First off, let me give a big ol HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my one and only sister Molly. She probably doesn’t even read my blog (that’s how much she loves me) but just in case, happy b-day sis, I love ya.
Now something fun-this time last week my running pals and I were eating dinner at a restaurant in Erie, PA. I was probably just about to finish my sweet potato tots. They were real good.
Now, why the heck would one travel to Erie, PA you ask? Or maybe you didn’t but I’m going to tell you anyway (also, if you read the title of this post which I’m hopeful you did, that might give you a hint)…for a marathon, doi. Not a Netflix one either. HAHAHAHA I’m hilarious. No, we were there to run 26.2 freaking miles. Saying that outloud right now really sounds insane. Anywho, today’s post is all about Marathon #6.
Like I said we got to Erie on Friday around 4 pm. Eating was item #1 on the list. Finding a grocery store was item # 2. If you’ve been to Erie before, I’d love to hear what you think. I personally would probably never go back. It seemed very industrial. There was a YMCA, zoo, and golf course all next to each other but that seemed to be their top attractions. The peninsula where we ran was incredibly beautiful, but other than that, I didn’t find it that lovely (sorry, just being honest)…besides the neighborhood we stayed in that was cute and adorable.
Moving on. After we found a grocery store (whadup wegman’s!) we settled in for a night of homemade nachos (did you know you can get a scoop of Carnitas at Chipotle for less than $3) and Anchorman. Twas a lovely eve. Even better, I got to sleep in a room that had a sign on the door saying “The Princess Sleeps Here.” So cuteeeee.
Saturday came and it was time for a little shakeout run before the marathon Sunday. It was real hilly by our Air B&B so ended up doing 2 slow and steady miles. A speedy breakfast and we were off to packet pick-up.
The packet pick up was super small considering there would only be 2,200 humans running so we didn’t hang out too long…just long enough to snap some super cute photos, drive the course, and become hangry.
For lunch we visited a tiny diner about 20 minutes away that was old enough to be on like some national registry of buildings or something. The food was aight, but the waitress was a hoot. I’d give them 3.5 out of 5 stars.
The remainder of Saturday was spent eating, lounging, reading (HARRY POTTER IS LIFE TO ME CURRENTLY), laying out our outfits for the run, eating, and eating some more. Dinner consisted of the most delicious fish tacos, a solid sweet potato, and loads of H2O. Then we capped the evening off with the Hunger Games and headed to the royal bed chambers for a good night’s sleep. Except I couldn’t fall asleep because silly Harry Potter kept enticing me to read more. That darn J.K. Rowling sure knows her shit.
Fast forward to 5am Sunday morning and we were ready to roll. I consumed one cinnamon raisin bagel with almond butter pre-race. Everything felt pretty great except the fact I hadn’t gone #2 yet. That’s always a bummer. It’s actually pretty silly how stressed out you can become from not pooping before a race. Anyhow it didn’t matter because there were pots along the course.
Now, lets talk about the course. 2 laps around the peninsula. Flat. I mean flat. One side ran along Lake Erie, the other around a bay. Port-o-potties every mile (THANK YOU LORD) and hydration stations ever mile. Sounds like a pretty swell set-up if you ask me.
Fast forward to 7am. 3-2-1 and we’re off. I was pretty confident I could keep my desired pace for 26.2 miles. I just needed to run the following to get myself a 3:45 PR:
Miles 1-3: 8:40 pace
Miles 3-13: 8:35 pace
Miles 13-23: 8:30 pace
Miles 23-26.2 AS FAST AS POSSIBLE
Miles 1-3 felt pretty good. My watch told me I was keeping between an 8:40-8:41 pace and all felt right in the world. Then suddenly I looked down at my watch and it had me at an 8:03, an 8:19, and 8:07…SHIT. Either I was going too fast, or my watch was being taken over by wizards and I couldn’t gain control.
Here’s how the remainder of the story goes…by mile 13, I was crashing. My legs were getting tired, and my watch now had me at a 9 minute pace. I was confused, sad, distraught, disappointed, mad, tired…all the emotions. At that halfway point, I literally thought about giving up. But us Fletcher’s, we don’t give up. As much as it sucked, I told myself, “stop worrying about pace. You are going to finish this race. Just give it what you got, have fun, and don’t cry.” At mile 15 or 18 (I don’t remember) I shut my watch off and told myself to let go of the 3:45 goal. Sadness but also relief.
Miles 20-26.2 were the hardest miles of my life. I have never walked in a marathon before but I had to this time. I don’t know why but at first I felt ashamed of walking. I felt like people might look at me and see a loser. Someone who couldn’t run the entire race. My legs and hips started cramping, my left knee went numb, and my freaking toes hurt. But I kept walk-running and crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 7 minutes. A time I’m still very proud of.
I learned a lot on this run. I also cannot figure out why the eff my entire body failed me (yes, I’m being dramatic). Could it have been too flat? Did I not drink enough water the day before? Should I have eaten a donut sometime before the run?
I can critique every part about the run, every part about myself, but when it comes down to it, I still finished a marathon. Yes, I might not want to run another one for a very long time, or maybe even ever, but I can still check marathon #6 off my list.
So here’s to all the runners-may you never give up. Do not be ashamed for walking, and know that even if you don’t hit your goals, you’re still freaking amazing. Also, it’s OK if you have to poop 2x on the course. Don’t be ashamed.
As fall rolls around, I am so incredibly excited to get back into trail running and cannot wait to run my first trail half marathon in October.
Until them, I’ll be drinking all the red wine and eating all the pumpkin bread.
Cheers to you.