Upon having Bennett, I decided a marathon would be a good way to feel like I was totally back in shape, and a good excuse to have some me-time during the week to train. I suckered a rockstar friend of mine into training with me. Training went like training always seems to go. I did my runs, I felt like I made great progress in my endurance, and by the end of the 16 weeks of training, I was ready for the race...and to be done running for awhile.
We decided to leave the kiddos with Ronnie's mom and make it a super quick trip (since I'm still nursing), so we left early Saturday morning (for the Sunday race). My parents were nice enough to come along as extra cheering crew. They are both marathoners themselves (my dad having run 11 and my mom having run 5), so having their knowledge, encouragement, and presence always helps. My running buddy and her hubby met us there. Saturday was filled with good company and good food. Sunday morning rolled around and it was game time...well race time.
My first marathon I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:34:56 (qualifying by all of 4 seconds). This marathon I set a goal time of 3:30. I trained harder and was in better shape than for my first. So I set out confident that I would accomplish this goal.
I felt good standing at the start line. The gun went off and off we went. We took off and I felt good. My Runkeeper read each mile's stats and I was on pace with my race plan. I finished the half on track to hit my goal...even a couple minutes fast. Then mile 16 hit and my legs felt heavy...not awful, but like I had to work a little harder to keep up with my pace...I started to slow a bit and each mile that my Runkeeper read, my average pace climbed a second. I began feeling a little discouraged and frustrated. However, I had a little cushion, so I made it to mile 20 still on track. I held on through mile 22 still on track. And then, BOOM, Mt Everest. We hit a hill I had seen on the typography map, but didn't think it sounded to bad. Well it looked bad and felt bad when I hit it. It stretched just under a mile. It looked like a death march up it. Thankfully at mile 21.5 my dad joined me to pace me for the last several miles. I could tell he wanted to encourage me up the hill, but respect the pain I felt all at the same time. He could tell I was discouraged. He checked his phone repeatedly as I alternated between walking and running up the hill. My legs were spent. My mind was about finished forcing my body to do what it didn't want to. And then my dad, in his infinite wisdom, said something that I needed to hear...It went something like this. "Don't think about what could have been. That's doesn't matter. You're here now. Worry about finishing well..." He was right. He knew I was semi-giving up because my sub 3:30 goal was out the window. But he knew I'd care about how I finished, even if it wasn't sub 3:30. I let his words roll around in my head as I ran-walked the hill with his encouragement. Bless him! Running on a bad knee just so I'd have support (not to mention it's the same knee that is especially screwed up from training with me for my first marathon...whoopsie)...what a guy. We made it to the top and thankfully it was all downhill from there...literally. I hit mile 25.5 just done. Every turn seemed like you should see the finish line, and then, another turn. I must have asked my dad 10 times, "where's the finish line?!" in desperation...like he could bring it closer...or like I was just missing it. He left me right around the shoot to the finish. As I closed in on the finish line I replayed his words again, "Don't think about what could have been..." his words rand..."Finish well..." I sprinted (well, maybe it wasn't a sprint, but I thought I was! Ha!), my head flopping backward, too heavy to hold up, I passed one last person and crossed the finish line. My time? 3:34:52...setting a PR by 4 seconds. 4 seconds. A time I couldn't have accomplished if it wasn't for my dad, or his well-phrased encouragement.
Finishing a marathon is awesome. Finishing a marathon and learning a life lesson at the same time, priceless! How often in life do we not finish well because we are stuck dwelling on what could have been? So often we give up because we aren't going to hit some benchmark of success we have established. These words I'm going to take with me into other areas of my life.
...with that said, I am going to do another marathon...sub 3:30 is a goal too good to not try again to accomplish. But I am thankful that I finished this one well!
(We'll post pictures from the weekend soon!)