I have to say that this was the most enjoyable race I have ever run. There weren’t a lot of people along most of the course but it was stunning! We went all through the mountains, along the river for most of it and on trails for a lot of it. I wish I had taken my phone and could have stopped and taken pictures because it was just amazing.
The race started with a nice down hill which was great except it made keeping pace in check in those early miles even harder than normal. At mile 2 I saw THE Bart Yasso cheering us on. Motivation. The first 10 miles FLEW by which isn’t abnormal but then all of a sudden I was at mile 16. This is when I always expect to start being miserable and really struggle. But that didn’t really happen. From mile 13-16 I kept telling myself, “nothing hurts, you are good.” It was like my mantra. I had to make my head tell my body I still felt great, and somehow I did.
I had decided at mile 8 or so I was going to try a strategy I had heard many other runners use to get through the nitty gritty miles of a race. I picked someone in my life who helped me get to that race and ran that mile for them.
Mile 16-17: Lauren; she trained with me in the beginning with goals of running this race but then couldn’t get the weekend off. We ran in crazy storms together, the heat and we motivated each other through her first 19 mile run!!
Mile 17-18: Steph; she is another big runner in my class, she even ran for Clemson. Her and another friend of mine, Lia and I would all go running VERY early Friday mornings before class. Thank goodness for those girls dragging my butt out of bed.
Mile 18-19: Lia; the other half of the Friday running team. Such an amazing athlete and wonderful supporter!
Mile 19-20: Maribeth; this is one of the toughest miles in my mind when I run marathons. Once you get to 20 its a 10k left which starts to sound manageable. Maribeth posted the video for Girl on Fire to my facebook wall the night before the race which was the absolute sweetest. She also ran the 5k series with me this summer. I have to say I sang that song and thought of the sweetest southern girl I know that whole mile to get me through!
Mile 20-21: Kristen; I ran my very first marathon with her and I thank god she was crazy enough to start doing this with me. I feel that I owe a bit of my love for running to her.
Mile 21-22: Hannah; my best friend since high school. She thinks I can do anything I want to and I have to love her for that and all the support she has given me through the years. She has always called herself my number one fan as I am hers.
Mile 22-23: Alli; whom I ran the Nashville Marathon with. It was her first and she did AMAZING. Nothing like the pride and joy of your first marathon. I was so happy I could be there and run it with her.
Mile 23-24: This mile many people flooded to my head and I needed them for sure. Lindsey, my soon bride to be and Jenna who ran her first half in Savannah last year when I ran the marathon there. She did so great in her first race, I was so proud!
Mile 24-25: mi madre; the lovely woman who created me and gave me the work ethic I have. You can literally do anything if you want to work for it and I learned that from her. There is nothing like the support from your mom to get you through!
Mile 25-26: Casey; the wonderful guy who has traveled to countless races, tolerated wake up calls in the dark, eaten whatever strict diet I am following race weeks, and been there at every finish line. Even started running with me, even though it is less than his idea of fun.
At mile 26 I was pretty much in a gap where I was the only person for a bit. Bart Yasso was standing on the final turn at mile 26 and he pointed right at me, looked at his watch and said, “You my girl are going to make a BQ, give it everything you’ve got.” Talk about a kick in the pants! Because there was no one near me, I was the only one on the hugemongus jumbotron screen at the finish line while I was coming it. I was up there for eternity it felt like and the announcer just kept talking about me and all I could think was that I was going to fall. I didn’t, thank goodness (I have done this before)!
And just like that, all my running dreams had come true. I have qualified for Boston, met Bart Yasso and absolutely crushed my PR.
Stats (Because all runners love numbers):
Once I get official race photos, I will be sure to share…should be tomorrow or Wednesday!
Oh, and the Eagles won tonight! Cherry on top of the last two days!