This weekend was amazing.
I went into the marathon nervous, and feeling a lot of pressure – that I’d placed on myself. I’d set a goal of finishing faster than last time. I figured that since I only had a month to train for the first marathon, having a full three months would make me better prepared (i.e. faster) this time around. But then, my training runs weren’t what I hoped they’d be. They were slow and difficult, and my hope of getting a PR was quickly fading.
I settled for a goal of just finishing, but still wore the pace bracelet to keep track of where I was in terms of a 4:59 finish.
To be honest, I didn’t glance at Guillermo too often for the first six or seven miles. I was enjoying the atmosphere and checking out all the costumes. I bet you didn’t know that so many superheroes ran the Marine Corps Marathon.
I was also keeping my eye out for our dedicated spectators. RB, LB, and DS were camped out near mile seven, where DS captured this photo – a pretty accurate representation of how I was feeling:
So excited! I’m running a marathon! I feel great!
Later on I spotted MJ’s dad holding George, the giant balloon he’d bought in order for us to be able to find him amidst the crowd:
And at some point around the half-marathon mark I realized that I was about two minutes ahead of pace, and that if I kept it up I could even possibly PR. Once I realized that, though, I tried my hardest not to think about it. With more than half the race left, I knew I’d drive myself crazy if I stressed over it. So I continued with my routine of scoping the costumes, reading the signs, and getting chills as I read the shirts of those who were running in memory or in honor of a loved one. And, of course, watching out for our spectators.
Around mile 16.5, I saw Nicstress, out of nowhere, and at mile 17 I caught up with Mo, who I hadn’t seen since close to the beginning. Together we ran the next few miles, spotting Memo and Mo’s boyfriend twice along the way. Memo even ran with us briefly, in order to get a good photo, and nearly ended up stuck on the course, thanks to a well-placed water table.
I saw MJ’s dad once more, sans George, as I headed into the final 6.2 stretch. I remembered from back in March that this was truly the hardest part of the race for me. I was sluggish, I was drained, and there was minimal crowd support. This time around it could not have been more different. I’m feeling the high again just writing this.
It helped that I was familiar with this part of the course. I’d just run it at the Army 10-Miler the weekend before and knew what to expect. I glanced at Guillermo again and realized that I was still significantly ahead of pace and that I really might be able to meet my goal. And that is what carried me through to the end. Seeing people walking just strengthened my resolve and I pushed on through the end, right up that one last ramp to Iwo Jima.
And when I stopped my watch and saw the result, my smile was so big that you might never know that I’d just run 26.2.
The actual result was 4:56:29, which means that I beat my first marathon time by more than two minutes. It may sound insignificant, but for me that’s huge.
All in all, this race was everything I wanted it to be and more. I wore my medal around for the rest of the day, in addition to my new super cool MCM jacket, and, though I ached, I felt like a rock star.
Thanks so much to all of you for your support, comments of encouragement, song suggestions, and race day thoughts. You’ve been fantastic. I don’t have another marathon lined up yet, but you can be sure I’ll let you know. As it is, I’ll be taking this week off from running, but this race was exactly what I needed to get me excited about the sport again.
*Note: With the exception of the first photo, all photo credits go to the boyfriend and his iPhone.