So I thought I would do a race recap of my last marathon to give you an idea of how I trained, what else was going on in my life, and how I did.
The Steamtown Marathon is in Scranton, PA, which is my husband’s hometown. He had run this marathon in October of 2011 and I loved the atmosphere of the race and decided that day I would sign up for it at some point in the future. In April of 2013 when registration opened for the race, I signed up. Normally I do an 18-week training schedule which means my training would have begun in mid-June. At the time my training would have started I also decided to try to get pregnant with baby #3. I know some of you are probably thinking “why would she sign up for a marathon if she knew she was going to try to get pregnant?” Well, the first two times I got pregnant, I had signed up for a marathon and was in training mode when I found out I was pregnant. So I thought why mess with a good thing? Getting pregnant with my first two babies happened very easily and I pretty much assumed all summer I would get pregnant. I planned on running (and somewhat training) to keep in shape, but I was not going to do my full blown training schedule for the marathon because I had no intention of running the marathon if I was pregnant. So, as summer started, I was running 6 days a week but not really “training” for the marathon. A couple months passed and I still was not pregnant. As the end of the summer neared I decided to start really training (speedwork, marathon paced runs, etc.)for this marathon that I just might be running after all. I kept thinking that if I focused on the training instead of getting pregnant, then I would get pregnant. Well, that did not happen. We stopped trying in October because our whole family is going to Disney World this August and I did not want to take a newborn or be 9 months pregnant, traveling to Disney. (We do still plan on trying for that 3rd baby).
So back to that marathon I had still had to run. When I picked up my training I was doing workouts to try to run a marathon pace of 8:15/8:20. Running this pace for the entire marathon would guarantee me a finish time of @ 3:37 ish. In order for me to qualify for Boston I had to run under 3:40 (3 hours 40 minutes). Last spring I ran the Delaware Marathon in 3:47 so I felt my goal was attainable. However, the entire time I was training I was actually more focused on getting pregnant so I never really felt that my heart or mind was in my training.
The day of the race I was very nervous. I was having a lot of self-doubt, which is not good when running a marathon. Strong mental focus and believing in yourself are just as important as being physically fit and in shape for the race. Physically, I knew I did not complete a full training cycle (with proper speedwork, marathon paced runs, etc.) which was bothering me. Mentally, I was having more negative thoughts than positive ones and it was wreaking havoc on my confidence.
The Steamtown course was no joke. It was very hilly and the hills were tough (downhill as well as uphill)! This course is notorious because the first 23ish miles of the course are downhill. The first 10 miles are a steep downhill and a lot of people make the mistake of running these first 10 miles way too fast and then burning out anywhere between mile 16 – 20. I definitely tried very hard to stay within my pace those first 10 miles but it was HARD. I felt like I was putting in so much effort to hold back, that it was more exhausting than actually running. I think I might have run the first 10 miles a little too fast (5-10 seconds faster than I wanted to). I started feeling the effects of it @ mile 13-14… I felt like I was still running the same pace (same effort) but my actual pace on my watch kept getting slower and slower (8:22, 8:25, 8:30). I felt the race slowly slipping away from me and it was awful. My mental status starting taking over my physical and my legs already felt shredded. It was SO hard to keep a positive attitude but I tried, tried focusing on still PRing (setting a new Personal Record). Then at around mile 15, right before we started a trails portion of the race, someone cut me off at a water stop and I had to come to a sudden stop. When I tried to pick up my legs and start running again it was like an out of body experience, my legs physically would not move fast. That mile wound up being an 8:55 and my confidence bottomed out (crazy right??). I knew I was going to see my family soon and I tried keeping it together. I just wanted to see them and tell someone how horrible I felt. Then I knew I would be okay. I did not see them until mile 18 and I lost it :( I had a quick cry and hugged my mom and husband and then put my big girl pants on and tried to keep running. I decided I wanted to enjoy the rest of the race as much as I could because it was not worth it to me running and being so miserable. It meant more to me to run slower and enjoy the experience than push myself and hate every minute of it.
So that is just what I did… I tried smiling and cheering for everyone around me that was passing me. On the uphill portions of the race, if I was managing to run, I would encourage those around me walking. Most importantly, I thanked all the volunteers as much as I could. My good friend Steve over at Remissionman gave me that great piece of advice and I always try to follow it. It made a huge difference! I thought of my boys waiting for me at the finish line and being able to show them that no matter how tough things were, how much I wanted to give up, that I stuck it out and finished (I obviously want to teach them that in more ways than just running). I did not qualify for Boston, I did not set a new Personal Record (PR), but I finished. And I am okay with that.