I am finally home from Tucson and wanted to fill y'all in on how it all went.
I went into this race with absolute uncertainty how I'd perform. Stress can pull the rug right out from under you and I had my share -- add the little fact I really have a lot of pre-marathon anxiety...well, how I'd perform was just a mystery. But I got to the start line at Tucson and I decided that no matter how it all unfolded, I would use this race s a turning point in my life and the finish line time was just that - a time. Normally, I'm so afraid of where to start, where to pick up the pace, pace group or not, where to hold back....the list is extensive. The marathon is such a game of strategy and play it wrong, you pay the price at the end. Most know of that dreadful death march at the end by not playing the game correctly.
But I got a fax from a friend the night before my race. A dear friend and he told me this:
.... my wish is that this race becomes a turning point in your life. A day you discover an inner strength you never knew was within you......don't worry about setting a PR.....your running is a wonderful gift and this race should be a celebration of that. Savor every step you take Sunday.....nothing would please me more than to know you will look down at the medal around your neck and smile with pride.
He was right. This race was not about a PR or impressing others or proving to myself that I had one more marathon in me this year. This race was about a new beginning. I decided to run and not worry about anything other than giving it my all.
And all I did. Today I literally am sore in every place on my body; apparently there are body parts that can get sore that I never knew existed! I had to push with every ounce of body fiber otherwise I wouldn't feel so much pain right now!
I will write more race details and include pictures later when I have more time, so will just sum up the race as this: I have never fought so hard and felt so complete after running a marathon. After mile 9, I faced the fiercest winds I've ever encountered - EVER! I fought them head-on for 17 miles and every second of it royally sucked. As a smallish race, there was not a lot of people around me so I'd try to run up to groups or a larger male so they could block my wind. I'm sure I annoyed those around me doing this ... but I didn't care. I used every ounce of physical power I had to stay in this game. I fought like mad to not lose ground. I refused to give up and walk when I was almost in tears from this ridiculous wind. I was on course to smash my PR (3:46:13) by several minutes .... yet the wind after mile 19 was brutal and though my mental strength was screaming not to slow down, the physical demands were more than I could handle and by mile 22, I was slowing a good minute/mile.
Despite being on course to smash my PR by many minutes just a few miles before, I hung on for dear life and I still managed a small PR, crossing the finish line at 3:45:59 (my watch. Race time has me at 3:46:00. I guess "they" are more official....but I'm still standing firm with the 3:45 time :) ).
A PR by 13 seconds.
In gale-force winds!
Pretty pleased about that, that's a given....but I can't be a little bummed that the effort wasn't harvesting a much sweeter victory for me!! So close....so close! But each of us go into these races never knowing what the race will throw at us that day; we hope we are prepared but we all have our physical limits. This relentless wind was mine.
I fought the fight....yet I still won!! I am very proud of that!
Tucson was a turning point for me, my friend was right. I'm now home and ready to tackle the challenges I have a little bit stronger now because I learned that no matter how fierce the winds I face, I can persevere!
"If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to your mountain, "MOVE" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you!"
-- Matthew 17:20
I'll write a bit more about the race later. Thanks a TON for all your support and well wishes - your words were there along the course with me reeling me in!