Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Phoenix Marathon

The marathon is complete. This is a story about the day I pushed my body to places I didn't know I could take it.

As you know - I have trained hard.

It wasn't just the 18-week training program. I've had Boston on my mind for about 2 years now. However, when I started training, I had a variety of health issues come about. From getting bumps all over my bones with joint pain to plantar fasciitis. I had my share of "road-blocks".

I also trained for a marathon last year, and couldn't run it because of a training at work.

So let's fast forward to the day before the race (as I gave plenty of training updates on this blog). No time to think about the race, as work was so stressful this week. But that's not to be discussed today ;)

I did the race with some of my best girlfriends. In fact, they are some of the best girlfriends a girl could ever ask for. We hit up the expo 1st.
We always really enjoy the expo as a time to just really soak it all in and relax! 

I took this obligatory cheesy picture. I felt  silly taking this. Becuase at this moment, I didn't think I was going to qualify. 

We rented a lovely VRBO on Tempe Town Lake in Phoenix, enjoyed our own home-cooked meals, and had a really relaxing evening. 

Sleep was your typical "pre-race sleep"-- very restless. Nevertheless, we all got some sleep!

We were awake at 3:50am and out the door by 4:30 am race morning! Full of excitement. I had my traditional banana with peanut butter (which was my fuel for every long run). 

Lisa and Amber (the 2 beauties on the outside) were doing the half. Sharon and I did the full. So we had to part ways at this point to take buses to our race start! 

It was a brisk 38 degrees. It was probably about 32 degrees at the race start for Sharon and I up in the mountains.

We arrived to our race start 1 hour before the gun. Plenty of time, right?

No. The lines for the port-a-potty were unbelievable. I've never seen such lines in my life. But what do you do? You HAVE to use the bathroom before a 26.2 mile run! Panic started to set in. But Sharon (my dear friend who has run about 20 marathons) kept reminding me that our chips give our time...not the gun! 

We got out of the restrooms in time, but by the time we got to gear-drop, the gun and fireworks were going off. We missed the gun by 4 MINUTES. I cannot believe I missed the start line to the race. But...there was nothing to it but starting to run, right? 

We had a pretty set strategy in mind.

The 1st 5 miles, we blew past hundreds of people at about a 7 min/mile pace. I also couldn't feel my feet because they were so cold/numb. 

I grabbed this photo off the BMO Phoenix Marathon race website. Great photo of what it looked like! Beautiful views!!

Mile 13: My goal was to be at 13 miles by 1:40. And I think we hit it about 1:39. Which gave me a 1 minute cushion to stretch out and use the restroom. 
(This is me about Mile 20)

Mile 20: "The Halfway Point of a Marathon". A marathon is 26.2 miles. The 1st half is the 1st 20, the 2nd half is the final 6! 

Sharon looked at me and said "This is where if you have it - give it" That is so true!! She also made me laugh at this point. She said "What does the honey badger say, Abby? You are the honey badger these next 6 miles. What does honey badger say?" And I responded, "Honey badger don't give a ****!!" 

Then mile 23 I started unraveling a bit. I felt like if I stepped wrong, I was going to fall because my calves were cramping up BAD. I knew I didn't have cushion to walk. So I had to keep pushing. 

Sharon was a big motivator here. She reminded me that I didn't train for nothing. She also pointed about that we are NOT going to come in 1 minute behind a Boston qualifier. We can come in 20 minutes behind. But not 1 minute! 

Then I started praying. I had to close my eyes and find the deepest strength to not just keep moving, but to push out a 7:30-7:40/mile pace when all I wanted to do was stop! 

I chased that 3:35 marathon pacer for about 1 mile. I knew if I passed him, I was sure to qualify since he started with the gun.....and I started 4 minutes behind the gun. I passed him at about 25.5 miles. I felt tears building inside of me. 

I can't really explain in words what I felt when I saw the finish line, and the clock, and the inner realization that I made my goal. I worked so hard for it. I started to yell "I'm really doing this! It's really happening!!" 

When we crossed the finish line, a few tears came out. Sharon and I hugged. It true joy!! I honestly don't tihnk I could have done this without her. She really helped believe in me, and push me to prove I CAN do it! 

I realized that the marathon is my favorite race. It is the true test of the human spirit, not just the physical body! I cannot wait to run in the Boston marathon come April 2018. (Assuming I get in the lottery. Hopefully 4 minutes is enough!!) 

Biggest thing I learned this weekend? One can truly do what we put our heart and soul into. I was never an athlete. Fast doesn't come naturally to me. I had to put a lot of heart to get this done. And I did it. 

Here we are post-race with our Boston-Qualifier hats. Amber and Lisa had great half marathons as well! They both ran super strong. Amber ran a 1:31 half, which is pretty impressive! My friends are fast...

We headed back to our condo, and cooked up sausage/kale/quinoa and sat on the patio and enjoyed a post-race beer. Guinness tastes fantastic after a marathon, I have decided! :)

Finally we headed to our traditional spot on Mill Ave -- Loco Patron for street tacos and ceviche! We were crashed asleep by 10 pm that night! It was a big day. 

I could not have asked for a better birthday weekend, or better friends! I am feeling pretty blessed these days! 


Runnergrl said...

Such a great recap!!The whole weekend made the experience one to remember! It is a pleasure to be on this journey chasing dreams with you. I am so proud of your accomplishment qualifying for Boston. I believe the marathon is a great metaphor for life. It's always a good idea to go the extra mile, and the run never takes more than it gives back. The run has taught us to Set and Achieve Goals, Practice Mindfulness, Learn to Adapt and Adjust, and anything is possible if you are willing to work for it! I feel truly blessed to have your friendship. I couldn't imagine going the distance without you and our Tribe. We make each other better people every single day. xoxo Love You Absters!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I have been anxiously awaiting this post! It's actually not nearly as long as I thought it would be! ;) You did an amazing job and should be so incredibly proud of yourself for accomplishing this! I really hope the 4 minute cushion is enough so you can get the experience of running Boston. And how wonderful to do this with one of your best friend's by your side! I'm so proud of you!!!!

Marlys Dotzenrod said...

That was so exciting to read as I felt my Adrenalin rise as you got closer to the finish line and felt your joy and exhilaration! You did train hard and really looked like a runner! I think back to your first Marathnon and how miserable hot and humid it was in Mpls that day. This is quite a different finish you had - WOW!
I loved the vidoe of the honey badger as I have never heard of that type of badger before. Quite the animal, I must say!

Amber said...

SO happy for you! You really trained hard and poured your entire self into this race. Excited to follow along as you train for BOSTON! What an experience that will be!!!