Last October I was 90 seconds away from the Boston qualifying time of a 3:35 marathon. It was a great race but I will admit I was disappointed that I was so close yet missed it. I hired a new coach at the beginning of this year and told her "I want you to train me to run a 3:20 marathon." So, for the past six months I trained hard to run that time. I had a sticky note that I kept on my bedside table with my goal of a 3:29 finish which is 7:56 minute per mile pace.
My family and I were up early on race morning at 5am. I had my hair braided, ate breakfast, and didn't talk the whole morning as I was trying to keep calm. I'm not the best with race day nerves.
The marathon course was eight times out and back. The turnaround was at 1.64 miles. There was a fuel station at the beginning of the trail and near the turnaround point. This ended up being perfect as it was 88 degrees at the start (at 6:30am. Pleasant, I know) and would be in the 90s the remainder of the race. We brought an ice chest filled with gatorade, two extra fuel belt bottles, and Infinit (new training drink). My oldest sister, Anna, was in charge of my fueling. She would take my empty bottles and refill them.
My coach told me to start out the first five miles at a 7:45 pace. I focused on staying around 7:45-7:50 paces for each mile, seeing how I felt, getting used to the route, and drinking a sip of Infinit each mile.
Second loop I did the same as the first loop. My paces were right on track yet didn't feel too fast or too slow.
When I began the next loop, my older sister, Liz, ran with me. This gave me a boost of energy as I had someone to run with.
My family cheered each time I came in which was so encouraging! You can see them in the below picture with their hands high. It was so great!! I hit the halfway mark in 1:40.
My dad ran the fifth loop with me. By this time, it was 90 degrees. I started feeling sick and became worried. I knew if I got sick I would have a rough ending. As I was running alongside my dad I told him how I was feeling and he told me to calm down, not freak myself out, and that I was right on pace for a BQ. He told me if I needed to stop I could take about three minutes once we got back to the start to go to the bathroom, get water/Infinit, and I would still be on track.
Once I got back to the start I grabbed ice to stuff down my sports bra, quick bathroom stop, and poured water over my head.
Six loops in and I was getting bored. The course was beautiful and the people were so nice smiling, giving high fives and thumbs up, but I was tired of running the same loop (plus it was hot!!). The remainder of the race was basically spent trying to get to the next aid station. Every aid station I did the same thing- ice in shirt, water over head, and drinking as much as I could.
My dad told me "only six miles left!" Which I thought, okay I can do this, I go on six mile runs every day. My younger sister, Kathleen, paced me the last two loops. I grabbed more ice, more cups of water to drink and to pour over me. I also grabbed a Popsicle after seeing another runner holding one and it looked so good. Kathleen kept telling me "you can do this, you are right on target, don't let your mind slow you down."
Last loop. I can do this. I was hurting and so tired but I was right on track for my 3:29 finish. My sister kept motioning for me to catch up with her but she felt so far away. We hit the turnaround and Kathleen says "you literally have a mile and a half left then you're done. Come on." At the last aid station I poured more water over my head. I was drenched head to toe but it was way too hot outside.
She was running a 7:30 pace and I was at 7:45. I kept my eyes on her trying to get to her. 26.2 miles later I was finished.
Running a marathon at the hottest time of year isn't the best decision I have made but I had the perfect race- I got my goal time and QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON. I am beyond excited!! I am so grateful of my family for keeping me going. The weather was brutal and it helped a ton to have them run with me, hand me ice and drinks, and encourage me to keep going. Also a huge thank you to my coach for helping me get my goal time!!
3:29:59. I did it. I finally did it.
By the way, this ^^ is what finishing a marathon looks like: skittles, Popsicle, and medal in hand with my dad making sure I'm okay. Haha!