On Sunday, I ran marathon #28 in 3:44:42. This was 10-15 minutes slower than I’d worked for, so while I’m bummed about the outcome, it certainly doesn’t diminish what a great journey it’s been — how hard I’ve worked and how far I’ve come over the past two years.
After rehabbing a hip injury that took me out for several months in 2020, I handed over my training to a coach for the first time ever. Erin (aka @runstrongmama) designed my training 4 weeks at a time through the VDOT platform, which has been so. much. fun! Without a treadmill or gym access, I did 100% of my runs outdoors for the first time (ever?!)… And I also managed to stay consistent with strength training, band work, and yoga at home! While Erin planned my physical training, I worked on my mental fitness by reading all the sports psychology books I could find, doing most of my runs without music, and journaling and meditating most days. Also, I’ve been working closely with a therapist since April 2020, who’s helped me fully embrace intuitive eating and better self-care.
Friday morning, my best running friend, Eve, and I flew to Sacramento. It’d been 2 years since either of us had run a marathon and we were both very nervous, but very ready. From the airport, we went to the race expo, then hit a couple grocery stores to stock up on all the carbs, before crashing at our hotel in Folsom.
Saturday, we drove back downtown for the Lift Run Perform shakeout run around the capitol. We dropped off our finish line bags and got teary-eyed watching the race crew and volunteers setting up the Finish Line.
Back in Folsom, Eve and I spent the rest of the day video chatting with our kiddos and getting race ready: laying out gear, strategizing, taking deep, nervous breaths, stretching/rolling/yoga-ing, eating carbs on carbs on carbs, and watching reruns of Friends (“The One with the Routine“!!!!), as well as Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, and Home Alone 2.
I slept remarkably well, because I was just so ready, excited, and confident in the months of passion and heart I poured into every piece of my training and prep.
Sunday: Race Day, we were up at 4:45 AM and boarded a shuttle bus to the Start Line by 5:30 AM. We spent an excruciatingly long hour on that bus, but I tried to be grateful to be warm and dry. When we finally got to the Start, we rushed to the portas, pitched our warmup clothes (which were collected for donation), and hurried to line up with the 3:45 pace group. My goal was to hold back and warm up for the 1st 2 miles, then very gradually pick up the pace, staying conservative through the 1st half — maybe working my way up to the 3:40 and 3:35 pace groups. Past halfway, I’d work down to 8:00-8:05/mile, lock in, and at Mile 22, “hit it & finish strong.” I was visualizing sub-3:35, maybe even sub-3:30. This plan felt daunting, but doable. I believed I could do it.
The race started 7:00 AM sharp, and we crossed the Start Line at 7:06 AM. Eve and I ran those first two miles together, before she sent me off with instructions to “crush it,” which I had every intention of doing. I gradually slipped past the 3:45 pace group and set my sights ahead for 3:40, which I never did catch.
I executed the plan decently well through the 1st half, but by the time I got to the 2nd half, my legs just didn’t have any pickup left in them no matter how hard I tried to go-go-go.
It was somewhere early in this 2nd half that my Garmin gave me an ironic “Low Battery” warning despite having charged it overnight. The screen blacked out, but continued to chirp each mile split, which I used as cues to check-in: Am I digging deep? Am I giving my best effort? The answer was always yes.
I never gave up or surrendered to the desire to ease up, to walk, to quit. I ran every single step from start to finish, and although I slowed down considerably in those final miles, I can’t help being proud of my fight.
Garmin Finish: 26.33 miles, 3:44:44 @ 8:32/mile average
I’m even prouder of my friend, Eve’s fight. After 2 solid years of tenacity, no excuses, just showing up and doing every bit of her coach’s training, Eve deserved a massive PR at CIM. But the marathon’s a beast, and you rarely get what you want/train for/deserve. STILL, on a hard day, with a lot of reasons her 5th marathon shouldn’t have played out well, Eve made it happen anyway. She chased down a gritty PR by more than two minutes! And I got to hug her as she broke down in tears crossing the Finish Line.
We spent the rest of the day rehashing our races, trying to digest the simultaneous pride, heartbreak, and gratitude for what we’d accomplished.
My coach was quick to remind me that “training cycles are never wasted.” And while I’m fighting the impulse to register for a redo marathon ASAP, I care far more about having another awesome training cycle than I do about running a “better” time. I still believe in myself and believe my time will come — that I have the sub-3:30 in me that I’ve been dreaming of for 5 years now.
It was 2 years ago that I wrote: “even if it takes me 10 years to break 3:30, I will. I’ll never give up… I’m more than okay with failing my way to success.” Although my finish times don’t look like linear progress, I AM making progress. I AM getting closer.
None of this has ever come easy for me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
CIM 2021 — Rundown:
- Official Finish Time: 3:44:42
- Time since my last Marathon: 2 years since CIM 2019
- Lifetime Marathon: #28
- Spectators: None in person! Lots of virtual supporters — I love you all! 😉
- Pre-Race Fuel: coffee with TJ’s creamer, TJ’s gluten-free pumpkin bagel with butter, Nature’s Bakery blueberry fig bars, Maurten 160
- During Race Fuel: Maurten 320 + Maurten gels x3 (I carried 6, but only managed to consume 3)
- Favorite Post-Run Treat: Ghirardelli peppermint bark
- Favorite Song(s): “I’m Ready” by AJR & “Fighter” by Royal Deluxe
- Favorite Quote: “There are miracles in me waiting their turn to happen. I am never giving up on myself.” (-Rupi Kaur)