I LOVED this race. I wasn’t sure going in because I got the impression you either hate it or love it. I also only ran up to 14 miles for a long run and 40 miles a week since Napa in March, so I didn’t know if I could keep up with my sister’s goals. She said she didn’t have a time goal because of her IT band but I knew she was still hoping to cross that line under or close to 4 hours!
Megan and I woke up at 5am and ate some breakfast. She had toast with peanut butter and jelly and I had an English muffin with peanut butter. I am working on eating before races because in the past I never have. A little before 6 we headed to the start, we parked closer to downtown so our journey back wouldn’t be as long. We knew ahead of time we would most likely be struggling 🙂
We headed to Battery Park and I was impressed with the start line. I could already tell this race was very well organized. I was also able to meet a few Instagram friends at the start which was so much fun!
This year they changed the start to 7am so we only had about 45 minutes at the start. I love early morning starts, so I was happy about this change! Before I had time to truly get nervous, we were off!
I checked out marathon pace bands, which I love because it is specific to the course itself. I need variation in miles I don’t like going out thinking I have to hit 9:00 every mile, I like fluctuation for hills and harder sections. This was the pace band I was attempting to follow for megan.
The first few miles it was easy to slow down because there were so many other runners but hard because of the crowd support! My sister and I had a goal of not tripping these first miles because we knew we would probably be trampled! At mile two we passed my sisters house, if it was mile 22 she definitely would have just walked up her steps into her apt 🙂
The next four miles were so difficult. It was an out and back on the Burlington Beltline. It wasn’t the fact that it was an out and back that made it hard. It was the road cadence that made my sister and I struggle. We tried to find the flat portions so that her knees wouldn’t hurt and my hip wouldn’t. I was grateful this portion was early on because there was absolutely no shade!! At this point I was taking water at every stop because I knew it was going to be a hot one.
These were some of my favorite miles! We went down church street and then pine street where we saw a bunch of Megan’s friends. It was hard to keep the pace slow because of all the cheering, but the neighborhoods near oakledge park helped to slow us down because there are some hills in there. We passed the halfway point just under 2 hours as planned! Mile 15 was a bit tough because it was straight up batter street which is a hill, but I felt strong. I realized I love having some slight rolling hills in a course because the variation helps me feel strong and mix things up. I think this was the last portion of the race where we really felt good 😉
In all marathons, I think mile 17-20 is by far the most difficult. Your body starts to seriously hurt in ways you didn’t know it could and at this point you have a choice do you give in or see what you are made of? I knew this was going to be a hard part for megan. Especially when you are injured to start, your body is wrecked even if you go in healthy, so at this point you have a hard time determining where the pain is coming from.
Anyway after we got through battery hill, we were supposed to start increasing our pace but I could tell that was going to be hard to do. This portion also had very little shade and we went into a few neighborhoods. The neighborhoods helped so much because everyone had their own aid stations! It was amazing, people were handing out ice pops and had their own water stands and hoses set up. They made their own aid station signs and had music and bands playing. Yes the race had organized the same things but I loved that these people just decided to do this on their own and they loved it. I was so appreciative of everyone in these neighborhoods, I took every freeze pop, maple syrup and water.
I could tell megan needed this because the road stretches at this point were hot and boring and you really got in your own head. At around mile 18 she tried to walk and I didn’t let her. I was worried her whole IT band would just seize up once she stopped and she would end up not crossing the finish. At this point I put all paces out the window I was just going to try to keep her running. I knew she could still meet her goal because I knew she could run the paces but I didn’t know if she would get in her own way. That’s the thing with marathons, it’s more than a race.
We finally reached the bike path and the shade!! We also got passed by the 4 hour pace group at this point and I told megan we could try to stay with them for a mile and see if we could keep it up until the end or ease back if it wasn’t in the cards. We didn’t stay with them long so then we made goals to catch some people. We caught a couple and I ran a little ahead of megan in hopes that she would try to keep up with my pace so I didn’t slow to hers and keep slowing. I looked over my shoulder repeatedly to see if she was still only a few steps behind and she was. I also saw a little chocolate puppy on this portion, so adorable!!! When we got to a little under two miles left I realized megan could still do this but she would have to dig deep. I asked her what she wanted to do and she basically just said survive and I told her that was fine, but I pushed the pace anyway because I don’t think she realized just how little was left. We got to a half mile out and had 4 minutes to make it to the finish I knew we could do it.
Megan was staying with me when we hit the chute, which was awesome. There were people everywhere cheering, you couldn’t help but go faster. We looked up at the clock and it said 4:00:41 and I knew that there was a chance out actual time was less than four hours! Sure enough 3:59:49 was our official time, we did it!!
We hung out around the med tent and finish line for a bit and watched people cross the line. It was awesome, I love watching the emotion in everyone’s faces as they cross, it always makes me tear up. There is something about the distance that brings people together. I never regret a race even if I don’t PR because it’s always a remarkable experience.