When I signed up for Stone Cat, I swore off all speedwork. I decided after 2 years of crap running plus surgery, I needed to get back to the basics. I needed to remember why I love to run so much, and truly enjoy training. As I enter my taper for my 50-miler, I look back at this training cycle with a gigantic smile on my face. I have accomplished everything I set out to do in the past 4-5 months.
This weekend was my last big weekend before taper - I wanted to get in 28-30 miles yesterday, and 10-12 today. Realizing the Hartford Marathon fit in perfect with my plans, I went ahead and signed up. I also asked Sara to run part of the race with me, to keep me in check, and to keep me from "racing" and subsequently ruining Stone Cat. This turned out to be way harder than I thought it would be.
Toeing the line yesterday, I was on my way to a 65-70 mile week, and I thought running slow would be incredibly easy. I wanted nothing more than time on feet, practice nutrition, and to have FUN. I started off with a few girls that were running their first marathon, which always brings an infectious positive attitude. They asked me to run with them for the first few miles, so they didn't go out too fast. We ran, chatted, laughed, and shared stories about how we all got into running. So much fun.
Sara met me at mile 5; she's 6.5 months pregnant, and her goal was to get in 20 miles yesterday. She's freaking amazing, and so inspirational. Her knowledge of ultras has been instrumental to me during this training cycle, and having her there yesterday to remind me NOT to race was so perfect.
The next 15 or so miles were spent by me saying "this is SO HARD", referring to having to hold back, and not pick off every person in sight. However, it was also spent talking to so many different people, cheering for everyone on the out-and-back portion, laughing at all the signs (one of my favorites was "running marathons is like mouthwash - if it's burning, you know it's working!") that people were holding out. We high fived as many little kids as we could, and we just.... had an incredible time.
I felt so good; granted, we were moving slowly, but I felt awesome. It really feels like all of the hard work I've put into my training is really starting to show. It was somewhere after mile 20 that I decided we were going to run sub 4:40. Why? Who knows. There is ZERO significance to 4:40, and it's about an hour off of my PR. It was silly, but I needed something to aim for in the last 10K. It was about mile 25 where we realized if I was getting under 4:40, I was going to have to MOVE.
So I went. Sara yelled at me to just GO, and lay it out there the last mile. I haven't run a fast mile since that 5K I did last December, but my God it was fun to run fast. I flew past so many people, pumping my arms, snot dripping down my face, the whole nine yards.
And wouldn't you know, there was a race photographer just before the 26 mile mark, who I'm SURE now owns the sexiest picture of me ever. I've decided I'm going to blow up that inevitably awesome picture of fabulousness with the caption of "THIS is what a sub 4:40 marathon finish looks like". And put it right next to the picture of me finishing my 3:42 PR marathon, where I'm smiling and giving a thumbs up to the camera.
|Yesterday's mile 26 photo is waaaayyyy more sexy, and way more snot-filled|
Yesterday was the most perfect way to end my last big training weekend. We ran a ridiculously fun marathon (which, by the way, has a CANDY TABLE at mile 24.. Ummm, race directors everywhere need to adopt this immediately), Sara ran 21.5 miles, and as soon as we finished, I had a text saying Caitlyn CRUSHED her 5K PR. She threw down a 34:18 yesterday with her dad. I really need to start working on speed again after Stone Cat; I cannot let Caitlyn start beating me until she's at least 10!
It's no secret I love the marathon distance; I've had a LOT of races where I've laid it on the line, given it everything I've had, and left my soul on the race course. Yesterday was NOT that day, but it gave me a whole new love for the distance, and the respect for every.single.person that crosses the finish line of a marathon.