I’m back! It’s been a while since I visited this little space of the internet. Over the past few months, I tried to sit down and write a few posts but just really didn’t feel any desire to do it. After being injured for so long, there’ve been a few times over the last 2 years when I thought I was good to go and could start running again. I’d be SO excited I was running and finally healed, only to find out a few days/weeks/months later, just kidding, not running, not healed. So this time, when I got out of the cast and off the crutches, I didn’t want to talk about running. I was too scared. I figured it was only a matter of time before I learned that, just kidding, the surgery didn’t fix me after all. So I kept trucking quietly along thinking, okay, once I make it through my first double digit run, I’ll feel like I’m actually back. Or once I make it to a 40 mile week in one piece, I’ll be good to go. But the reality is that that feeling never came. I never felt like making it to the start line was a guarantee. Only now that the race is over do I feel like I can talk about running again. And it’s not like there was nothing else going on around here that I could’ve blogged about. But I felt like I couldn’t talk about life without talking about the fact that I was marathon training, because let’s face it, marathon training is time consuming.
So before talking about the marathon, here’s a quick catch up of life since May.
In June, Lawrence took the day off, we put the kids on the bus and headed out to climb Old Rag.
We had so much fun on this hike, 2 days later for father’s day, we took the whole family on another hike.
This was apparently the best day of Sean’s life.
Swim team started in June and consumed our lives for most of June and July.
Fun times on the 4th of July.
I got another year older in July and Lawrence and I celebrated by running up to the Woodstock tower at my parents’ house.
We went to a few country concerts.
I started coaching a running class twice a week June through August and loved it!
I ran a half marathon in August.
We picked some peaches,
And we went to the beach with good friends.
We went to King’s Dominion. Sean rode the Drop Tower for the first time and we took on the Sky Coaster.
Okay, all caught up.
As for the marathon, it’s still kind of a surreal marathon for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been so incredibly focused for a race before. We got the kids out of school a couple hours early on Friday so we could head up to Erie and not get in too late. After a late dinner and a couple of pumpkin ales (yay, carb loading!), we headed to the hotel and got the kids settled in. The next day we headed down to breakfast and met up with Dave and Jes and fam. The kids were excited to see their cousins and Dave and I talked race plans. From there we changed and headed out to Presque Isle for packet pick up. While we were there, I did a quick 3 mile shake out run and checked out Lake Erie for the first time.
It was really windy and we were thankful that the forecast for Sunday was calmer. Saturday night we did the whole carb loading thing at a tasty Italian place that Dino recommended. We were a pretty crazy crowd with 8 kids and 6 adults and after sufficiently stuffing ourselves full of carb-y pasta goodness, went headed back to the hotel to try to get a good night sleep before the race.
4:45 came early and I got up and tried not to wake up everyone else up in the room while I got ready. I headed down to the lobby where I met Dave and we waited for Coach to pick us up. I got a few last minute race pointers (which consisted of, ” Don’t go out too fast” and “Don’t do anything stupid”) and then it was time to head to the start line. The morning was perfect. I was in a tank a arm sleeves and was a little chilly which is perfect before a race. The last 2 marathons I ran 2 years ago I didn’t run with music but decided I wanted to run with it in Erie. I generally like talking to people in races but that day I felt so focused on what I was trying to do that I didn’t really feel like chatting. I did talk to a guy I was running next to for the first couple of miles. We were running practically shoulder to shoulder, so I asked him what he was hoping to run. He was shooting for around the same time I was so we figured we’d run together for as long as we could. We were both wearing head phones and took them out a few times to chat but mostly were content to have the pacing company.
Here we are at mile 3, the guy in the orange singlet was my running buddy. It was so awesome seeing everyone on the course and gave me a little boost every time I passed them especially at the end of the race.
Splits for the first 5 miles: 8:03, 8:01, 7:59, 7:55, 7:58
My hamstrings started to feel a little sore by mile 8 which had me a little worried. I know the pain that comes at the end of a marathon and if my hamstrings felt tired at the beginning, it didn’t bode well for what was coming. But I decided to not let it get in my head and just try to hold pace for as long as I could.
6-10: 7:54, 7:52, 8:04, 7:54, 7:55
I hit the half in 1:45:04 and was definitely worried that I felt too tired to only be half way done. It wouldn’t be the first race where I’d gone out too fast and crashed and burned at the end. But again, I tried to only think about the mile I was in and not worry too much about the miles ahead.
11-15: 8:01, 8:02, 8:03, 7:51, 8:06
At this point in the race, I was just totally focused on making it one more mile while holding pace. I figured it was still too early to fall apart and if I just made it one more mile, I could slow down a little. During these miles, I started running on the dirt on the side of the road to give my legs/hips a break from the pounding of the road. I was starting to feel beat up and it helped a little to get on the softer surface. Dave told me he was planning to do this when we had talked the night before and I thought I could make out the lugs from the Newtons he was wearing in the dirt. It was kind of comforting to think I was literally running in his footsteps. Also around this point, before I made it to 18, my gait felt all sorts of off. Everything felt wrong, I almost felt like I was running sideways if that makes sense and was worried the wheels were about to come off completely. I decided to stop at the next aid station and fill my handheld. After the volunteer filled my bottle, I walked a few steps and then started running again. Once I started running, it seemed like the stop straightened me out and I didn’t have a problem again.
16-20: 8:08, 7:56, 8:05, 8:09, 7:56
I knew I was going to pass the family again at mile 19 and that really helped keep me going. Once they came into view, I nearly started crying because it hurt and I just wanted to be done.
I really didn’t know how I was going to make it from mile 19 to mile 26 but I did know that I dragged everyone 6 hours up to Erie so I could run this race and I wasn’t going to give up without a fight, so on I went.
21-26: 8:12, 8:16, 7:57, 8:14, 8:23, 8:10
The last few miles were hard. I told myself to just keep going and I would let myself walk through the aid station at mile 25. I stopped and refilled my bottle even though I didn’t really need to and only had a mile left, it gave me an excuse to stop, walk a few steps and get my mind right to go the last mile. After coming 25 miles, you’d think it’d be a comfort to only have a mile left, but when everything hurts, one mile seems like an incredibly long way still left to go. At around 25.5 my calf was cramping and feeling like it might seize up altogether. And my only thought was, you’ve got to be kidding me, not gonna happen after I came all this way. And suddenly, the finish line was there in sight.
And as soon as I crossed the line, I burst into tears.
I honestly couldn’t believe I had done it. I still kind of can’t.
Official time: 3:31:39.
I wish we had taken a big group picture because I definitely couldn’t have done it without my amazing cheering section.
Lauren and my niece Rachel looking a little worn out after all that cheering.
And what made the day even sweeter is that Coach Dino ran to a second place overall finish with a new PR.
And Dave, coming into the race feeling pretty unsure about his training, ran his second fastest marathon ever.
At mile 19 making it look easy!
After the race, we very slowly hobbled back to the car and hurried to the hotel so we could shower before checkout. We said good bye and congrats to Dave and family before meeting up with Dino and Ashleigh for a celebratory lunch before the long car ride home.
To say I’m happy with this race would be a huge understatement. Although not a PR for me, it’s probably the race I’m most proud of. My mileage through training was pretty low but mentally it was hard especially at the beginning to know whether it was okay to push or whether I should back off. As I started adding miles, I often questioned Dino’s conservative training plan and wondered if it was really enough to get me through 26.2 miles at the pace I needed to hold. But I trusted him and put in the work. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it to the start line trained and healthy without his guidance. And while I’m talking about people who got me through this race, Lawrence is right up there at the top of the list. I had to do most of my training runs alone this time around but wouldn’t have made it through my long runs without him. At the beginning he ran/walked with me. Then ran with me. And at the end as my long runs got longer and longer, he would meet me in the middle or at the end to help me get through the miles. I know I wouldn’t have made it through some of those longer runs without the boost he provided me. And also my friend Jess. Even though it was hard for us to meet up in the summer with the kids home from school and our crazy schedules, she ran with me when she could, suffering along side me during the hot humid miles at the beach and always supported me.
And now, what next? Well, I put my application in for the Boston Marathon 2015 but won’t hear until Wednesday if I got in. Between now and April I have a few things on the radar but haven’t registered for anything and for now, am just enjoying recovery. And now that running is a little less scary to talk about, I think I’ll be back blogging on a more regular basis than once every 5 months or so. Good to be back!