One week out. After going nonstop all week after the race, it’s finally time to sit and reflect on a day that went by in a flash after six months of training.
Knowing a course makes a race so much better. Last weekend’s marathon was humid, hilly, and hard, but we did it. Every time I reached a landmark spot, I remembered vividly what I had felt the last time I was there. And I felt so much stronger at each point this time around. It was such an empowering recollection to physically see how much stronger and faster I have gotten since I first started.
Biggest lesson learned? Keep hill training. Austin courses are almost always going to include some of its infamous hills, and the marathon course is no exception. And even knowing this and having run these hills over and over, I was still not ready for them so early on. And after a long taper and a week of being sick prior to the race, my legs were screaming at me by mile 16. At mile 20, I was feeling fairly strong still, and pushed to get to 22 while I still felt good. By mile 23, I was done. Knowing I had to push my friend to her first finish, I kept moving, one mile at a time, when I honestly, desperately wanted to quit. The feeling of finishing and knowing I had finally run an entire marathon nonstop was such a raw, emotional feeling. Being able to walk almost normally immediately upon finishing was also a surprising success and testament to my training.
My time goal was not met, but my second goal to run the entire race was conquered, with a 6 minute PR and a 32 minute course record. If you tell yourself something is impossible, you never work to overcome it. I honestly never thought I could ever run a whole marathon. That was too scary, too intense. My first marathon, all I wanted was to finish it. No need to run it all. Yet I just did it. I trained for it, even through each long run, doubting I actually could or would. Then we ran a very long 30k. And it was easy (ish). And it dawned on me. I can do this. I will do this. WE will do this. We can conquer big, scary goals alone; but together, we are unstoppable. Having a friend to push gave me the strength to keep going. Knowing how I would feel at the finish if I gave up kept me going. Knowing I wanted her to finish strong kept me going. This race season was about community. About pushing each other. And this race was a perfect finish to that sentiment.