My initial goal was to get through the training and run the event injury free. Being injury prone for the last couple years made this goal feel lofty.
Once I accomplished my training goal I decided to up the ante and set my sights higher. How would I know what I was capable of if I didn't push my limits? I decided to “race” the marathon and give it everything I had. My first marathon (3 ½ years prior) I successfully ran and even Boston qualified. I knew my new goal wasn't far fetched.
Race day came and I felt confident. I walked up to the starting corral and waited with friends until the final count down. Bang! The gun went off and my engine went from idol to cruise control. I knew not to push the throttle. I stayed focused on breathing calm, keeping my upper body relaxed and tried my best to run efficiently.
When running a marathon (either Ironman or stand alone) I never think of the full distance. Why that would just be overwhelming and rather terrifying. Instead I think of each mile I am going to run down. As I passed one mile marker after another I was reminded of my training. I've never needed help finding motivation. My momma made sure I was stocked at birth. I am a person who has been humbled by injuries. Let's also not ignore the fact I keep aging up. What I needed was help finding confidence that had become lost over time. I found this confidence from my friends and family. They kept me company on long runs that scared me. They listened to my worries and complaints, and provided positive loving support. They joined me in post training feasting, although I don't think I had to twist anyone's arm. I'm now rambling on. What I'm getting at is they believed in me. They gave me the tools I needed to believe in myself. Although I was running this marathon solo, I felt my friends were running with me. As corny as it sounds – My friends and family are the wind beneath my wings.
Back to the race!
Everything felt good until mile 10 or 11. At this point the course took a U-Turn and I ran directly in to the rising sun. Oy! My eyes! I wore sunglasses but ignored advice to wear a hat or visor. Sweat poured down my face and stung my eyes. Blinding me as I ran towards the orange flaming ball. I ran without sight for a good 5 mins. Rubbing my eyes and praying I wouldn't “run” into someone. Thankfully it passed and I retained my vision without the need to stop.
The run went on comfortably until right after mile marker 20. In a matter of seconds my stomach wrenched and I spewed out my insides. Holy Moly! That was a disgusting first! My Gamin vibrated to alert me that I had stopped. Really?! So on I continued to run. My goal now was pick up my pace to reach an aid station. I needed to seriously wash my mouth out or I was going to get sick again from the taste. As I approached the aid station I grabbed whatever sports drink they offered and used it as mouth wash.
The last 10k felt like an eternity. I had thrown up all my GU and electrolytes and was now running on empty. I tried to channel caloric reserves from my rendezvous at Coldstone the night prior. Once I lost nutrition it was hard to keep a positive outlook. My legs wanted to run but my body and mind did not. The darkness set in and I started to walk. My head bowed in shame. I could only stand walking for a few seconds. I couldn't stand moving sooooo slow. I started to run again. This would only last a matter of minutes. I was too tired. I grabbed a banana from an aid station. I knew solid food would end up upsetting my stomach but it didn't matter. If I didn't eat something I would have ended up walking all of it. The banana wasn't exactly rocket fuel but it did allow me to pull my head out of my a** and run the last bit in.
I crossed the finish line at 3:43 – 7 minutes longer then my revised goal and a PW (personal worst). Although I didn't technically achieve my new goal; I still felt like a success. I did “race” the marathon. I continued to run after I puked. I did not DNF even though I secretly wanted to in the end. I stayed healthy training, during the race, and after into marathon recovery. I accomplished so much this day. I am a very grateful and proud woman for this experience.