Here's my story.
I started training for this marathon in perfect timing. I ran 20 miles on the treadmill in mid June before going on summer vacation. To be exact, that 20 miler was on June 18th. I was on track, focused, and committed. I ran on my vacation as planned and even created my plan to include less mileage during those three weeks on vacay to account for airports and cruising. I ran a beautiful 13.25 mile run in Texas and was happy getting that done. Like I said, I was on plan.
Then I came home and everything changed. School started back up, I may or may have not experienced some post-vacay blues associated with leaving my entire extended family on the mainland once again. You would think with school back in session, running would have got back into my normal groove but it didn't.
School started and so did more mommy duties, mommy duties I am unwilling to give up. Darling daughter joined the cross country team (yay!) and our weeks and weekends got more hectic. Plus, I shifted her weekend horse lessons from Sunday to Saturday to make Sunday's less hectic and more family and God focused. All things I do not regret BUT it left me trying to squeeze in long runs Saturday before horse lessons (and then before cross country!) and I was getting irritable and stressed and realized, I did not want to do this anymore. I decided to NOT run the Maui Marathon. I knew my long run training was off and I didn't want to stress about it any more. I wanted to be a better, more present mom.
I found my happy again and was still running daily and cross training like a champ. I was having fun and feeling so much better about life. I wasn't taking it easy as some of my cross training was intense! I did 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, Cize, Country Heat, Insanity, and more. I kinda was insane...insanely happy!
But then it hit me...I wanted to run the marathon and give my cross training the true test; after all, I am a Beachbody coach. I wanted to really tell you more about this training and maybe part of me wanted to show you how it does make a difference.
I went into the race with the mindset, it it okay to walk. Do your best. Have fun. And I knew something BIG was going to happen. I didn't know what. I didn't expect a PR but I hope my human frailty didn't block out the BIG that I felt in my heart was on the verge of happening. I believed this to my core and was shaking with excitement on race day morning wondering what it would be.
After chatting a bit with friends and hubby, I parted and found my peaceful corner to reflect, pray, and center myself before the race start. I enjoyed the fire dancer and couldn't wait to get this show on the road. Everyone was saying it was a bit chilly. I felt it was muggy and warm and wondered if my thermoregulation was already out of whack due to hormones but hey, I can't control hormones so I let that go.
And then....the race started and off I went. I realized I once again started a wee bit fast and focused on easing up my pace and continued to run happy. I felt strong and my legs were happy. The miles seem to fly by and I knew I was running a good pace for me at around 9'30" miles. I knew I could go a bit slower but definitely did not want to go faster. I sipped on my SOS at aid stations. I prefer this over the Beachbody Hydrate just because it has more sodium in it. I am a salty sweater and know I need that extra sodium to avoid taking salt tabs and having salt-related issues.
At mile 7 I ate one of the dates I packed. I didn't feel I needed it but felt I should consume something. I was still feeling strong and happy and was about to approach the hilly part of the course. I made the choice to run the hills and fuel again (beyond my drink) after the tunnel when the course flattened out. I was carrying food I need to chew versus gels due to me thinking I wasn't going to race and hadn't practiced much eating on the run on land versus the treadmill and did not want to choke. Not a good thing.
The half marathon point arrived and I ate a graham cracker and another date on the run. The graham cracker was a bit harder to consume but I knew it was a good fuel for me as I often eat them on long runs on the treadmill. It was just harder to manage on the roadside. My pace was on target for a 4 hour 20 minute marathon but I knew this could change. The hills slowed me down a bit but not much.
Before I knew it I was at 16 miles, still holding a happy pace, and then it hit me. I just ran the longest run in who knows how long. I turned off my music and started saying the rosary with the idea to complete it and then fuel some more. I made it about halfway through and at 16.25 miles it came to my heart to walk a bit and fuel now. I ate my second graham cracker and a couple of dates while walking, texted my friend where I was on the course for her timing purposes, heard some drums, and started running again. I was feeling good but felt now was the time to incorporate a run/walk plan.
And I did. I walked when I wanted to and tied it into eating another date or just walking to stretch out my legs. It was all under control and I wasn't walking because I had to but because I wanted to.
At mile 21 I was still feeling amazingly strong and it dawned on me. My core and upper body strength were strong. I always felt weak at this point with an aching back wishing the CamelBak wasn't on me. Not now. It didn't bug me one iota. I stretched my arms a couple of times and kept on going.
The walking breaks were slowing down my overall pace and in marathons, I am always slower the second half. I plan to work on that. Trust me, I do.
The final mile came and I was still feeling in control of my body. Yes, I was slower but I felt strong and capable if that makes any sense. The final half mile was in sight, an amazing song I love came on, and I flew to the finish line one happy runner.
My time, 4:47:51. My slowest and strongest marathon. I finished strong and had more energy in my reserves. I was hesitant and at mile 16 decided to stop racing and turn my run into a training run. My gut knew this was my longest run in who knows how long and I wanted to be smart. Perhaps some may say I played it too safe but I am happy with my race.
I found that my cross training paid off. My last three long runs in the double digits prior to race day were the 20 miles on June 18th, 13.25 miles on July 2nd, and 10 miles on July 23rd. I should not have been able to run a marathon like I did. Not based on my running alone. As a running coach, with that running prior to race day, I am not sure I would tell the client to go ahead and race. In the almost two months heading up to race day I did not have one single double-digit run. Worse, very few days were over 5 miles. It was purely the cross training that I did that carried me to the finish line....not faster, but stronger. That means something, y'all. Something HUGE.
And something BIG did happen. God touched my heart and revealed Himself to me in an AMAZING way. As I prayed along the course I thought of all the people I have prayed for and felt their presence alongside me too. I was not alone. I am never alone. None of us are. I can't even begin to express this experience in words but it still does, and will always, bring me happy chills whenever I reflect on it. I am so lucky to be called to run for God, to run for Toby, and to run to make a difference in this world that seems so messed up at times with so many people hurting.
What is next?
My 11th marathon on January 15th. As of today my marathon training is back in full swing with runs getting longer and cross training staying a central focus. Imagine what I can do when I keep God central in my life, run my long runs, and cross train like a champ. Now that will be a fun story to tell but we are all going to have to wait a wee bit for that ending.
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my 10th marathon and my very quick recovery post race.
Daily Bible Verse: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ~ Jeremiah 29:11