I completed my first marathon in January 2013, which was a leap for me. I had been comfortable with half marathons, and finally decided to do the full. When I completed my first marathon in less than 4 hours, I completely surprised myself. It didn’t take long for me to catch the marathon bug. Three months later, I signed up for my second full marathon.
I thought Richmond was perfect. It was in November, fall weather, on a Saturday, and not too far from home. As the marathon crept closer and my training weeks were dwindling down, I started getting nervous. I had set a goal for myself that I only had shared with my dad and my husband: to qualify for Boston.
The morning of the race, I felt ready. I had put my training runs in and knew that I could finish. I started with four main goals: to finish, feel good, sub-4 hours, and to PR. Of course, all the stars had to align for me to have a Boston qualifying time of 3:35:00, so I simply had it on the back of my mind.
As we began driving to the start line, it started raining. The stars were quickly not falling into place for me. Fortunately, it had slowed down by the time of the start, but it would continue raining on and off for those 26.2 miles.
I started off and was right on pace: first mile, 8:26, second mile, 7:57. I started second guessing myself that I was starting off too fast and would end up regretting it at mile 20, but I was feeling good. Once I hit mile 10, I once again doubted my pace and myself. I had consistently had about an 8:00 minute pace up until that point, but I still had 16 miles to go. Would I be able to keep it up?
When I got to mile 19, I wanted to jump up and down, scream, and give hugs and kisses to my spectators. They were standing out in the rain, cheering me on and giving me all the support and extra pushes I needed to keep going. I told them I’d see them at the finish, and I was off. From here, I was on my own. 7.2 miles remained. At mile 22 I met up with the 3:35 pace group and convinced myself that I could not let them pass me. I thought about my family and kept pushing. I saw the mile 25 marker and picked up my pace as much as I could. Then it was downhill. Literally, it was downhill. I could see the finish line and heard spectators yelling my name. The hill got steeper and I thought I was going to tumble into the finish so I had to slow down.
Then I crossed the finish. The clock read 3:34, while my watch read 3:33. I instantly was overcome with emotion. Tears of joy rolled down my face. My family was going to be so proud of me. I was proud of what I had accomplished. It was a moment that I will never forget.
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.