Meghann left me an awesome comment the other day. I teared up a bit reading it, but I cry at the drop of a hat, so that’s no surprise.
Bobbi had run the Boston Marathon, with a BQ time of 3:24 and Meghann had run 3 marathons, with a PR of 4:12. I wasn’t really sure how fast I could run Chicago, but all of their times sounded SO FAST to me. I’d never be able to run that fast.
I soaked up as much marathon knowledge from them as I could in the days before the race. Hopefully staying with these fast girls would rub off on me.
I finished that marathon in 4:59, and I was so happy with my time. It was a good 40-something minutes slower than the other girls’ times, but it was my first marathon. The former fat kid had just finished her first marathon.
In the year between that and the New York City Marathon, I trained and ran my heart out. I ran 5 more halfs that year and set a PR of 1:55:28.
I wanted so badly to break 4:30 at the New York City Marathon, and I did, running it in 4:19:56.
That’s a 40-minute PR. I knew I couldn’t do that between my second and third marathons, but I hoped I could take off just half as much time, and finish in 3:59.
I knew it was likely a stretch. I knew sub-4 was no joke, but I knew I needed an ambitious goal to aim for.
I read Dorothy’s post about figuring out a realistic goal time for a marathon. Based on my half PR, McMillan said I could do 4:03. In her post, Dorothy said “Often when deciding what goal you should have for a marathon it’s tempting to pick a number out of thin air.”
I’ll admit it. I totally picked 3:59 out of thin air. It was an aggressive goal, but I wanted an aggressive goal to push me. My body responds fairly well to marathon training, and so I wanted to reach for this. I so badly wanted to join that sub-4 club. For the bragging rights, sure, but because it would represent so much improvement over my first marathon. Because it would represent not only deciding to go for a healthier lifestyle, but putting my all into something and watching the payoff.
And watching Jocelyn come within three minutes of sub-4. Homegirl has gotten fast, and her just missing sub-4 honestly really freaked me out about my own ability to do the same. I’m not as fast as her. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t do this.
Last year I felt like my training was 100% spot-on, but last year I was also unemployed and had just a bit more time to train. This year, I have been really busy (maybe too busy?) and my training wasn’t where it was last year. Although I truly was satisfied with the amount of training I put in, I wasn’t sure it was enough for sub-4.
I’d read comments on posts on my own blog and others’ blogs about just missing sub-4 and knew how audacious a goal was, but I wasn’t prepared to back away from it. I was going to go into Sunday’s race in touch with reality but still reaching for the goal.
I started with Ericka, who’d said in a comment on my blog she was aiming for 3:50. Why the hell was I starting with her? Who was I kidding?
Before the race, I thought about how I’d feel if I missed it. I knew I’d be disappointed, but this marathon thing is still so new to me, that I knew unless I busted out a bunch of seven-minute miles at the beginning or ate a piece of pizza mid-race or something else equally dumb, I’d be proud of myself. I knew it might take a few tries.
Sure enough, I finished in 4:04:37. And I am happy with my time—truly, I’m incredibly happy with it. I ran hard for it and pushed through the discomfort for it.
But I have some unfinished business. I tasted that sub-4 (or maybe just my ponytail whipping my mouth? It’s pretty aggressive), and I’m not satisfied yet. I still want it.
After I finished the race, and even the day after, I thought it was too painful. I didn’t want to try again. I was plenty happy with my 4:04.
But since when do I give up that easily? Never. Edited-to-add-because-I-thought-of-this-after-I-hit-publish: I didn’t hit sub-2 for a half on my first try…or my second…or my third, but when I got it that fourth time I tried, it was so, so sweet.
Laura and I talked the other night, she offered to pace me to sub-4, and I am seriously considering taking her up on it before the end of this year. I always thought multiple marathons in a year, or even in a “training season” was nuts, but I’m starting to contemplate giving it another try since I’ve already put so much training in. Let’s just say I haven’t ruled it out.
I gots questions for ya:
Have you ever done back-to-back(ish) marathons? And tried to PR at both of them? How much time in between?
Any good marathons on the East Coast between Thanksgiving and Christmas I should know about? (I have plans the other weekends between now and Thanksgiving. And I have a race in mind with Laura but would love to hear what you know of.)