I should be sleeping right now. I woke-up in New Jersey at 4:30am on Sunday, ran a marathon at 7:30am and then drove home to Connecticut late Sunday afternoon. I had visions of sleeping in, but my legs are restless from pain and my mind is swirling with the memories of my first marathon in eight years and as a 40 year-old!

At the expo full of hope and excitement!

At the expo full of hope and excitement!

My goal was to run a 7:40 pace which would have me finish around 3:20. I didn’t reach that goal, but I’m more then ok with it because, despite a few setbacks, I ran a very strong race. Let’s do this recap right, shall we?

BEFORE

Injury report: Throughout my training I developed perineal tendonitis in my left ankle. I had been dealing with the pain in the few weeks leading up to the race, and aqua jogging in the pool a week prior so as to not injure it further. I wasn’t too worried about it leading up to race day because it would hurt for the first few miles and then usually the pain would disappear until after the run.

A week before, on one of my last fast runs, I had some hamstring pain in my right leg, and thought it was no big deal. However, it wouldn’t leave me alone the rest of the week and I cut two runs short leading up to race day. It was messing with my head big time but there was really nothing I could do about it. I was definitely worried going into the race but I knew I had run though pain before so…

Accommodations: We stayed at my friend’s sister’s house in New Jersey the night before the race. She and her husband were the most gracious hosts and even made us a fantastic pasta and chicken dinner complete with the most deliciously buttery garlic bread I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. And, of course, I had several pieces all in the name of carb loading. #ILoveMarathonTraining

One of the most perfect race days I've ever had!

One of the most perfect race mornings I’ve ever had! Here with Chrissie before we got rid of these clothes. Sorry Pats & Yankee fans…

Weather: Race morning we were up at 4:45am and out the door to the race start by 5:30. It was a gorgeous morning with the most beautiful sunrise. If I could have ordered up race weather, this would have been it! About 50 degrees, a little windy (I would have left that out!) and partly cloudy, although my friend and I ended up with some serious tan lines when all was said and done.

DURING

The start: As soon as I started running, I had pain in the center of my ass, known as the piriformis. I was actually glad, thinking I could deal with that much better then hamstring pain and I ran happily along at my 7:40 clip.

Mile eight: I think this mile is cursed. My friend Angela had to drop out of the Boston Marathon a week ago at this mile, and I had a water station collision that ended with me rolling my ankle. At mile 8!!! Someone two people in front of me stopped dead to get their water, so the guy in front of me stopped and then slammed into me as he tried to move around asshole #1. I literally had to push him off me, but the damage was already done. I had a searing pain in my right ankle, which then set off my hamstring.

From mile 8 on, I ran in pain.

DO NOT STOP AT WATER STATIONS! GRAB A CUP WHILE YOU RUN AND IF YOU MUST STOP MOVE THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY OF THE 10,000 OTHER RUNNERS!

Ok, so, where were we?

Miles 12, 16 and 21: These were all the mile markers my amazing friend Denise (three time Boston Marathon finisher including this year!) and her sister were waiting to cheer me on. I cannot stress enough how mentally amazing it is knowing someone you know and love, will be out there with a smile to help you along. One 10 second bought of encouragement goes so far when you’re up against 26.2.

At the start of our journey! Denise was our driver, motivator and caregiver...she's the other blonde at the wheel!

At the start of our journey! Denise was our driver, motivator and caregiver…she’s the other blonde at the wheel!

Mile 21: This is where the wheels started to come off. Until this point I was able to hang with the 3:25 pace group. The pain started to get to me, I was running alone most of the time, and I started to get really low. After I passed my friend Denise, saying “I’m hurting but I’m doing it!” I decided that I needed to be strong and finish this thing!

Miles 22-26: It was four miles, around an 8:15 pace, of constant self-talk. I willed my mind and body though those miles, and I’m so proud of myself. The pain was intense and, at times, I just wanted to give up, but my mantras where ready – can’t stop, won’t stop – set your pace, run your race – breathe in confidence, exhale doubt – and I used them to my advantage.

It’s very hard to stay the course when you know your ultimate goal is out of reach but, for me, it’s about the entire race and pushing though what I think are my mental and physical limits. I’m most proud of those last four miles even with my sucky pace!

I can't believe they have these up already! Don't worry, I'll buy one...after I steal this one...

I can’t believe they have these up already! It looks like my eyes are closed. Quite possible.

Mile 26ish: I heard the whistle. My dad has a very distinct, loud whistle and I knew he was going to be somewhere near the finish with my stepmother. I lifted my head when I heard it and there they were, arms up, yelling like crazy. I responded in kind, throwing my arms up in the air, waving and throwing crazy kisses. A volunteer saw me and yelled “Keep beaming girl, you’re lighting up this whole boardwalk!” Seeing my dad and stepmom gave me the boost I needed to push to the finish line!

I finished in 3:28:24, a two-minute PR (from 8 years ago!) and a Boston Qualifying time by 17 minutes. 

IMG_5656

 

 

If I’m being completely honest, I was definitely disappointed and just mad about the water station incident and being injured going into the race, but then I saw this:

IMG_5655

 

The ‘Masters’ division is for us old people. Anyone 40 and over is considered your a master. Just like the big girls and guys get to be classified in the Athena and Clydesdale divisions, us old people need our own category as well.

If I could accomplish these stats (I know it was a small field but whatever!) on a day when I was in pain for so many miles, I know I’m ready to reach my ultimate time goal. This marathon served it’s purpose, as a testing ground for NYC in November. I now know exactly what I need to do to be race ready, and I’m feeling nothing but excited…and very, very sore.

Driving home, happy with our hardware!

Driving home, happy with our hardware! And yes, I have a seed in my teeth. WTH?

I would absolutely run this race again! It was so well organized and the course was gorgeous. When I smelled the ocean at mile 6, I was in heaven. We ran many miles along the oceanfront and, although there were fewer spectators then expected, the ones who were there were awesome and helpful and funny and all the things you want when being yelled at by strangers. I highly recommend running New Jersey!

Next up – the Ten Penny Ale Duathlon on May 17th!

How was your weekend?

What have you accomplished at your age that you didn’t think you could?