Right after the group photo and with little fanfare, the race began. I tried to just run relaxed. The first two loops I had the good company of Sandy, new friend Donna I had just met that morning, and Anthony, with whom I'd also run the first loop of the Backass Jackal trail marathon in July. I averaged about a 10:15 pace for the first 6 miles, smarter than the first six in Bowling Green, but still probably a bit fast.
It was a pretty course on a cool, overcast fall day in West Tennessee. This is one of maybe two tiny inclines:
I really enjoyed the scenery. At least the first 4-5 loops. Then, well...... I will say I got a little bored. Perhaps lonely. After the first six miles, I was a member of Run It Alone. Honestly, it was a good time to do lots of thinking. I had been dealing with some personal issues, and I really gained some nice perspective during that race. I ran well the first 13.1 miles and hit the half-way point at 2:15. However, fatigue hit about then as well as Achilles pain (again). Starting in mile 14, I added some walk breaks. Around mile 18, I really hit a wall. Since I wasn't taking the race too seriously, though, I didn't panic or beat myself up. I started snapping pics and even posting on FB, running some, walking some. I walked a TON between 20-23. I spent time talking to God and focusing on being THANKFUL for being out in nature and for legs that could carry me 26 miles. That was the epiphany of this race: I need to be thankful that I can run marathons at all. Even if my legs aren't carrying me as fast as I might like them to, I have no doubt I can finish. And that is worth something. I may be walking, but I look happy, don't I???
From what I could tell from looping, I was the 4th female going into my last lap. (I think there were 9 of us, and two dropped during the race). However, as I was leaving the turnaround, I passed the next female coming in, and she looked strong and was only about a minute and a half behind me. That woke me up a bit. I decided to try to run the entire last lap except those two tiny hills. And I did! It wasn't a stellar pace, but they were about 11:30 pace miles, and for me at the end of the marathon, that's not too bad! I managed to roll into the finish at 4:56, about a minute faster than my Loonies Marathon (another looping course but much hillier and it was JULY in TN--HOT!!).
So, out of 7 road marathons, it was the 3rd fastest. I can live with that! For me, anything under 5 hours is a pretty good day. I WANT to break 4:30 badly, and I know it will come in time.
December 1 was a turning point in my running life in many ways. Perspective. Understanding. Epiphany. Change in attitude and focus. Who needs to wait until January 1?