|Getting my 4th Boston Qualifying Time in 4 Months|
This year has been a year of blessings. I wanted to celebrate my one year anniversary to my surgery by running a marathon. There just so happened to be a marathon only two hours from home in the Chattanooga, TN area with rave reviews on their organization and course beauty. Just as has happened this year with many aspects of my life post surgery, things came together with timing and training to run the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.
I had intended to run only a sub four hour marathon as I had read this beautiful course taking runners through the history of the Chickamauga Civil War battle had a few rolling hills. As the race began, I realized I was two hours North of Atlanta and should have worn gloves. I was regretting not bring my gloves. I was too cold to focus on pace.My focus was predominately on staying warm and specifically keeping my hands warm. A few miles in, I realized I was running with the half 1:50 pace group which would put me in reach of another Boston qualifying time. It was a comfortable pace. I slowly pulled ahead at about the 10k split. I came through the half at 1:49 or a 3:38 pace.
On the second half of the course I remained ahead of the 3:40 pace group. The course is beautiful and is a double loop course. I noticed the scenery more on the second loop. There were deer and historical monuments to take my mind off of the miles. On a hill around mile 21 which was the last of three hills in a mile and a half span on the course, the 3:40 pace leader ran alongside me and pulled ahead of me as he crest the hill.
I had to make a decision at mile 2. My mind briefly debated...push for a BQ or settle into my current pace which had slowed with the three hills? The three hills known as the three sisters had taken that mental edge off of me. I lost a few minutes but was still on 3:40 pace. Doing a gut check, I remembered where I was exactly one year ago--in the hospital recovering from surgery unsure of pathology results which would dictate my future. I said to myself, "nothing is worse than that--dig deep and get the BQ."
Approaching the final miles, I knew it would be close. I focused on closing fast and passing runners to gain momentum. I was able to chase down a few ponytails and a total of ten to fifteen runners as I chased down the BQ the final three miles. I honestly know I lost count of how many runners I caught as my focus was more on time. That time I wanted--3:39. It was going to be close. I wanted to look at my watch with .2 to go but reminded myself every second would count. I kept digging and pushing. I finished in 3:38:30. My splits were 1:49.30 and 1:49. I secured my fourth BQ in four months and won another age group award. What a difference a year makes!