My first marathon, I wanted to finish. Period. And I did in 4:43. I had never been so proud of myself in my entire life. I cried at the finish line and couldn't believe I was in the prestigious club of marathoners. I worked so hard for that race and can't even begin to explain the flood of emotions I had that day.
My second, I wanted to finish faster. And I did. By 8 minutes. But that also came with a bathroom stop and throwing up twice because it was 74 degrees in December (I don't do heat). It wasn't pretty. And it took everything in me (and walking) to finish, but I did it.
This year, I've checked the weather, and it's going to be much better than last year (cold and a chance of snow...perfection for me!). I've put in the training. I've logged the miles. I've gotten considerably faster. I've done the speed workouts. I've cried. I've sweat. I've put one foot in front of the other. I've hit every training milestone I wanted to hit during this training season. So next Saturday, my goal this year is to kick the race's butt.
My current marathon PR is 4:35. And that was having to literally crawl to the finish line because of the heat.
My goal this year is (gulp) to finish in 3:55.
I know. I know. A 40-minute PR. But I know I'm capable of it. And (as you can probably guess I'm going to say), McMillan says I can run a 3:49 marathon. You know I swear by McMillan.
I know I was capable of 4:10 last year, but it just didn't happen. So I know if the weather and my stomach cooperate, I know I can run 26.2 miles at an 8:58 pace. I know it. I ran a half in 1:49 recently (8:19 pace) and finished my 22-miler at an 8:40 pace and my 20-miler at an 8:26 pace! So I know, deep down, that I am capable of running 8:58 miles for 3 hours and 55 minutes.
One thing I've learned to do recently is think in terms of time and not miles. During the half recently, I said to my running buddies, "We only have an hour left!" Which sounded much better to me than, "We only have a little more than 7 miles left!" It's all in your head. Running is a mind game. Three hours and 55 minutes is not that long. It's maybe two movies. It's four episodes of Law and Order. It's two half marathons. And to someone who has lost several loved ones recently, it is not that long. At all. It is but a moment in time. It's all relative.
So next Saturday, I may be running a marathon. But in my mind, I'm doing what I love (running) at an 8:58 pace (easy) for 3 hours 55 minutes. That's all. Nothing more.
This year has been full of ups and downs... Three family funerals including losing my Papa who was my rock...infertility... And through it all, running has been my therapy. I've poured every emotion into training, and I'm anxious to see how it plays out.
I realize I may not hit my goal. I realize it's aggressive. But I also know I've pushed myself harder this fall than I ever have before. I told myself I would run a sub-50 10k. And I did. I told myself I would run a sub 1:50 half marathon. And I did. And I'm telling myself now that I'm going to run a 3:55 marathon.
We'll see if it happens.