It has now been two days since I ran my first MARATHON! This has been such a long journey and one that I am sad has come to an end. This has also been an incredibly rewarding experience. I have learned so much about myself and am even more excited to train for my next marathon.
When I found about the NYC Marathon being cancelled I chose to run the Harrisburg because of its close proximity to my house. Harrisburg is a small race that doesn't have an expo so I picked up my bib before the race. We got there around 7:00 and the race started at 8:30. There was a nice enclosed pavilion with heaters that runners were allowed to wait in. I especially liked that there was no line for the bathroom until about 15 minutes before the start.
The race started promptly at 8:30 and there were no corrals. There were some pace groups to help runners decide where to line up. I wasn't sure where to up so I hopped in with the 4:40 group. The start of the race was not as exciting as I would have liked. I expected to be emotional when I crossed the starting line but I didn't really feel anything.
I saw my parents a few times within the first few miles and felt pretty good. The 4:40 pace group was all getting to know each other and I really enjoyed feeling that I was not alone. I also liked the idea of just following the pace leader and not worrying about how fast I was going.
In retrospect, I should not have tried to run with a pace group. There were times when I wanted to slow down some but was afraid to fall behind. I wasn't running my race and that is a mistake I will not make again. I split off from the group around mile 12 and was so glad I did. I slowed down and ran however felt comfortable.
Despite splitting off from the group I still wasn't feeling fantastic. Miles 14-20 were absolutely brutal for me. My legs felt terrible and I didn't want to be running. There were hardly any spectators, which I hated. Around mile 18 a long serious of hills started which is where everything fell apart.
My knees hurt so badly and only felt worse with each uphill and downhill. I was just going to walk to the finish line because of how miserable I was. At almost exactly the 20 mile marker I met a man named Robert who tried to get me to run again. I didn't want to run but I wanted the race to over even more.
So I ran. We ran together all the way to the finish and those 6 miles were my favorite of the entire race. I felt the best and happiest then. Throughout those 6 miles we talked about ultra running, marathons, injuries, and life in general. There were also periods of time where nothing was said and those were just as wonderful.
I felt so at peace running with someone else. I was and am so incredibly grateful to Robert for putting me first despite the fact that I had never met him before. He ran a 50K the day before and was running the marathon to put in miles for training for his first 50 miler. I am honestly not sure I would have run any of those last 6 miles if it wasn't for Robert.
The greatest feeling during any running race is feeling strong during the last mile. I didn't feel fast but I felt in control. We were even able to pick it up during the last half mile. I never thought I would say that I enjoyed the last 6 miles of a marathon so much.
I finished in just under 5 hours, which I am okay with. I would have liked to run faster but I did what I could. It was a really hard day both physically and mentally. Some days produce great runs and others, bad runs. Sunday was a bad run day. I wish I could have changed the outcome of the race but it is what it is.
All in all it was a great experience that taught me so much about myself as a runner.