“I’ll never run a Marathon. Training for a Half is just so easy. Yes, the Half … that’s my distance.” Famous last words, as they say.
I do not know exactly when the itch to run a Marathon started, but I vividly remember being glued to the TV rooting for Meb while he was running down the streets of Boston the year after the bombings, the excitement I felt was overwhelming.
I did not want to admit it, but as I continued to navigate through my races, the marathon kept on making its way into my thoughts. What if I could really do it? What if one day I could qualify for Boston? It all became more real as my friends continued to train for Boston and other marathons.
I quietly decided to run Twin Cities Medtronic Marathon. My friend Amy suggested I do this marathon, rated as one of the most beautiful marathons in the US, a Runners World must do race. Twin Cities is known for its great support along the course and running across a myriad of lakes and streets lined with spectators, and getting to visit her and her husband Tony, a definite plus!
I chose to do Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 – as it suited my life schedule, doable weekday mileage and double runs during the weekend.
And so it began, I printed the training plan and set off to begin my first marathon journey. I did everything but one week diligently. Prior to this, I had only run 14 consecutive miles. I remember setting off late for my first 15 miler, in what seemed to be the most humid and hot day of summer. Probably the toughest run of my life. It was then and only then, that I doubted that I could ever do 26 miles, let alone 26.2.
As always, the running community came to the rescue, encouraging me after I recounted how miserable I felt that day. I needed a good run, and fortunately my next run happened to be a great one! I asked my friend Stephen to run 17 miles with me, as that was the next mileage distance in the schedule. It was a wonderful run through the streets of Davidson. I felt strong and I conquered this new distance! I remember mentally kissing mile 15 goodbye as I kept on running for two more miles. I finished feeling amazing and again believed I could actually make it.
I have to say that a great part of the training was made possible by having the support of my running community. Too many friends to mention, but I value every word of advice and encouragement I was given throughout the process. Amy and Tony provided me support from afar. Molly running 20 miles with me. I remember Carolyn telling me after our normal SLR run, that she thought I looked strong, (coming from such an amazing runner, I felt wonderful). Karen my endless supporter and as always, my daughters, my most avid fans.
As the marathon approached, I was surprised, as I did not feel nervous just happy … happy I did the training, happy I was going to be able to run a marathon.
As I boarded the plane, all I could do was smile. I felt such happiness. I was afraid to say it out loud, afraid to feel too happy, too confident.
The race forecast was 40 degrees and quietly sunny. Perfect!
On Saturday, Tony and I went out on a quick 3-mile run. We had never run together and he graciously offered to run my first marathon with me. (Tony is a 3-hour marathoner – so of course this was very kind of him.) We used the opportunity to talk strategies. It was my first marathon and my first goal was to finish strong, so that meant being conservative.
We then went to the Expo to pick up our bibs, and after a mandatory taping by the KT experts, we were off to drive the course. As we drove through the beautiful Twin Cities, it sure seemed that 26 miles were a lot of miles to run.
It was a luxury to be staying at my friend’s home. Having a wonderful homemade dinner instead of some impromptu carb-loading dinner at a local unknown restaurant. We headed to bed early and all in all I had a restful night. I did open my eyes before the alarm and started my normal prerace rituals.
Amy dropped us off at the start line, and headed to mile 12 where she would ride alongside us until the finish line. Tony and I headed to the hospital lobby for some warmth and prerace stretching. As we headed to the corral, I was surprised that I still did not feel nervous, just happy and excited.
My plan was to start at 8:58 for the first 2 miles. I knew I needed to give some time to my Achilles to warm up. I started faster than what I had planned, and by mile 5 Tony expressed that I was off my plan. Since I was going a little faster, I obliged with his request and readjusted my pace. By mile 6 I was already speeding up despite my wanting to keep the decided pace. At that point he looked at me and acknowledged that I was feeling good, after my affirmation he said, “OK then, go with it and I’ll be here should you need me” ... and off we went.
The course was so beautiful and I took the time to take in every sight along the way. As I was approaching mile 20, I could not help but wonder about what I saw before me, after mile 20 it was all unchartered territory … was there the dreaded “wall” in my future? Mile 20 came and went and nothing, my body kept on pushing through. I was thrilled. Actually, mile 20 was my fastest mile. The course elevation on mile 23 made me slow down a little, but nothing drastic. I was silently whispering to myself that I could actually do it.
Mile 24 came and suddenly I did feel discomfort, but not a wall. I felt as if my legs did not have much power left, however again the slowdown was nothing too significant especially having only two miles left to go.
With a smile on my face, I crossed the finish line arms in the air, and a little teary eyed. I had finished, I had finished strong, I was a marathoner!
Stats of my run –
Training Plan –
- Hal Higdon Intermediate 1
Marathon fueling –
- Water at all water stops but one - one sip of blue Powerade at every station
- Honey Stingers – 3
- A few Honey Stingers Chews
Mileage per Garmin – 26.47
Official Time – 3:48:00 (BQ 2017) with a 7-minute buffer!
What an experience …. I truly love this distance.