The Naperville Marathon was such a success for me. I honestly doubted I could even get to that finish line without having to walk a lot since I had just run a marathon a few weeks before, but it turned out better than I could have hoped.
The expo was easy to get to and easy to navigate. I went on Saturday and took my time walking through. Even bought some socks and a quarter zip with last years date because it was on clearance. I was a spectator at that race, so it counts right? I couldn’t pass it up. I had a relaxing evening eating pasta for dinner and then watching a movie with some friends. Got to bed around 11 pm and set my alarm for 5:30 am.
I had a whole grain waffle and a banana for breakfast on the way to the race. We didn’t arrive with much time to wait around, but I’m glad. Carly and I got right into the starting corrals and found Lexi and her boyfriend since the half marathon and full marathon all started together. We all ran the first mile together, then Lexi slowed down and her boyfriend sped up. I decided to stick with Carly and try to pace her to run her first sub 2 hour half marathon. I figured it would be better for me to take it easier on the first half since I went out way too fast at my last marathon.
It was really cold at the start, about 30 degrees, so we wore sweatshirts and gloves, but planned to toss them to my family between mile 3 and 4. See picture below: (I didn’t actually throw my sweatshirt at Carly lol)
We got into a groove and were running solid miles, but the hills were killing Carly. I’m lucky I live in such a hilly area so hills don’t bother me much, but they’re definitely hard if you’re not used to them. We slowed down, but were still going to be close to hitting the 2 hour mark. Unfortunately, miles 11 and 12 Carly felt like her legs weren’t moving. She still ran about 9:40 miles, but it wasn’t enough to break 2 hours. Next time! Really proud of her. She finished in about 2:02 and I loved having the company for the first 13.1 miles.
After I made the turn to head towards mile 14 and Carly went towards the finish, I picked up speed. I had to pee and rather than try to hold it and then have no choice but to stop at mile 24 and lose 5 minutes due to locked legs (lesson learned from my last marathon), I stopped at the next out house I saw. It was a quick 45 second stop and then I was on my way. SO happy I did this. I hate stopping, but it was necessary and I was much smarter this time around.
I felt great for miles 14-18. I picked up speed each mile. At mile 18 my left ankle felt like it “locked”. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but it caused me to change my stride. I favored my right leg for the rest of the race. It wasn’t a pain that caused me to stop, but something was definitely off. It freaked me out a bit, but right at the mile 19 marker “Fight Song” came on and I knew I could make it. I sang along a bit and realized 7 more miles really wasn’t that far. I continued to pick up speed.
Last marathon, miles 22-25 were awful. I kind of bonked, had to stop and pee, walked for about five minutes, and felt defeated. I still had a great time, but I did not finish well and it kind of made the finish line feeling “less happy”. This race was the exact opposite. I felt GREAT. I didn’t walk at all. I loved all the spectators along the way and said thank you to everyone who called out my name or bib number. They make such a difference. I swear I had a smile on my face the whole last 6 miles. I was SHOCKED by how great I felt. Each mile was getting faster and going by quicker. I felt like in the blink of an eye I was nearing the finish line. This is how I should always feel. Mile 25-26.2 was my fastest of the race at 8:25 pace. I really didn’t have expectations going in to this race, but I definitely did not think I would have another sub 4 hour marathon.
Running to that finish line was amazing. People were screaming. I felt on fire. I passed my family just after the 26 mile marker and shouted, “Now this is how you run a marathon!”. Talk about a runner’s high. I even shed a couple tears as I got my medal. I finished at 3:55:50. Only about a minute and a half slower than my PR at my October 10th marathon, but the difference in how I felt was amazing. I was so happy. Sure, my legs hurt and I was tired, but not exhausted or in any real pain. I wasn’t nauseous or dizzy like last time. I was fine. I’ll never forget this race. I never thought I could run two marathons in a month, let alone two sub 4 hour marathons. It’s true that you never really know what you’re capable of until you try. I’m so glad I tried.
This race was so well organized. I got my extra medal for the Valley and ‘Ville Fall Distance Challenge so easily. (That thing is huge!) Found my family easily and then we went to nearby bar to get my free “Victory Lap” beer. The weather was perfect. About 50 degrees and sunny at the end. And I truly felt on top of the world.
This race made me love the marathon distance even more than I already did. I can’t wait to run another in 2016. And I’m saying it now, so that I can’t back out. I will be making a Boston Qualifier attempt at my next marathon. It will take a lot of work to get there, but I’m ready to put in the work. That is after I can walk normally again…