After 17 weeks of training and all those long, cold, early morning runs, race day was officially here! I had laid out all my race gear the night before – shorts, tank (with race bib already attached), pro compression socks, fuel belt, gel packs, Garmin watch, pace wrist bands and of course my Ultima Replenisher (grape is my race flavor of choice). So when the morning came I didn’t have to worry about getting everything organized, it was all ready to go. My pre-race breakfast was a piece of Udi’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread, one banana and ¼ cup of instant oatmeal (I tried to eat a bit more but I was so darn nervous about the whole thing that I just couldn’t stomach it). After multiple trips to the bathroom, small sips of Ultima to stop me from getting dry mouth and about 45 minutes of fidgeting, I was standing on the start line ready to go. “On your mark, get set, BANG!” The gun went off and my feet began to move. I was starting with the 3:35 pace bunny because for my age that’s the time I need to qualify for Boston. The first few miles were a walk in the park. My breathing felt good, legs strong and ready for the next mile ahead. 5 miles, 8 miles, 13 miles, officially done. I was half way through at 1:47. The next four miles also went by fast until about Mile 17 when I felt something pull just a bit in my left hamstring. It was enough for me to notice a slight pain on the left side and to feel my right side compensate for it. Mentally it was enough to slow me down, away from the 3:35 pace bunny. I should also mention it was cold. As in 37-degrees Farenheit cold! I still wore a tank top and shorts though but looking back on the race, I definitely feel that the temperature affected my hamstrings. Having said that, I wasn’t going to let a sore muscle be an excuse and keep me from running the best race of my life. As mile 19 started and the 3:35 pace bunny was no where in sight I knew the next seven miles were going to be about how much strength and determination I had to finish this race. I was between pace bunnies and running alone for the next four miles. Let’s just say running alone while pushing through that Mile 20-21 wall is NOT a walk in the park. I felt every single bit of self-doubt and negative thought in my head. But as mile 20, 21 and 22 ended, I started seeing runners coming up slowly beside me and encouraging me to keep going. “You got this girl!” One runner said to me as she smiled and ran by. At Mile 24 I heard, “1264 looking strong! Home stretch, finish it up!” By this point my hamstrings were burning, I felt like it took every ounce of energy I had to keep my feet moving, one step after another. I knew I was out of qualifying range by this point, but I knew if I just kept going I would still run a personal best and make myself proud. As the finish line grew near and the crowds widened I found new energy deep within to cross the line with purpose and passion for the sport that I have dedicated so much to — every single week of training and every cold, long early morning run I had done to prepare me for that day. I crossed the finish at 3:43:02 – a personal best by 15 minutes! And although I was 8 minutes off Boston time, I was at that single moment, on perfect Sarah time.
I don’t know when my next full marathon will be, but I do know this – every race, training run and gym day over the years have made me stronger, physically and especially mentally. Checking off a 4th marathon at that pace was something I never thought I’d ever be able to accomplish 10 years ago. It’s amazing what you can do when you simply believe in YOU. I hope my ‘road to 26.2’ has inspired you to go out there and make yourself proud too. I’d love to hear about your ‘road to ……’! Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and share what your goals are and where your ambitions are taking you!
Until my next journey….
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