Boston via Oklahoma City

The most challenging scenario to be in during a race? When you are close the finish with a decision to make: hold your pace and finish in a respectable time OR put the hammer down and hit a stretch goal.

That's where I found myself in mile 24 of the Oklahoma City marathon. Ironically, it was the exact position I have been in the month prior at All American. There would be no shame in finishing somewhere around 3:42. However, for women my age 3:40 or below is a Boston qualifying time.

Anyone who has run 26.2 miles can agree that when you are 2 miles from the end, you just want to finish. Digging deep for that extra gear is the more challenging choice- it's painful, both mentally and physically. 

...still, that's what I did. 

This had been a great race for me, despite mother natures best attempt at creating additional challenges. We had 3 quick rain showers (just enough to make me grateful for a hat so it didn't get in my eyes) and powerful wind from miles 16- 19 along the lake portion of the course. I may or may not have drafted the 3:45 pace group. There are advantages to being 5'3.

The course took us through downtown, past the state capital, into the historic area (should life ever take me to Oklahoma, I mentally moved myself to Edgemere Park during the race), and up "Gorilla Hill". 

Appropriately named, this is arguably the race's most challenging hill. You quickly forget that though, because residents and spectators are out in full force dress as gorillas, handing out bananas, and banging on their chests. It was a blast! 

At mile 11, we ran into Nichols Hills where banners displayed the names of the 168 victims of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. I was a freshman in high school when this happened, but remember it vaguely. Speaking with locals in Oklahoma City is a lot like asking someone where they were on September 11- they are memories are vivid, fresh, and often personal. This race does a beautiful job of honoring the 168 – this stretch of the course was just one example.

Since both a half and full option was available, the second half was more sparse by comparison, but never felt lonely. Residents and spectators were out in full force, especially in Mesta Park and Heritage Hills.

Back to mile 24. Here's the conversation I had with myself: 

(looks down at watch)
"If I hold it here, I'll get a respectable time and earn my sub 4. It would be a great day" 

"Yeah, but if you pick it up you can Boston Qualify" 

"What do I care? The time wouldn't get me in"

"So, you're okay with ending your spring race season on missing BQ by a minute or two? Wouldn't it be sweet to go out on a high note? Don't you have more in the tank?"

"Nobody will ever know if I just hold this pace and call it a day"

"You're better than that"

...and I was. I earned a Boston qualifying time in 3:38:01 and 8th in my age group, 202 overall (top 10% of entire field). I'm most proud of the last 2 miles and winning the battle with myself. Taking the harder road feels good.

Boston via All American (again!)

I did not plan to run the All American marathon. I had registered for the half, intended as a long run within my Oklahoma City training plan. Once I saw a forecast for beautiful weather and felt my body was healthy enough to pull it off, I bumped up registration at the expo- totally on a whim. 
24 hours ago, it was 13.1
"Runs" in the family
A cannon, rather than gun, marks the start of this race
I have described this race in detail in a previous post, so I'll spare details here. How does one approach 26.2 miles on a whim? Same way she does when it's planned out months in advance. 

"Run the first 10 miles with your brain. Run the second 10 miles with your legs. Run the last 6.2 miles with your heart.”

Put another way: the first 10 miles is the warmup. The second 10 miles is the workout. The last 6.2 miles is the race.

That's probably the best advice I’ve been fortunate enough to receive and the way I approached my 48th lifetime marathon. 
The Blue Mile memorializes those who gave all
Best part of the course, thanks to Wear Bluek
In the pain cave
Just as any race effort, the last 6.2 miles were tough. There were several points where I knew I could either hold pace and earn a respectable sub 4 hour time OR put the hammer down. I chose the latter.

It was painful.

It was worth it.

Last 100 meters. Feels like 100 miles.
On Sunday, I earned my second Boston qualifying time since the Goodwin triplets were born. Once I had crossed the finish line (where the clock read 3:40:03), I knew that I either missed it by a few seconds or secured it by a few. Thanks to chip time, – I BQed by 9 seconds (3:39:51) and earned 6th female overall while I was at it. 

I'm proud of answering the call to dig deep and can say, without a doubt, I ran the last 6.2 with my heart.
BQ- by the skin of my teeth!

Great 13.1 for Mom, 26.2 for me

5 Mistakes I Made at my 46th Marathon

14 years ago, I ran my first marathon in Georgia. It took roughly 5 hours and 20 minutes.  After that race, I ran more marathons in different states- neat way to combine a love for travel with my hobby. I set a goal to run one in each of the 50 states, hence this blog.

Along the way, I got faster. Soon, the "stretch goal" became to do each state in under 4 hours. Obviously, the best way to do this is to just run the initial marathon in under 4. That doesn't always go as planned.

While I only have 9 states to go to fulfill my initial goal, I have 24 to do in under 4. The Georgia Fitness Marathon was a "do over" state for me. It was my 46th lifetime marathon, so you'd think I would have made less mistakes. Nope.

Here, in no specific order, are 5 mistakes I made: 
1. Didn't look at the course map
Two 13.1 mile loops- ironically similar to my first marathon at Tybee Island. I don't recommend this- way too mentally draining.

2. Made a wrong turn (twice)

I'm very grateful to the good folks at North Gwinnett High School for providing volunteers. My piece of advice for 2018 is to brief said volunteers on the entire course- not just the single turn they are stationed at. 

 During my second loop back in George Pierce Park, the same thing happened twice: a friendly volunteer said "take a right here!" but then had no clue what I should do at the next immediate fork on the greenway. There were only 35 marathoners total, so "just follow the person in front of you" wasn't a strategy.  I quickly self corrected after wrong turns were made, but estimate I ran about a mile and a half extra because the course wasn't marked appropriately. 

I knew there was a possibility of this in an inaugural race...but didn't seriously think it would happen. I "knew" the possibility about like I "knew" the possibility of having multiples with an IUI.

In speaking with other runners (one who made 3 wrong turns, another who had to jump over a utility vehicle that was blocking the course), I think I got off pretty easy with a 28 mile day. Bonus: I was so angry in the later miles that adrenaline masked the pain I typically feel at mile 24 and beyond.
3 out of 3 runners WILL take a wrong turn on this course

3. Forgot to check the weather

It was 35 at the start. I packed a tank top and shorts to run in.

4. Didn't pack breakfast

What kind of Starbucks doesn't open until 6:30 am?!

5. Forgot to look at the positives
I ran a 3:38:21 and got my sub 4 Georgia marathon. I placed second female overall, less than a minute from the leader. I got to do something I love. It was a great day and those are the things I'm holding on to from this experience. To God be the glory!