Leading up to the race, I thought I could MAYBE run a 3:25, if the stars aligned and I had a GREAT running day. Then, I talked to Josh on Thursday, and he told me I’d run a 3:23.

Uh. What?????!

I need to frequently remind myself that Josh is always right. For the last marathon, he told me I’d run a 3:36…and I ran a 3:36. So for this…I went with it.

The run. Was. INCREDIBLE. From start to finish, it felt great.

I warmed up for 10 minutes beforehand with Robin and Hannah, which is something I’ve never done before a long race. But seeing that I needed to run 8:00-8:10s out of the gate, the warmup made sense.

The race was surprisingly small and I accidently ran into the 3:25 pacer from the very beginning. I’ve heard horror stories about pacers, so I wasn’t planning on staying with him for long. But our opening miles were reasonable, and the pacing was according to my plan:

Mile 1 – 8:03
Miles 2 + 3 – 15:35 (7:47 avg)
Mile 4 – 7:51
Mile 5 – 7:44
Mile 6 – 7:43

And this felt totally effortless, which was confidence booster number one. I was fairly confident I’d be able to keep up with his pace for 3+ hours. It was so nice to turn off my brain, trust his pacing, and know that at the end of the marathon, at the very least, I’d get my BQ and break 3:30. 

The onnlllllyyy problem I had was that I needed to pee starting mile 2. Not just nervous pee…like legit pee my pants pee.

Now, I have ALWAYS been the runner who is all about peeing your pants during an important race. It takes a lot to gross me out, and I totally support doing whatever you need to do to meet your running goals.

BUT I COULDN’T DO IT.
I COULDN’T PEE MY PANTS.

I tried everything. I tried doing it during water breaks, when there was a lot of diversion. I tried running slower. I tried imagining I was sitting on a toilet. I tried breaking away from the pace group and doing it behind them. But no matter what I did, I physically COULD NOT pee while running. For a few miles, I almost convinced myself that I should use a porta-potty on the side of the route. 

Thank God I didn’t stop.

I sucked it up, whined to Gabe/Josh/anyone else cheering for me who would listen…and just dealt with it. Once I started picking up the pace, I forgot about the discomfort of my bladder and started focusing more on my running. And once I finished the marathon…I hardly peed at all. (Fun fact—your body reabsorbs urine if enough of it is water, which mine most certainly was.)

Mile 7 – 7:49
Mile 8 – 7:39
Mile 9 – 7:40
Mile 10 – 7:46

Honestly, my full bladder occupied my mind for a majority of the first half, so I don’t have too many distinct memories of the beginning. There were a couple of miles where I briefly doubted my ability to hang with the 3:25 pacer. One of them was mile 11—where I also saw Jocelyn and other Oiselle Team supporters. It made me SO HAPPY, and it definitely lifted me up for a while, and erased the brief feelings of self-doubt I was experiencing. I also saw Gabe and his parents in this section, as well as Josh. 

Mile 11 – 7:36 (seeing people lifted me up!)


^^I told you I bitched about having to pee to every/anyone who would listen to me.

Another distinctive moment was in mile 12(?), where we had started to catch up with the walkers from the half marathon. Most of the walkers had moved to the left side of the road…but there were some who were proudly marching IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET with zero respect to the marathoners. Being with a pack, I somehow ended up running into some of them, most of whom were very apologetic and respectful, as was I in return. But one of them JABBED her fat elbow into my left arm, then had the audacity to turn to me and yell at me to watch out. Um…seriously??? I lost it, and started screaming expletives. Pretty sure I got some stares for that one, but I don’t really care. (One week later…I still have a light bruise on my arm.)

Mile 12 – 8:03 (HALF MARATHON WALKERS, SLOW YOUR ROLL, BITCHES. YOU RUINED MY SUB-8:00 STREAK.)

Half marathon – 1:42:03

I only looked at the official clock when I stamped down on the mat for the half. The official clock said 1:43, so that’s what I thought we ran, which was right on par for my/Josh’s plan. I remember thinking, “perfect!” …I didn’t realize until AFTER the marathon that we started exactly one minute after the official clocks, so I should have been looking at net time on my watch, NOT the clocks on the road. I’m an idiot. BUT, I’m so glad I didn’t realize it then, because I think I might have freaked out that we were faster than “the plan.”

Miles 13 + 14 – 15:17 (7:38 avg)
Mile 15 – 7:48
Mile 16 – 7:44

At this point, we were on the out-and-back section of the course. We enjoyed more flat terrain, gorgeous mansions, and sun. Somewhere in here—I’m not really sure when—I broke away from the pace group. It was an unconscious thing…my pace just naturally picked up…next thing I knew, the group was nowhere to be found. This was another confidence booster—because I knew that if I fell back I’d still run a 3:25—but being ahead of them, I’d be able to chip away at my time. 

Starting around mile 17.5, it was quite obvious that the marathon route had been changed due to Hurricane Sandy. We were closer to the shore, and I started seeing a lot of houses on stilts, or empty basins where houses once were. The route was MUCH narrower, and we were lead along pedestrian pathways, crooked sidewalks, footbridges…even a section of sand???? Weird. The wind also drastically picked up, and made me wonder if I should have hung with the pace group for a little protection. My left IT band started bothering me at this point too…not a ton…but enough to make me nervous. My miles slowed down here:

Mile 17 – 7:44
Mile 18 – 7:51
Mile 19 – 7:54

I wanted to wait for the last 10k to listen to music, but it was really quiet, and I wanted something to pick me up from the shitshow that was miles 18 and 19. The only thing good about these miles was seeing Robin on a turnaround point, high-fiving her, and screaming an adrenaline-filled, “I FUCKING LOVE YOU” to her. So, without further ado, I treated myself to my ipod at mile 20. 

Mile 20 – 7:49

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^^Just running a marathon and singing simultaneously, nbd.

Once I got to mile 21, I just kept reminding myself to not blow my wad up front on the last 10k. Tunnel vision was starting at this point, and I was ready to be done, although I did enjoy the quiet last stretch, devoid of fans (except for Josh at mile 18, to whom I removed my ear buds and proceeded to brag/bitch that I hadn’t yet peed my pants.) The last 10k went like this:

Miles 21 + 22 – 15:30 (7:45 avg)
Mile 23 – 7:38
Mile 24 – 7:33
Mile 25 – 7:49
1.2 miles – 8:48 (7:20 avg)
Total 10k = 47:20 

Honestly, I thought it’d be a faster 10k, but I had banked a lot of time earlier in the race (something I’ve never done before), so all I focused on was not getting passed by the 3:25 pacer and chipping away at my time. I also don’t think I expected to feel so good so late in the race. I had to keep reminding myself to PUSH, and that there was no “saving” for later.

I was holding back tears for the final 1.2 miles because I knew that victory was mine. I saw the finish line and said the words that have naturally fallen out of my mouth for each of my three marathons: “Oh. My. God.”

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^^Here I am, probably uttering the words, “OMG” out loud.

I also saw that I was on the verge of breaking 3:23, and I knew that I’d be pissed at myself if I didn’t break it (plus I wanted to prove Josh wrong that I could run faster than what he told me)…so I gave EVERYTHING I had, and absolutely SPRINTED to the finish line.

FINAL Marathon – 3:22:56

Gabe took this video at the finish line, and I look so strong…it literally looks like I’m just casually finishing a track workout:

Once in the finishing chute, it was SO NICE to just stand there for a second, and not get carted through, like other huge races. I caught my breath by the shore railing…cried a little bit…then stood up and accepted my medal. 

Then I saw Robin. The first words out of my mouth were, “DID I JUST BREAK 3:23??? HOW DID YOU DO???? WE QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!!!!!!!!!!” and we embraced each other, blubbering, hugging, and generally freaking out. (She ended up KICKING ASS with a 3:21, by the way…so we are both Boston-bound!) Then we waited for Hannah to finish the race, narrowly missing a BQ, but still finishing with a kick-ass time of 3:36.

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So…I did it. I ran a 14 minute PR…a Boston Qualifer…a 7:45 pace…a NEGATIVE SPLIT in the hardest run of my life. And I lost 20lbs in the process!!! Josh was only off by 4 seconds with his race prediction. This marathon success made running through the winter so worth it. As I write this one week later—I am still on cloud nine. I worked SO HARD for this, and my hard work paid off. I couldn’t be more happy and grateful to have marathon number three in the books. 🙂