Bellingham Bay Marathon
After putting in so many training miles through the summer, I was rewarded with the best first marathon experience EVER at the Bellingham Bay Marathon this past weekend!
Because this was my first marathon I had no time goal, I just wanted to finish. I was exhausted both mentally and physically from all the long hours running. I had convinced myself that this would be my one marathon and I wouldn’t go through another training cycle, giving up so much of my summer to hitting the pavement. But this race would change my mind!
I arrived in Bellingham on Friday night and spent most of Saturday catching up with friends, visiting and eating. I attended WWU, so Bellingham has a special place in my heart, it always feels like coming home. Saturday night rolled around and I prepared all of the things I would need for race day and tried to get mentally prepared for every mile before hitting the sheets. I was far less nervous for this race than my first half and actually got a full night of sleep!
Sunday morning I got ready and my husband dropped me off out at Lummi. Our family friend volunteers for the race so it was nice to see a familiar face right before the start. Drank my Nuun, ate a banana with peanut butter, warmed up and it was go time! I decided that the 4:30 pacing group (about a 10:18 mile pace) would be a good place to try to stay, at least for a while. My two 20 mile training runs were about 30 seconds slower per mile so I wasn’t sure I could stay with them but wanted to try!
The weather was perfect: cool but not cold, no rain, the sun had just come up. The course was gorgeous. And the company could not be beat. The 4:30 pacing group was the place to be! The miles were just flying by as we chatted, cheered, and shared encouraging words. I met Liz and ran about 15 miles with her, she happened to also be from Tacoma and had a roommate from Onalaska (my hometown, which is TINY)! Marathons are a great place to make friends, who knew! We’re connected on social media now and hope to get some runs in together soon.
Shortly after mile 15 I spent some time trying to catch back up with the pacing group, which was the best choice I could have made. Getting back with the pacers, Gina and Richard, was key as they were so encouraging and knowledgeable! The furthest I had ever run was 20 miles in training and mile 20 was coming up quickly. I was mentally preparing to struggle through the last 6.2 miles but still really didn’t want to lose the group.
I was truly surprised to be able to stay with them through 21, 22, and 23, and still be feeling great. At this point I decided to strategically get ahead of them for a little bit by using the slight downhill on the way into Boulevard Park. I knew getting up Taylor Dock and those last few hills might slow me down and I still wanted to finish under 4:30.
Those last 3ish miles, I felt like I was flying. Like I was on top of the world. Like I was invincible.
I crossed the finish line at 4:26:45 and became a marathoner. A lifelong dream had come true, I had run 26.2 miles. All those miles, the time spent, the “I can’t, I have a long run tomorrow” conversations had finally paid off. Friends and family gathered to congratulate and love me and I could not have been happier (actually my hips really hurt, so I could have been, maybe a little).
I took Monday as a rest day and was on the treadmill Tuesday morning, I just couldn’t stay away. Now that I don’t “have” to put in a certain amount of miles a day or week, all I want to do is run!
Running has my heart. I would love to see it have yours as well. If you think to yourself “I should run a marathon”, do it. It’s 110% worth it. And hey, I know some coaches who can help get you there.
Thanks for letting me share my first marathon story!