Almost every summer and fall I get a little twinge of “FOMO” when I see so many people I know training for the Chicago Marathon. I hadn’t trained for a marathon since early 2013 and there was a part of me that was missing runs of longer than 9 or 10 miles. I was also wondering what I could do with the speed I’d acquired thanks to tons (literally) of strength training.
Which is why, when my favorite triathlon store and training group announced winter marathon training targeting the 2017 Miami Marathon, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up.
For the most part, the winter in Chicago cooperated. We only had one bitterly cold day (I think it was like 4 degrees) but even that was sunny and not very windy. We never had a major blizzard. We never had a major rain. I even managed to get in one long run at altitude while visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Sure, I had to do a lot of my shorter runs on the treadmill and sure I had to skip a few shorter runs towards the end of training due to time constraints, but overall I had a really good training cycle. I kept up my weight lifting. I avoid major injury. I enjoyed most of my runs and I definitely enjoyed my training buddies.
My only concern was what the weather would be like in Miami on race day. Humidity is my kryptonite and I’d been warned it could be quite humid. Thankfully, race morning brought cool temps in the 50s, low humidity…and rain. I honestly don’t mind rain, though. Give me that over a hot, humid run any day!
My coach and my main training buddy both told me I would easily break the 4 hour mark. I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe them. My best marathon time previously was four hours and 26 minutes. But, I have gotten faster so I decided to line up with the 3:50 pacer and see what happened.
Turns out that what happened was that I ran every single step of that race, averaged an 8:34 pace, and finished in 3:44:58.
Yeah, that’s a 42 minute personal record.
I’m still kind of in awe at how well the whole thing went. Other than not being able to find my group’s tent after the race and getting caught in a downpour after I finished, it was a perfect day for me. I created my own mantra of “No bonk, no wall” that I repeated to myself whenever it started to feel difficult.
I ran without a fuel belt, a first for me. I didn’t walk a single step, also a first for me. And clearly breaking the four hour mark by a quarter of an hour is also a first for me. I attribute these successes to several things:
- An amazing coach who believed in me, gave me workouts that pushed me, and gave me some great advice about race day pacing
- An amazing run buddy who stuck with me on our long runs even though he was training for a different race (and pace!) entirely
- My personal trainer at the gym who knows nothing about running but knows everything about making me stronger
- My husband who didn’t complain at all during my training (and who I forgive for staying in the warm and dry hotel room instead of spectating in the rain)
- Live Grit. Without them I don’t think I would have done a lot of the things I’ve done over the past few years.
- The weather gods. I asked for cool weather and I got it.
I’m not rushing to sign up for another race right now. I’m going to bask in this accomplishment for awhile. And work on building back up all the glute muscle I literally ran off while training!