Jacksonville Marathon 2017

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Marathon #12 is finally in the books! It’s no news that a lifetime goal of mine is to finish a marathon in each state and, in order to join the 50 States Marathon Club, I have to have at least 10 states under my belt.

The truth is that I haven’t train for a marathon since summer 2016. Life has been hectic and throwing a bunch of curve balls at me so the last 3 marathons I’ve ran have been kind of a last-minute decision.

I haven’t been able to organize my race calendar for the past year so, lately, whenever I’ve noticed that the time is right I’ve signed up for marathons about 3 weeks before race day… not ideal, I know, but hopefully things will be easier in the future. Currently I have other priorities in my life so I’m just going with the flow when it comes to running.

As you may remember in 2017 I spent 7 months without running. Then I struggled with the decision of doing a half marathon and shortly after I paced the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll with no training.

After I realized that I could complete 13.1 miles I started looking into races that were 4-6 weeks out… I just wanted to get one more state in before the end of the year. I found a few races in Florida and decided to sign up for Jacksonville because it’s only about a 2-hour drive from home.

I went for 2 easy long runs (18 and 20 milers) just to get some miles in. I was teaching a lot of spin so I was only running 2 times a week. I didn’t do any speed work and the most miles I ran in a week was 24.

Just for you to get an idea: when I’m training for a marathon I run 4 times a week, I do speed work and tempo runs and average anywhere between 30-50 miles a week… so when you put things into perspective I basically didn’t train.

My friend John decided to sign up too so we drove down together. On our little road trip I learned a lot from him… he’s such a smart and sharp guy! We talked about running (duh!), music, relationships, family, religion, and the list goes on and on.

Once we got to Jacksonville we stopped by 1st Place Sports Running to get our bibs… first marathon I’ve ever been too that doesn’t have an expo! At that moment, I realized that this was going to be a very small race!

We stayed at Hotel Indigo in Deerwood Park, which was nowhere near where the race took place, and it was a great decision. The price was great, rooms where spacious and very comfortable.

The only night we stayed there we met my cousin for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. I had angel hair pasta with tomato sauce and bread… taking that carbloading pretty serious! We had a great time and went to bed around 11.

Race day! Like usual, I had my traditional rice cake with almond butter and a banana… I had 2 this time and I knew right away that it was too much. We drove to the starting line and it was pretty easy to park. I ran into my friend Tony who was running his first half (and crushed it!) and hanged out for a bit until race time.

I went into this race with no expectations or goals, but I know what I’m capable of. That’s why I knew I’d only be happy if I finished under 4 hours.

The weather was absolutely perfect: overcast and in the 40's the entire time… I didn’t see the sun until mile 24!

I didn’t feel good during the first 4 miles and I knew it was because I ate too much. By mile 5 I was already asking myself: how the heck am I going to run 26.2 miles?

After mile 6 I started feeling better and comfortable with my 8:15ish pace. At mile 8 the race split and that’s when things got real. From this point until I finished all I could see in front of me was 0 to 3 people at a time. To my surprise this was never an issue. There was zero crowd support and I felt I was on a training run the entire time but I enjoyed it! The route was flat, mainly through neighborhoods and pretty quiet, which gave me a lot of time to sit with those uncomfortable feelings that started to arise.

Everything was going great until mile 14 when my knee started hurting and I knew it was my IT band right away. I struggled with the pain for about 3 miles, it went away and came back around mile 21. I significantly slowed down but was able to finish in 3:48:47!

This was my 12th marathon and 10th state… The rush of adrenaline as I approach the finish line is always such an indescribable description and exactly the sensation that keeps me going back for more! I don’t have any marathons planned for 2018 but we’ll see what this year has in store for me!