October 11, 2015 at 8:05am, I started the journey to my 5th marathon and encountered a few bumps along the way, but overall ran a solid race.
My Garmin watch thought it would like to play games with me. It was beeping a mile WAAAAYYYY before the actual mile markers which caused my pace to be inaccurate. I thought we were running too fast, so we slowed down a bit because I wanted my first 10 miles to be an easy pace - 9:30 or a bit faster. I think the first 5k was a 9:41 pace, not exactly what I wanted.
My watch said I ran 27.48 miles....clearly not doing it's job on Sunday! It also had a 8:56 per mile pace....I wish.
Not knowing the exact pace was a bit unsettling, but I relied on how I felt and wanted to make sure I had some juice at the end. Instead of focusing on my time and splits, I decided to pray for different things and people at each mile. Before I knew it, I was at mile 17 and felt really good, so I tried to pick it up a bit. My watch was still all over the place so I wasn't exactly sure how much faster I should go. I did have a tattoo on my arm that gave me splits for a 4 hour marathon and I knew I was too slow for that, so I just tried to focus on how I felt and keep the 2nd half faster than the first.
Looking back, I probably should have pushed the pace a bit more, but I was constantly trying to get around people and got stuck a few times, plus it was starting to get warm, and I grabbed water at almost every stop. I never stopped to walk but pulling over to grab water and Gatorade probably slowed me down a few seconds. I'm sure running back to grab my hat didn't help any! 800 meters left (that's 2 laps of a track) and I decide to lift my hat up a bit to get some cooler air on my head. Whoosh....off goes the hat and if it wasn't the coveted Top 10% Gate hat, I would have left it on the streets of Chicago!
SplitsI did manage to run a Personal Record of 4:05:16 and I am proud of that time. I am a little disappointed that I didn't reach my goal of 4 hours or faster, BUT, I completed another marathon and actually enjoyed this one.
The crowd support was amazing. This is by far, the best organized and supported marathon I have run. There was 1 spot that was pretty quiet and not well spectated, but that didn't last long. The water and Gatorade stops were well manned and was a welcome sight every 1.5 miles! The expo was pretty darn awesome and plenty of photo ops :-)
Here are a few things that I believe helped me reach my new PR.
1. Prayer - I do this often when I run, but there was something about choosing a different topic, person, event to pray for each mile that helped keep me stay focused and relaxed. I highly recommend you giving it a try on your next athletic event :-)
2. Strength Training - I've said it before and I'll say it again....you must strength train if you are a runner. I incorporate PiYo and weight training in my daily running schedule. My friends were talking about how sore their backs/necks were while they ran. I had 2 brief moments of a tight upper back, but I did a quick stretch while running and was fine. My core was strong and helped with my form. Yes, I had aches and pains, but overall, my body is strong and flexible that I was able to run through that pain. This is the 2nd marathon I have completed since beginning my healthy lifestyle journey with Beachbody and I am proof that the programs work!
3. Nutrition - I drink Shakeology 6 - 7 days a week. It strengthens my immune system so I'm not losing training time due to illness, it fuels my body properly so I can workout hard and recover quickly, and it tastes like heaven :-)
4. Believe in yourself - I know it sounds silly, but it works. If you don't believe that you can do hard things, who will? I have crazy pre-race anxiety that begins a week or 2 out and only intensifies as the race nears. Fortunately for me, I have amazing running friends who can calm me down, but the only one who can truly get me centered is me. Ok, not true, I had to pray a few times to the Big Guy for my nerves to finally calm down, but I tell myself during the race - You can do this - You are strong enough - You are amazing. No more self-doubt.
I know there are so many other people out there who are faster, stronger, and healthier, but this normal Jane over here is doing something right because at the age of 37, I ran the fastest marathon yet.
Yes, yet.....I'm sure there will be another one soon!