Simply put, I was a big brat whenever I didn't BQ. And thanks to my "brattiness," I missed out on so much. I missed out on the beauty and awesomeness these courses had to offer. I missed out on the spirit of the runners around me and how exciting they all were for each other, including me. I missed out on the fun after parties and the bonds that could've been formed with my fellow runners. And most importantly, I missed out on the appreciation and respect for the full marathon distance I had just accomplished. After all, despite no BQ, I was still a freaking marathoner. But that just wasn't enough.
7 weeks ago I ran the Chicago Marathon. I put my heart and soul into training during the hot summer months here in Florida. Early mornings, weekend long runs, the speed work, the strength training, all of it was in hopes to finally secure my BQ. It was a tough summer and I went into the race uncertain I would reach my goal, but I was going to give it my absolute all. Which is what I did, but I still came up a few minutes short. Close but still not enough, so it was on to the next one...or so I thought.
I had planned to run the Space Coast Marathon less than two months after Chicago as a Race Pacer, so I kept my mileage up after I got back. When I learned I was on the reserve list for the half instead of the full, I decided to go ahead and sign up for it and race it. I had all the training miles in the bank, so many of my friends would be there (including a bunch of Moms Run This Town mamas) and plus I would receive and extra medal for running it three years in a row. So why not right!?!
|Moms Run This Town pre-race|
I figured if I was feeling it, I would go balls to the wall and try to get that BQ. But if at any point I realized it just wasn't in my cards, I would let go of any time goal and have myself a good ole time out on that course. I was ready to give it my all but also to prepared to accept the fact that it just may not happen. So it was all or nothing, and by "nothing" I simply meant time didn't matter as long as I was enjoying myself.
The first 9 miles of the race, I was able to follow my original plan. I was hanging out somewhere between the 3:25 and 3:30 pace and feeling pretty good. The sun was just starting to come up, the weather was nice and cool and my legs, though sluggish, where holding pretty strong. Around mile 10, however, my legs started to feel incredibly heavy and they started to cramp up a bit. I had a nice "cushion" with my time, so I was able to pull back a bit and still hang onto a pace that would guarantee me a BQ.
|Starting to "not feel it" any more|
At this point my head phones came out and I started making friends along the way. I was high-fiving anyone and everyone coming through on the other side of the course (it's an out and back with the half marathoners too). So many of my runner friends were out there and for once I got to see their smiling faces because I wasn't staring down at the ground in agony. I got to run a bit with several friends who were pushing to PR that day (which they did whoop whoop), friends who were coming back from injuries, and even strangers who became friends.
Best of all, I got to run the last several miles and cross the finish line with a fellow Moms Run This Town mama, Cristina, who was having a rough day and could use the company to get through. Though she thanked me so much for my support, it was her that totally made my marathon experience yesterday worthwhile. I had wanted so bad to have a fun race, one that I not only could enjoy that day, but look back on and be proud of. Her allowing me to be a part of her journey during that last 10k, supporting her and pushing her to finish is exactly what I needed. It forced me to let go of any pressure I had on myself at that point and be able to help a fellow runner. We laughed, we cried, we got to know each other along the way and we even stopped to take some liquor shots and some selfies out there. Crossing the finish line with Cristina was one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to do at a race and I am so grateful for that whole experience.
|Cristina and I at mile 23ish (after our vodka and whiskey shots)|