As the days dwindled down to race time, I began to get really nervous. After all, I had completed some pretty unconventional training. I used the Hansons Marathon Method to train for this race: my first full marathon. My longest run had been only 16.5 miles. In comparison to most training plans, which have you run at least one 20-miler, this training plan capped at 16 miles for its longest run. I ran 6 days a week, incorporating strength, speed, and tempo workouts. It was hard, but so much fun.
The night before the race, Chance and I were in the kitchen talking. I asked him, "So, how do you think I'm going to do tomorrow?" I was hoping for some major ego boosters as I was really starting to get the pre-race jitters. His response: "Well.. I know that if anyone can do it, you can." Um, not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I'll take it! He went on to explain that 26.2 miles is a reallllllly long way to run and since I had only run a few 16-milers, he wasn't 100% sure I'd be able to finish. Yikes. Now I wasn't so sure either...
Race morning! I didn't sleep well the night before (big surprise!) but still got up at at 5:30 to eat and get ready. Downed some gluten-free waffles, a bit of coffee, and got dressed. It was 32 degrees outside. Chance and Hudson took me to the race start where a group of about 60 other people were gathered.
The sun started to come up just after 7:00, and it turned out to be a beautiful morning. There was no wind, which was amazing. The course was eight 3-mile-long laps around Bachman Lake and then a short out-and-back about 3/4 mile to the finish line. I thought that going around in a circle would get monotonous, but it actually wasn't bad at all.
I got near the front of the "pack" with about three other runners ahead of me. I was going to try to maintain about an 8:12 pace for the whole race. My first few miles I found it difficult to even out my pace, but once I got into a rhythm I was much more steady-going. I began talking to a woman who was running right behind me, who was shooting for a similar finish time. We were both trying for BQ's (Boston Qualifying times - 3:35:00). I was more or less just doing that for fun, to see if I could actually get close to that time. My actual goal time was 3:40:00.
At about the halfway point, I began to feel some soreness in my legs, but not too bad. As I got closer to that 16-mile mark, I was getting excited because I still felt really good. After I passed 16 miles and finished 17, 18, 19 miles I was pumped because I hadn't run that long... ever!
Around mile 20, I went to grab some gummies from my running belt and to my horror realized that I had dropped my phone (or so I thought). I spent the next two laps trying to remember whether or not I had actually taken it with me. When I saw Chance and Hudson pull up in the car, just as I passed mile 23 (still feeling somewhat fresh!) I was relieved to discover that Chance had my phone the whole time.. whoops. It was a nice distraction, anyways.
When I got to the turn around to make it back to the finish line, I thought that I might just make the 3:35:00 mark. As I sprinted to the finish, I looked at the clock which read "3:36:14". I couldn't believe it! I had finished my first marathon, and had done it UNDER my goal time of 3:40:00. I didn't really care that I missed a BQ by about a minute. I was just thankful to have been able to run this race, cheered on by some other wonderful runners and my two biggest fans: Chance and Huddy.
|Hudson after the race. He was just too excited to take his morning nap.|
At the finish line, the race volunteers told me my official time (3:36:14) and told me that I had finished first female overall. Now THAT was a huge surprise. Granted, there were only 60 people in the whole race (not exactly the Dallas Marathon) but still! Overall, my first marathon experience couldn't have been better. I am super happy that my training**, as unconventional as it was, paid off. After three days, I am beginning to feel much less sore, and can't wait to get back out there logging more miles.
[**I would definitely recommend the Hansons Marathon Method to anyone looking to train for a marathon. Whether it's your first or tenth, HMM will push your expectations and help you to achieve beyond what you think your body is capable of.]