Free, Fast (Relatively), Fun

I started my 4th (seriously, 4th?!?) marathon decked out in my Oiselle singlet, a sparkle skirt over my Oiselle stride shorts, a Picky Bars tattoo on my right leg, a Oiselle tattoo on my left shoulder, and 5 different Believe I Am tattoos on my arms. While my look might have been described as “out of control,” I was 100% happy…and remained so until the finish line.

Yep, I’m 26 years old and not 6 years old. Might be hard to believe.

My first marathon was about survival. In retrospect, how I made it through a marathon when I’d been running for hardly one year is beyond me. I was very happy with a finish (in 4:09:59, for those curious).

For my 2nd marathon, I set a goal to BQ (3:40, at the time). I got the RC, trained really hard, and put a ton of pressure on myself. I ran a 3:48:03 marathon, which was a 21 minute improvement. My first thought across the finish line? “I failed.” In addition, it was the most miserable running experience of my life. From mile 13 on I swore up and down that I was never doing another marathon as “they were too long and I hate them.”

New Jersey Marathon 2011.

I worked a lot on my mental game before my 3rd marathon and set the goal, yet again, to BQ (now 3:35). An injury (IT band syndrome) sustained two weeks before the race threw a wrench in my plans. I ran the race anyways (it was the NYC marathon, after all), but was disappointed and, to be fairly honest, quite depressed for sometime thereafter.

Trucking along…

While my IT band healed (3-4 months total), I sort of wrote off marathons and had no desire to do one. I told myself I wouldn’t do another for a while – several years, probably.

So, imagine, my surprise when a  16 mile run with Gia in September planted a marathon seed in my head. What started as a “Hey, Gia, want me to pace you for a few miles of the marathon” turned into my own NYC marathon entry by the end of the month.

With a shorter, 7 week build up and prior marathon-hater experiences, my goal was to enjoy the race from start to finish. I had a time goal window of 3:35 to 3:45, but, to be truthful, wasn’t really attached to finishing in a certain time. I had, yet, to enjoy a marathon and really wanted to understand what all you people out there like about the marathon.

I mean there must be a reason all of us went from NYC to Richmond to run for a really long time…

I ran miles 1-13 with Gia and Jess. I didn’t wear a Garmin nor did I start my watch. However, my running buddies did, indeed, wear Garmins so I knew approximately how fast I was running for the first half of the race. From miles 8-13, I did have a few panic moments of “is this too fast and I’m in over my head?” I was still able to talk, so I told myself I was ok for the moment. And, usually the panic moment went as quickly as it came and I’d suddenly hit a good patch of running. When I would get scared, I’d tell myself “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Around mile 13, Jess and I waved Gia on and, around mile 16, Jess did the same to me as she was not feeling well.

Katherine (our hostess), Jess, Gia, and I after the race.

So, for the last 10 miles of the race, I ran “naked.” I think when I left Jess, I told myself, “Ok, just free, fast, and fun – its really just putting one foot in front of the other, speeding up if you feel good, and slowing down if you feel bad, nothing more complicated than that.” So, that’s what I did.

Not having a watch for the last 10 miles of the race was very freeing. Even if I had had a Garmin on and knew I was running X pace when I really wanted to be running Y pace, I don;t think I could have changed gears. My legs would move as fast as my spirit wanted them to in that moment – sometimes that was faster and sometimes that was slower.

Go fast (if you can). Take chances.

[Oh dear, have I gone off the deep end? As fast as my spirit wanted to? I’ve been drinking too much green tea or something.]

For miles 16-20, I’d have a few minutes of good running, where I felt like I feel into a rhythm and was really strong. A few minutes later, I’d have a bad patch, but I figured that was par for the course.

From 20 on, I really wanted to, truthfully, be done, but I refused to let my mind go to the finish. I focused on getting to each mile marker and that was it.

Just in case you wanted to see the Picky Bars tat.

Any time I had a negative though in those last 6 miles, I’d imagine two hands clapping together as if smashing a bug, like it was smashing the bad thoughts. I’d then look down at my little butterfly tattoo and repeat “I am love, I am courage, I love that I doing something awesome today, I love myself.” Yep, I said “I love myself,” not unlike the little kid on youtube who learns to ride a bike and screams, “I feel happy of myself!”

[My inner race thoughts are proving to be extremely embarrassing. Believe I Am – I blame you.]

We are strong.

From mile 22 on, my legs did feel like a puppy was eating them with each step and my hip flexors really weren’t on board with this whole running idea. I just reminded myself to “keep the joy, you’re doing just fine, you’ll make it there soon enough.”

[Seriously, from my inner dialogue, it appears I’ve lost it.]

I maybe could have pushed myself those last 6 miles a bit more, but that really wasn’t my objective for the day. My goal was to get through a marathon and actually like it. From the start, I was 100% happy and at peace with whatever finish time I had so long as I had a smile on my face from beginning to end (well, you know, mostly smiling) and tried my best.

Met another Oiselle runner, Stacey, at the finish.

And, I sort of can’t believe I was able to do it. I mean, at mile 23 of a marathon, I was happy to be running and grateful for the experience. Usually, I HATE mile 23 (or, in the case of New Jersey, miles 13-26).

In the end, I finished in 3:42:31 – a 6 min PR. I was completely, 100% fulfilled and happy at the end and, dare I say, thinking of tackling another 26.2 in the spring?


I must give a huge shout out to the hostess with the mostess, Katherine, for giving this displaced NYC runner an incredible weekend. From pre-race dinner to post-race daytime slumber party, it was the perfect weekend. THANK YOU!

Also, you should go wish Gia (13 min PR!), Jess, Jocelyn (big half PR!), Ashley (1 min PR!), Leticia (first time marathoner!), Christy (PR!), Christine, Fiona, Katie, and Dorothy a big congratulations on their races this weekend.

NYC –> Richmond

Until next time…


66 thoughts on “Free, Fast (Relatively), Fun

  1. HUGE congrats to you Meggie! I love the report and your inner dialogue! It’s funny the things that go through our heads during a race! I have a very similar marathon story to yours and I am really hoping Eugene is the ONE where I actually love it and enjoy every minute so I can understand why people fall in love with this distance!! CONGRATS on a super fast race!!

    • Don’t worry – before Richmond, I was like “why does everyone like the marathon, they are crazy, it is too long and torturous!” Hoping Eugene turns it around for you — with the nuun enthusiastic crew out there, I’m sure it will!

  2. Reading this race recap was like reading a good book and I couldn’t WAIT to see how it ended! isn’t it amazing what running with no expectations can do….Brings Big PR’s! nice job lady!!!! Boston is DEFINITELY in your future!

  3. Meggie, your growth with marathons is preTTY remarkable. I have found that the races that I do the best in are the ones where I give myself a large flexible window and more vague goals. I don’t like putting a ton of pressure on myself because it is not constructive for me. My favorite mindset to use when going into a race is to push myself hard, and if I’m feeling adventurous, I’ll have a goal of “running faster than last time.”

    Congrats on your pretty big PR, I am so glad that you were able to come down here for the weekend! Have a great week (esp thurs) and hopefully I’ll see you soon 🙂

  4. Congrats, Meggie! I love your self-talk. That’s when it’s actually good to be inside your own head! I’m glad you had such an awesome race. I did see you guys run by me in your sparkle skirts early on–so super cute! Great meeting you!

  5. Congratulations! Love reading about your comeback after dealing with a frustrating few months of being injured. I’m glad you’re not hating on marathons anymore. 😀

    Favorite race: last year’s Houston Marathon. I bonked in NYCM after some solid training and my hometown streets did not let me down when I committed to racing it just two months out. It’s definitely not going to happen this January, but I’m pretty sure that if I ever nab a BQ, it will be here.

  6. Congratulations Meggie! I’m not sure if I have a favorite race. In terms of fun, maybe I’d have to say that doing Reach the Beach New Hampshire this past September was loads of fun. Being part of an amazing team made it special.

  7. Love these pictures! Such fun colors and flair 🙂

    And lookie-here! PR!!! AHHHH! So awesome!

    Congrats Lady! All that positive thinking and talking to yourself did ya good! So happy for you and loved that you had a great race day experience. Cheers!

  8. Love all the Believe I am and Osielle tattos! Quite the spirit! Sorry to hear about IT issues, I am dealing with back to back injuries and havent been running in 4 months.. I know the frustration! Great to hear you are back on track and doing great with those races!

  9. It was so so so great to meet you this weekend! Congrats on your PR! I have to say that my favorite race was last year’s Richmond marathon since I qualified for Boston, this one was sort of the pits for me- but whatever I ran a marathon right!?

    Thank you so much for the picky bars and the tattoos! Could you email me the Oiselle girls’ email whenever you get a chance? I would love love love to apply! I hope to see you again soon, I am hopefully taking a trip to New York in the next couple weeks and would love a running buddy!

  10. So, so so so so proud. Favorite line (in case you were wondering): From mile 22 on, my legs did feel like a puppy was eating them…” That’s normal. Marathons are mental freak shows.

    CONGRATS! So inspirational! Seeeee yooouuu soooon.

  11. Meggie! Loved this so much, and so happy for you! You deserved to have a race like this – congrats!! I am inspired. And wishing I had a tat or two for this weekend 🙂 Hope we can celebrate together soon! (16H??)

  12. Meggie – this is SO inspiring! I really got chills reading this. I love the inner dialogue, and thank you for sharing that, because it’s a very personal thing! I am so happy you enjoyed yourself and PR’d on 7 weeks of marathon training! I knew you would. You rock girl!

  13. congrats Meggie!!! you are *fierce*, girlfriend, and such an inspiration! so happy that you were able to run the race that you wanted and pr to boot. must be proof that your thinks are indeed words of wisdom! 🙂

  14. LOVE your inner race thoughts (not embarassing at all!) and I’m TOTES stealing them for when I attempt to conquer 26.2 (in Eugene, partaaay!) much more slowly than you, girl – you ARE FAST, not just relatively 🙂

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  16. We are indeed, crazy, right? We just keep coming back. I don’t really get it myself. But I understood every single one of your various stories and emotional situations along the way. You are, indeed, a rock star and a great inspiration for all of us.

  17. Congratulations on your PR!!! Isn’t it great to enjoy the marathon 🙂 Have you abandoned the 5k?! My favorite race was SF. I have never felt like running was that easy in a race.

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  19. CONGRATS!!! oh man, PR’s seriously are better than xmas times a million. 🙂 it’s so fun to read people’s race journeys and with you and your marathon experiences. have to say u look freaking adorable out there, love that tattoo’s! great job and i’m double glad u were able to ditch the garmin and run off of feel…that’s how it should be done! 🙂

  20. Congratulations Meggie!!! I love that you were able to run a PR while still enjoying the marathon and running free. So impressive. And after last year’s race (plus all the crap surrounding NYCM this year), I’m so happy to hear that you had a great marathon. It’s about time, right?? 🙂

    And no judgement here on your inner dialogue during the race. The thoughts that go through my head would probably look a little crazy all typed out too. In the end, whatever works to get you through the tough times…

    Congrats again!

  21. Yay congrats on a PR!!! and LOVING the marathon!
    I loveee to run long, every second of my past 3 marathons has been pure bliss…I’m hoping my upcoming 4th one is the same way 🙂
    I hope you’re healing quick and having a wonderful week!

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