Throughout this marathon training cycle, I struggled mentally. Physically I was doing the workouts, but mentally I never really found my mojo. Very infrequently did I experience that euphoric feeling that I use to get after a great speed workout or tough run. 4 weeks before the marathon I did a half marathon that left me feeling deflated and defeated. It was the first time I could ever remember thinking that I just didn't want to be out there on the race course. I questioned for the first time in my life whether or not I really wanted to do this running thing anymore- and that thought scared me. After the half, I tried to rally. I focused more and thankfully had a great last 20 miler. It left me feeling better, but still not 100% sold on this running business. I think part of the reason for these feelings is because it had been almost 3 years since my last marathon, and I had forgotten what it takes both mentally and physically to train for one. Plus, I was putting way too much pressure on myself to perform well, infact set a PR, at this next marathon. The night before the marathon I questioned why I was even doing another marathon.
Luckily, 2.5 miles into the marathon on Sunday, I found my answer! I am not quite sure why or how it all came about, but suddenly there I was, smiling, LOVING exactly where I was at that moment, in a place that just felt right. At that moment it all clicked.
I loved everything about this marathon! The Marines, the camaraderie amongst the runners, the course (yes, even the hill at mile 26, but,ok, maybe not the 2 mile desolate overpass) the crowds,especially their posters (there definitely were some creative ones out there), the weather, the way I felt, and especially the finish line. Not just because it was the end, but because where it fell. Shortly after mile 24, you could see the crosses from afar on top of the hill at Arlington National Cemetery. At that moment, amongst the physical fatigue, I dug deep, realizing how lucky I was just to be out here doing this thing, and found a second, or third, or fourth wind (at least for a few hundred feet!). But, receiving my medal by a Marine, in viewing distance of the Iwo Jima monument was, well...Priceless!
The cherry on top of this perfect day was that I set a PR! When this training cycle began I was hoping for a sub-3:20. With my training where it was, I wasn't sure if that was going to be realistic. My finish line time was 3:20:44. Under other circumstances, I might have been frustrated by the 45 seconds, but given the day I had, I couldn't be happier. I feel like I had the best of both worlds- being able to take it all in and enjoying every moment of it, and still doing a good time. I am happy! and ofcourse I have already begun to think about my next marathon. Talk about crazy. Two days before I was saying I was never going to do one of these things again, and now I can't stop thinking about which one to do next. I guess that's the power of the marathon- and why we are all addicted to these things!!