After over three hours of running in the cold, rain and wind I couldn’t help but think: What the hell am I doing? Eighteen weeks of training and anticipation, all for this?! My gaze wandered to my hands where I noticed how carelessly I had painted my nails the night before in an effort to calm my pre-race nerves. “Jeez, did I paint my nails with my eyes shut?” Then I realized that my manicure skills were on point, and the light blue tinge was a reminder of poor judgement to ditch my gloves, as soon as I crossed the peace bridge into Ontario.
Cue the internal dual between stubborn runner, and reasonable health care professional.
I started to panic. What if my lips are the same color as my nails, surely they will pull me from the race. For the remaining miles my once pursed lip breathing was interrupted by a last ditch effort to hide my lips from those with the authority to pull me out of the race. I felt good (considering my situation), I knew I would make it, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy.
As the 3:30 pace bunny faded from sight, I looked down at my watch as I scrambled to do the math in my head. Can I still make it? 3:33.00 is out of site, but 3:35? If I keep my pace, I can do this.
I bargained with myself to stop at the next water station, walk for a bit to give my legs a few seconds to recover. I did my best to grasp and hang onto the cup of water. The cup barely made it to my lips when I caught the tips of the pace bunny’s green ears, and sign reading ”3:35”.
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
I chucked my cup, and did my best to keep my eye on those little green ears as the hopped ahead of me. I was caught up in a real life recreation of the tortoise and the hare.
Is it raining harder, or is this mist from the falls? As I approached the last few miles, the anger in my legs, hands and feet were starting to morph into mental anger. Why can’t they have mile markers AND kilometer markers. And why is my GPS tracker not syncing up with the course markers? I looked down at my watch. 1:13. Well you started the race at 10:00, you have 2 minutes. Go.
My mind drifted back to every mile put in during training. In the rain, through sickness, the sound of the 4:00 am alarms. As I rounded the corner to the finishers shoot, my heart sank as the red numbers flashed 3:35.25.
My goal was to qualify for Boston, 3:35.00 and I had missed it by 30 seconds. Your mind starts to search for the where and how you could shaved off a few seconds. I didn’t REALLY need a drink there. Or, did come out too hard?
The look on my families faces as I slurred “I didn’t make it, I missed it by 30 seconds” as I shivered in my shiny silver blanket, was exactly what I needed. If they weren’t already concerned enough about my self-inflicted blue fingers and wobbling legs, they had to listen to this crazy, self-destructive talk about not making my goal time.
I am a few days into my recovery week now and my appreciation of the events that transpired Sunday are a little easier to comprehend. This marathon has taught me is that you do what you can do on race day. Your body will do everything it can, on that given day to help you achieve your goal time. You have to “trust the process”.
The thirty seconds between me and Boston could not have been made up at any point during the race. That thirty seconds can only be made in training, in the preparation process. You live and learn how to improve your planning and preparation for race day. So for those of you in similar situations, don’t beat yourself up. Take every “failure” as an opportunity to learn and become a better runner. Your body hears everything your mind says.
I’ve accepted that this PR is an achievement to be celebrated, not dwelled upon. You better believe that I will be chasing that 30 seconds through each and every future training run, strength workout and yoga class. I’m still coming for you, Boston.