This was my best and most proud marathon finish, 23rd time is the charm! A 14 minute PR and a sub four finish! 3:53:42!
Before I get into the good, I want to type out all the ugly while it’s fresh in my mind so I don’t forget and sign up for another marathon, heh. I share because it’s important to know that every part of marathon’ing is hard, even the highlight reel finishes.
The ugly stuff
I still think I’m bad at marathon’ing. I haven’t figured out the magic formula to make race day feel smoother. Maybe it doesn’t exist. In miles 15-20 my mental confidence vanished. I don’t go into a deep, dark place of “why bother, just quit” like I used to, but I don’t have an autopilot mental switch to keep my legs turning over. I slow down. I settle. I give myself grace, that’s a good thing. But my legs are capable of moving faster in these miles. I’m lacking an inner fighter.
After I finished I was a hot mess of wreckage. I wheezed my way through the finisher area, collecting post-race items. John met me at the end, I couldn’t talk, I just pointed towards a building to go inside to stay warm. Inside the building I was still wheezing, calves cramping, unable to walk. He tried to get me up and moving but I couldn’t, I sat on the cold concrete trying not to cry in pain. He said it was painful looking at me.
I wobbled to a nearby cafe for a bowl of chicken noodle soup, which apparently is magic potion. Within minutes I came back to life, my calves were cured and I felt like I could run another marathon.
The YAY-SHINY PR stuff
I started in front of the 3:45 pace group with a game plan to stay in front of them as long as possible, when they catch up hang on for dear life, and then just keep moving forward. My splits below tell the tale of how I executed this race to plan:
The 3:45 pace group caught me at mile 16 where all of the course’s elevation gain happens. I studied the elevation maps ahead of time and knew that miles 15-18 would slow me down. When they caught me I reminded myself that 3:45 was not my original goal and now my job was to finish as far under 4:00 as possible.
On Friday at the expo I listened to Deena Kastor give a pre-race pep talk. She talked about how even faking a smile tricks your body into producing more endorphins and how it will help when the race feels tough. I tried this approach and honestly felt insane, smiling at nothing. I can’t confirm if the fake smile works or not, but I did my best to soak in the great spectators in costumes, silly race signs, and cheers throughout.
At mile 20 my Garmin read 2:56, a solid sub 4 buffer as long as I could keep my shit together and not blow up. Nine minute miles, I can do this. Do not make this a nail biter, just keep moving.
Miles 20 to the end I took a few walk breaks through aid stations. These walk breaks were probably 10-20 seconds each, a big improvement over my previous marathons where I might walk for a few minutes at a time. None of my splits went into the tens. Maybe I’m not as weak as I declared above.
The last 3 miles were into a headwind that I was anticipating. I noticed which way the flags were blowing at the start of the race and made a mental note. I’m glad I did. I know that being mentally prepared for the elevation gain in miles 15-18 and finishing in headwind helped me stay in a positive place.
The final stretch into the finisher chute was all business, let’s get this done, as far under 4 as possible. 3:53:42. Under a nine minute mile average for a freaking marathon. My post-race Instagram caption sums up perfectly how I feel about this one:
Rule breaker, resilient spirit, sub 4 marathoner.