Oh my poor little neglected running blog! I’ve been so bad at updating you .. but THE event finally happened. And of course I need to do a recap.
I had been feeling pretty good for the few weeks leading up to the Providence Marathon. My last long run (21 miles) went great and I had my peak milage week (48). And then the taper started.. which wasn’t so bad. Reduced my weekly miles significantly, did an 8 mile ‘long’ run, and made sure to strech/foam roll/ice twice a day. I didn’t experience any sort of taper madness until the last 5 or so days before the marathon .. my body just wasn’t used to the lack of running/activity plus I was drinking & eating a bit more than usual. So I felt pretty gross and just wanted to run run run .. but I couldn’t!
The actual marathon weekend was pretty dang great. A large group of us (12) spent the night at a hotel right outside of Providence. I was so happy to be running the race with my brother and friends because I spend most of my days running by myself. It’s always such a nice treat to have friends to run with.
Four of us were running the full marathon, and four ran the half. We were able to get some coffee & bagels/bananas in us before leaving the hotel at 6:30ish and then arrived at the start around 7. Of course the line for the porta potties was crazy long, so once we got to the actual start line it was packed and we started pretty far back .. around the 10:00 pace group.
Our plan was to stay somewhere around 9:00 miles and then see how it felt at the half. I was confident that this could happen .. and of course after the gun went off and we started running our pace was a bit faster than we planned. We were comfortably running 8:30’s-8:45’s for the first 10 miles. The first few miles went through Providence and there were definitely more hills on this part of the course than we thought .. but I didn’t mind too much. Eventually the course ventured out of downtown Providence and along a really nice bike trail. It was a perfect day .. in the high 50’s and partly cloudy.. so I was thrilled just to be outside running and did a good job at distracting myself with identifying all the plants that we were running past.
Around mile 9 my legs started to get a bit sore, which freaked me out. It was still early on and I usually never experience quad soreness at such a low mileage, but I did my best to not focus on it. Otherwise my body was feeling great and when we reached the half I felt like I confidently could increase the pace a bit. At this point my brother’s friend John and I pulled ahead of my brother and our friend Ben. Of course I would have preferred to run all together, but I also really wanted to push myself and try to keep the pace as quick as I could. John and I ended up running the rest of the race together and he was the perfect marathon buddy. We kept pace with each other pretty perfectly and running with him made me want to push myself further. If it wasn’t for him I most likely would have stayed at a slower pace with my brother .. but I’m SO happy that I went ahead and ended up running the rest of the marathon around an 8:45 pace. (I actually didn’t look at my Garmin at all after mile 15 for some reason that I still don’t really understand … but the official results say my average pace was 8:45).
After mile 17 it got really hard and became a total mental game. My quads were hurting and the soles of my feet were sore … but I was running a marathon so of course my body was going to start hurting at some point. So I didn’t let that slow me down at all. At 10 miles to go I would think ‘Okay this is just a run out to Home Depot and back I can do this easily’ (out to Home Depot and back has become a regular training run for me.. even though it’s a pretty gross route along a parkway).. And then when there were only 5 miles to go I would think ‘Just a lap through the Arboretum, I do this practically every day of the week’. But the miles went by slooooow. The course circled back around and we were still running along some nice looking bike paths and roads.. but the miles just felt endless.
As we got closer to downtown Providence (where the finish was) John and I kept our pace steady and didn’t slow down at all. Lots of people around us seemed to be hurting and walking, but we kept passing them and didn’t stop to walk at all. If anything I was more motivated and determined as the miles were going by. I had no desire to stop .. I just wanted to keep going and get there as fast as my body could take me.
At around mile 24 the course took us over this funny pedestrian bridge .. it was only wide enough for one person, so it seemed a strange choice for the route .. but everyone I passed was gracious to quickly move to the right. At this point I saw a group of friends & my mom down below the bridge. We could see/hear them cheering from the top of the bridge and it was such a great moment. Running down the walkways and past them was my favorite part of the course.
Downtown providence was getting closer and then at mile 25 we had another group of friends waiting. Seeing them gave me that one last push to get to the finish and see the rest of my friends & family who were waiting.
Coming up to the finish we picked up our pace a bit and I saw my best friend Francesca & then saw my dad and then there was the finish! Finally! I saw 3:49 on the clock and was SO THRILLED. I hadn’t been paying attention to my time for the last 10 miles and had no idea where we were going to end up. I wanted to be anywhere under 4:00 and so seeing 3:49 just added to an already overwhelming feeling of joy.
It’s hard to describe how happy this day made me. I had worked SO HARD to get to that point. Four months earlier a doctor told me there was no way I could run a marathon in May, but I knew that deep down I could prove him wrong. I dedicated so much time to Physical Therapy appointments and daily stretching/foam rolling to make sure that I could make it through the marathon in as little pain as possible … and as it turns out I had practically no knee pain!
When I first started thinking about running a marathon my goal pace was 8:45 but as soon as I found out the extent of my injury I knew that was out of the question, so I settled on somewhere around 9:15 as a goal pace. Finishing the marathon in 3:49:50 means that my average pace was 8:45.. my original goal pace. Pretty unbelievable.
I’m also so happy that I was able to share this experience with my brother. Training and running with him was one of the best parts. We were also able to raise over $5,000 for a nonprofit that is extremely important to us. Plus we made our dad so proud, which was the whole idea behind running a marathon in the first place. Seeing my dad on the sidelines made me all misty eyed throughout the race. And then being able to watch him hop in and cross the finish line with my brother was maybe the best moment I’ve had in a very long time.
Surprisingly I wasn’t that sore the few days following the race. I took it easy and forced myself to take at least 3 days off. But I’m definitely ready to run again. My plan is to keep my mileage down for a few months while I let my knee really heal, and then start training again for maybe a late fall marathon? We shall see.