Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Race Review: Maine Marathon

Sunday I finished my third marathon - the Maine Marathon in Portland, ME! I was pretty nervous for this race (more nervous than I can ever remember being for any race) because my training this summer really didn't go to plan. The heat was really killing me in the migraine department, I was super exhausted from my demanding work schedule, transition to a new job, and moving to a new place, and my motivation was completely shot. Not to mention I hadn't raced any significantly long distance in almost a year (my last race was the Dean Dash 5K in April, and before that was the Wolf Hollow Half in November 2014, so it had been a while!) so in my mind, this was going to be a tough one.

The morning of the race was nice and chilly (a balmy 40 degrees) and my parents and I had the unfortunate task of waking up at 4AM to make the trek up to Portland. I'm so happy they decided to come along with me and volunteer for the race - it's rough when you're up that early by yourself! We arrived at the University of Southern Maine campus (my dad's alma mater!) around 6:20AM and met up with my friend Cassie and her friend Lauren, who were both running the half. I even got to see an former lacrosse teammate of mine - Erika (whose wedding Brett & I attended a few years ago) - before the race which was great! Cassie was kind enough to pick up my bib and swag bag the night before the race so I didn't have to worry about it on race day! Once we all pinned our bibs onto our clothes we headed over to the start.

The race itself kicked off with a bagpipe troupe and the National Anthem and at 7:45 on the dot, the horn for the start blared and all 4,000 marathoners, half-marathoners, and marathon relayers were off! The course was gorgeous and took us through Portland, Falmouth, and Yarmouth, with beautiful views of the coast nearly the entire way. There were water stops every 1.5 miles (any long-distance runner will tell you this is amazing), bands and spectators nearly the entire way, and because it was an out-and-back route, I was around other runners the whole time! I guess the third time is a charm because after a not-so-awesome first marathon and a very small second marathon, this race impressed me to no end. All of the volunteers were great, everyone running the race was super friendly, and I had a great time the whole way through.

Surprisingly, I felt great for virtually the entire race. I was nervous about how my legs and feet would feel because my training had been fairly painful throughout the entire summer. Once I upped my mileage I realized that it was my sneakers that needed an upgrade, so I bought myself a pair of Brooks Launch 2s which have been so amazing! I largely attribute these sneakers for the fact I felt so great throughout this race. It wasn't until about mile 23 that my legs really started to feel it (mostly my right quad/IT band) and I started taking a few walking breaks - though I only had to take 3 breaks in comparison to the NH Marathon where I started to take walking breaks starting at mile 18.

Once I hit mile 25, I felt great. Not so great physically, but mentally. I could feel the finish line approaching and my parents - who volunteered to help out with medals & space blankets - were waiting to cheer me on as I approached the finish line. It was so great to receive my medal from my mom and my space blanket from my dad and to get giant hugs from both of them - now definitely one of my absolute favorite moments in my racing career. :)

I ended up DESTROYING my marathon PR by 26:22. How, I have no idea. When I was around mile 10 or so I noticed that I was on track to PR but I didn't want to jinx myself, but I continued to stay on track to PR and in the later miles this was a huge motivator to keep running. By how much I would PR I wasn't entirely sure, but I kept this in the back of my mind for more than half of the race, and once I saw the time as I crossed the finish line I knew I had smashed it. This is extremely motivating to keep running marathons. Knowing that I can come across the finish line closer to 5 hours than  6 hours gets me so pumped up. I hope that next time I can run a sub-5 hour marathon and keep improving on my time from then on out!

Overall, the Maine Marathon was awesome. I'm so happy that I chose this race as my third marathon. I feel so motivated to continue to pursue my marathon goals and train for the next 26.2 on my list. More details on that to follow! ;)

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