Monday, January 18, 2010

Marathon # 2

I am sitting in seat 6A on the flight back from Phoenix. I slept a bit, but I am restless. Could it be because yesterday, for 3 hours, 53 minutes and 34 seconds, I ran and ran and ran?

My second marathon experience couldn’t have been more different than my first … I guess that’s why people keep doing them. Phoenix is flat … so flat … and so not pretty unlike Boston, which is full of hills and New England scenery. That said, it was sunny and people were friendly and the music was everywhere (except miles 22-25 where all bands seemed to be on a break when I needed them most).

Runners are usually fun at the beginning and end of an event, but there was a great vibe at the Phoenix Rock 'n Roll Marathon. Thanks so much to my funny and enthusiastic pace captain, Mark, I ran 8:45-minute miles all the way up until mile 20. He told jokes, took role call to see who was still with us, and helped me feel like I was part of a group even though I had never even met these people. Being the 3-hour, 50-minute pace group, there were many of us 40 something women looking to qualify for Boston, and because I had already run it, I answered many questions. For me, I wanted to complete Phoenix in 3:50, but because I am lucky enough to be 45 on Marathon Monday in 2011, I get 10 extra minutes so I knew I had a buffer. I hoped I wouldn’t need it, but it was there.

At the role call at mile 20, I was a little behind the pack, but I did chime in. My left knee was making itself known, and I knew I had to let go a bit to make the last 6 miles. They were tough miles, but every step, I told myself to keep going as fast as I could because then it would be over that much sooner. When I was at mile 23 and still had over half an hour to get to the finish, I knew I could make less than 4 hours, which was all I needed. A relief yes, pressure, yes, indescribable fear, and elation as I forged on. Both my knees were hurting toward the end which kept striking me as funny because I haven’t ever had knee issues (calves, hamstrings, ankles … yes, knees, no).

I thank the woman at Marathon Sports who had given me the simple advice before my training run to just eat more leading up to the big day and on the day, because the best part about yesterday was that my stomach didn’t hurt a bit … unlike miles 17-21 in Boston when I wanted to die because it hurt so much. I started eating chomps at mile 3 and kept eating and drinking through mile 21 when I tossed two Luna moons to the side of the road, disgusted by the gumminess between my teeth.

To my friend Laura, who came with me to Phoenix, helped me carbo load, joined me for the fun of the expo, was there at miles 14 and the finish smiling, waving, and taking pictures, thank you. I do more things alone than with others these days and though I enjoy being independent, it was wonderful to have in-person, live support for four of some of the most awesome days of my life.

And to all my friends, family, and my girl Emma who sent texts of love and amazement that I received as soon as I pulled my berry out of my bag at Sun Angels stadium where 10’s of thousands of finishers and families celebrated, commiserated, and walked around crooked, I hope you all know how much it means to me that you are all in my life.

Who would have thought that I would ever participate in, let alone totally rock two marathons in a year’s time? Not me, that’s for sure, but every day, I learn more and more about what I can do when I set a goal. They say that 40’s are the new 30’s and I have to agree … life is what you make it and when you are finally old enough, or should I say mature enough, to identify what is important to you, it is so exciting.

Relay marathon with the girls on February 28th … and then what?

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