Even though I struggled through many obstacles in the Nike Women’s Marathon, I can’t help but feel positive about the experience overall. First of all, I cannot deny feeling ecstatic about receiving a necklace in a blue box from a tuxedo-clad firefighter as soon as I crossed the finish line.
This is my third little blue box. The first contained a rattle for my first-born son, and the second was a floating heart from MFP for out 10th wedding anniversary.
While it would have been nice to have a loved one waiting for me at the end of the race, the necklace was an easy second-best.
In the Nike Women’s Marathon, you get your t-shirt after you finish. It’s nice knowing that you earned it, even though it is a crazy shade of yellow and most likely will go in the bottom of your running drawer.
(My dining room chair is wearing it in this picture.)
Without a doubt, the best memory of the marathon was feeling so strong at the end of the race. While I don’t think I could have kept going any farther, I did feel wide awake and alive as I crossed the finish line. (Race photos could tell a different story. Stay tuned.)
The taper was particularly difficult for me this time around, so I think I was genuinely happy to be getting some exercise and to be pushing myself on the last few miles.
I kept thinking, “I’ve got this. No problem.” It was exhilarating. And much different than my first marathon, where I felt like sitting down in the middle of the street and throwing a temper tantrum with six miles left to go.
So as I was strutting around showing off the fact that I could still walk and wasn’t going to hurl my gels all over the place, I spotted some people on a nearby stage…
I took my swag, drank some water, and walked over to see what all of the fuss was about.
As I got closer I thought, “girlfriend sure looks fit.”
Olympian Shannon Rowbury of 1500M fame was standing next to Kara Goucher. I couldn’t believe my eyes. (I have been known to stalk elites in Mammoth so spotting elites is a squeal-inducing experience for a running nerd like me.)
They were lining up to hand out awards to the top finishers. But the fun didn’t stop there.
Shalane Flanagan soon walked onto the stage. For me, this was an absolute surreal moment. Flanagan and Goucher had actually completed the half-marathon race as a training run. Here are their results:
It must be nice to run a nice, chatty 13.1-miler on a killer course so quickly.
The fun didn’t stop there, though. Jane Benoit Samuelson joined them next.
Running Tide is one of my favorite running books of all time, a must-read for any female runner. After all, Samuelson was the first ever women’s Olympic marathon champion.
So even though I felt my time didn’t necessarily reflect the hard work that I had put into this marathon, I still felt thrilled with the swag and getting to see runners that I absolutely idolize.
Even though I felt like my time was slower than I could have achieved (3:44 officially over 26.6), I still came in in the top 1 % of my age group, and the top 2% overall!
Not that any of that matters too much to me, but it still indicates that it wasn’t just me who ran slower than usual; likely the course slowed everyone down.
I came in 22nd in my age group in my first marathon with less runners, so moving up to 10th is a huge accomplishment that I should be proud of.
Even MFP high-fived me this morning when we saw the results.
The results map shows my struggle. The first part of the race is highlighted with a brownish green color. That is the time I spent weaving. The orange is the hilly part that slowed me down and the bright green is when I broke off from the half-marathoners and started to speed up. Underneath part of the orange is also more bright green, but it was out and back so the uphill portion of orange is now covering the green.
The fact that I was able to dig down and run negative splits after such a mentally challenging start makes me feel strong and satisfied. That was the point at which all of my training, both mental and physical, began to pay off.
More than that, when I arrived home from a fantastic weekend, MFP and the kids had a special post-race gift for me.
Even though I always consider putting my running shoes away after a tough race and finding another hobby such as stamp-collecting, I am thrilled that my family supports my running habit.
Not to mention the fact that the new necklace is the perfect companion to my “Reading is Sexy” t-shirt.
I might come in in to the top 1 % of females in a marathon, but I never said I was fashionable.