On Saturday I ran the Newport Marathon for the 4th time. Apparently, I like it! :-) I love that it is my altitude and I commented that it is like an old friend to me. It was my first marathon in 2005. I had a baby in October 2004 and needed a goal to get me exercising through the winter. Somehow I decided running a marathon was the answer. I had a fantastic training cycle. I followed Hal Higdon's beginner program to the "t" and never missed a day of running. I was constantly amazed by my ability to complete each new distance. I trusted Mr. Higdon. I had a great 20 miler and felt fantastic going into the race. All my training miles were around a 10minute pace. My thought was that I would finish in 4:30. I did my first mile at 8:50 and just kept going at that pace. I felt good and thought I would be fine. Unfortunately, by mile 7 this speed caught up with me and my lungs and heart rebelled. I had to run/walk the last 19 miles- finishing in 5:11. 2:10 for the first half and 3 hours for the second half. I was so disappointed because it was not what I expected. Luckily, I realized that I could do better than that and I learned a lot from my experience. Mostly, not to start out at what you haven't trained for!
7 years and 8 marathons later, my personal best is a 3:48 (run in Newport in 2008). This year, I had a miscarriage in January and was devastated. I handled my disappointment by signing up for the Newport Marathon on February 1st. I had almost 18 weeks to train- a full training cycle. I knew it would be the thing to get me out of bed. (Some mornings I crawled back under the covers after my run, but at least I could do something. )
I knew my friend Stephanie was training for her first so I would have someone to run with. I also ran with my friend, Kirsten, because she was doing low heart rate training, which was the speed I needed! It was not my easiest training cycle and I had some setbacks, but I did not give up. I tried speedwork a couple of times, but my body said no so I decided to stick with Stephanie and help her have a positive first marathon experience.
The weather was misty- perfect racing conditions! We started out at our goal 10 minute pace. We kept that up for the first 16 miles. Mary, Steph and I were just chatting and enjoying the run. At this point, Mary and Steph were starting to feel pain in their hips. I could tell by Steph's facial expression that she was not doing well. Her family had just met up with us, so she walked with her husband for a while. Mary and I ran together for a little bit and she seemed to be feeling strong so at about mile 18 I encouraged her to go ahead and finish her race. She was hesitant to leave, but she felt good so she went ahead. Steph and I joined up and for the rest of the run Steph would run until she could no longer handle the daggers in her knees and hips, and would walk for a little bit to ease the pain for a moment. I was so impressed with her tenacity. We kept chatting and listened to music for part of it, but overall we just hung in together. At around mile 24, both my knees started aching. I began to look forward to the walk breaks. :-) Steph could feel the end close and we ran the last mile in. It was a very satisfying finish, and I felt very emotional as I relived some of my other memories from the course. We met up with our other friends and shared our stories.
I sure love the friendships that running has brought me.
I am grateful that my body cooperated enough to let me train for this marathon. It was exactly what I needed to get through these past 4 months. Now I look forward to training for St. George with my husband Jeff. It is his first marathon and I am excited for him to experience some of the emotions I have had over these last 7 years. Boston is still my ultimate goal. :-)