I don't know how to write a bloop about massively (in my not-at-all-humble opinion) striking down my PR as I am so wrought with emotion still. I think I am prouder of myself for this achievement than I was the first marathon I finished. When I was walking to meet up with Adam after I had my medal, I had tears welling in my eyes. I ended my race feeling so good and so strong. My old PR was 3:50:xx and I took it down to 3:43:18 today.
Here's the story:
Last night I prepped my outfit and applied my temporary tattoos:
and I got up at 4:00am-ish. We got ready and were out the door at
5:00am. Our friend Jeff was supposed to meet us at our house to walk
the 5K with Adam, but he had a late night and bailed. So it was just
the 2 of us. Getting there a little earlier meant that traffic wasn't
bad at all and the best news--I didn't have to wait in a line to use the
Porta-Potty before the start.
We walked up to the start
line to try to figure out where he was to start. The
marathon/half-marathon started at 7am, the 5K started a 7:30. Once we
realized it was the same spot, we started to walk to where I said I
would meet up with Stewart (Running Stew) and Scott (Flying Tomato).
We stood talking nervously and I kept asking for hugs because I was
As we were standing, I knocked my sunglasses off my head and re-broke
them in a spot that I had superglued previously. Thankfully, being
married to an optician has its' advantages and we walked quickly back to
the car to retrieve another pair of sunglasses.
got back to our meeting spot, it wasn't long before Stewart and I
spotted each other. We chatted for a few minutes and while they were
playing the National Anthem, I spotted Scott. It was nice to say good
luck to Loopsters in person and know that there were a few of us out on
I went to Corral E after that and lined up in
the vicinity of the 3:45 pace group with my snazzy little 3:45 number
on. And then, just like that, we were bunched up walking towards the
start mat. I punched the start button on the Garmin and headed off into
The first miles are always a challenge with
so many people clogging the course. You spend more time concerned about
getting an elbow in the face than finding a pace. The pace leader had a
stuffed leprechaun attached to his pole so I just kept that silly
little guy in my sight. My shin was feeling twingy and I told myself
that I would try to hold on as long as I could. I was so concentrated
on the way that I felt physically that I missed the spot where my former
co-worker has spotted me in years past. Oops. Splits: 8:51, 8:38,
By mile 5, I started to feel a little better
and then I realized it was because we were running faster! The crowd
had thinned out a little and we were trying to make up a little bit of
time with a slower start. I was so relieved that I started to feel
better that I almost forgot to take my first Gu past mile 5. I got some
high fives from spectators and that really brought my spirits up. We
narrowed just past the 6 mile mark and climbed a hill at the same time.
I really run better on the uphills (weird, I know), but I stuck with
the pace group and enjoyed a relaxed climb. At just past mile 7, we
split off from the half-marathoners and suddenly our little pack seemed
pretty small. 8:09, 8:23, 8:37.
The next few miles we
picked up the pace in order to net some time in the bank for the hillier
portion of the course. I was surprised that I felt better when we were
running faster, but then again, I realized that maybe it was because I
was finally warmed up! Our little group was mostly quiet save for the
banter of the pace group team leaders. I listened to them to keep
entertained--running a marathon is as much a mental game as it is a
physical one. I took my second Gu at mile 10 and noticed very quickly
that I felt re-energized. It probably was placebo, but hey, I'll take
what I can get. 8:11, 8:09, 8:24, 8:22.
I had to pee
since we started the race, but I held off thinking that the feeling
would pass. Ha! It didn't so I thought I would take advantage of the
Porta-Potties at just past mile 12. However, 2 of the 3 pace leaders
started talking about going right before we got to them and there were
only 3 available. Not wanting to wait, I decided that I would just hold
off until the next set. It gave me a little confidence to run ahead of
them for awhile and wait for them to catch up to me. At just past the
half-marathon mark, they had Cuties (mandarins) at an aid station and so
I took one--the juice and calories would be okay. As soon as I started
peeling it, I realized that I was a few feet away from the next
Porta-Potties. I ducked in with the Cutie in my mouth and came out
hoping that I hadn't tainted my snack. 8:13, 8:21.
next miles brought us to my old stomping grounds near and through Emory
University. I took my 3rd Gu at mile 15. I was feeling good and
hoping that the feeling would last. The course changed from previous
years and we wound through a different portion of the campus--arguably a
prettier and safer route. I started chatting with the pace leaders and
surprised myself that talking wasn't a struggle. The crazy long hill
that I feared in the North Druid Hills area was actually not as terrible
as I remembered. I used small steps that made me feel like I was
practically speed walking rather than running. 8:41, 8:21, 8:42, 8:39
in the rolling hills of miles 18 and 19, I got ahead of the pace group
and they never were on my heels again. I was trying to do
math--dangerous business after running for 18 miles--and trying to
figure out the slowest pace I needed to maintain to PR. That occupied
me for quite some time, so much that I kind of zoned out. I started
passing people on uphills that never passed me back. My confidence
continued to build. 8:23, 8:33.
I had my last Gu at mile
20. Halfway between mile 20 and 21, there was a banana station. Cut up
bananas in little cups. I realized that the nutrition seemed to really
be helping me, so I chanced it. I ended up with smeared banana all
over my hands, but I think those extra calories helped in the final
miles. At around the mile 22 mark, I happily realized they changed my
least favorite part of the course this year!! Yippee!! I didn't have to
watch the faster marathoners run past me but for a few steps this year!
I chatted with a lady just past mile 22 because
I was passing her on the uphills and she was passing me on the
downhills/flats. She said she had just completed her 50 states and was
doing this for fitness. She had a PR of 3:12 (!) and was gunning for
sub 4:00. She encouraged me to go on and get my PR and so when we got
to the evil hill at mile 23, I tackled that beast. Weeee! 8:53
I checked my Garmin and realized that with 5K left, I was going to PR.
Suddenly, I got into race mode. I started picking people off one by
one. For any non-marathoners reading this, about 50% of people look
like zombies at this point. They have blank looks in their eyes, their
bodies are stiff and awkward with every movement, and a tremendous
amount of grunting occurs. I have been there and it ain't pretty. But
today was not that day. I was comfortably strong. I started imagining
the points I run on the Greenway when I got to various mile markers and
trying to conjure up the easiness it felt during my training runs.
At mile 25, I knew that something catastrophic
was going to have to happen for me to not PR by that point. But I was
in a good place--I couldn't believe how great I felt at this point. I
kept pushing the pace, but conserved that last 5% for the kick. I am
pretty sure that my gums are showing in all my pictures in the final
mile because my smile was so huge. 8:22
When I spotted the
1/4 mile marker sign, my heart leaped out of my chest when I glanced at
my Garmin. This was really happening!!!! I put the afterburners on and
started looking for Adam in the crowd. He was near the finish line and
looked surprised as he spotted me. I pointed at my watch, gave him a
huge smile, thumbs up, and plowed down the finish chute. Last .3 (not
too bad on the tangents) was at 7:56.
After I got all
emotional by myself, I met up with him. I was so proud he finished his
5K--something he couldn't do 2 years ago AND I PR'd. We compared notes
and giddily talked as I got my time printout and goody bag.
really wanted to try to see Scott and Stewart come through the finish
chute, so we made our way back to the sidelines and watched. I was so
excited that I got to see (and yell loudly at) both of them!!! They both
looked strong in their finish and it made me so proud to be a part of
amazing community that has so much support for each other. A little
encouragement really, really goes a long way--all the nice messages left
on my bloops and on FB were so appreciated.
Adam and I made our way to the car and drove over to the Vortex for my ritualistic post-race burger and beer.
My sister, her boyfriend, and my dad met us there to help celebrate. I
had a Fat Elvis burger which consists of a hamburger topped with fried
bananas, peanut butter, and bacon. Ohhhhhh yeah!
now, I begin the fun few days of grasping handicap bars in the bathroom
and cringing at the sight of stairs. This time, it is sooooooooooo