“All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” “Walt Disney.
One of my favorite quotes & I couldn’t think of a better was to start this blog. Last Sunday, I ran my 12th marathon – getting there wasn’t an easy journey but with persistence, determination and dedication I made it happen & I got much more than I hoped for!
After running the Philadelphia Marathon in November with a BQ in 3:39:01 (BQ by 59 seconds); I knew I’d have to run another marathon & work hard to secure my spot for Boston 2018!
Running Boston in 2013′ – for years I’ve been “Chasing the Unicorn” in hopes of being there again.
I decided I would run the Shamrock Marathon in VA. Last March; I ran it through wind & rain in the midst of a storm finishing in 3:48:49. Running Shamrock Marathon (a March Marathon) meant I’d have to start training again 6 – 8 weeks post marathon. I was determined! Training was going well; I ran one of my fastest 16 milers (8:05/mile) – smooth sailing right!? Wrong! A few days later I started feeling tightness down my right leg (through the knee). I stretched, tried running = pain. I decided to see my chiropractor – it was better but not great. I saw the podiatrist wondering if it was my orthotics – still pain. It was mind boggling – what could this be? I knew for a fact my calves were tight, I knew I had very weak hips/glutes – could that be it? I decided to try a few things on my own & go from there. I couldn’t continue training through the pain so I decided to take 2 weeks off from running! In that time; I incorporated lots of hip/glute exercises 3 – 4x a week (exercises I will share in a separate blog). I focused on extra stretching, yoga & foam rolling. I also received a pair of insoles from Enertor – they worked wonders. Within 2 weeks I was back to running & even better running with minimal pain. I kept the mileage lower for a week or two to be cautious; I continued my hip/glute strengthening and continued to run pain free. At this point; I had missed 3 long runs & decided it would be best to defer my marathon. My heart was set on going for a BQ & with the training runs I missed – I didn’t want to risk it.
I decided to continue training & if all went well – register for NJ Marathon which is where I ran my PR (3:33:34) in 2012′! The race that earned me a spot at the Boston Marathon in 2012′.
I continued training, my speed workouts were going well, I had no pain on long runs, I continued strengthening my hips & glutes – I was feeling great!! 4 weeks prior, I finally registered for NJ Marathon!!
I decided again on a 2 week taper doing my final of 3 20 milers just 15 days out from race day! My body responds best to a shorter taper, anyone else?
Race week, I focused on extra sleep, less stress (basically planning meals prior, getting work done ahead of time at work, keeping myself from anything that could cause me stress including the weather – which I refused to look at). I planned my meals the week prior – focusing on extra carbs – lots of carbs. I planned to leave work early the Friday prior to the race, visit the expo & pack my bag that night so Saturday would be strictly for a shakeout run followed by relaxation. Friday I visited the expo, picked up my race bib then headed home to relax on the couch before getting 12 hours of sleep.
Saturday with temps nearing 85 degrees – I headed out for a 2 mile shakeout run. I was ready!! My legs wanted to fly but I resisted the urge! I stretched and spent the rest of the day relaxing; imagining myself crossing the finish line with a BQ! I wasn’t nervous this time, but instead felt confident; knowing that I put everything I had into this training!
Sunday Runday had finally arrived!!!! I was so excited!!! We arrived about 90 minutes before the start.
I decided that my goal was a BQ more than anything so I chose not to risk a PR (after chatting with a friend). My BQ time is 3:40 so I decided to stick with the 3:35 pacer & if I felt good in the later miles go for it. I quickly found the 3:35 pacer & we were off.
I felt really good! It was cloudy, 58 degrees and humid. I thought to myself, “should I speed up? Go for a PR? I quickly reminded myself – “this is a marathon & anything can happen in 26.2 miles!” I am definitely no stranger to this. In 2013′ in Boston I cramped up so bad I had to stop at a medical tent, in NYC 2014, I took a huge fall at mile 18 & was brought into a medical tent, at NJ Marathon 2015′ – the heat got to me and I dehydrated. On that note, I decided to continue on with the pacer! We crossed the 10k with an 8:12/mile pacer. I was feeling great, giving high fives, cheering. Paying close attention to fueling & hydrating as I ran. At mile 11, I saw my friend Martina!! She ran out on the course with an ice cold water bottle for me! I sipped some & poured it on my head to cool off!! Martina ran with me for 1 1/2 miles; at that point we were a bit ahead of the pacer & she reminded me to pace myself & stay with the group! She reassured me by saying “you’ve got this girl!” By mile 13.1 I was right on pace crossing the 13.1 mark in 1:47:40 (8:14/mile). Still feeling great, but in the back of my mind not forgetting that I was only halfway there. I continued to pace myself, staying right beside the pacers. We headed south toward Asbury Park – I knew just a few miles up we’d be greeted by large crowds & the adrenaline kicked in!! So many people cheering for us through Asbury Park then Ocean Grove as we looped around and headed onto the boardwalk! I looked down at my watch at mile 19 & my pace was 7:46 (my fastest mile yet). As we ran through Asbury Park – the pacer picked up the pace a bit. I crossed the 20 mile mark at (8:13/mile). I was feeling good but worried if I pushed too hard I may pay for it later so I continued on at the same pace. Running North back to Long Branch, I was feeling good!! I was right on pace but didn’t for one minute lose focus! The race wasn’t over until I crossed that finish! The pacer was a bit ahead of me & noticed them picking up the pace. I decided to pace myself – my goal was a BQ – my A goal a sub 3:36! I knew if I could hold the pace I had for the next 5 miles – I had it!! I stayed focus paying close attention to signs from my body. I hydrated, took my gels and took salt. At mile 24 my legs felt a little heavy but I focused on just keeping myself relaxed and focused! As we came up to mile 25; we approached the boardwalk. I knew I’d again see Martina; there she was! My legs were burning but I felt so determined. I yelled “Martina – I need ya!” She dropped everything & ran out onto the course yelling “Meredith, you’ve got this!” “You’re so strong!” “Follow the unicorn!’ as she pointed to the unicorn on her Boston jacket!
She yelled “pump your arms!” At that moment , it was all mental for me – mind over body!!! I wanted this more than anything!! She ran off to the side and said “Girl, this is your moment – go get that BQ!”
She ran down the sidelines watching as I left it all out on the course, sprinting through the finish!! I then heard my hubby yelling “Go Mer, go!!!”
At that moment my dream became a reality – at that moment I became a Boston Marathon Qualifier for the 5th time (2nd time on this course) finishing in what my Garmin said was 26.69 miles in 3:35:32 (official time – 3:35:38 – 8:13/mile – a BQ by 4 minutes 22 seconds)!!
I crossed the finish line 2 thumbs up – filled with so much joy!! I did it!! I accomplished my A goal; running my fastest marathon in 5 years! It was truly incredible; I wish I could take that moment & just hold on to that feeling forever.
I know my sister was running beside me that day, there is no other way to describe the strength, determination & power I felt that day! It was my strongest race to date & I know she played every part in making that day as magical as it was. Here I am 8 days later still on cloud 9!
After the race I was greeted by my hubby, who was so proud!! I then immediately saw Martina!! She was so happy! I thanked her for all her support! She is the best & truly such an inspiration to me!
I then met my sweet, inspiring friend Michelle who’s hubby was running his 1st full marathon! He finished in 4:19!! So awesome!!
Damian and I then headed over to our favorite little beach bar that we go to every time I run a race there!
We met up with friends; including my awesome & inspiring friend Mary who I met 5 years ago at our local gym. She ran the half marathon & will be going for her 2nd BQ this September; I know she will do it!!
I spent the day just riding that runners high & believe it or not – I am still on cloud 9 today!
After the marathon I took 5 full days off; something I’ve never done before but I knew my body needed it. I am back to running; just easy miles for right now.
So what’s next? Hmm. In November I will run my 4th NYC Marathon (13th Marathon). I have one goal for NYC – to have fun (no time goals)! For now its just recovery & shorter distances as I set new goals for myself! I can’t wait to see what’s next!
The road isn’t always easy & doesn’t always go as planned. Dream big, never lose sight of your dreams & never give up because “dreams do come true if you have the courage to pursue them!” I know mine did!
Boston 2018′ here I come!!
Questions about my training etc? Comments? Please share!
Thank you as always for following my journey!! @meretherunner14