Is there any other feeling quite like crossing the finish line at your first marathon??
Not that I’ve ever experienced.
Months of training, hundreds of miles, and hours of mental and physical effort finally peaked for me this past weekend at the Newport Marathon. And though I was seriously having some pre-race jitters in the 24 hours before the start, I am incredibly proud to say that I did it! Not only can I say that I did it, but I am pleased with how I performed, so even better. Before I get into some of the details of the event, here are my final numbers:
- Finish Time: 4:08:28
- Overall Place: 384 out of 751
- Division Place: 36 out of 77
- Gender Place: 154 out of 385
I had hoped going in that I could finish under 4:15:00 for my first marathon, so I am thrilled that I beat that by several minutes! I would love to get myself to a sub-4 hour performance, but there is time for that, right? One thing at a time.
I was definitely nervous going in, though those nerves didn’t really kick in until the night before. I actually did better then I had expected during my final taper week (though I still didn’t enjoy tapering one bit), but by the time I went to pick up my race packet the night before the marathon, I was all over the map. I was excited, anxious, doubtful and confident all at the same time (yes, that is possible). One thing that helped with my nerves was the fact that the race was really well organized. The packet pick-up was smooth; there was a shuttle the morning of the race that stopped at all the popular hotels, picking up runners and spectators to take them to the start line, and the race started promptly. All excellent things so kudos to the race director!
The course was beautiful. Even for someone like me who is TERRIFIED of the ocean and deep water in general, it was gorgeous. We started out with the first few miles running through the city, then headed down by the ocean and along the bay. The views were definitely a plus – sparkling water to one side, lush trees to the other, with a smattering of homes, shops, and ocean-front businesses along the way. The locals were also amazing – many of whom set up outside their homes to cheer everyone on. To top it all off, the weather was pretty much PERFECT. After a week or more of cold, constant rain pounding the Pacific Northwest, all was well. The sun was out, the wind was calm, and temps were moderate.
So, with all of that good energy, how could I not be set up for success, right?
At the start, I was eager to go, but still a bit nervous. But, I settled into a rhythm that I carried pretty well for well over the first half of the race. I felt good. I felt loose and strong. I remember at one point, around mile 13, thinking: This is great! Maybe it won’t hurt after all!
Oh, that’s funny to think about. Sometimes I’m just silly.
Anyway, the majority of the way things were really solid and I was pleased with my pace. I certainly started to notice some pain, though, and realized the error of my earlier thinking. My left hip and lower back began to ache around mile 18 or so. It grew steadily until the end of the race and during miles 22-25, I honestly was in quite a bit of discomfort. My pace slowed significantly (though I never once stopped running). At that point, though, it was close enough to the end where I could just focus on each individual mile. I celebrated every little blue mile marker I passed. When I strode by mile 25, I was thrilled. That last 1.2 miles was actually pretty amazing. Knowing that I was that close to finishing, the pain I felt became irrelevant. I was able to pick back up my speed somewhat and finish with a surge.
Finishing a race with a surge feels GREAT.
When I crossed the finish line I was certainly tired and sore, but I was also thrilled. I have some great moments in my life, don’t get me wrong, but the feeling of that moment is uniquely special to me. And it reminds me of how very important running has become to my life.
I’m already thinking about my next races and my future marathons. I never doubted wanting to run the race or wanting to run the next one. I knew even in those moments of pain and fatigue that I was ready to do it again.