I am the exception! Last year when I ran back to back marathons I read up on other blog posts to see what I could expect. The general consensus is that the second marathon is always slower and feels harder. Last year I tried to be the exception to that rule. The second marathon was only four minutes slower, but it did feel tougher!
This time I had a rough first marathon, finishing 50 minutes after my goal time last weekend at Rails to Trails Marathon. Seven days later at Madison Marathon I ran so strong and consistent I don’t even know myself. Marathon, strong and consistent? Who? Me? These words don’t often end up in the same sentence from me!
Going into it I had no idea what to expect, knowing that I ran one seven days ago. I knew it was possible that it might be another five hour marathon, which makes layering for a 30 degree start a challenge. I brought a starting corral layer, a mile 12 layer and arm warmers. I finished in a tri top and shorts. (Side note, my thighs ate my shorts down the finish chute, it looks like I’m running in panties!)
I started with an internet stranger that I met in a Facebook running group. It was her first marathon, she said she’d be running a ten minute mile. I figured it would be an adventure to start a marathon with someone I didn’t know, and a chance to hopefully help and encourage her. It was the perfect starting pace. We ran the first seven miles together, chatting, getting to know one another. After mile seven she needed to stop to ditch a layer and I continued on. (It was a mutual respect that we’d just start together, no promises were made to stick with each other throughout).
After that I took off at around a 9:30 pace. I wondered if it was reckless, but I also wanted to run a bit angry after last weekend’s marathon biff. And then I was surprised that the course went over Observatory drive, and of course there was a photographer on top! I maintained my strength, and kept running.
Around mile 13 I could feel the onset of falling apart. I walked a little, but then convinced myself to keep moving. Maybe the right songs were playing on my iPod. I’m really not sure how I maintained my mental composure. One thing I knew for sure is that my legs felt fine and surprisingly fresh.
Pretty much all of miles 16-18 were uphill. And then 19-22, more uphill. So much uphill. I was convinced the entire course was uphill. John was waiting for me at the beast of Farwell Drive and ran up it with me. At the point where I almost threw in the towel and walked it I saw my 70 year old local runner pal and he joined us. I was so delighted to see him I forgot I was dying on this hill.
At mile 20 my Garmin read 3:26. My PR is 4:27, there was a slight chance to PR. I tried, until the next hill where I walked. Plus I was walking aid stations for Gatorade. Mile 24 my Garmin read 4:10. Again, I tried, autopilot mode. I ran and ran. Into headwind. Up the last awful hill. Up State Street. Around the corner to the finish, 4:32!
This is a course PR and my second fastest marathon, seven days after my second worst marathon. Is there a rooftop somewhere I can shout this from?