So.. I finally ran 26.2! It wasn’t Boston, it wasn’t 90 degrees, there weren’t any crowds, there was no fanfare. But it was a good race. The weather was beautiful, the course was just challenging enough, my body felt ready and my mind was focused on getting the job done.
I ran it in 4 hours 19 minutes and 25 seconds. The first 13 miles flew by. I had my music pumped up, I took water only when I felt a little thirsty, I had a gel or two. I didn’t think too much about my time, I just kept a steady, easy pace. I had fun speculating about the other runners. Since Providence is so close to Boston, I figured there would be some other runners there who had deferred, not finished or not liked their time for Boston. I was right- I met 4 of them at the start line alone! I ran close to a mother/daughter team and imagined how nice it would be if my daughter and I could do something like that together 10 years from now. I saw young kids, older people, groups running for charity (a few others from my own Children’s Hospital Boston team!) – people from all walks of life out there striving for one common goal. It was nice.
I finished the first half in just under 2 hours, which is on par with how fast I’ve run before. I had a brief fantasy of running a negative split, which was a nice thought but not at all realistic for a first timer like me! But I felt really good at that point, so why not fantasize just a little bit? But, the second half was tougher- especially around mile 22 when my legs began to feel like rubber. Luckily my husband’s cousin jumped in and ran with me for a while. She really kept me going. It was nice having company and having someone cheering me on, especially during a race like that where there were no spectators to help motivate me. Right around mile 24 I was ready to be done. I couldn’t imagine running two more miles on legs that felt like they were on fire. So, I just concentrated on the fact that at least my breathing was good, and I hadn’t had any stomach issues. Marisa talked me through it, and it helped. But still, the last mile was almost unbearable. Seeing my husband right near the finish line gave me the extra boost I needed to go those last few hundred yards, despite the fact that my legs were screaming at me to stop, stop, stop. If he hadn’t been there I might have walked over that finish line. But I didn’t. I ran it all.
I wasn’t looking for speed, just a benchmark that I could use for future races- namely the big one next April, that I am still determined to participate in. Now I know what works for me and what doesn’t and that will go a long way in helping me train and run a successful and maybe even faster marathon next year.
It’s funny. All throughout my training I sort of had the mindset that I just needed to train this one time; that I only needed this one marathon. I never intended to actually like it! But I did! The run itself was a fantastic experience (of course I am only saying that now that it’s over). I’m surprised. I’ve been running for many years, but always kept my distances short- 5ks, 10ks, a few half marathons. And it’s even been a full year or two since I’ve run any sort of organized race. The marathon was supposed to be a one time deal.
But now I find myself already thinking of what I can do next. When can I race again? Where? How far could I go? How fast can I be? How much more can I push myself? Maybe small personal achievements in life are what drive us to work harder. Maybe they help us be happier people too. Personal accomplishment is a wonderful ego booster. Hmmm.. maybe I can turn this into a teaching lesson for the kids. Not that they need it, at 4 and 8 they are already way more confident in themselves than I’ll ever be. But I admire that about them, and think it should be nurtured. I think I’ll have to remember that next time a Saturday morning soccer game seems to drag on forever, or a twilight softball match means suffering through two gazillion mosquito bites. If they are out there trying hard to be better, to meet some sort of personal goal, I will be there beside them – cheering them on no matter what.
Congratulations Suzi! I’m very proud of you. It’s an amazing feeling, crossing that finish line. The exact same “bug” caught me years ago after finishing my first marathon. Can I go faster? What’s the next challenge? Where would be a fun, scenic place to spend 4+ hours beating the crap out of myself? I think you nailed it on the head that it’s the personal challenges and goals that keep us motivated.
I hope you savor the moment for a couple weeks, and do something nice for yourself to celebrate! And then…..go for another run.