I have always been a runner, but now I’m learning what it means to race. My most recent triumph was this past Sunday at the Philadelphia Marathon. It was my third marathon, and I trained harder this cycle than ever before.
My Coach had a plan for me, and we executed it. The past 100+ days was a mix of speed work, tempo runs, cross-training, and high mileage, more than I have ever done solo training. There were minor bumps along the way, just like any training cycle. There was a pulled hamstring (twice), glute pain that has been nagging since 2014, and my near death experience with a Chihuahua, or what I like to call my new spirit animal. I just needed to get to the line as healthy as possible, and give it all I had.
The goal for Philly was to PR, but hoping for a 3:15, I knew I could do it, but keeping that pace made me nervous for the 26.2 mile journey. This training cycle I hit the 18 miler and it was a good day, but never hit the 20 miler, that left some concern if I could do it. For marathon runners, hitting the 20 miler is confirmation that you are ready, but we played it smart after experiencing my nagging glute pain through the end of the training cycle, and backed off.
The time had come to hit the road, my friend Kris and I headed up to Philly on Friday morning. Check out her blog, Kris Lawrence, she is the true example of hard work and talent, an elite runner with a big heart. We went to the expo, picked up our race packets, and indulged in dinner with a glass of wine, per Coach’s orders! On Saturday, we went for a light jog around the city to catch the finish of the 8k, after several obnoxious selfies with city statues including ROCKY, and a quick run up the ROCKY steps, it was back to our hotel to put our feet up. We watched the movie “McFarland,” a must watch if you love to run, and are in need of a feel good Disney moment. Later that evening we headed out for dinner, our last meal. A lot of friends always ask me what do I eat the night before a race, for me it is normally pizza, or Subway. I seem to be a roll with Subway, it has worked each marathon for me, so fingers crossed it keeps on working. Then it was time to hit the hay for an early morning wake up call.
Race morning…everything went out the window! The weather predictions had changed. Instead of the 30 degree weather, without wind, it was about 50 degrees with wind. The biggest change this past year for me is my race outfit selection. I hate the cold, I would run in a parka if I could, Under Armour would be lucky to sponsor me for their “coldgear” line, but on race day, the less clothing the better. Grin and bear it is what I like to call it!
In the corral waiting to start, I zoned out. It was go time, and I had to think good thoughts. The last song to play over the loud speakers was “Sweet Caroline,” while this is not particularly the best pump you up before a marathon selection, it allowed me to reflect on Boston. I had done it there, and I would do it again. I had a race plan with the advice from my Coach, start out behind the 3:15 pace group, and evaluate at mile 6-10 to pick up the pace. I never made it to the 3:15 pace group, the corral was too crowded, it was up to me to race my pace. At first I liked the idea that the half marathon and full marathon started together, but I realized quickly that it was difficult to hold back. I went out at a sub 7:00 minute pace, I was excited, but knew that the majority of the people around me had a shorter journey that day. The race was long, and I had to control it. I felt great, my nutrition was on point, the crowd support was overwhelming, and knowing that family and friends at home were tracking helped push me forward. At the split from the half marathon, I knew I had a PR in me. I was concerned at mile 15 when I saw the 3:15 pace group ahead of me, how, that wasn’t possible, I was ahead of that pace. I’m no Math major, but the Garmin was on target. At mile 20, the turn around, I knew I could hit goal, my legs were starting to feel tired, our Virginia Beach flat land inclines had nothing on these hills/mountains, but I had more fight.
At mile 24 a lady yelled out “nice guns,” which made me smile a little bit bigger, and allowed me to give it all I had. A friend on the J&A Training Team told me you can do anything for two miles, that stuck with me, and I was ready to bring it home. I crossed the finish line with a Garmin time of 3:11:31, and an official clock time of 3:12:57. For my non-runner friends, races are always slightly off, they are course certified, so you always know that you have bank a little extra time to hit the goal. I had set a personal goal of 3:13 that I shared with my Coach days prior. Why a 3:13? I want to run the NYC Marathon, and while the lottery has been tough to get in with the amount of applicants, three years denied now, I felt my only option was to try qualify by time (standards harder than Boston), is it enough to get in, maybe not, but I did it.
It was time to head home, the weekend had come and gone so quickly, much like big events in life. Kris and I had the best laughs this weekend, found out we are “ladybug” sisters, and I’m lucky to have a great friend and training partner like her in my life. Meanwhile, at home, Chef Rick was cooking up a storm for our return to celebrate “Friendsgiving!” It was the perfect way to end the weekend, and share what’s important this holiday season, great friends!
I have to give a huge shout out to my family, friends, Coach, Hunger Games, and my loving husband for being supportive of my running lifestyle. I couldn’t do it without you! On to the next phase, it’s Thanksgiving, time to HEAL, and RECOVER! It is all about recreational workouts for the next couple of weeks, and training will kick off again in January for Boston 2016. Until the next post, I eat pie!