Marathoning

This post has nothing to do with libraries, so you’ll have to excuse me.

I ran my first, and hopefully not last, marathon yesterday. It was everything I expected it to be: hard, tiring, hilly, a relief and so much more. It was also amazing, inspiring, and strangely emotional. Luckily, I had some of the best fans in the world there to cheer me on. We rented a house nearby and spent the weekend down there. They were so amazing: carrying my stuff for me; following me to as many points in the race that they could to cheer me on; letting me rest and watch the Patriots after; just overall being the best.

The best cheering section ever the day before enjoying a picnic on the Falmouth library lawn (we didn't go inside because I already dragged them into the New Bedford library earlier that day...)

The best cheering section ever the day before enjoying a picnic on the Falmouth library lawn. we didn’t go inside because I already dragged them into the New Bedford library earlier that day. The section is only missing my kind ex-boyfriend who was there for the race on Sunday because he’s a much nicer person than I would be.

I was really nervous before it started. It was colder than I thought it was going to be and ended up changing from my shorts into tights. I would have been fine in shorts as it did get warmer, but the tights kept my legs nice and loose the whole time (ha – loose legs).  I’ll admit I was pretty grumpy, too. I was about to run a really ridiculously long way. I was nervous, but once I got running I was ok. The course is beautiful and loops from the center of Falmouth Village along the beach up to the northern part of the town through the changing leaves and a cranberry bog (so New England!) on rolling hills. Then we come back down and run through Woods Hole, getting to glance at some of the super cool science marine research centers there and then run along the beach for a while, up to the Nobska lighthouse and back into town to finish.

This is at about 22 miles. It was a good inspiration . . . but I was still very tired and 4 miles is a long way after you've run 22.

This is at about 22 miles. It was a good inspiration . . . but I was still very tired and 4 miles is a long way after you’ve run 22.

The course was hard. I had heard mixed reviews about it after I signed up. (I always seem to find out about the negative bits after I’ve committed to something.) Some people called it “very hilly” and challenging. Others said it was about the same amount of hilliness as the Boston marathon. That comment didn’t particularly help but I did have enough time to incorporate hills into my training routine. I had been making sure I had moderate hills in all of my long runs for the last three months of my training. (This whole training process was about 5 months.) So I felt like I did a great job on the hills before the 20 mile mark but I think that’s also because the 20 mile mark was a big landmark in my mind because that was the farthest I had done on my training. It felt like a huge hurdle. I was very tired and my legs were in some pain at that point so I took a “run to the next mile, then walk for a minute” strategy. Part of me wishes that I could say I didn’t walk at all or that I only walked through the water stops, but it’s just not true. I probably walked about 8 to 10 minutes of that 4 hours and 28 minute run. Honestly, I’m ok with that on the hilly course. For a first timer, I’m really pleased with that time. Plus, it’s what I wanted and planned on running, so it’s always nice to meet a goal.

But some of my favorite things about the marathon had nothing to do with the actual running. When I would get really tired I would go over these things in my head so I would remember them. First there was the sea spray from the waves crashing against the rocks around mile 2, then it was the state police helicopter that hovered over the runners with lights flashing and sirens blaring (I assumed they were cheering us on; Hannah thought they might be looking for a running convict), the little kids putting out hands for high fives or getting a big hug and kiss from their mom or dad when they run by, the people with the signs that made me laugh: “You’re the slowest runner so far!” at around mile 5 and “smile if you peed a little” at mile 17, my amazing cheering section chanting, “Anna! Anna! Anna!” and having water for me just when I needed it (13 mile water stop, what’s your deal? There were inches of water in those cups. Not enough!), the four different bands (high school jazz, fiddle and banjo duo, funk/horn band, and even the awful sounding old-man-who-probably-once-had-a-good-voice band), who played for hours to serenade runners, the two guys who ran carrying big American flags on poles the entire way, and every runner or spectator who encouraged me and cheered me on along the way.

As I was running to the finish line I saw that my time was 4:29:40. Crap! I had twenty seconds to make it under 4:30 on the official clock time (I really netted a 4:28, so that’s even better!) and as I was running I could hear my friends singing Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire theme so I of course had to turn and laugh. We had watched the movie the night before for inspiration and it was so lovely. Poncy Lord Lindsay is still my favorite in that movie even though he’s a minor character. If you’ve seen Facebook pictures then you know that they got me an American flag and a laurel wreath crown!

I also have a space blanket and a sweet medal, too! This perhaps the best and worst picture of me and I love it.

I also have a space blanket and a sweet medal, too! This perhaps the best and worst picture of me and I love it.

Seriously, they are the best friends ever! And then they rode half an hour back to our vacation house with sweaty me. That’s friendship right there.

I’m off today and I’m sore. I’m hoping to run again on Thursday and I’m more than happy to take those days off. Then I can start thinking of what’s next in running. I think I’d like to improve my half marathon time and my 5k time. Then maybe another marathon next fall, and then, my sister said she’d run the 2015 Chicago marathon. It’s true, she agreed! I’m putting it on the calendar as “Awesome Sister Chicago Marathon.” But for today, I’m sitting on the couch watching Doctor Who because I deserve that, I think.

Thanks to all who encouraged me throughout this whole process. You are all wonderful!

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5 thoughts on “Marathoning

  1. Sara says:

    Well, shoot. You put it on the Internet, so that makes it true. I better start running, like, tomorrow.

  2. A.M.B. says:

    Congratulations!! Though a bit chilly in the beginning, it sounds like you had great weather for running. I organize a 5K in my area (as a fundraiser for our preschool) and it’s very cold that time of year. It never bothers the runners, though. It’s a different story for the volunteers. I usually can’t feel my feet by the end of it!

  3. Jenny says:

    Congratulations, Anna! You’re amazing and impressive.

  4. hollyida says:

    Oh, Anna, this totally made me cry. I’ve put off reading this post because I’m not allowed to run right now and I thought your blog would just make me feel jealous and sad. Instead it inspired me and made me hopeful. *hug* You are not just a fantastic runner (great time!), but a wonderful person. I feel very fortunate to know you.
    Congratulations!!!! And if you ran today, I hope it was a good one and you’re not too sore. *one more hug*

    • Thank you, Holly! I started feeling less sore on Thursday and went for a run with Beth! It was great! I’m ready to get back to a more normal running schedule now, with less mileage! You’re so sweet. Thank you!

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