A week or so ago, Paige sent me an email with a link to a marathon and asked what I thought about doing it. After laughing to myself for a second, I thought “why not?” She signed us up for the Crossroads Marathon and it was quickly decided that we would each run with the intent of qualifying for Boston. I have to say, I was a little nervous but if my baby wants to run Boston, then I want to run it with her! This would be my 31st marathon and my first in three years. I have been feeling pretty strong lately but we haven’t done any speed training to speak of and we did a fairly quick 20 miler last weekend so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I ran a little less than usual this week as my “taper” but ultimately, I didn’t want to forgo a week of Ice Age training for “just” a marathon. The next decision was whether to drive from home or get a hotel closer to the race. It was about an hour and a half drive and we decided to save the money. So, we got up at 4AM and after our usual morning routine, we were on the road headed to Lowell, IN. I was feeling a bit nervous, it clearly wasn’t the distance but rather the fact that I was racing. I had a goal, 3:15 or bust. Its been a while since I have really raced but not so long that I didn’t remember that it was different than simply running a race. The forecast was for rain and wind – we got the wind but the rain held off. As we pulled into the start/finish area, there were a lot of people already there and the energy was high – it felt good. Paige was nervous, I could tell – so was I. We got our packets and went back to the truck to finish our prep. With fifteen minutes to go, we got in line for the port-a-john and then lined up for the start of the race. We held hands as they sang the national anthem and then kissed before putting our game faces on.
The gun went off and it was all systems go. The first couple of miles felt really easy and I was thankful for that. By mile three, I was right on pace and feeling good. The next few miles were steady and I slowly reeled in runners. The pace felt good and it was nice and steady. I was feeling relaxed and moving well. Soon, we were passing the half-marathoners (they had a different route but we overlapped with them on a few occasions). The miles were flying by and I still felt pretty good but I was starting to remember how hard racing a marathon was, it takes continuous focus and determination to keep the turnover high. I took my first gel at sixteen-ish and felt recharged. Then I got to see my baby on a short out-and-back section, she was looking good and that was a huge lift to my spirits! I was in 11th place at mile sixteen and by mile nineteen, I was in nineth place – I don’t have to tell you where my mind went but, suffice it to say, I started feeling competitive. The next several miles were beautiful rolling countryside and I was enjoying it despite starting to feel the miles in my legs. I was picking off runners and I have to say, each of them looked like they wanted the day to be over worse than I did. I was hitting my splits all day long but I didn’t have much wiggle room so I knew I had to stay focused. The final few miles were rolling and mostly into a very strong headwind. I put my head down and ground out the final miles passing two more runners in the final 3 mile stretch. The last half mile was uphill and into the wind but I didn’t have any time to spare so I kept after it, pushing right to the finish… 3:14:23. Not my fastest marathon ever but definitely the fastest I’ve run in a quite a while (probably ten years, at least). And, I felt very proud not only to have accomplished my goal but to have really pushed myself and kept focused all day long. I have to admit, I forgot how hard marathons are, especially when they are raced. That time was good enough for fourth place and second in my age division – I’ll take it.
Paige wasn’t far back and she stormed in at 3:39:23 – she had the exact cushion for her Boston qualifying time as I did and she finished fourth woman to my fourth man : ) What a fun day! We drove home, stopping for a pizza along the way. When we got home, Paige settled into a very unappealing ice bath and I felt peer pressure to follow. Honestly, after all the drama that ensued when I sat down in that icy bath, it really wasn’t that bad and I’m sure I’ll be glad I did it tomorrow. So, it looks like we will be throwing our hats in for Boston next year – hopefully it doesn’t fill before we get accepted!