I just don’t understand the people who say, “Set your mind to it; you can do ANYTHING!”… In my mind, it’s “Set a believable, realistic goal and I might just reach it. If I don’t, I won’t be disappointed.” As I explained in my last post, as a recovering perfectionist, I’ll just quit if I fail. I have learned to set low goals and when I supersede, I am over the moon and want to set another low, but higher goal. I have PR’ed at almost every race this way. My super supportive husband keeps telling me that I haven’t reached my potential yet, so I hope to continue to PR for awhile and I know a time will come when I will just even out for awhile and eventually get slower. That’s okay with me. Cause my goals are so low. Heck, I never thought I would run a 10K, let alone a Full Marathon… what’s that I said?? YEP! You heard me… I DID IT!!!!! I RAN A FULL MARATHON!!!!!
My last post was my thought process in deciding whether or not to run one. My aunt and friend Rhonda quickly convinced me after I posted that blog. I didn’t actually pay for the race til 2 weeks before it happened, just in case I wanted to back out. My goal? Just to finish. That’s it. I didn’t care if it took me 6 hours, I just didn’t want the pressure of setting a time goal with only 4 weeks to train.
A typical training schedule is 16 weeks, but my mileage was already up where it needed to be and I was consistently running 30-40 miles a week, so it was appropriate for me to make this decision 4 weeks prior to the race. I chose the Tacoma City Marathon since my Aunt Lizzie was running the Half Marathon. She told me closer to the race that she would meet me at mile 23 and pace me to the end. Her upcoming Couer d’Alene Full Marathon is coming up at the end of May and that particular weekend, she had a 20 miler, so she needed to add 7 miles onto the Half. Even though I knew she had more miles to run, I was flabbergasted that she would be willing to meet me and run the final 3 miles with me. She is so incredibly other-centered. My normal self would have said, “Oh no, please! You don’t have to do that!”… I get so paranoid about others helping me, but in this instance I knew that a) I would be exhausted and could use something to look forward to, and b) How special! How could I turn down the offer to finish my first full marathon with my aunt!?!
Fast forward. I thoroughly enjoyed girl time with my aunt the night before… chatting and eating Uncle Randy’s delicious lasagna and Aunt Lizzie’s OH SO INCREDIBLE Cilantro Vinagrette. Had I been by myself, I would have run the race in my head a hundred times and wouldn’t have been able to sleep. I had no idea how helpful it would be to stay with her – it really calmed me. Even the morning of the race, I was calm and my stomach wasn’t the usual wreck.
I asked Aunt Lizzie for any last minute advice as I waited for the final 2-3 minutes before the race started. She told me to start very slow for the first 4-5 miles and to trust that there will be a second wind at the end of the race. I did exactly what she said… even with adrenaline and the pace of the entire crowd, I checked my watch fervently and didn’t let myself run faster than a 10:15 mile. Everyone was passing me. I was at the very back of the crowd. I saw the 4:30 pacer disappear into the distance to my disappointment. But trusting my aunt’s advice as she is preparing for her 6th marathon, I stuck with a slow pace for 4 miles. At that point, I started to feel my rhythm and naturally sped up a bit. I smiled as some spectator yelled, “GO ANGIE!!! You are doing great!” Oh yes, my shameless tech shirt with my name plastered on the front was working. Complete strangers were cheering for me!
There were awesome hydration stations every 2 miles and I was taking gels every 4 miles… I couldn’t believe how fast those 4 mile increments were going! I felt like I just ate a gel when it was time to take another one. Tacoma was gorgeous as well. I took pics with my cell phone every couple of miles, enjoying the beautiful bay with huge ships or historic brick buildings with ornate clocks in their towers. At mile 15, I noticed that people weren’t passing me as often. People were starting to walk up hills as I slowly chugged past them. At mile 17, I started to feel tired. Oh no. I still had 9 miles to go…. it’s okay, trust in the second wind. At mile 18, I could see the 4:30 pacer in my sites! NO WAY!!! There was hope for me yet! The group with the pacer was walking hills and because of that, I finally caught up and passed them. I was euphoric. And tired. For 3 miles, I slowed my pace just a bit, but I was still passing people. By mile 20, I caught my second wind (YES!! It exists!). I was thrilled that at mile 20, I was passing all those people who whizzed by me in the first 4-5 miles. Lizzie’s advice worked. Although I started slow, I was finishing strong. They started too fast and were pooped out. I was really starting to look forward to mile 23 at this point. The finish was so near, but I was really looking forward to running with Aunt Lizzie.
And then… as I looked into the distance at mile 23; I didn’t see my aunt… I saw (GASP!) my husband, my son, my father-in-law Armando and my mother-in-law Hanuschka. I fell apart. I had no idea they were coming. Hanuschka was quickly snapping photos and Son was waving wildly. Che had the biggest smile on his face… and I was a crying mess. Not recommended while running. I quickly hugged and cried and said, “3:54 with 3 miles to go!” They will never fully understand what that meant to me – my heart was so full.
At mile 23.5, I finally saw Aunt Lizzie waiting for me. Again, heart full. Those last couple of miles flew by… for the last mile as I was so tired, so she stayed a couple feet in front of me, daring me to catch up. She helped me to finish strong (my fastest miles of the whole race) and as I crossed the finish line at 4:25:49, I could not believe that my low goal of finishing under 5 hours had proved so low… I could have never imagined it possible to finish under 4:45. Even when I set goals like ‘just finishing’, I always have secret goals, like finishing under 5 hours. Another thing I will never understand about myself.. it’s like I have split personalities sometimes. My ever supportive parents were at the finish line, with Lizzie, my hubby and son and my in-laws. Ahhhhhhh, the love. It’s hard to believe that these people love me this much.
Lizzie later told me that she was exhausted during her additional miles after her half was complete. She ran slow miles to meet me, knowing that she would have to push through her exhaustion to help me finish strong. So incredibly humbling for me. I can’t help but cry, as I type. I will never forget her selflessness and kindred spirit. Most people have a special place in their hearts for their first marathon, but my memories will be so much more than the fact that I completed a grueling 26.2 mile race… it will represent the people who support me, who go out of their way to show me love and to cheer me on. I can only hope that I return the favor.
The most asked question: Will you run another marathon? Yes. I am sure I will. Auntie made me pretty excited about the New York Marathon and I think I’ll start saving my pennies.
Thanks to my parents for traveling any distance to watch my races and take pics at the finish line. Thanks to my husband for talking me through my disbelief and for listening to me talk far too much about running. Thanks to my in-laws for coaching me through my training (it’s awesome to have experienced runners/coaches in the family!) and for not only going to my races, but stopping at several mile markers to cheer me on and take pics. Thanks to my son for loving the gym nursery (Thank the Lord!). Thanks to my Aunt Lizzie for amazing support, belief and for running with me during those final, emotional miles. Besos.