The week before the race I was in Canada for a conference and that was probably the best thing to happen to me because I was forced to taper. Kind of hard to run every day when you've only packed two workout outfits, right? I was still anxious about the race and my ability to complete the race. Things started settling for me when I went to expo on Saturday and picked up my bib. I was actually going to run this race! The night before the race I did the crazy thing of estimate my time. My goal had always been to finish under 4:30, but that night, with the numbers I saw, I realized that under 4:15 was within reach and, if I really pushed myself, a 4-hour marathon could be possible.
Even with that, I woke up race morning with the idea that 4:30 would be my goal and anything under that would be the sweetest cherry on top of this magnificently long victory lap. I did not make it in time to get in my corral (G) because Cati woke up early and was not too happy about me leaving to run a race, but I was able to hop in on corral H.
I started running at 8:18am and told myself that what mattered was how I felt, not the time on the watch. I saw my family in that first mile and was cheered on the rest of the way by friends and family through the Motigo app (best. app. ever.). Looking back, I remember the first half of the marathon so much better than I do the second half. I did the first half in 2:02 and was so proud of this time. Here I was, running comfortably and happily knowing I still had 13.1 more miles to go, and I still managed a 2:02 half marathon. This was just the bit of encouragement I needed to get through what I felt would be the hardest part of the race for me: miles 13.1 through 20.
Crossing that finish line was amazing. It took every ounce of my strength to not stop right then and there and sob. I was so proud. In the days after the marathon, I likened the experience of running and completing the marathon to being pregnant and giving birth. The months of training were like the nine months of pregnancy, full of hope and preparation. Then running the actual course was the labor, a mixture of feelings and sensations. Crossing the finish line was the birth and that medal the baby. As with my births, I recall the feeling of being there and experiencing all the pain, but I cannot remember specifics for the life of me or remember just how bad the pain was during labor. This is exactly how the marathon was for me with fuzzy details and a real out-of-body experience.