There’s something magical about race day. Everything falls into place.

That’s what I thought to myself a few Saturdays ago as my race was well underway. My goal finish time for my marathon was 3:50. I remember stressing about what goal I should choose for workout paces for at least a week… seeking advice from runner friends of Twitter, my high school coach, runners and non-runners, and fellow blogger-runner friends. I didn’t think I ever really had it decided until the 6th week of the Hanson’s Marathon Method training plan, when the workouts started. Seeing as how my one and only marathon in October 2015 was 4:20, it seemed almost too ambitious to shoot for this.

Sure, I had some really good workouts. And missed workouts from either my Achilles’ acting up, to days missing goal pace for a tempo run, to days I just didn’t feel like it… I guess I was in such a disbelief for weeks after I finished my marathon because I didn’t really believe that I could hit my goal. I was confident that I would, at the very least, come close to it, but not that I would meet it AND beat it by four minutes! But I had so many friends who believed I could do it. And I did it.

The Thursday before was a fabulous day at work because I already felt like I was on vacation. One of my coworkers gave me some chocolate and a Good Luck card. That really made my day!

How sweet!

My last easy three mile run two days before the race felt shaky. It felt like everything was acting up. I packed my bag and picked up two of my favorite sandwiches from my favorite deli on the east-side.

Friday morning we started the drive to northern Michigan (with one stop on the way for Starbucks, of course). My sister and I got lunch on the deck of the Weathervane restaurant and took a driving tour of the Hobbit Houses- just to get the real touristy part out of the way. After we checked into our bed and breakfast (the cutest- I highly recommend), we left our car parked for the rest of trip, and everywhere else we went we walked.

Packet pickup was quick. I doubt there was ever much of a line.

It was so nice not to have to be anywhere by a certain time. As I said on an Instagram post, “Even if tomorrow’s race is a bust, I sure did pick a great place for a vacation!”

I had one of my sandwiches for dinner and another half sandwich in the morning. (I’m a big fan of really good sandwiches over pasta dinners). And a Honey Stinger waffle. Race morning was  a beautiful 59 F. The humidity was about 70% but it felt cool thanks to the temperature. We got lucky since the temperature reached 90 F the weekends before and after the race. The B&B was located about 100 yards from the start- it was perfect. I wasn’t about to do a warm-up run before running a marathon. Come on! But I did stretch my hip flexors.

Before the race with my shorts’ pockets stuffed with three chew packets

I also saw my running friends Jeff and Donna before the race.

Donna and I

I really cannot give a mile-by-mile race report. No one wants to read that and there’s not much to tell anyways. But here are the highlights worth sharing. (And I’ll write a separate post on the course and race itself.)

  • Once the race was underway and I was about three miles in, I realized, “huh, I’m still on pace and this isn’t so bad. I can do this.”
  • I think it was about mile five or six when it started to rain lightly. And it never stopped raining. I was ready for rain because I toughed out many workouts in wet conditions. The rain actually kept the temperature down.
  • Probably around mile 9 a few people I had been running with seemed to lighten up on their pace to “conserve themselves since people crash later,” as they said, but I was feeling good so I continued to try to maintain my pace.
  • I planned to eat my Honey Stinger chews at miles 6, 12, and 18. Since my longest run was 18 miles, I’ve never fueled past two chew packets. Around mile 18 I got about half way through my third set of chews and I felt that I couldn’t keep eating them. I did finish the packet around mile 20, though. Bonus- I wore these Fitspi side-pocket shorts and they were perfect to hold the chew packets. I used the water on the course so I didn’t need a running belt.
  • Around mile 21 I STILL felt good. It was unfathomable. I share this in my most modest and humble self. I really could do it. I was doing it.
  • At some point when I was passing a runner, he said, “hey- you’re looking real good!” I didn’t know what to say but what it was, “ya know, I’m feeling good and I just gotta go with it!”
  • My friend who helped enormously for many of my tempo runs (over 12 hours of riding the bike alongside me!), Jess, appeared at mile 23 with her husband. It was SO NICE to see friends on the course and kind of them to take a detour on their own vacation. They are truly awesome.
  • The final highlight of my enjoyable (despite rainy) run was spotting my friend Jeff making a beeline to the course near the finish. I thought I still had more to go when I saw him. Jeff made my day. He got this picture of me as he briefly ran next to me.
Still smiling!

When I finished I could not believe the time on the clock. Or my watch. I was elated. Overjoyed. Shocked.

After a quick (and hot) shower (and holy crap chafing), my sister and I met up with Jess and her husband. We had coffee, lunch, ice cream, walked around the art fair, to the lighthouse… The sun was shining and it was a pleasant afternoon.

Since I’m a big numbers person I’ll share my splits. I officially finished in 3:45:58.

1:54:53 and 1:51:19 for the first and second half! I finished 86th overall of almost 300 runners, 22nd female, and 6th in my age group.

And some other fun numbers during training: times I cross-trained.

cvx crosstraining

I took about 2.5 weeks off with only a teeny bit of running here and there. I’ve resumed yoga once or twice a week and back to adding strength training like core, light weights, and theraband exercises.

It’s been a nice physical and mental break from running. Gotta tell ya. I really would like to do a 5k this summer and get another speedy time. I’ll probably do a few fall half-marathons- can’t seem to get away from them, funny! But I haven’t decided on any goals for them yet.

A big thank you to everyone who believed in me! I had so much fun running both during training and the race!