The Erie Marathon at Presque Isle was an incredible course to qualify on. It is flat, shaded and fast albeit a little windy in some spots. I was a little nervous going into the race as it rained all day Saturday and I had visions of running 26.2 soaking wet miles. Fortunately the rain stopped around 2 or 3 am Sunday morning and held out for the whole race. The temperature was around 60 degrees at most, which made for a nice, cool day. That definitely helped my chances!
Everything with the race went smooth but parking was a challenge and apparently it was from the main parking lot being closed due to flooding from the heavy rains. It took us about 45 minutes to park as we arrived at 5:45 and parked around 6:30. After a restroom break and some drills to warm up it was time to line up. There were pacing groups out there so I lined up near the 3:35 group since that was my goal. The start was jam packed with people from all over the country. I had a couple of women next to me from Texas and a guy behind me from Florida. Erie they say is one of the best qualifying races in the country with over 30% of the field qualifying. I was there like many people with that goal in mind. As I stood at the start and waited for the cue to start I was filled with a lot of emotion. This was my last chance to qualify for the 2016 Boston race. I HAD to get it done no matter what or I would be on the sidelines again next year cheering for my husband and friends.
The first half:
I would love to say that I had a perfect race but the truth is I did not. I actually felt pretty crappy during much of the first loop, which was a surprise. I had tapered but with training for an ironman concurrently I was worried I had done too much. I tried to just brush those thoughts aside as my left knee locked up and my right hip was aching and I pressed on. I thought about making it a training run for Beach 2 Battleship and just cutting it short but I knew I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't give it my all. So around mile 12 or so I finally started to settle in. Yes, I settled in at mile 12 as odd as that is. I then decided that this was MY race. I gave up a lot for this race. I changed my schedule around this year and made this race my A race. I could not throw all that training away. I would simply make myself BQ. At the halfway point you literally go over a timing mat with the finish on the other side. That was hard. I was at 1:47 at the 13.1 mark - right on schedule for my 3:35.
The second half:
I finally ran a big girl marathon! My splits were close to perfect - all between 8:05-8:15 with only one or two miles at an 8:15-8:20 pace - one being my first mile where it was hard to generate speed due to the crowd and the other at mile 24. I really feel like I got into a meditative state in this second loop. I enjoyed my playlist and taking in the surroundings and every mile I checked my watch to make sure I was on schedule. Miles 20, 21, 22, 23 ticked by and I never hit that dreaded wall! 24 I slowed down just a hair and picked it back up for 25 and 26. As the finish line drew close I felt the emotion welling up inside. I had worked so hard for this day. This was my 4th BQ attempt this season with 3 consecutive marathons in April, May and June a little break for tri season and then this one a few months later.
|Finisher shot courtesy of Kirsten!|
Post Race Celebration:
Steve ran to the car to get the "gift" he had made for me, which was a shirt that said "Cheers! I BQ'd Today! So then of course he had me put the shirt on and a nice woman took our photo so we could post it and share the good news with our friends!
|Post race with the shirt!|
So much of my day was mental. Sure you have to be physically trained to run a marathon but the mind is a powerful weapon that can work for you or against you. Even though I had a rough start I was able to send the pain below and focus on the task at hand. And it was So Worth It! Always remember that even if things are not going your way in a race you can take control of the situation. That is a valuable lesson I learned that I plan to take with me on my journey to other racing goals.
A special thanks to my husband Steve who believes in me and did everything he could to help me achieve this goal including running with me for many painful miles, to all of my caring friends and family members that believed in me and cheered for me - you guys are the best especially my friend Kirsten who took tons of race pics including the finisher shot above! I could not have done it without the support of all of you. And finally to Powerbar for being an amazing sponsor and fueling countless workouts and races - thank you!
I will be racing the HFP Deer Creek 70.3 this weekend as a tuneup for Beach 2 Battleship 140.6, which is three weeks later! After that I am taking a hard-earned break until next season!