Well it’s been a while since my last full race recap but let me just say this race recap will for sure be my fullest yet.
You know why? Well, because it was my first full marathon! We’re just going to skip to the good part and then I will back fill. The good part, I finished, and not only that, but I finished in 3 hours 54 minutes and 2 seconds. Yep, you read that right, I reached my goal, a sub four hour marathon!
I’m so so so excited. As anyone who has been on race day has heard me say, “I love race day!” It’s the culmination of months of training, lots of perseverance, a few injuries, and lots of mental battles.
Friday morning at 4:30am my train left Philadelphia to head down south (to the land of the pine, strumming my way… Okay, back to the point) to Richmond, VA where I was to run my first marathon. I arrived a little late due to train delays but since I had no one to meet and no time to be where I needed to just yet this wasn’t an issue. I ended up walking over to the Omni hotel about ¾ of a mile away from the train station to take the shuttle over to the race expo. Once at the race expo I picked up my bib, shirt, and a free sticker. Unfortunately I didn’t pick up much else because the race expo for Richmond apparently doesn’t have many food supporters (those are the only free sort of goods I really like at race expos) and waited on my mom. Once she arrived we reunited and ended up driving around the race course to see what I was in for!
I started out my day at 4am when the alarm rang. The night before I had gone to an amazing meal at an Italian restaurant named Amici and ate fettuccini with little sauce and chicken and a glass and a half of a good malbec. Protein and carbs, perfect pre-race meal. My mom and I then returned to the hotel to head to bed. After the usual nighttime rituals she massaged my legs and rolled them with the Stick.
In to dream world I went. I woke up once but other than that slept all the way through until the 4am alarm. Eating a bagel, a spoonful of peanut butter and coffee were the first things I did when I awoke. The experts say 3-4 hours before a race you should eat your breakfast and 4am was just about 3.5 hours before race time! Then I showered and got dressed in my race day attire, my black nike capri running pants, a lorna jane sports bra, and a city sports blue tank top.
Bible reading and stretching followed as we twittered around getting ready. We left the hotel at 6:15 and had quite a bob and weave sort of drive to near the start line. Lots of one way streets and detours due to the race allowed us to see lots of areas of Richmond VA.
It was COLD and I was bundled in two sweatshirts, gloves, and a blanket. We made it to the start line around 7:10 and I headed towards the extremely long bathroom line still all bundled. After I got to the front and was all prepared for the race I found my corral. I didn’t remember what ending time I had put down when I signed up but apparently it was a 4:15 pace. Now in the morning, this is what I thought I was going to run.
The start of the race was extremely efficient and I crossed the start line only 4 minutes and 30 seconds after the first runner began. As a runner in the 4th wave this is unheard of! It was nice though that you didn’t have too much time to delay and get cold and nervous while in the corral.
And we’re off! I slowly made my way up to the pace leader during the first mile and coached myself to stay with him and keep their pace. The cheers from the crowd and the signs and encouragement were awesome! There wasn’t a bit of space that wasn’t lined with spectators during the first two miles! I did stay with my pace group until right around mile 3 when I started feeling like I could give it a bit more. So I began running a little bit faster (like 30 seconds per mile faster). Off to the right hand side right before mile 4 I saw my mom cheering me among the spectators and bands! I grabbed a cup of PowerAde when passing the station at mile 4.
It was a great feeling! The other feeling I was encountering during those first 5 miles was a numbness. My feet, because they were so cold felt like they were solid rocks that were pounding the ground with each strike. It was a bit odd and I don’t think I’ve ever had that feeling before while running, only while walking. When they finally thawed it felt really cool!
I took my first GU (salted caramel) at mile 5 to 6 and began drinking water at mile 6. With phone calls to my father he knew when to expect me at mile 7 and I spotted him and his girlfriend right away in their purple shirts! I stopped and gave them a hug and kiss and grabbed my small bottle of Gatorade from him.
And off I went! Across the bridge over the James River brought me right into the 4:00 hour pace leader’s pack and along a beautiful river-side trail. Still feeling strong I had yet to listen to music and instead just listened to the pounding of shoes, my breath, and the conversations of those around me.
I knew on the other side of the winding trail would be my mom with my next energy supplement Clif Shot Blocks (strawberry) and a small bottle of water. I called her and gave her an update on my location and found her right away. After a hug and kiss and grabbing my energy I powered on! Passing the 4 hour pace leader!
From mile 14 to 19 there were climbing hills but I don’t remember feeling them or thinking they were that bad, I was so focused on being cheered at by random strangers, reading signs, dancing to the live bands along the course, and just being in the moment.
Eating my shot blocks I made it to mile 16 when I started doing math. Calculating how much more to go. Bad idea and my mind started taking over, so for the first time I put in my headphones and listened to some music. Lighthouse by the Rend Collective came on and I jammed! Out loud I sang praises to our Lord and got my second wind! Excited I ate a couple more shot blocks and powered through til mile 20 when I saw my dad and Sally again. I got my new pack of shot blocks and another mini water and hugs and kisses!
Mile 20 to 21 were pretty good, steady. But mile 21 came and I felt it. I was done, mentally and physically. I listened to a coach of the girl beside me tell her “You’ve run in worse, you’ve run this distance before, you’ve trained, you’ve depleted your legs, you’ve depleted your mind, it’s time to let your heart take over.” This was it. From then on it was heart I was running on.
I called my mom at Mile 21 and told her to talk to me. I needed someone there with me because I was done. My left arch started hurting, and my quads weren’t having it. For the first time all race my wide grin faltered. I made her tell me stories and encourage me through two miles. Mile 23 came and I lost the call. I tried my dad and didn’t get an answer.
So instead of doing music to help, I took out my headphones. A new determination coming. The 4 hour pacer had not passed me and by golly, I wasn’t going to let it. I wasn’t going to walk because if I did, I knew it would be harder to start again, I wasn’t going to let my mind get the better of me. I was going to run on the energy of the crowd. As I listened to people cheering me on, calling out my name and telling me I could do it, I powered through. Seeing the 24 mile sign couldn’t have felt any better. I had 1/13th left to go. I was running in those last two miles more than I had ever run before. The streets were lined with supporters. Each and everyone making noise and telling me I could do this. So I did. Mile 25 was off in the distance and I made it. If I could make it this far, I could make it down the last mile. It was three turns more and a steep decline. So I let my legs go. All the energy I had stored was for this mile. It ended up being my fastest mile of the entire race coming in right at an 8 minute pace. And my last .38 (because I didn’t run the direct path and didn’t cut corners directly, I ended up running .18 miles more), well those tenths of a mile were at a 7:02 pace. Coming through the finish line I was exhausted and depleted yes, but not as much as I expected. I had seen my dad seconds before my finish cheering me on and my mom was right on the other side of the finish line. I did it. I ran a sub four marathon and it felt amazing.
God can and has done so much with this body. He is truly amazing and I thank him for what all he has made me to do. 3:54:02. The furthest I’ve ever run.
Another thing to cross of my 30 before 30 list!