This is the second post in my marathon recap series. I ran marathon #2, The New Jersey Marathon on May 3, 2009, a little more than 5 months after my first one. Over the winter and early spring I had trained hard . I can’t remember which training plan I used but I did manage to complete 20 miles this time around! I also started doing speed work, cross-trained with Pilates and biking, and lost some weight, which made me faster and stronger. I really wanted to run this marathon faster than my first, and I knew the flat NJ course and my amped-up training would help me.
I was less nervous this time around because I knew I COULD do it since I had done it once before. However, I knew this experience would be totally different from my first marathon. I signed up for it because of the late spring timing and the close location, but I was worried about the looped course (two identical loops for full marathoners) , weak spectator support, and the fact that I would be traveling and running all alone this time. It did start and end on the beach, though, which I loved!
I went to Long Branch, New Jersey on Saturday morning. I picked up my stuff at the very small expo that took place under a tent right next to the Start line. I knew right away that this would be a very different race than the Philadelphia Marathon. It had a much smaller feel but everyone was super friendly and supportive of one another at the expo. The weather was not looking good. It was dark and cloudy, and the weather report for the next morning didn’t look good either. It was saying steady rain from 6 am to 2 pm. I was worried.
That night I went to the hotel room and heated up some spaghetti that my dad had made for me to take. It started raining and I felt depressed and lonely eating out of my tupperware container. I decided to watch the DVD Spirit of the Marathon to get me excited and motivated, but halfway through I got a terrible migraine and was sick to my stomach. I was up ALL night with it (at least that’s what it felt like) and before I knew it, my alarm was going off at 5 a.m. I immediately looked out the window and saw rain. POURING RAIN. I got dressed, ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel and drove myself to the parking lot where the shuttles would be to take us to the start.
After waiting in the rain for a while the busses finally came to pick us up. This is what I saw when I got to the start.
All the runners were huddled inside a nearby warm to keep warm and dry. It was cold at that time but I knew it was supposed to warm up, despite the rain, so I had a long sleeved shirt over my pink tank top. I had a bad feeling about this race but I just told myself that I was going to run it fast and get it over with.
When the starting time approached we all went outside and lined up, and waited… and waited… and waited. The race finally started (late) and we were off! I was already soaking wet but I became warm after only a few miles and took off my black shirt. I didn’t want to throw it because it was one of my favorites so I tied it around my waist. I was annoyed at myself for wearing it in the first place, and having it around my waist was bothering me.
The first loop went by pretty fast and soon I found myself back where I started. I was so wet and unhappy that it depressed me to see the half marathoners finishing their race. I couldn’t believe I had to do the loop one more time.
I started hurting pretty bad at mile 15 and the idea of running 11.2 more miles overwhelmed me. It seemed impossible. I walked for a minute and started to cry. I was so disappointed that after 4 months of really tough training, my marathon was not going well and the weather was horrible. I wanted to stop, but somehow I kept going. I ran as much as I could but I walked a good amount too. This was disheartening because in my first marathon I only walked for a few seconds through the water stops. The race was just taking a huge toll on me emotionally and I couldn’t wait to be done.
Somehow I found a burst of energy at mile 25. There were some other women around me, and when I saw the mile 25 marker I yelled “One more mile!” and everyone cheered.
That mile was IMPOSSIBLY long and it hurt like hell, but soon I saw the finish line for the third time that day, and I was so happy I started crying again.
I crossed the finish line in 4:15:11. More than 20 minutes faster than my first marathon, despite all the walking I did this time.
I was extremely proud of myself but also extremely uncomfortable. I became very stiff and I was soaking wet. I made my way back to the hotel headquarters to get some food, stretch, and look at my huge blisters caused by wet shoes and socks.
I changed into my dry clothes and then waited for the shuttle back to my car. I ended up getting soaked (again)! I drove an hour and a half back to Philadelphia wet, smelly, and sore. When I got home all I wanted to do was take a hot shower and a nap. Once I woke up my dad took me to Carrabbas for dinner.
It was a yummy end to a challenging day. As tough as this marathon was for me, the feeling of finishing despite my emotional breakdown was amazing. I knew I had to do another one. This is also when I started thinking about running a marathon in all 50 states. I had my eye on another local one that would count for the state of Virginia, where I was currently living… The famous Marine Corps Marathon that October!
Stay tuned for that story and how I shaved even more time off my new PR!