I couldn’t have asked for a better race in Kiawah. Everything went as it should, and I hit not only my stated goal of qualifying for Boston, but also my radical goal of beating the qualifying time for women 34 and under (of which I am no longer one, since August). I squeaked in with a chip time of 3:39:44. (According to the logic of our friend Chad, I’d need to drink 16 beers to celebrate. When he called after my first marathon, he suggested I have 19 beers, one for each second I finished under 4:00.)
It was an uneventful race. I just kept running 8:22s, eating and drinking on schedule, taking my Endurolytes, coming back to form and breath. I had a full complement of strategies, songs, and mantras ready to deploy, but I wound up not using any of them. I was almost looking forward to the precarious mental territory toward the end of the race, so I could see how well my mental training worked. But I never needed to access those Break-Glass-in-Case-of-Emergency tactics.
At first that was a disappointment. All that preparation, and I never got to see how it worked! After a few days’ reflection, I see that was the point. That was “doing the yoga,” as we teachers would say: staying in the present moment, noticing when attention or form wandered, and bringing awareness back to the moment.
After enjoying a lovely postrace meal (it is a very, very well directed race), I put on a long-sleeved shirt and stood waist-deep in the 60-degree Atlantic Ocean. Nature’s ice bath.