Continued from Part One
Now please remember, I had never run a race farther than 3.1 miles. The farthest at that point I had run was 6 miles. Now I was signed up for TWO marathons, back to back months.
Marathon training began late May. I was very thankful for St. Louis – there was plenty of various trails to run on to help keep the scenery fresh. Sometimes I was out running by the Clydesdales and other times I was out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees.
The miles started racking up and my Saturdays started getting very full of running in the morning and then chilling out the rest of the day afterwards.
September came and it was Sioux Falls Marathon time. You figure Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it’s up north… It’s September. It’s gotta be decent temperature wise, right?
The morning start started off well. It was cooler temperature wise before the sun came up. Beginner me figured, hey I can run a 4:00 hour marathon with the pace group! Keeping around a 9 minute pace wasn’t that big of a deal…
For the first half.
I began to realize I had ONLY run half of the race by mile 13 and started to feel the pace. I ended up dropping my speed a bit and watched the pace group run off without me.
Later in the run I was blessed with temperatures up in the high 70s and humidity to go along with it. I was dying from the heat and my overconfidence earlier in the race. I hated myself at mile 20 and found myself starting to walk.
“Don’t stop!”, a woman’s voice yelled from behind me. When she caught up, I recognized her as someone I had talked to at the beginning of the race. “Your legs are going to cramp up and you won’t be able to run again!”, she said as she slowed down for a minute to inform me of my terrible decision before continuing onwards. I thanked her and started running…
…Only to find out she knew what she was talking about. My legs were tired, and were NOW starting to cramp up from walking.
Why did I sign up for a full marathon again?
Eventually I was able to get back into running around mile 23 and started passing a few people up. I noticed even the heat had gotten to some much faster pacers, who were dragging behind their original goals.
I remember getting to mile 25 and seeing my mom who had come with me along with my grandparents at a turn and hearing them cheer for me. That gave me my 6th (or 7th? I can’t remember) wind to get me to the finish line.
God it felt so good to cross that finish line… And sitting down on a curb.
And then feeling terrible trying to get back up so we could get to the hotel.
Not so glorious post-race-photo.
I began regretting that evening signing up to do the full marathon in St. Louis. I remember talking to my mom about it, especially when I had the infamous ‘marathon walk’.
She gave me the sage advice of thinking about it for a few weeks before deciding. And so, I got back to reality the next week, slowly being able to walk normally again. The following week, I was able to get in a few miles here and there. Much slower than usual, but I could run again without hating myself.
A few weeks later, after a longer run here and there, I decided… Hey, what the heck. I’ll give it one more go.
So training boosted back up for my second marathon in three weeks. Thankfully I knew a few running coaches that were able to help me get back to where I needed to be safely.
At the end of October I ran the Rock n Roll St. Louis marathon, and I enjoyed it. I took the lessons I learned from Sioux Falls, listening to my body and not gunning for such a fast finish time. It was a much cooler day, weather wise, and I was able to enjoy running with the pace group I stuck with with no humidity.
I remember around mile 23-24 running into one of my runner coach friends, and him calling out to me, asking me how I felt.
“Great” I replied back to him.
“Good… Then go faster!” Coach Cary yelled back.
What? The pace group leaders also pushed me. At first, I thought they were all crazy… But I felt like I still had something in the tank.
So I pushed myself. And thanks to them I went from a 4:39 finish in Sioux Falls to a 4:12 in St. Louis (St. Louis also having way more hills).
Much happier post-race photo
And that’s when I fell in love with the marathon.
Since then I’ve done two more marathons: my own special 26th birthday marathon and the Springfield Marathon. Chris has been such a great cheerleader to me in both of those races, cheering me on from the sidelines to being there at the finish line to catch me when my knees buckle.
I’ve also fallen in love with racing. My competitive spirit thrives when I cross the start line and I want to beat my previous self time and time again. Sometimes I do… and sometimes I don’t.
But my love for running has never wavered and I hope to grow old with her.