It’s the day before the big day… before Race Day.
My mileage has been way lower than I’m used to, this past week my total mileage was 10 miles. I usually do 10 miles in one DAY during the regular training season, so I feel extremely uncomfortable saving up all this energy. But conserving my energy and resting my legs is vital since I’m about to put them through hell on Sunday.
One of the main emotions running through my veins today (amongst many) is anxiety. Am I ready? Did I prepare enough? Did I rest TOO much?! How much should I eat today?? What if I can’t even FINISH!?! But that’s fear talking. And I won’t let my fear speak louder than my faith. I have been training since August for this day. I. Am. Ready. This will be fun! This is exciting. At least that’s what I will tell myself.
I ate poke, veggies a donut and pizza the day before Race Day…lmfaoOoOo. It actually didn’t affect me negatively because I ate small portions and my stomach is used to digesting all those foods..except the donut…that was random. Anyways, I’m getting distracted! The point is I got plenty of rest and the right amount of food the day before the Marathon. Everything I needed for the morning was laid out the night before: my bib, shoes, clothes, water, body glide. The only thing left to do was run.
The starting line is full of fit people wearing short shorts and illuminating too much energy for 7am if you ask me. But I dig it, these are my people. My fellow Marathoners. Thankfully I am in section 2 of the masses starting with my husband Austin and good friend Mandy who I used to run cross country & track with in High-school. The announcer releases us to start our 26.2 mile journey and we take off! My body is full of anxious energy and adrenaline so I let that carry me through the first crowded mile till we all disperse and find our pace. To my surprise I feel good, my legs are fresh, my playlist is upbeat, and I’ve calmed down enough to establish a rhythm to my breathing. The miles go by easy and before I know it, it’s mile 11 and the course is dividing into 1/2 marathoners and full marathoners. Someone comes up from behind and taps me on the shoulder, it’s Austin!!! He’s been running the past 11 miles close behind me, about to finish the 1/2 marathon with absolute zero long-distance running training! I couldn’t believe it, I was so amazed and proud of him it honestly gave me an extra boost of energy. He told me he had been staying close behind me because it helped him keep going. He didn’t realize that in that moment of seeing him run this far off of pure perseverance and determination, he just gave me motivation to keep going on with the rest of my race. We parted, he headed towards his last mile and I progressed towards another 13 miles.
It’s really the 2nd half of the race where the reality of the marathon sets in.
The crowd spreads thin and it’s only the crazy ones left. My body isn’t tired yet but I’m expecting the aches and exhaustion to start any mile now. By mile 18 I’m running with more of my heart than my legs. Any distance runner can relate to the moment of pushing past what you think you are capable of and showing yourself what you’re really made of. “Ya gotta Dig Deep!” is what we say.
You have made the choice to show up and see what you’ve got. So here it is, the complicated feeling of fighting your thoughts of doubt with thoughts of determination. You decide which thoughts speak louder. Which part of you gets to win.
My pace has gone from a steady 8’30” minute mile to a heavy 9+ minute mile. Yikes. If I want to make my goal of a sub 4 hour finisher time I can’t slow up much more.
Passing the mile 20 marker; I have now been running for 2 hours and 53 minutes…holy cow the possibility of finishing within my goal time is REAL! That possibility is enough to motivate me from slowing down. But with every second of giving myself a pep-talk I am met with the contradicting fact that my muscles are beginning to feel like they’re pumped with lead. My socks are saturated with sweat, thirst is constant, and I have to go to the bathroom…F*ck. I have to go to the bathroom. Do I stop now or do I think I can wait another 6.2 miles..??? UGHHH. This may be TMI but what the hell, when running for 20+ miles, your muscles are not nearly as strong as normal. Aaaaand with that, it gets harder to hold your bladder. So I can either pray that I don’t pee myself or I can make a pit-stop at the nearest porta-potty. Not a decision I wanted to make but I guess that’s the price I pay for staying hydrated. A porta-potty comes up at mile 23 and I stop, I gotta make this quick because time is of the essence! But holy shit, squatting over a nasty toilet seat after running 23 miles is harder than I expected. My quads are shaking and cramping up all at once. As gracefully as possible, I do what I can and get back to the course with 3.2 miles left!
Wooh! Almost done! The finish line is the closest it’s ever been.
I’m dead and I want to quit so bad but I didn’t come this far just to come this far. I’ve been training day after day for this race, weeks, months! The training and discipline it took to prepare was the hard part. This isn’t the hard part. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and let my momentumn carry me on. The finish line is in sight and I’m gonna make it…(I think) ! I open my gate as much as I can at this point, turn my headphones on mute and let the cheering of the crowd push me to the end. I see the clock getting closer and closer to the 4 hour mark… I’m racing to the finish line, biggest smile on my face, with my eyes glued to the clock; because at this moment I made it. I DID THE DAMN THING. Finished. Under 4 hours with a time of 3:57:48, average mile pace of 9:05.
Pure joy. Pride. Exhaustion. I’m actually not sure which feeling was more dominant. But now all I can think about is W A T E R. A volunteer hands me my finisher medal and a water bottle and at this point they both are equally sacred. I’m nauseous so the banana looks hella gross and I just want to be horizontal but my body has limited movement from the build-up of lactic acid in my muscles. Hips are locking up tighter & tighter with each passing minute and my skin is tender just from bouncing up & down for the past few hours. Even though I’m in pain, I am relieved because it is DONE. All the hard work paid off.
I think that’s really what everyone searches for when they set a goal. To see if the work they input can result in success, no matter what that success might look like. The truth is, you get out what you put in…no excuses. You don’t have an audience cheering you on for the practice days. Nobody witnesses the days you struggle, get back up and fight for what you want. That’s all you. In the words of Des Linden “Set big goals and learn to love the work that gets you to them.” Big goals require hard work, but you learn to love the process. As cliche as this sounds, the reward is in the journey, not in the destination.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my marathon journey! It was truly an absolute JOY to complete 26.2 miles for my 26th birthday. If you have any questions about training or distance running, shoot me a DM! I would love to talk with you. Have a beautiful week and set some scary big goals!