Mission accomplished! A new marathon record has been set by a whole 11 minutes.
I’m two days out from the Sunburst Marathon and I’m still
wincing every time I move my legs smiling. It could not have gone better.
I had high expectations when I looked at the weather forecast a few days before the race. A partly cloudy day with temperatures in the 60s was forecasted – in other words, perfect running weather. The day turned out just as forecasted. How often does THAT happen?!
It was barely 50 degrees when the race started at 6 am Eastern time (5 am Central time, which is the world I live in). It was early, but nervous energy had me feeling awake, alert and anxious to start.
I started the race with Peter and Joanne. We entered the queue just a few minutes before the gun, so we were in the very back, but the crowd wasn’t big at all (a few hundred runners in all) so it didn’t take long to cross the start line. I felt great from the moment I stepped over the line but being in the back helped ensure I didn’t start out too fast. I wished Peter and Joanne a good race (they were doing a run/walk race so we split up), they wished me the same, and I was off.
About 10 minutes into the race, I identified my target: a girl with purple shorts and a pink top. She appeared to be running the same pace as me, but had started out ahead of me so was a short distance away. There was just something about her purple and pink ensemble that annoyed me so I knew I had to take her out. I think maybe the pink and purple reminded me of someone I knew in college and those who get the reference will understand my need to make Runner Barbie eat my dust. I thought about just sprinting to pass her but decided she served a greater purpose being in front of me. I’d go for the kill later.
I was disheartened to realize somewhere around mile 10 or so that I could no longer see Runner Barbie, but I was still feeling great so I wasn’t too disappointed. I just kept moving. My mile splits were great – nearly 20 seconds less than the pace I had been training at. Brian was between miles 12 and 13 and ran a few blocks with me. After we parted ways, I just got back in the zone and kept running.
Somewhere around mile 15, I happened to look up and was looking right at the back of Runner Barbie. She kept looking over her shoulder at me but I stayed about two or three paces behind her until the next aid station. She slowed to a walk to eat a banana and I made my move and passed her up.
At mile 18 I felt myself hitting the wall. I was running in slow motion and felt like each step was taking every ounce of energy I had. I just kept telling myself to break through the wall. Break through the wall. Break through the wall. About a half mile later, I had successfully broken through the wall and felt like I was back on pace.
I found out later that I was actually so far ahead of pace, Brian missed me twice as I had already run past his viewing spots before he got there. One of those spots was mile 19 where Lisa met up with me to run me in the last seven miles.
I was losing steam by the time I met up with Lisa. But she kept me entertained and my mind off running with lots of stories, or maybe it was just a couple of stories she managed to spread out over a few miles, but whatever it was made the time go by and my pace pick up. Brian found me again at about mile 22. He was just pulling up when we were running by.
I felt myself slowing down in the last few miles, but with Lisa’s help I wasn’t too far off pace. Ok, now I have to share one of my biggest spectator pet peeves toward the end of any marathon. When you get to the last couple of miles there are ALWAYS people yelling “Only two more miles! You can do it!”
“Only one and a half miles!! You are soooo close!”
I know they are well-meaning and, yes, compared to 26 miles, one and a half miles is a very short distance. But when you have already run 24 and a half miles, do you have any idea how far one and a half miles sounds? Do you have any idea how daunting the thought of running that far is?
A bit after we passed the 25-mile marker, I seriously thought I had gone at least another half mile when I saw someone with a sign that read, “Only .87 miles to go!”
Not helpful. Not helpful at all. Seriously, I’d rather you lie to me.
Somewhere along the last two-mile stretch a little girl was standing on the sidewalk and asked if we wanted a strawberry. It was the cutest thing ever. It was also the best strawberry I think I have ever eaten.
The last stretch to Notre Dame Stadium is the longest but also the most active. Lots of people are there cheering you on. A bagpipe player has been there every year I have run, and I absolutely adore the bagpipe. That’s always fun to experience. But my body was just so spent, I wanted so bad to sprint, but I just couldn’t do it.
Lisa was playing mind games, making me describe the burger I planned to eat after the race to help keep my mind off the distance that was left. It was helping. Until I saw Runner Barbie pass me right the flip up. I wanted so bad to take her on, I just didn’t have it in me. Not even a little bit. I wondered how in the heck she caught up to me. I decided she cheated 😉
I finally turned the corner and was running down the tunnel onto the field of Notre Dame Stadium. I heard my name called, I looked at the clock and knew then that I crushed my PR. Finishing never felt so good or gratifying, especially when I threw my Gatorade in Runner Barbie’s face. Ok. I made that last part up. I was too happy for myself to hold anything against Runner Barbie, especially since my annoyance at her was based purely on her outfit. After all, I was the girl running in Spanx a few weeks ago.
Setting a new PR? I didn’t make that part up at all. 4:40:55, the new time to beat.