2011 NYC Marathon Recap; 3:03:37

November 9th, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts | Race Recaps

I really didn’t want to write this post, and I know I’m a few days late to the recap game. I put it off partially because it wasn’t the sub-3:00 marathon I had hoped for, but mostly because writing this would mean it was over. I can’t go back and change the way I felt on Sunday. I’ve taken a few days to digest the race, which included a healthy mix of basking in pride and sulking in disappointment.

I’ll be honest, yes, I am disappointed. A time like mine should not reflect disappointment, but it does for me. I trained for, wished for, and pushed really hard to complete my second marathon in under 3:00. I know my time is still great, and it’s a 55 second PR from last year’s NYC. Who can’t be happy with a PR?! And NYC is a tough course! At the end of the race, the feeling of sheer depletion meant I gave it everything physically and that’s what mattered. I am proud of myself for finishing, setting myself up for success with a really great first half, and staying mentally strong and fighting despite the way I felt.


2011 NYC Marathon: 3:03:37 official finishing time. 83rd female, 1425th place overall, 7th in age group (20-24). My 2nd marathon. Now let’s get to the fun stuff :)

Sub-Elite Start

I woke up at 5 a.m., feeling pretty well-rested and excited! I made some coffee and a hugeeee oatmeal with bananas to heat and take on the bus with me. Around 5:45, I left my apartment and headed to 54th street and 6th avenue to board the sub-elite bus. Around 6:30 a.m. we headed east down the FDR, our caravan of buses escorted by police. Seeing the highway completely shut down to traffic for our buses was the first of many unreal experiences. We arrived in Staten Island pretty quickly and were escorted away from the starting villages into a private heated tent, next to the elite athletes.

Sub-elite tent

While we were separated from the elites, we still shared portapotties and a little warmup area. Luckily, I had my CPTC teammates to keep me company! I didn’t even need half the layers I packed since we weren’t out in the cold, but I sure was thankful I had brought them anyway. I drank Gatorade and ate another banana and Gu Chomps while we waited. Around 8:45, we checked our bags in a private truck and were escorted to the top of the Verrazano bridge.

The next 45 minutes until the start were the most incredible moments of my life. We were able to start right on the line, and were free to do striders and roam the starting area. I strode out about 100 meters over the bridge and took it all in… just me and the closed bridge, nobody else in sight.I turned around and the crowds were so far away. It was surreal to be standing by myself with the bridge wide open. It was at that point I realized I was going to go for it. I’ve worked so hard the past four months to be standing in this exact spot…and suddenly I was here, standing on top of the Verrazano, taking in these gorgeous views from a truly special spot. I started to get choked up, I was so thankful.

New York, New York!

Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:45, 6:19, 6:32

The gun went off, and suddenly we were running! I tried to stay steady up the Verrazano, and found myself trailing back a bit from my CPTC teammates. I had anticipated hitting the first mile in over 7:00, so 6:45 was a bit of a shock but I felt fine. I tried not to pay attention to the second mile marker since that’s down the Verrazano’s steep decline. I thought mile 3 was a tad more steady as we wound the streets and found our way to Brooklyn, but I see it was quick!

Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: 6:42, 6:42, 6:46, 6:41, 6:53

Around the 5K mark, I found myself back with my CPTC teammates Erin, Erin, and Maria. We strode across the road in a line of 4, trying to reign each other back and get closer to 6:50s. But it just wasn’t happening. I know you know that feeling. So, everytime I felt like speeding up, I tried to picture myself absorbing that energy I wanted to use and saving it for later. During this portion, I felt like I was working a bit more than I wanted to, but I definitely felt smooth. Erin pulled away around mile 6. At 7.5, I swung out to the left side of the road as my Dad was supposed to be standing near 7.8. I scanned and scanned the crowds but missed him! I was a bit thrown off, but quickly hopped back with my teammates as we approached mile 8 and joined in with the green & blue corrals! I took my first gel at mile 8 and felt good.

Miles 9, 10, 11, 12, 13: 6:45, 6:38, 6:49, 6:47, 6:48. Half-marathon mark 1:28:06.

A bit after mile 10 (why did I run a 6:38??) I realized I felt like I was working a bit harder than I should be. The crowds, the energy, the noise, and my thoughts propelled me to continue pushing. It’s a marathon, it was going to hurt no matter what. I pushed any doubt and panic aside. We passed the halfway mark in 1:28:06 and I felt a boost. I knew we had to hit the halfway point in 1:28 low or under to run under 3:00. Being a bit OCD, I checked the past year’s results and saw that anyone who ran sub-3:00 ran between 1:24 and 1:28 for the half. Nothing slower. Yes, this was fast, and YES this was aggressive, but I wanted to know I did everything I could to set myself up for success. I was on track, and just had to run under a 1:32 second half– heck, that sounded reasonable!

Miles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18: 6:56, 7:09, 7:09, 6:48, 6:53

I continued through Queens and started to feel like legs going a bit. My breathing was a bit heavier than I wanted, but I was chugging along where I wanted to be. I fell way behind my teammates going up the Queensboro bridge, but tried to keep steady. Hills are not my strength, and I didn’t mind the quietness of the bridge. I used it to collect my thoughts and my strength while taking my second gel and working to draft a bit as it was pretty windy. As we wound down the bridge, and I heard the wall of noise of 1st ave. Manhattan! I made it! I knew I had friends in the 70s and 80s, and scanned the crowds while trying to stay focused. I felt my quads really going and started to get nervous. Last year, I felt pretty good on this stretch of 1st Ave and my current state concerned me a bit. I used the crowd’s energy to propel myself forward, still happy with my splits around goal pace. My mom was on 97th street, and I was so happy to see her…though I had very little to say but wave.

Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: 7:07, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:32

After mile 18, the crowds thinned and I took a 3rd gel in hopes they’d revive my legs. My quads. Oh, my quads. I rarely have issues or soreness in my quads during long runs or workouts, but they felt paralyzed as we hit the Willis Avenue Bridge. My breathing was okay, aerobically I felt I could continue to push, but my legs were not having it. I lost major time on these miles. I looked at my pace bracelet and saw the 2 minute cushion I had to break 3:00 start to shrink. It was frustrating knowing I was mentally and aerobically feeling ready to push but physically unable to increase the turnover in my legs. I was stuck in the same gear. Around mile 23, I actually didn’t know if my legs would hold up to carry me to the finish line. But I fought.

Over the Willis Avenue Bridge... (19.5)

Miles 24, 25, 26, .2: 8:00, 7:28, 7:20, 1:38

The 5th Avenue hill was the worst, as expected. I counted down the blocks one by one, feeling like I traveled 10 blocks but only having made it one. 90th street felt like it would never come. I saw my parents and barely mustered a wave. As a whole, I really tried to enjoy and savor the course but this stretch was one I just about closed my eyes and wished away. Once we entered the park, I was hit by “The Wall of Orange”– my CPTC teammates cheering their heads off. I got a boost and knew I would finish. Unlike last year where I think I blacked out for part of Central Park to the finish line, I was extremely aware during this time. Again, I wanted to just go but my legs wouldn’t let me. I remained positive and focused, knowing I’d have to continue to push if I was going to PR at all.

Seriously, are we there yet?!

Cresting up the small hill to the finish line the last .2 miles, I tried to kick and push, and was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion. All the blood rushed from my head and body, I wanted to pass out or throw up. It was then I knew I was physically spent, a sign of a good race. I somehow raised my arms upon crossing.



Upon finishing, a volunteer quickly spotted my bib and escorted me to a special finisher’s area. On my way, I spotted my CPTC teammates I had run with and all finished around the same time. And, Alex who had started in local competitive found us too!

Alex, Me, Erin, Maria

The volunteer escorted us from the sub-elite to a special tent right after the finish line. I was so thankful I didn’t have to walk all the way to the end of the baggage trucks like I did last year. I barely made it to the tent, fighting the urge to pass out or at least sit down. The volunteer let us sit while she found my bag. For that, she was my hero! I sat and breathed and stared around for a while before changing into dry clothes and calling my parents.

That was it. I didn’t break 3:00, and the world wasn’t over (shocker!) I didn’t feel upset at that moment because of how physically spent I was. I wanted under 3:00 and my mind said yes, but my legs said NO. I felt proud of myself for finishing, and fighting, and still setting a new PR. So often, the mental piece of the puzzle is what goes awry and makes for a bad race. I can say despite some frustrating moments, my mind was really in the game. My legs just went a lot earlier than I anticipated which made for a really rough second half.

The Aftermath

After the race, I met up with my Mom and Dad and went to brunch at Fred’s on the UWS. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait and I had a pretty good grilled chicken sandwich. I hobbled back to my apartment and immediately got into bed and started crying to my mom. I’ve had a pretty rough few weeks, and part of me felt like I needed a sub-3:00 race to boost my self confidence and affirm I’ll be okay. After working so hard and sacrificing so much, I fell short. I failed. Running kicked me when I was down.

After drying my tears and saying bye to my mom, I brushed myself off and hopped in the shower. I knew sulking in my apartment wouldn’t help, so even though I was physically drained, I headed down to Opal for the CPTC afterparty celebrations. A few beers, a bottle of champagne, and shots later, I left with a happy heart and head. Sure, my time wasn’t the best, but I PR’ed. And the experience was worth every painful second.

Free bottle of champagne? Okay!

So now what? I’m trying hard to let this race just be and not analyze my splits, training, diet, lifestyle, etc. I feel like I did the right stuff, and it just wasn’t my day. Maybe NYC isn’t my course, and I’d fare better on a flatter one where I can keep a steady pace and not get crushed by awful hills and bridges. Part of me really doesn’t get why this year felt so much harder than last year, when I know I am a stronger runner right now. Maybe my pacing strategy was off, but I stand firm on the way I went out because it put me in the right position.

I’ve got Boston 2012 next, and I’m holding off on making any goals for that race quite yet. I’m a bit hesitant to say I want to break 3:00 there. However, I know I’m competitive with myself and probably won’t want to go into that race without the goal of setting a new PR. Let’s be honest.

For now, I will take the next week or two entirely off running and exercise of any type. For me, I need a solid rest period to break up training and racing cycles. Taking it easy until after Thanksgiving will ensure I am fresh and eager to train for Boston, and not get burnt out or injured. I’ll be sleeping in, enjoying my free time, and living a little more until then!

Finally, THANK YOU again for all the kind congratulatory messages. Even though it wasn’t my day, I felt extremely loved and supported before, during and especially after the race. As I said before the race, I’ll be back here working hard and writing about it until I get that sub-3:00!

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41 Responses

  • Liz H says:

    You are still a ROCK STAR! And congrats on the PR :) Thats the great/bad thing about the marathon – you can’t predict what happens on race day. And I love reading your recap – I hope so so so so badly that 2012 is my lucky year in the lottery (year #3!)! I can’t wait to enter Manhattan on first ave and hear the crowds everyone raves about!

  • Congrats! PR’ing in NY is huge. Also, it’s so cool that you got to be part of the sub-elite group…that sounds so awesome.

  • Meggie says:

    I think you did awesome. But, I know exactly how you feel. I ran NJM last year and missed my goal my 8 min (3:40, ran 3:48). It was a 21 min pr and I was angry. I mean, who does that? Now, I am even more appreciative of that race, after NYCM, and I’m sure one day you will be, too.

    I feel you on not wanting to analyze. It’s bad to say, but I kind of want tto forget NYCM happened. I worked so hard, changed a lot of things (nutrition, mental approach), and felt like I really made a huge improvement as a runner and it didn’t show one bit as I did worse than NJM. I know I had that IT band thing, but I still wonder if I used that as a cop out.

    Anyways, you should be proud that your are freaking amazingly fast. I know its not what you wanted, but, think about it — you were in the top 100 women who ran the NYC marathon! That is a huge accomplishment, beyond what most can dream. You did awesome.

    • “I feel you on not wanting to analyze. It’s bad to say, but I kind of want to forget NYCM happened. I worked so hard, changed a lot of things (nutrition, mental approach), and felt like I really made a huge improvement as a runner and it didn’t show one bit as I did worse than NJM.” Meggie, I think we’re soul sisters, with the exception of replacing NJM with NYCM2010. I had such solid long runs this year, sustained zero injuries and I finished even slower? W. T. F.?!?! We’ll appreciate our finishes and get redemption soon enough.

      Lindsay, congratulations! I am in awe of you and your superhero legs. I feel so cool knowing a sub-elite runner. :) You are thisclose to meeting that goal someday. It was so great to meet you last weekend! Let’s definitely hang out again next time I visit. :)

  • Congrats! I know that it must be disappointing, but it’s really inspiring that you were able to mentally tough it out. My biggest problem when racing is my mind. I have a hard time giving it everything I have. But you did exactly that. I’m sure you’ll break 3 hours in a marathon.

  • I tracked you on race day and was rooting for you to get that sub 3:00 but I am really proud of the way you fought for the time you did. I would much rather read about a challenging race where you pushed yourself and didn’t reach your goal time than a race where everything came easily. You will get you sub 3:00 next year!

  • I’m new to your blog, Lindsey, but this almost made me cry anyway! I’m not a fast runner by any means but I know that feeling of working so hard and wanting that time so much…but you did absolutely amazing!! That time blows me away. And how do you look so pretty in your post-race picture? I always look awful. Haha.

    Love your blog and I’m so glad I found it. Can’t wait to follow more of your running and life adventures!

  • Celia says:

    Congrats! Even though I know it is not what you wanted, a PR is still great! And 3:03 and in the top hundred finishers..WOW!! Although I totally understand that running is completely relative to one’s own performance, it is still AWESOME!!! You looked fantastic when I saw you at mile 14 and I was so happy to see you looking good! Way to still finish strong and give it everything you had! You will for sure get your sub3. Enjoy your rest period and then plan your revenge whether it be in Boston or next fall :)

  • Karen says:

    Congratulations on your PR! Your recap was amazing to read, especially the great way you pushed through the end mentally. That’s the part that always gets me and it was really neat to read how you overcame it! Moms are the best! I’m looking forward to hearing about your Boston training – enjoy the 2 weeks! :)

  • Laura says:

    Hi there! I’m new to reading your blog, but I just wanted to say I am completely inspired by your marathon! Though disappointing to miss your goal, it was still an amazing time!


  • Kelly says:

    this was worth the wait, Linds! Huge, giant CONGRATS to you. You pushed when your legs said no, and that take so much mentally and physically. You should be proud of that, regardless of time! And trust me, I know how you feel regarding the splits, disappointment, not wanting to analyze everything but doing it anyways… marathons and marathon training are both such beasts. I think I’m finally learning that. But seriously, you are a top 100 female finisher in the BIGGEST MARATHON IN THE WORLD. Do you know how awesome that is? ANd it’ll just get better, I’m sure. You’re an inspiration, lady, whether you realize it or not!

    Can’t wait to see you and celebrate!

    • damn, top 100 female finisher? special sub-elite tent and warm up area? sub-1:30 for the first half of a FULL marathon? can i please have some of your running bad-ass ness??

      But in all seriousness, I understand the disappointment. As runners, we are exceptionally tough on ourselves, always asking for our best (or more) and it’s not easy to accept when a race doesn’t go as planned. BUT, you are young, injury-free, and extremely dedicated and determined. You will run sub-3:00 someday (soon!). I know it. Loved cheering you on – both at mile 9 and virtually! Congrats on the PR :)

  • Ali says:

    Lindsay! You are my hero. I know it’s hard to be completely positive when you had a time goal in mind, but WOW. You are a beast. You DO have a sub-3:00 marathon in your future, and you’re getting so much stronger as you work your way toward that goal. Plus, the entire experience sounds pretty surreal. You’re a NYC Marathon Sub-Elite ROCK STAR. I love all the special treatment you got — you deserve it! Hold your head high and be very proud. Congratulations on sticking it out and powering through a tough course. Let’s celebrate immediately,. I’m proud of you!

  • baker says:

    Congrats Lindsay! I know it’s tough not hitting a marathon goal. It took me my 4th marathon to BQ after being within minutes of it on the 3 previous ones. Great to meet you at the Start. Gotta say, I was extremely jealous you got to go run up the bridge while I had to stay behind the line. See you in Boston!

  • This was a really honest, heartfelt recap. I know you missed your goal and it’s hard not to be disappointed, but you still PRed and had a fantastic time.

    Congrats on a great race!

  • Katy says:

    You are so amazing! I don’t even know you, but I was tracking you the entire race – rooting for you. You are a huge inspiration and should be SO proud! Enjoy your rest/off season :). Looking forward to stalking you in 2012 and watching you get that sub 3 when it’s the right time!

  • Karin says:

    Lindsay I only know you from reading this blog, but I logged in on Sunday to track your progress and was rooting you on! You ran a great race and congrats on the PR.

  • Katie says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again– you are amazingly impressive and inspirational! I am sorry you didn’t meet your goal, though. I can see how that would be disappointing for you. But as everyone else said, you’ve got it in you! NYC is such a fun race, but definitely not an easy one! Anyhow, congrats and I already can’t wait to read about Boston . Also, that sub-elite status is pretty sweet! :)

  • A PR is a PR….and yours is an amazing one, at that! Despite missing your “a” goal, it sounds like you still had a great race. Enjoy it!

  • Congratulations Lindsay! You continue to be my running hero. I’m glad you’re able to savor the victory a bit, because even if it wasn’t exactly what you planned, it’s still a time you should be so proud of. I know I’m proud of you :-) Miss you in the office and every day! Hope the new job is going well.

  • Megan says:

    Congrats! I know its frustrating but you did SUCH an awesome job. I can’t believe you finished as the 83rd woman in one of the biggest races in the world!!

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  • First of all, congrats on the PR!

    Onto the other stuff…I totally know how you feel! I ran a PR at a marathon earlier this year, and I was still bummed since I thought it had it in me to run faster. I trained hard and just wasn’t happy with my time, even though it was still a three minute and change PR. That’s the difference between us and other marathoners…we don’t do these to finish, we do them to run fast. And then to get faster. So it’s disappointing when we don’t live up to what we think our potential is. NYC is a TOUGH course, especially late in the game…I know you have a sub-3 in you and that you’ll get there sooner rather than later. You have tons of fast teammates to train with and you’re so speedy yourself that I don’t doubt that you’ll get there. Plus, experience alone in the marathon is worth a lot, so to inch closer to sub-3 on your second marathon really is worth a lot.

    In the meantime, rest up! Your whole marathon experience sounds amazing…sub-elite sounds AWESOME and it looks like they treated you really well, as you deserve! You’ll have another go at that sub-3, hopefully when life is a little less stressful and you have a bit less on your place. I’m looking forward to training with you through the winter because Boston will be here before we know! However, let’s trade speed work and long runs for drinks in the near future…

  • Corey says:

    Lindsay, you are incredible!! Congratulations on an amazing PR!! Reading your description of the start made my jaw drop…I can’t even imagine what that was like to be right on the starting line! And to finish in the top 100 women is really remarkable.
    I know part of you is bummed for not breaking 3 hrs, but you seem to be looking at it in just the right way – you still PRed, NY is a very tough course, and you have lots of time to break 3 hours (and you most definitely will!) I know it’s hard, but keeping it in perspective — the fact that only a very small percentage of female runners will ever get close to 3 hours in the marathon, and that in and of itself is amazing. I’m so glad that you are running Boston next year — I can’t wait to finally meet you and see you do awesome there too, whether you decide to try to break 3 or just go out there and run. Congrats again!!

  • Seriously, congratulations on an amazing PR–even though you didn’t get under 3, you made an admirable effort. Your recap is honestly inspirational to a new runner like myself. Enjoy your weeks of rest! You deserve it. :-)

  • I can’t BELIEVE you ran a 3.03 marathon (and at NYC, a tough one!!) and got in the top 100 women! That is AMAZING :)

    I can totally understand your frustration though. It doesn’t matter how big the PR is or how well we ran, if we don’t meet the goals we have then we’ll ALWAYS feel a bit disappointed! But if you can run 3.03 at NYC, you definitely have a sub-3 in those legs for sure!

    CONGRATS again! :D

    P.S. You ran sub-elite?! So. Cool.

  • Christine says:

    ok sooooo you are amazing. what a PR!!! congratulations! so happy you’ve been celebrating it.

    i tracked you on sunday and was rooting for you the whole way. it was so exciting and i’m so proud of you! you WILL break 3, whether it’s at boston or somewhere else. it can be tough when you know you have it “in” you. 3:03 at nycm just incredible and you totally earned and fought for that, which makes it so special! :)

    congrats again!

  • Christine says:

    ps. i loved how you described the time you had on the bridge. it sounds unbelievable!

  • Elodie says:

    Congratulations on your amazing performance, and thank you! I have been an avid reader of your blog for a few months now, basically since I started training for my first marathon, New York. I am a decent runner and I wanted to, for once, give a real shot at training religiously in order to finish this marathon in a decent time while enjoying the experience. It turned to be a success and this is partly because of you! I designed my training at 75% based on your comments and thoughts. While reading you I appreciated your honesty and praised your dedication at training, always more and harder. You are such an awesome runner! I did also some more reading on the side and if I’m confident a sub-3 is within reach for you, I feel you might just need some “maturation”. Your training is difficult both mentally and physically, and maybe you just need to give your body some more time to absorb it, if I may say. I understand this might be frustrating but I have the feeling Boston will be the one! Btw since I live in Brooklyn, I dearly hope one day I will have the opportunity to say hi!

  • Kristin says:

    thanks for posting this and way to go for it on race day… I’m still a ways from 3:03 but it’s been huge for me to see the details of your training and be able to say “hey, I don’t think I’m too far off from being able to do this workout.” definitely appreciate you laying it all out there, and hopefully we both can keep chipping away!

  • Kristine says:

    Congratulations on an absolutely amazing race! I stumbled upon your blog a few months back, and really enjoy reading what you have to write. I know how disappointing it can be to not reach your goals. I ran Nike women’s last year and was horribly disappointed in my race. I ran NYC for the first time this year – had a huge pb for me, and netted my first Boston qualifying time, though nowhere near your time. Your blog is inspires me to keep reaching for my dreams, and to set higher goals.

  • sofia says:

    lindsay, even though you didn’t reach your goal time you still totally rocked this race and PRed, so you’re only goin’ up. and the whole experience being whisked to the start on a special bus, striding out at the start… WOW. you have so much to celebrate, truly, and not quite getting to where you wanted will only make you push even harder next time and make victory that much sweeter. you got this!

    now enjoy your resting period!

  • Congrats! A PR in NYC = AWESOMENESS!! :-)

  • AR says:

    If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it is that you shouldn’t base your strategy based on what anyone else has done before. Just because everyone positive splitted a sub 3 time last year doesn’t mean that’s how you HAVE to do it and frankly, that’s a risky move given the way the hills pile up towards the end. While it’s a good strategy for the half and down at your level – I tend to think you’re better off leaving yourself with a bit of time to make up since the odds of burning through your glycogen stores is a bit lower that way. That’s just physiology.

    That said: BOSTON IS ACTUALLY A REALLY FAST COURSE (and far far far easier than NYC) provided you save something to take advantage of the last 4 miles, which are so very, very downhill. It is an easy negative split since gravity will do the work for you, provided you don’t kill your quads early on. And frankly, it should be an easy sub 3 for you as long as you’ve got something left. My advice would be to look more at the course elevation than how other people ran it and think about your strategy from there – then hope for a favorable wind!

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  • Lauren says:

    First of all – congratulations! I know it wasn’t what you wanted but you ran a gutsy race and managed to PR, despite struggling through the later miles. For that you should be proud.

    However, I completely understand how you feel. When you’re training to RACE a marathon, finishing isn’t always enough. We put so much time, energy, and hope into one day and when that doesn’t seem to pay off the way we had envisioned, it’s normal to feel disappointed. Marathons are tough not only because running them is so difficult, but also because it’s not exactly like you can hop right into another one if the first doesn’t go as planned. I have found myself getting frustrated that I’ve spent so much time training for something, only to have to start all over again and go through the same cycle.

    But, even though I only know you through your blog, I know you are such a strong runner and that competitive drive WILL get you that sub-3:00. Maybe it’ll be on another course (I’m also hoping to PR at Boston and am admittedly very nervous about the course but I know that it IS possible), but everything will come together for you.

    Finally, I loved reading your recap – the good and the bad. Racing NYCM as a sub-elite sounds like such a cool experience. You are incredibly inspiring to me as a runner and I’m definitely looking forward to following you through another training cycle!

  • Oh my gosh, even if you didn’t hit the time you wanted, you still ran an amazing marathon! I don’t think I could run at your pace for even a mile, haha. Congrats on doing such an awesome job! :)

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