This past weekend was such a great weekend for me! It wasn’t just the PR, it wasn’t just the experience it was so much more!
Before I get into all the emotional aspects of the marathon, lets recap Friday and Saturday and the Kiawah Island Marathon.
Unlike most races in the past, we knew going into Kiawah that it was going to be very much and out and back trip. I started my new job just a couple weeks ago and since I don’t have any vacation for the rest of the year, I knew we would have to get in late Friday and leave right after the marathon on Saturday.
My awesome boss allowed me to leave at 3:00 pm which helped immensely! We had to pack dinner to eat in the car and make sure all of our fuel was ready to go, but I didn’t care as long as we got there with time left to get a good night’s sleep!
The night before I laid out all of my clothes making sure there were no questions when my alarm went off at 4:00 AM. I have to say, all of the training that I did at 4:00 in the morning made it much easier to get up at that time in the morning for race day!
I actually slept really well for the night before a marathon. Usually I stare wide awake at the ceiling for most of the night, but once I fell asleep I didn’t wake up once until my alarm went off.
My biggest focus during this marathon was fuel. I knew during my first marathon my fueling was horrible and I wasn’t about to make that mistake again. The first thing I did when I woke up was eat my bagel and a half with honey. It has always been my go to breakfast before a marathon. It’s simple carbohydrates, simple sugars and seems to be relatively easy on my stomach.
The one thing I did want to change this year is that, aside from the bagel, all other fuels were going to be liquid up until the race start. I ended up drinking an apple juice and half a powerade as we were waiting at the marathon.
We had to pick up our packets race day morning (so thankful for this option!) We ended up getting there a little after 6:00 am to pick up our bib numbers and start getting ready. Even though we had to wait around about an hour and half, we were able to wait inside in the warmth since it is a smaller race of around 5,000.I continued to drink my apple juice and power aid throughout this time. I wanted to strictly stick to liquids up until the start.
At around 7:30-7:40 am Wes and I made our way to the gear check tent to check our bag and take off our warm layers. It was so cold at first, but I knew that it was going to be around 50 degrees by the finish and knew that once I started running I would warm up.
The cold actually kept me focused on staying warm and NOT focused on the start of the race. This helped to ease my nerves a bit. Right before the race began I took my first Gu. I tried the Salted Caramel and really loved it! I took the entire gel with some water. I made sure to take about 5 minutes in total to eat it to avoid any GI issues a few miles into the race.
As I was standing there I began to talk to a few of the ladies around me. There was a pace group for 3:25 and 3:35, but not for 3:30. I didn’t really want to run with a pace group, so I just decided I would try to stay in between those two and I should be okay. I found two other ladies that had the same goals I did!
As quickly as we had lined up the gun went off! I was almost in shock how fast it happened. Then I was off! I ran with one of the friends I had met at the start for the first 3-4 miles. I looked down at my watch and realized that she was going too fast. I knew that even though I felt great at that point, I had my race plan and I was going to stick to it. I ended up dropping back to settle my pace down to right around 8:00.
I knew I had to run my own race.
I had broken the race up in my head into several segments:
The main goal of this stretch was to get into the run. I knew that the half marathoners broke off at 11, so I wanted to try to get into stride and focus on keeping my plan. I ended up going faster (around 7:50-8:00) for the first 10 miles than originally planned. I felt good, but I knew it was a bit risky.
I took my second Gu at 8 miles. Instead of taking it all at once time as I have done in the past, I “sipped” on it for about 1 -1 .5 miles. This allowed me to hit at least one water stand while I was taking it to help avoid it being to harsh on my stomach by itself.
I didn’t want to use the half marathon as a marker. The main reason for this is, in the past I have had a mini-panick attack at 13.1 realizing I still had half the race to go. 15 seemed like a good number to aim for.
At 15 my plan was to evaluate how I felt. In my very first marathon I actually hit the wall at 15 (again horrible fueling) and was miserable. This time however at 15 miles I can honestly say I felt great!
I kept plugging along after 15 and ended up taking my second Gu right around the 16 mile mark. Just like I had done the first time I took 1-1.5 miles to take in the entire gel and made sure to take water with it as well.
I knew that I was sticking to my pace almost exactly as I wanted to, and was still feeling really well! I ended up catching back up to the awesome lady I started the race with around mile 18. She had slowed down a bit to right around an 8:00 min pace and I decided as long as she stuck to that I would try and finish out the race with her.
I hit mile 20 and I was almost in disbelief. Not only had I not hit a wall but overall (aside from general tiredness from running for almost 3 hours) I felt strong. Really strong.
My legs finally starting feeling heavy around mile 24. I looked down at my watch and realized that I had an EXTREMELY good chance of running a 3:30 (and possibly even breaking it!) if I kept up with my pace. These were probably the toughest miles for me, but that is to be expected. My legs were starting to lose some steam and I was really having to focus and keeping pushing forward.
Then finally I went around the last turn as saw the finish line! I dug deep and gave it everything I had left to get to that finish line.
I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I was tired, sore but I couldn’t stop smiling! I hadn’t looked at it for the past mile because I was so focused on finishing strong. I looked down and the tears started flowing 3:29:45!
I had not only qualified for Boston but I had BROKE 3:30! On top of that I had just accomplished a new PR of 1 hour and 9 minutes!
About 5 minutes later I saw my husband smiling at the end of the finish line! He ran up to me and hugged me and for a good 5 minutes I don’t think I let go! After I had a moment to calm down I realized… I didn’t even know how he had done!
He told me after I asked that he had not only broken his goal of 2:30 (2:29:52) but he had won! I can’t even describe my feeling at that point.
I had exceeded my goal and I felt strong almost the entire time. I never hit the wall and I ran a better race than I ever could have imagined. Even going up to the start line I still had doubts. I knew I had trained for it, I knew I had put in the work, and I knew that I had done everything I could but there were still doubts.
I know without a doubt that one of the biggest things that helped me during that race was fueling properly. I had a plan, I stuck to it and I made to sure to run my own race and not someone else’s.
Oh, and an added bonus – I finished 2nd in my age group! (I think several of the women’s winners were in my age group because I technically came in 4th).
This day definietly falls into the top 5 days of my life. The accomplishment, the joy, the happiness and being able to share it all with the one man who has stood by my side and truly believed in me through it all made it ALL worth it! It was worth every single 4:00 AM wake up call. It was worth every speed workout and tempo run. It was worth every tired day. It was worth it. Every minute.
Most people’s next question (including my families) for me is what’s next. I started saying that on the way home, but my husband stopped me. He reminded me that I needed to sit back and enjoy this.
For now until at least the beginning of the year I am going to do just that. Sit back, relax and enjoy it. Of course, I will still be running but slow, easy and relaxed. My body needs a rest, my mind needs a rest and I am going to enjoy these next few weeks in their entirety.
I will always have goals and over the next several weeks I will probably figure out what my next goal is (which of course I will share with you all in the future), but for right now I am in no rush.
Oh, and I will say that if you are looking for a well put together, flat, fast and beautiful course I highly suggest the Kiawah Island Marathon!
It is one that I would love to do again in the future!
Thank you all for support! Every comment, every good luck wish, every thing that you all have done through these 20 weeks of training have meant so much to me! Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!