I finished! I really finished! My first marathon on the books.
I got around to it just barely in time to check off a bucket list item that I casually suggested to a friend in a meandering lunchtime conversation 5 years ago, as something I wanted to do in the next 5 years… I don’t even remember who I was talking to and I’m sure they wouldn’t remember the conversation either but it stuck in my head that I was supposed to run a marathon by 2016 and now here I am.
The race went a lot more smoothly than I expected. After a slow start hanging out by the 4:55 pacer and nursing some deep concerns about a 5+ hour finish, as FiveThirtyEight’s marathon time calculator had predicted for me, I managed negative splits to then pass the 4:45 and 4:35 pacers for a nice round 4:30 finish. (As one friend says, “On par with the rest of FiveThirtyEight’s predictions this year!”) Still none too fast but very acceptable given my baseline level of slowness in running and lack of interest in training for speed. I think a couple of weird-tasting but well-timed gels at miles 11 and 18, plus Gatorade every other mile, helped. And the perfect weather today: brisk but sunny fall weather, slight breeze, temperatures in the 50s, ideal for running.
Oh and the cheering! I brought headphones so I could listen to music but the cheering along the entire course was a much better acoustic complement for the race. I loved all the energy from the spectators, their cheering and their cowbells, and all the singers and bands and boom boxes along the way. There were lots of fun signs to serve as visual distraction as well: “If Trump can run, so can you!” “26.2, because 26.3 would be crazy” “Who needs toenails anyways?” “Seems like a lot of work for a free banana…” The cheering made the miles go so, so much faster than they ever did on any of my long training runs.
For the first time ever I also had friends come watch and then meet me at the end of the race. It’s kind of nice to be loved! And now I get to enjoy my finisher flowers in their mason jar vase.