The marathon. The long run. A run that constantly challenges mind, body and soul. Training started in July. I trained with an advanced training program. This program is geared toward runners who have one or more half marathons or marathons under their belt. It entails an increase in daily and weekly mileage, strength and core training, speed training, explosive routines and additional team practices, aside from the Saturday morning long run. This program, along with the runners who were involved, helped me to improve my running, motivating me to set tougher goals and stick to a stricter running schedule.
Entering the week of the marathon, which also happened to be the first week of classes, I was able to run a few short runs to keep my muscles loose and keep my mind alive for the race. On the eve of the race, I went to the expo to pick up my running SWAG, including bib and shirt, while envisioning myself completing the race strong and quick.
Race morning. Confident. Alive. Motivated. Envisioning a 4:15 finish, my quickest yet. Entered the shoot with my husband. Hung back behind the 4:15 pacer, then at mile 2, continued my pace at 9:30, 15 seconds faster than the pacer I had left. A strong, comfortable pace. Hitting mile 16, the mental monsters entered my brain. Pushing them away, they keep coming back. At this moment I see the 4:15 pacer group pass and wilt.
Rounding mile 20, the smiling faces of my family in the distance, putting a little hop in my trot. Approach my support network, smile, wave, and continue on to the last 5 miles. Bam! The monsters take over my head. I’m off my target time, not tired, just feeling down. Done.
My trot begins to slow. I find myself stopping at water stations. Drinking more water because I suddenly feel dehydrated. Imagining a pain in my right quad. Down. Literally, my body goes down to a half fall to the ground. Other runners offer words of encouragement and support.
Why am I down?
I am ready for this day. I am at my strongest. I am a runner.
I slowly get up and continue, the last four miles in sight. The miles should seem easy, but my mind is making them long, ultra long.
Entering mile 24, I regain focus and pick up my pace. This is enough for me to happily make it to the final stretch, the .2 part of my journey. The crowd is larger. My support network has found a place along the sidelines, cheering me on. Finally, I cross the finish line of my journey that tested my mind and body, with me feeling as if I failed at some parts. Failing at times during the race, but picking myself up, literally picking myself up, and continuing to the finish.
I may not have finished in my goal time, but I did achieve a huge goal. That goal: completing my 4th marathon and that is all that matters.