Well, marathon #10 is officially in the books.
I arrived in Buffalo on Friday afternoon and immediately met up with my family. Six of us were there with three running the marathon, and we later met up with a family friend who ran the half-marathon, so it was a cool reunion/running hybrid visit.
We followed the standard marathon weekend routine: a gentle, steady rhythm of eating, hydrating, resting (while at the same time staying loose, go figure), and practicing the art of Fret Management. We feasted on Buffalo’s famous beef-on-weck sandwiches at Charlie the Butcher’s, and feasted again on pasta at Ilio DiPaolo’s. We hit up the pre-race expo; I’ve learned that it’s pointless to even try to exercise willpower at those things, and I walked out with three new running tops (hey, two of them were on sale!). We went to a beautiful mass at the Our Lady of Victory Basilica, where the priest told us the importance of ascertaining and using the gifts given to us [how fitting is that, the day before a marathon??]. We did a lot of relaxing at our grandparents’ house.
At 7 a.m. on Sunday we stood at the starting line. I’d had my bagel ‘n banana breakfast; I had my Gu packs in a baggie pinned to my shorts; I had my nails painted pink and turquoise; I’d erased all of my watch’s stored workouts. I was ready. The sky was gloriously overcast. A lady sang the national anthems for both Canada and the U.S. – Buffalo’s essentially a border town, after all – and…we were off!
I had ordered myself beforehand to Run. The First Half. Intelligently. Or Else. And, miraculously, I did. I felt good as we wound our way through downtown Buffalo and along the city’s waterfront. Water and Gu consumption went without incident. I hit 13.1 at about 1:34 – right on target! I was a happy girl, and instead of thinking “Crap, I have to run another one of those now,” I thought, “Ok, I’ll run another one of those now.”
The crowds along the way may not have been those of a “big marathon,” but they held their own. My dad and grandparents found their way to several spots on the course to cheer and cowbell (yup, it’s now a verb), and I got a big boost every time I saw them.
Other than the ones from my family, my very favorite cheers were the “girl power” cheers. Ladies, you know what I mean: the cheers you get from women of all ages simply because you are a woman and you are DOING IT. These cheers, especially in the last six miles, are AWESOME. I especially remember a cluster of pre-schoolers/daycare kids. The woman in charge of them spotted me and yelled “Yay!! A girl!!” And the little girls in that group got so excited! I smiled and flailed my hand my hand at them; hopefully, it resembled a wave.
And for the last few miles, even as I passed the drunk spectator who generously offered to have a child with me, I repeated to myself, “Those girls and women on the sidelines, they are why you run. They are why you keep doing this crazy marathon thing. And you will not be hitting any damn wall with them watching.”
So I didn’t hit the wall. I plugged along, and crossed the finish line in 3:11:07. Full disclosure: I was disappointed that I didn’t get a PR. My training had ended well, my race had gone well, but the clock won. I struggled a little with accepting that, but a couple days later, I opened my “Daily Kick in the Butt” email from Runner’s World and found this:
“That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.” – Kara Goucher
That was the kicker. And every day, I find it easier to shrug off the non-PR and focus on things such as:
1) I ran my fastest marathon since November 2007.
2) I had family and friends with me.
3) I successfully did not go out too fast.
4) I ran HAPPY. Maybe that sounds silly. I don’t care.
5) It hit home, probably when I successfully swallowed my third Gu with only a little gagging, that running is a gift to use, show, share, and maybe, hopefully, even pass on.
6) I finished 8th woman overall, and 2nd in my age group, and got a cool little trophy!
I can’t complain.
Some necessary acknowledgements: Thank you to the Buffalo Marathon folks for a well-organized event, a good course, fantastic traffic control, and post-race beer. Thank you to my family. And thank you, and applause, to the Original Pancake House, for creating a post-marathon meal like nobody’s business.
Suggestions for marathon #11?