If I’m walking like I just learned to walk (come to think of it, it’s not a matter of if at all), there’s a good reason for it. My legs took me on a 26.2 jaunt on Sunday from Providence, RI to my hometown of Barrington, RI – and back – for the Cox Providence Marathon, my first-ever marathon.
I have always wanted to run a marathon. I ran competitively in high school and was even recruited to run in college, but once I got there, I wasn’t into the commitment anymore. Before taking up running, I had swam competitively since age 5, so I think by that time I just need a break from competition.
I took quite a few years off from running before taking it up again in earnest about 3 years ago. I trained for a half marathon, which I ran on my 26th birthday, November 4, 2006:
It felt amazing to complete that race, and I was very happy with my time. I do remember saying after the race, “I don’t think I could run another 13 miles!” – and being reminded that it’s all about putting in the training time.
I knew that a full marathon would be something to aspire to, but after finishing the half marathon, and without a new immediate goal to train towards, my running once again fell by the wayside.
It wasn’t until last Fall that my sister-in-law, Nicole, who had just recently completed a half Ironman with my brother, suggested that we train for the Providence marathon, which at the time was about 7 months away. I had just started getting into running again, so it was perfect timing. Nicole researched some training schedules, gave me a training calendar to work off of, and the training started.
Along the way, I have had support from so many people.
As always, my parents. There has not been a day in my life when my mom and dad haven’t encouraged me and believed in me, no matter the endeavor.
Audrey, who ran with me early in my training – without her on some of those late fall/early winter days, I may have just stayed in and kept warm!
Nicole, who always inspires me and includes me in things, like this 10-mile training run back in January with some other running buddies (including J and M on the left, who were also in training for the marathon. I’m in the yellow jacket and Nicole is next to me in the sunglasses. It was COLD… you can see the snow and ice!):
And the list just goes on and on…. my other sister-in-law, Aimee, who trained for the half marathon on Sunday. Knowing she was training, too, was so encouraging. My brothers and Audrey’s husband, as well as other family and friends who were always checking in, asking how my training was going. And one of my favorite Spinning instructors, who emailed me a few weeks ago to say she knows it’s not easy to train for a marathon in the winter. Just knowing people were behind me was so motivating.
The last few weeks before the marathon seemed to fly by. When Sunday was finally here, I couldn’t believe it… all those long runs behind me… the mileage tracking… the icing… the stretching… getting acquainted with my foam roller…
I picked up my race number and T-shirt the day before:
And then marathon day was finally here:
The support that I had throughout my training? It just carried right on throughout the race itself. I had my own little cheering crew stationed along the route every 4-5 miles:
Mom and dad had driven the route the night before, so they had mapped out the places they’d be able to stop and cheer me on along the way – not to mention give me some water, Gatorade or an energy bar:
Nicole, who got injured about 8 weeks ago and was forced to stop training, was there for constant encouragement along the way:
The marathon route was pretty amazing for me. Since it took me to my hometown and back, I got to run many of the roads I used to run back in high school. It brought back so many memories.
I ran passed the hill I used to sled down in the winter… I ran down the street Audrey and I would take to get to our high school… I ran by the houses of old friends… I ran by the softball field where my dad used to coach me… I ran by the country club I used to go for friends’ birthday parties in the summer. I even ran passed one of my oldest friend’s new house, where she was playing outside with her family.
On the way back to Providence, after one of the water stations, I looked up and saw my Uncle Rick standing there, waiting for me to run by. It was so unexpected, and I just remember giving him the biggest smile and wave, so grateful for the love carrying me through those miles.
I had a few goals going in. The first one was to finish! The second one was to do it in under 4 hours. The third one, which honestly seemed a bit lofty, was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. To do so, I would have to run the race in under 3 hours and 40 minutes.
When I got to the half marathon mark and saw my time (1:51:36), I realized that I actually had a good chance of finishing in under 4 hours… and if I really moved during the second half of the race, I even had a chance of qualifying for Boston (yes, I actually took out my BlackBerry and took pictures of my times along the way!):
So from that moment on, I had that goal in mind: finish in under 3 hours and 40 minutes.
And I did! My official time was 3:37:10 – just made it! And now the plan is to train for the 2010 Boston Marathon.
I have a few races I’m looking to compete in over the summer and fall, including one triathlon, before that.
In the meantime, I’m taking a few days off to rest and regain the ability to walk normally again!