Running 26.2 miles is hard, but giving birth to a child is harder. If you’ve done that, you can do this.
Especially when the race you run is on the Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California.
Perhaps next time I run a long race I’ll be inspired to put on make-up, but since I didn’t put any on for childbirth, I thought, what’s the point?
My morning started at 3:30 a.m. when I awoke and threw all of my gear into a bag and caught a ride with my friend Nikki (she ran the half) down to Huntington Beach for the 2011 Surf City Marathon.
I was fully prepared this time. Ipod, gels, water and a PowerBar.
I got into my corral as soon as we arrived and chatted with some experienced marathoners. I felt a little geeky asking strangers for advice, but for some reason runners seem to always be genial and gracious.
I began the race following a 3:30 pace group, but when I checked my Garmin and realized that they were running at a 7:30 minute/mile pace, I hung back and took it easy with a nice runner named Tonya. We paced ourselves at 8 minute/miles using my Garmin and spent the first 13 miles together, chatting when we could.
I lost her around 14 miles because her calves started to cramp and she needed to slow down.
Once I was on my own, I looked forward to seeing my family at mile 18, where they were planning to cheer me on.
The 18-mile mark came and went, and I couldn’t find them. My pace was also getting harder to maintain.
I slowed down to 8:30 minute/mile pace and turned up my Ipod to get through a 6-mile out and back down the beach bikepath.
I emerged from the path at mile 24. At that point my pace was falling to around 9 minutes/mile.
I saw my husband at this point, just as my form was collapsing. (I looked much better during the first 18 miles.)
At this point I was really hurting, but I was also trying to run fast.
I would say 24 miles is like the transition phase of childbirth. You’ve come so far; you can’t give up. The end is just around the corner. But it hurts, and you have to just keep telling yourself that you can do this to make it to the end.
I couldn’t feel my legs for the last 2 miles, but my upper body pulled me forward.
I crossed the finish line at 3:38 and some change, but I will update that number when the official results are in. My Garmin indicated that I ran 26.34 miles.
In short, I qualified for Boston on my first try, and I was so happy when I crossed the finish line that I burst into tears.
The first person I saw when I got through the chute was my 13-year-old. He looked so genuinely proud; the pain was all worth it.
Of course I immediately embarrassed him by stretching out my calves.
I fully credit my beginner success to this four-leaf clover ring that I wore in the race. My sister-in-law sent it to me for my half-marathon in the fall, but it arrived too late to wear in that race. Thanks, Bridgit!
Instead of visiting this:
We drove home. During the car ride, I realized that I had put my compression socks on the wrong feet.
Like Dr. Seuss wrote in Oh the Places You’ll Go, “Be dexterous and deft, and never confuse your right foot with your left.” Good advice. Perhaps I could have run faster had I taken his advice.
I also left my warm-up pants at Gear Check because I was so out of it after the race. I definitely feel less bright after running 26.2 miles.
Perhaps the fatigue will wear off and I’ll be back to my old ways.
Until then I am going to consume mucho guacamole and chips and take an ice bath.