into the car Ella decided she had to pee. We stopped at the McDonalds we were passing where my mom picked me up a Coke and some fries. I needed some salt. It was very satisfying.
I was sore, but still feeling amazing. I think I had the ultimate runner’s high. When I got home I put fed Anderson again and got him down for his nap so that I could hobble to the hot tub.
I tried to nap but could not fall asleep. I think all the caffeine from the gels and the Coke threw my body for a loop. Once the kids were up we went out for some Mexican food. My mom stopped at the store to pick up some ice cream. She went a bit overboard…
We’re still enjoying it!
I’m already thinking about what marathon I want to do next. I really love fall marathons. Maybe in two more years I’ll be able to cut 15 more minutes off my time and qualify for Boston. A girl can dream.