Last Saturday I ran the Eastern States 20 Miler! The course runs from Kittery, Maine to Hampton Beach, NH. A friend mentioned it to me a few weeks ago, and I jumped at the opportunity to run my longest run in a supported, race environment.
Conventional marathon wisdom says, as I have read, that one should try to run at least one race prior to their first marathon, to prepare themselves for the experience of racing – logistics, packet pick up, pre-race jitters, and the like.
I was meeting three of my friends, two of which were also racing, although I knew that we'd not run together, as their paces are much faster than mine. The race began, and we embraced and then started off, all smiles. Within seconds the crowd of runners coalesced, and I didn't see them again until the finish line.
I ran my first mile at a ten minute pace, my "pre-marathon training" pace. In the past nine weeks, as I have increased my distance from pre-marathon 0-20 miles per week to nearly 40 miles per week, my pace has slowed to about a 12-minute mile pace on runs longer than 15 miles, but that's OK, I'm doing this to finish and stay injury free.
There was a wicked headwind for much of the course. Runners stretched out along the coastline, and I settled into my pace, always keeping my eye on a fluorescent green jacket worn by a woman running in the distance ahead of me. I stopped at every aid station and thanked the volunteers and stretched. At several points during the race, I spotted a stealth photographer, my friend Adam; an ultra runner who was sidelined from today's race due to an injured Achilles. Whenever I saw Adam, I felt re-energized, sucked it in, improved my form, smiled for the camera.
Somewhere around mile 14, my left leg began hurting. I struggled on and tried not to think about it. At mile 17, I had gained on the fluorescent green jacket, and ran along with the woman, another first time marathoner, and we compared notes and shared encouraging words. She slipped back, and I ran the final mile alone. Soon, I heard my name, and saw my friends and my fiancé, Michael, cheering me on to the finish line. The clock read 4:12:30; about twelve minutes longer than I had hoped, but I did it! It was a great experience for me. As far as my cardiovascular, I think I can run all day. My legs however, have one speed, and it’s a slow one. Its taper time, and I am thrilled! Spring skiing for me this weekend!