Breaking Four!

I am still riding an emotional high because of a huge milestone that happened this last Sunday!! And while I know I am way behind in posting on things that have happened since my last blog about getting a trailer to move up to Colorado (btw, we made it!), I wanted to get this momentous occasion out on littlefeats. Then maybe all the other unwritten posts I have stored up in my mind will follow….

So on May 6th I ran my first marathon in under 4 hours! Wahoo!! And you have to know that this is a crazy big deal for me, as this was my third attempt to try to tackle this goal that I have had ever since I set out to run a marathon back in 2008. There are posts about the other 2 marathons I have finished and the rocky journey I have had over the last couple of years with my running out on this blog somewhere, so I wont go into any of that in this post. This is just going to be about that most wonderful and glorious day :-)

And I am kind of cheating with this write up because really I am just cutting and pasting from the race report I already put together on this daily mile website that I post my running workouts on. But this post here will have a few pictures and some more race details to better the documentation for memory purposes.

trying to stay warm before the 6am race start with temperatures in the high 30s

just yards away from the finish line – almost there!
(and can you say, “heal-striker”)

Seriously, I HATE pictures of just me. But this is a very proud and happy moment, so I am posting anyways :-)

******* from my daily mile post ************
The final chip time read – 3:59:05 And oh my, how 54 seconds mean the world to me right now!!

For weeks leading up to this, I was feeling major doubts in being able to run my first sub-4 marathon. My training had taken a negative turn back in February when it fizzled into days with just 4-5 mile runs during the week and a weekend long. Only 5 times was I able to run a 40+ mile week in this cycle. But Dave (my brother-in-law) kept assuring me that “the base is there, Jo. The base is there. You can do this.” And then with all the encouraging words of so many other daily mile folks, I was left with much positive reinforcement for what might be possible.

But I still didn’t know what was inside of me physically or mentally. This would not be a race where I would give it everything I had because I was so fearful that I would bonk somewhere along the course if I tried anything faster than what would bring me in right under 4 hours.

Because I know that I am a slow starter for all race distances and that running even splits has never worked out for me, I knew I had to run the first mile nice and slow to warm up. And then after that I would start trying to match my time with the pace bracelet. I even set up my playlist for the first 2 hours to include all la-la-la, slow, and mellow songs to keep me from wanting to speed up too much.

So the race began and the song ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwo Ole’ started me off. And it was the perfect one for me! The sweet melody and lyrics matched my mood and I drank in the beauty of the course, the canyons, the river, the crisp cool air, and the unspoken fellowship shared by all the people running this journey.

After mile 1, I started to make sure from then on out that my time on my garmin and the mile markers on the course were matching up with the pace bracelet Dave made me (a whole new concept for me). I am so so so glad he had that for me! Because if I had strictly followed my time with the miles my garmin said I was at, I might have come in past my goal. Because the course ended up being longer than 26.2 and my final distance recorded on my garmin put me at 26.38 miles.

A great surprise happened around mile 4 when two families I know appeared on the course cheering for me!! They had camped out the night before right off the course and were there in the morning to follow me along the run as best they could. At mile 12 they drove by with more waving and “go Jo!” shouts coming out the window. I was so excited that I stopped paying attention to the road and tripped over one of the orange cones. Oops! But I recovered quickly and I let that moment carry me along with a big smile on my face for several miles. Then they were there again waiting at mile 17 and drove by me once more shortly after that, headed for the finish line. I loved that!

It was a very encouraging thing for me that even after the “hill” around mile 19, I hadn’t felt the need to dig into any reserves. I was just cruising along and enjoying every bit of the race. I was passing lots of runners and I still felt strong. It wasn’t until the bike trail around mile 22 that my legs were starting to feel fatigued and I knew I needed to conjure up some mental toughness.

With all the curves of the trail near the end, there was one moment where my shadow showed up to the front right of me. I saw a girl with a hat and glasses and two braids. It didn’t look like me, because I always have a pony tail. This girl looked like Lara! A girl who is a fighter, who pushes herself and runs strong. She was the one who had braided my hair that morning and seeing that shadow brought to mind all the words of encouragement and advice she had left me with. “You got this Jo” was what she kept telling me, so I let that echo in my mind and push me through.

My fast songs had kicked in by this point and when Mumford & Sons started belting out the chorus of “hold on to what you believe” I was certain I could do this. But I was still so freaked out about something going wrong in my body that I didn’t want to pick up the pace any until I had passed mile 25.

And then it happened, I was in the home stretch and I could see the finish and so many people cheering along the way. I gave it all I had at that point and ran as fast as I could to the end. I was pumped!!! And seeing that the big digital clock at the end had not yet reached 4:01:00 just double confirmed what my garmin already assured me of. I made it!

And what a thrill to see the folks who are the reason I could do this waiting at the end with hugs and the best of congratulations. I was so excited to see David (time 3:19:16) , Lara (time 3:32:08) , and Jon (time 3:02:43) – it was awesome! And even more so was to hear that those three and all the folks we had met up with Chuck (time 2:42:41), Nico (time 3:16:22) Aj (time 3:13:39), and Jen (time 3:16:23) had stellar runs, too.

It truly was an amazing race! Now I need to figure out how to knock 20+ more minutes off my time for next year :-) But with my daily mile crew of support, I know I can get it done!

thank you to all who believed in me and got me here!!


I posted all the other folks’ race times that were in our group of running friends so that you can see that I am by far the slowest one :-) But that just means they were already at the finish line to cheer me on as I finished!

And here are some other fun things about the race:
*Information on the Colorado Marathon: link
*The 19 week plan for training (and lack of training): link
*The garmin details for the race: link

It was fun to see that my last mile was my fastest because, to me, that means I still had energy left and could have ran faster early on in the race. So maybe, just maybe, I can shave 20 minutes off my time by next year (or the next). Because that is what I need to qualify for Boston, my next bucket list item…

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One Response to Breaking Four!

  1. asuh says:

    Congrats Joanna!!! That is amazing!!

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