Now that a few days have passed since my third marathon finish at the GO! St. Louis Marathon, I’ve had a chance to reflect on my achievements.
I had a PR. Crossing the finish line in a time of 3:13:41, I shaved over 13 minutes off my previous best marathon time—just 20 seconds per mile off of Boston qualifying pace for my age group. This finish time was even better than I could have hoped for, and I know I didn’t leave anything on the course.
It was a pretty smooth race, up until around mile 22, when suddenly my stomach began to cramp. I was worried this would force me to stop, but I grinded it out, and after 30 seconds or so the pain subsided.
Hills were abundant along the 26.2 mile course. I knew this was going to be the case going into the race. However, no amount of studying the course elevation map could really prepare me for how hilly the course turned out to be. The biggest dinger of them all was the finishing hill in the last mile of the race. Brutal. But now, after performing so well on what I consider to be a hilly course, I’m curious to see what kind of time I can post on a flatter course.
The only casualty from the race was my big toenail. I could tell my big toe was hurting in the last miles. It wasn’t until after the race that I realized it had swollen quite a bit and wouldn’t even fit in my non-running shoes. The day after the race, I investigated the toe further and found that the nail had changed colors to a bluish-red. I knew before the race that the toenail was pretty much dead. The marathon must have been the final nail in the coffin because when I clipped it, clear fluid and blood began to gush out. I spent the next hour cleaning up after and dressing it.
When I finished my second marathon, in Des Moines, I was very emotional. This time around, I was incredibly satisfied with my finish time, but I wasn’t overcome with emotion like I was back then. My subdued reaction, I feel like, came from having confidence about the training I put into the race. I was primed to perform my best. I knew I was better than when I ran my last marathon.
This race helped assert internally that the reason I run is for personal gratification. Getting congrats from friends, family and co-workers is great and all, but at the end of the day, I run for myself. Running, for me, is a personal challenge. It helps me in my daily life. It gives me victory.
I will take the next week off to let my toe and sore muscles heal, and as I rest, I think ahead to my next marathon, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in October. I realize at some point my marathon PRs will stop coming in 13-minute gains. For that reason, I’m setting my sights lower for the TCM. By October, I hope to achieve a level of fitness that will get me across the finish line in 3:10 or less.
Boston qualifying is getting closer and closer with each marathon I run.