T-minus 140 till the big 3-0 and I finished my second marathon! This was in Lowell, MA, the 23rd running of the Baystate Marathon. It was definitely way better than the first one – it felt great overall, both physically and mentally. I knew I trained well for it and I was confident going into the starting line, although I had nervousness and pre-race jitters the entire week before the marathon. My battle plan was to just listen to my body and dedicate each mile to people who I care for deeply and to people who are a part of my New England life. I ran without a watch and my ipod touch; my music was just the wind and random songs playing in head. I had four fuel gels, my mile dedication list, my “let’s do this” mindset and my trust that the water stops will have the water and gatorade that I need.
I was doing a 9:45 to 10:10 minute per mile pace based on my splits: 2:08:25 at 13. 1 mi (21.1km) and3:10:23 at 18.6 mi (30km). Ideally, I could have pushed for an under 4:30 finish, however on my way to mile 20, the notorious “marathoner’s WALL”, I had a cramp in my left gastrocnemius. I definitely had the wall alright, and the next 3 or so miles was a lot of struggle, mentally and physically. I had to stop several times to shake off the cramp and stretch the muscles, and had to be satisfied with a walk-run-walk system (instead of walking only during water stops). It felt like I let myself down for a moment, but thanks to my mile dedications, I was able to push myself and do it not only for me, but for the people in my list. The mile dedications were also a great way to engage in my own communion of the saints, a Catholic belief that we are all one spiritual unit, and that a prayer for one resonates and becomes a prayer for others as well. I may only have a person or two for a certain mile, but I certainly prayed for the people in their lives too, creating ripples of good vibes and prayers for them. It really felt good doing that! The cramp was coming and going, and eventually, I just told myself at the end of mile 23 that I will just have to close my eyes to this “tiny” discomfort and move my feet one in front of the other, doing a faster-than-walk-but-not-really-running pace. After a final water stop at mile 25, I ran the best mile that I could at that present moment and finished with an official time of 4:50:42! Wahoo!