Yesterday was the race, and it went beautifully. The weather was great, the people were awesome and we rocked and rolled through the whole thing.
Jenna and I got up around 6:00 am, got ready and headed downstairs in our hotel to toast bagels and catch our cab. Boy were we a bundle of nerves! The cab took us right to the start of the race; after cutting it quite close (they were literally closing the roads down behind our cab) we only had to walk 2 blocks to get to the start. We strolled up and down through all the corrals finding hers and mine, then checking our gear bags and taking one last final stretch. At about 7:45 we split up to head to our corrals and listen to the national anthem.
I found the 3:40 pace group and we all nervously chatted as the wave start began. Once our corral was let out, we were off to the races (literally). Unfortunately our pacer started a bit fast going 7:45 and 7:50 for the first two miles. This is hard to avoid in the start of a race but this is why I wanted to run with the pace group, to hold me back. However, Andre (our pacer) became very consistent in the miles that followed. He was an awesome person and I certainly enjoyed his company for the duration of the race.
Our team was about as diverse as it gets, a mother running her 9th marathon (a two time Iron woman), a woman in her 40’s running her first marathon in 10 years since having kids, a young guy from Florida running his 8th marathon and me on my third. The team grew and diminished as the race progressed but these were the few that remained strong until about mile 20.
I was feeling pretty great, conquering the two mile stretch of highway that was long and boring and trucking right along. At mile 14, my left calf started having agonizing pain and all I could think was that
“this is too early for this to start.”
I kept it to myself until mile 16 and I finally told the younger guy (Allen) about my struggles. He told me just not to stop at least until mile 18 and then if it still hurt to stop and stretch but the best thing to do was try to run it off. Now, I’m not saying it totally went away but by mile 17 it wasn’t dominating my thoughts any longer. Mile 18 included the track at Savannah State university which was so awesome, such an incredible relief from the pavement (too bad it only lasted a quarter mile). After coming off the track things started to falter in the pace group. I fell behind knowing I needed to conserve what I had. I was able to catch back up to them by mile 20, where I took my last gel (operating on a system of 1 every 5 miles). At this point in the race it was mind over matter. By mile 21 the group had completely disintegrated, a few ahead and a few behind but I was able to pass the pacer by mile 22. Mile 23-24 were back on the dreaded high way but I knew once I got to the 23 mile marker there was only a 5-k left. I started running my race water stop to water stop, just convincing myself I could make it the next mile to get more water. Once I hit 25 I decided I had enough in me (and honestly enough adrenaline) to pick up my pace, just the slightest bit. My legs hurt and I knew I wasn’t going to be under 3:40 but I was going to finish this race, STRONG! Once I hit 26, I picked it up even more and when I turned the corner with about a tenth of a mile left I saw Casey and Jenna’s husband and I took off in an all out sprint. In hind sight it was probably only an 8:00 mile pace, but my legs thought it was a sprint. I had finished, and it just happened that I had caught back up to and finished with a woman from the original pace group.
I collected my metal, congratulated to lady I finished with and proceeded, SLOWLY down the chute. After hobbling about 20 feet I saw Jenna and we were both so excited, we forgot our pain just long enough to run to each other and give the biggest hug ever. I was so excited to hear about her race (she did great) and I even think she may do more which was my biggest hope from all of this! We got our chocolate milk, water, bananas, bagels and went to find the boys. After picking up our bags, we shuffled down town, found some breakfast and headed back to the hotel for a good nap. Once we woke up, results were posted…
We finished getting ready and headed downtown to eat some dinner and have some drinks. Jenna and I shared all sorts of sushi, a rare treat for me and each had a martini. However, in my post race euphoria I had forgotten to get my ID out of my race bag so we had to go back to the hotel before going to the bars downtown. Once we finally made it, we certainly had an awesome time celebrating the day’s accomplishments.
Now that we are home, I am already motivated to start figuring out the next race, but first I have a nice week of fun recovery workouts swimming, doing yoga and maybe a short, short, short run.
To all those that ran this weekend, congrats and be glad for your privilege to run. My heart goes out to all the runners who couldn’t run in NYC and all the people of the Northeast displaced from their homes and facing major damage in the wake of Sandy.