After a few weeks of turning it over in my mind and going through all the "what if's", I decided to see what I was capable of. I had already registered for the Sugarloaf Marathon in northern Maine the day before the challenge was scheduled to start, so I decided to add two marathons after that. Before I knew it, I was signed up for Sugarloaf on Sunday; Portland, Maine on Monday; and Nashua, New Hampshire on Tuesday. Yikes.
Fast forward to this Sunday, where I had the race of my life at Sugarloaf. Even though I was trying to hold back to conserve energy for the two marathons to follow, I took 16 minutes off my PR and finished feeling stronger than ever. I also found myself enjoying every minute of the breathtakingly scenic course. It was a perfect day. Stayed tuned for my Sugarloaf Marathon race recap later this week!
After finishing at Sugarloaf, I embarked on the 133 mile, 2.5 hour drive down to Portland for marathon #2. As I would soon find out, the driving time after a marathon was almost as much of an endurance event as the race itself. My gas pedal leg and lower back were not impressed by this idea at all! But on the winding mountain roads through some beautiful countryside, this first drive passed relatively quickly. That evening, I began what became a nightly ritual of hotel hot tub soaks, foam-rolling, laying out race clothes, and getting breakfast ready for the 3 AM wake-up call. With back-to-back marathons, it was all about staying organized, and I had packed a different duffel bag for each race, in addition to a suitcase for contingency supplies. - rain gear, first aid supplies and blister treatment, cold weather clothes, and much more.
|Preparing for these races was no joke!|
|Even my car's rubber ducky mascot was glad to be inside!|
|This is my "not having fun" face!|
I decided to buckle down and try for one more lap to get to mile 18. I pushed myself to focus on the positives. The bay we were running around was beautiful. The other runners were incredibly supportive. I had some amazing people in my life including my crazy runner friends who inspired me and believed I could do it. And I had already come 34.2 miles over two days at that point. As one of my favorite Tom Brady quotes goes, "we haven't come this far just to come this far." That quote became my race mantra, and it kept me pushing on.
By mile 18, not only had my mindset changed, but I could feel a physical difference in my body as well. Yes, I was still in pain and tired and cold, but I felt strong and capable. I dug as deep as I could, and finished the last 8 miles at a SLOW pace, but with my head held high. With every step, I felt like I was accomplishing something that I hadn't truly believed I could do.
|One last shuffle across the timing mat!|
|Car keys in hand... get me the heck outta here!|
|What a difference a day makes!|
By somewhere around mile 12 though, my body had worked out its issues and realized that yes, we were doing this again... whether it liked it or not! My legs started loosening up, and my stomach settled down, and I actually started feeling pretty good. I was amazed that with each passing mile, my body felt stronger and stronger. I was doing it. I was accomplishing something that several months earlier (and even the day before) had seemed totally impossible. I felt on top of the world!
My last two laps of the 5-mile looped course averaged a 9-minute pace - almost a half marathon PR for me, which after three days of marathoning, felt pretty darn good! For that last half of the race, I ran with a huge grin on my face, knowing that I was reaching my dream with each passing step. My body was capable of some pretty impressive things. Who would've thought I had this in me?!
|Cheesy grin all day long... check!|
So two days later, there I was driving to western Massachusetts for one last overnight stay before the Old Colony Marathon in Westfield. With newly packed duffel bags and freshly laundered running clothes, I settled into what had become a familiar routine of hot tub, foam-rolling and race-day preparations. And once again, 3 AM came all too quickly! But this last morning felt different... gone were the pre-race nerves of the previous three marathons. Today, I had no expectations for myself. I was out to have a good time. We were running our victory lap.
|Good-looking Colonials in our matching tanks!|
I started off feeling stronger than I had for any of the previous three races. Both my legs and my mind knew what was coming, and I was ready. Positive mindset, locked and loaded! One of my incredible runner friends was on the course supporting us, and we passed him a total of 16 times as we ran loops around the park. The power of that kind of encouragement was unbelievable - seeing him each time put a smile on my face and kept me focused on my goal. The shorter laps also meant that I caught several glimpses of my rockstar runner friend on her 5th race in 5 days. She looked SO strong, and I knew we were doing it!
|Seeing the bell tower meant I was close to the timing mat and my runner friend!|
As part of Colonial Road Runners, my running club in Southeastern Massachusetts, I have been blessed to meet so many incredible runners and friends. They have pushed me and made me into a faster and stronger runner, and have taught me so much from their years of experience. But even more, they have welcomed me into their amazing circle and supported me through some tough challenges. All throughout the week, my close friends and fellow Colonials had sent us their support through text messages and Facebook posts, and reading their words of encouragement and celebration was just the spiritual fuel I needed to keep at it. That, combined with my runner friend alongside me, and her incredible husband supporting us out on the course, made me feel like I could accomplish anything.
|Literally smiling for 26.2 miles... my face was sore!|
|So. Much. Love.|
Linking up with Holly from HoHo Runs and Tricia from MissSippiPiddlin for the Weekly Wrap!