St. Jude Marathon 2018

 

On December 1, 2018, I ran in my second marathon race. It was a doozy! Tough, Hell,  and disappointed are just a few words to describe it. Let me explain.

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I started training for the marathon in July just as I did last year. My main goal this year was to beat my 2017 marathon time which was 4:59. Quickly into my marathon training I knew I was going to beat my pervious time. In 2017, my average pace was between 11-13 minutes per mile. This year my average pace is about 9-11 minutes. I was significantly faster. With my new pace, I was predicting to finish this year’s marathon around 4:30. I continued to keep this pace and even get faster throughout my marathon training. I was confident that I would PR (set a personal record) this year.

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Race day arrived. I felt good. Even though I trained and prepared the best I could, December 1st turned out to be an unexpected and unpredictable day. First, the race was delayed 1 hour due to stormy weather. We were now starting the marathon at 9am. Also at 9am the temperature was already 64 degrees and expected to continue to get warmer. Plus due to the morning storms and warm weather, humidity was also added to the mix. I was thankful though to have Kayla and my sister at the start of the race. Even though Kayla was running the half this year, I am glad we were able to start the race off together.

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I started the race with a good pace. I was averaging around a 9:30 pace. It was exactly where I wanted to be. I kept this pace all the way up to the half, 13 miles. Then at mile 14, it started to go down hill. Around mile 14 my legs started hurting really bad. I had never felt this pain before. It was really bad. I remember thinking to myself that my legs can’t hurt this bad already, I still have around a half to go. Shortly after this realization, is when I had my first panic attack attempt. I felt myself getting really overwhelmed. I started breathing really heavy and then it became difficult to breath. I had to start walking, calm down, and slow my breathing. Because of the pain, my pace was drastically getting slower. The 4:00 pacer had already passed me awhile back but I was still ahead of the 4:30 pacer. I knew I was slowing down but I was still on track to achieve my goal time. Around mile 15 the 4:30 pacer passed me. I kept up wit the pacer for about a mile then had to slow down due to the excruciating pain in my legs. This is when my second panic attack attempt hit. I got so overwhelmed because I knew I was not going to be able to make my 4:30 goal time. I was eventually able to calm down and keep running.

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Miles 18 – 24 were a blur of pain and exhaustion. I remember being in a lot of pain and anticipating every single water stop because I was so thirsty and hot. I wanted to keep pushing myself. I knew the 5:00 pacer had not passed me yet. So if I just kept pushing, I would beat last years time even if that meant by 1 minute. Then I saw a lot of runners getting hurt. I saw runners passed out on the ground and taken away in ambulances. This told me that I had to ease up. I was worried that if I kept pushing myself so hard when I was already in a lot of pain, that I would eventually hurt myself. From then on I did a lot more walking. I had to stop several times as well to stretch. The pain was really intense. Kayla started texting me around mile 21. She gave me some much needed motivation. She let me know I was doing great and I was a badass. Around mile 22 or 23 is when the 4:50 pacer passed me. I was disappointed but I at this point I just wanted to be done.

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Mile 24 came and I knew I was almost done. I knew if I could just keep slowly going that I would finish soon, plus I still had not seen the 5:00 pacer. It was a bit windy during the race but right around mile 24 is when the wind decided to get intense. I remember being so exhausted and giving it everything I could just to run up the hills near the end. I remember a strong head wind blowing against me right as I was trying to run up a hill. I said “f*ck it,” gave up and walked up the hill instead. It was insane. Near the end of the race wind gusts were up to 25 mph. Plus the temperature was around 75 degrees.

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Mile 25, “one more mile” was my mantra. I knew I was almost there. I had only one more mile left, I could do this! I round the corner and see the finish line. I see and hear Kayla cheering me on. I make the last turn then cross the finish line. That was it, I did it! I was beyond exhausted and in so much pain. My sister met me right as I crossed the finish line. As soon as I saw her I collapsed in her arms and started crying. I remember telling her, “that was really hard.” lol Of course the photographer comes around right in the middle of me bawling my eyes out. I am really glad though that he was able to capture that special moment between my sister and I.

I was still unsure of the exact time I finished. I didn’t think I beat my time but I never saw the 5:00 pacer pass me. I changed into new clothes, grab some pizza, then went to the booth to print my official finish time.  I got the print out and saw that I finished at 5:03. I met up with Kayla, and as soon as I saw her I started bawling crying in her arms too. I was a mess. I was so disappointed that I didn’t beat my time and that I was only off by 4 minutes!

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I knew how hard I worked and trained for the marathon. There should have been no reason why I didn’t beat my time. I feel the main reason was because it was so hot. Now usually if I don’t reach my goal, I just try again. Its not that easy when the goal is PRing a marathon. I couldn’t just run a marathon the next day. So I will have to wait.

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I will definitely be running the St. Jude Marathon again in 2019 where I hope to beat my original time of 4:59. Until then I will continue to keep running, making new goals, and achieving those goals. Looking back, I may be still disappointed but I know I did the best I could. I still ran 26.2 miles! Not a lot of people can say that. Plus I survived through miles of excruciating pain but yet no injuries. I may be hard on myself but I still know that I am a badass unicorn and I will continue to fight and achieve my goals!

-Sarah

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