I am a marathon runner
And my legs are sore
And I'm anxious to see
What I'm running for
~ Yellow Ostrich, 'Marathon Runner'
On Saturday, I headed out to Albany, NY to run the Mohawk Hudson Marathon which I'd heard through the running grapevine was fast, flat and beautiful. A few weeks prior to the race, I reached out to a couple of my Oiselle teammates who I knew would also be racing and asked if I could tag along with them the night before so I didn't have to dine alone. They graciously took me under their wings (pun intended) and we met at the expo before heading off to dinner together.
w/ Steph Viloria & Mollie Turner
I was really fired up to hang with these gals. I'd met them the previous spring down in VA at the Shamrock races with the Oiselle crew, but had not gotten to spend much time with them there. Dinner was great. We just had to deal with a few minor issues along the way including a major spill on Steph (my fault), some antsyness and a few tears from Steph and Mollie's little girls (ages 1 and 3) who were beyond tired and wanted to go home (which I totally understood) and a falling window frame (not our fault). Needless to say, Steph will probably wait a while before she goes back there again as we made a lasting impression on the staff. I headed back to the hotel and settled in for the night, turning my light off at 9:00. At 5:45am, I rolled out of bed and headed downstairs for a coffee (bless you, Starbucks). I had to drive to the race finish in order to catch a bus to the start as it was a point to point race. I had a lovely chat with a runner from Washington state on the way over which was so nice because it pleasantly distracted me for the entire 30 minute ride. We arrived at 7:30 and we all bee-lined it for the port-o-pottys, which I visited about 5 times because it was 35 degrees out and there was nothing else to do between then and 8:30 when the race would begin. Longest. Hour. Ever. We started right on time and headed out in maybe the most perfect race conditions possible. Sunny, clear, crisp, cool with the added bonus of peak foliage to admire along the way. The route was along a bike path the entire way and the views were stunning. I settled into a 7:30 pace, keeping the 3:15 pace group in front of me, but doing my best not to go out too fast. About halfway in, I started to feel tired and felt the group sliding ahead of me. So, I pulled out a GU (new root beer flavor - awesome) and gave myself a talking to. It was time to dig in. I had trained for four months on tired legs. I could handle this. I turned up the volume on my iPod and tried to zone out for the next few miles. At around mile 15, I caught up with the 3:15 group again which was being led by a spritely young colt named Jamie, who could run a 7:25 pace while chatting comfortably, non-stop. WTF?? I stuck with him for a few miles and then I let go. Literally. My mind was up for the challenge and my legs were going along with it so I switched gears and picked it up. With each mile I felt confident that I could hold on as long as I just stopped thinking about it. Ha!
High-five? Anyone? Hello?
For miles 23 and 24 I was solo on the bike path (see above) which was both strange and tricky. I was dog tired and I had no one pushing or pulling me along so I could have easily dropped off. But, then I started to see people up ahead and I knew the end was near. I had no idea what pace I was running because I had stopped looking at my watch, but I knew it was going to be a PR and I was fired up. As I turned onto the final strip, I saw my husband and kids cheering for me at the finish line. Oh my Lord, what a feeling. I high-fived my daughter (she later told me that I forgot to let go and pulled her a long with me for a bit) and then fist pumped my way through the finish line rolling in at 3:11:05 with a huge smile on my face.
Wiped and hurting. But smiling.
I was tired. I was weak. I was kind of nauseous. But I was so freakin' happy and that was all that mattered. I had done it. And done it well. And I could not have asked for anything more. I found my family and cried as I hugged them all. And then I let my kids eat Doritos, lollipops, Gatorade and granola bars (don't judge) as I tried to gather enough strength to walk back to the hotel.
I have had a lot of amazing days in my life and this one was definitely up there. Not because I PR'd. That was fantastic. But, because I had finished the race with so much joy and with such a love for this sport and all that it offers me. It was a welcome and gentle reminder to never take it for granted. What's next? Who knows. It doesn't matter right now. All that matters is that I am still smiling.
Listen to this:
Tidal Wave - Snowmine