There were so many thoughts and emotions going on inside my head, but all I really wanted was to drink my chocolate milk and put on my pants. That’s when I felt it. Like someone grabbed me by the right calf muscle and twisted until the muscle was shredded. After letting out a high pitched shrieking noise, I fell to the ground. That’s when the pain and emotion took over my body. I couldn’t control the spasms in my legs or the tears that I’d been holding back for what felt like months. I decided to just go with it.
In reality, it had only been a few hours since I lined up on Washington St. ready to take on what, in the moment, felt like the world. Well, ready might be the wrong term. I had no idea if my body would hold up for the grueling 26.2 miles, but I knew I had to try. I had worked too damn hard to quit. This wasn’t just a race. It was proving that if I wanted something bad enough and worked hard enough, I could get it. It was looking at my arm sleeve and thinking about a friend that had trained just as hard as I had, yet was physically unable to run the race. It was looking down at the words on my chest and seeing the kids of St. Jude. Their pain, now that’s real pain. No excuses.
The race itself was a bit of a blur. I told myself to stay calm for the first four miles. I even tried to calm my nerves by running with the 3:05 pace group. As it turns out, I’m not much of a group runner. I need to lose myself in a run, not worry about rubbing elbows with the runners around me. To this point, the pain was very minimal and thoughts of a sub 3 hour marathon rolled around in my head. Was this really happening? Was the pain going to stay away?
Nope, there it was. At mile 5, the pain I had grown so accustomed to over the last 8 weeks was back. It sounds stupid, but by this point I knew how to run with the pain so I didn’t really mind. I was able to hit the 10K mark in my correct timing range. It made me smile knowing that so many people were getting that first text update. It wasn’t until I finished and looked at Tumblr that I knew just how many people were following along. Side-note: How incredible are you guys/gals? Very.
My next checkpoint was the halfway mark. I knew I had friends waiting there and my spirits would be lifted. My friends didn’t disappoint. Halfway home now and the pain was still manageable. Splits were great and the sub 3 hour dream was still alive. I thought about the pre-race advice from Chris. Because of him, I knew once I hit mile 16 it was only a 10 mile tempo run from there. I had done three of those in the past month. This one just happened to be preceded by 16 other tempo miles. No big deal, right?
At mile 15, the perfect song played and put me in the right mindset. Bring on the 10 mile tempo run. The next 5 miles went exactly to plan. Don’t get me wrong, they hurt, but the pain was almost an afterthought. 6:49, 6:56, 6:50, 6:59, 6:55. I was going to do this. I wasn’t sure about sub 3, but Boston was definitely in my sights.
Mile 22, I found the wall. It was different than last year, though. This wasn’t a cardio issue, I felt great. This was purely a leg issue. I have to admit to being super pissed. I almost felt cheated. Granted, I did it to myself.
I knew the last few miles were going to be tough. It’s a freaking marathon, it’s supposed to be tough. THIS is what I had been training for all along. Head up and Power Through. So, that’s what I did. 3:03:50. I hit my BQ time (hoping it’s good enough), but not quite the sub 3 I was dreaming about. That just means I have to work that much harder next time. I’m not afraid of a little hard work.
(How’s that for an awful “get me the hell off this course” finishing pic?)
Finally, I want to say thank you. You guys made me feel like a damn celebrity on race day. Scrolling through my dash was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I still can’t get over all the love and support. Seriously, thank you.
I can’t wait to shed this boot and do all of this again.