Marathon Magic: Bayshore Marathon Recap

I have been struggling all week to find the words to describe my experience at the Bayshore Marathon. It was magical, freeing, exciting and so.much.fun. I told Molly repeatedly during the race that my heart literally felt like it was exploding with happiness.

I know my words won’t do justice to the emotions and experience of this race, but I will do my best to try…but get comfortable, you will be here a while!

The Idea

After Eugene, as my housemates were consoling me in my marathon disappointment, Molly told the story of her quest to BQ.  She told us how she tried 7 times and when she finally qualified, she ran a 4:10 at Columbus and 3 weeks later ran a 3:37 in Cleveland. Her story spiraled into me brainstorming a quick turnaround for another marathon and right away, she reminded me she was running the Bayshore Marathon in 4 weeks. Molly said she would pace me if I ran.

Driving distance from Chicago. Molly would be there pacing. It was a no brainer.

I got online and quickly discovered the race was sold out, so I emailed the race director to get on the waiting list, then hopped in the shower. By the time I got out, I already had a response: “A spot has opened up for you in the Bayshore Marathon…You must register by tomorrow night to secure your spot.” I read this aloud and the room of 7 girls exploded in cheers! I was in. 

photo (28)

Nuun HTC Friends at Ninkasi

I immediately felt better and mentally started to move on. At the Ninkasi post-race party, I shared my plans with friends, but other than that, I kept it quiet. Although I know the pressure I felt going into Eugene was all internal, I still felt like I needed to lay low on social media and just focus on recovery and getting ready to run again. From that day, it was all about focus. In fact, this was my running alarm for those 4 weeks, even on race day:

photo (1)

I got tons of input about how to turn around back-to-back goal marathons from several smart and experienced runners, but I think that deserves its own post, so stay tuned if you are curious.

Marathon Eve

After a busy morning of work meetings and wrapping up with painters at my house, I finally hit the road around noon. Despite traffic, the 5+ hour drive flew by and I arrived in Traverse City around 6:30. Molly and I went directly to packet pick-up at the local high school gym. While it wasn’t your *typical* marathon expo, I appreciated that it was extremely easy to get in-and-out in no time. We were back at the condo eating by 7 and spent the rest of the evening chatting each other’s ears off, before finally heading to bed around 10:30.

Race Morning

I woke up at 5:44, exactly 1 minute before my alarm went off. I can’t think of a better way to start the morning than a natural wake-up right on schedule. We did race-y, get ready things, debated on what to wear (it was 34*!) and headed to the start at 6:30.

IMG_3607 (2)

Molly’s husband, Matt (yes, he is absolutely as funny as you think!), was so nice to wake up  early to drive us to the start. Although the warm gym was inviting, we immediately proceeded to the porta-potty line and then over to the start. I made one last impromptu bathroom stop down a hill/behind a wall (make-shift bathrooms FTW!) and by the time I made my way back, it was go-time.

As we lined up, I felt nothing but calm and ready. From the time I registered, I had a weird sense of peace about the race. I was never nervous, I was never anxious and only in the couple of days before did I start feeling excited to just run. When Molly told me just before we started running that this was her 13th marathon, I just knew it was going to be a good day. 13 is my all-time lucky number.

The Race

The plan was to start in the 8:05 – 8:10 range and reassess at the half. I wore my watch but put it on the “time” screen so I couldn’t seen the pace unless I caught it at the mile splits. This was HUGE for my Garmin-stalking, type-A tendencies, but I completed trusted Molly.

Bayshore start

Apparently I was pretty excited at the start!

Miles 1 – 5: 8:03, 8:01, 8:01, 8:05, 8:07

We started a little fast, but eventually settled in. The first 5 miles were by far the longest of the race. I felt fine, but kept checking and re-checking in with myself. Legs? Breathing? Stomach? All I wanted was to fast forward to the part where I was working hard. All week I kept trying to imagine myself in a pain-place and I was oddly looking forward to getting there. I kept telling Molly that I wanted to skip the “easy” part and get to the hurt. She just reminded me to be patient and enjoy the miles.

Miles 5 – 10: 8:04, 8:06, 8:09, 8:11, 7:58

We chatted, reminded ourselves to take in the beautiful surroundings and focused on keeping a steady effort on the small rollers. Molly stopped for the bathroom around mile 7, but easily caught back up. I had to pee, but refused to stop and tried to channel Lauren and “let it flow”. It didn’t happen and eventually the urge went away.

Miles 11 – 15: 8:06, 8:04, 8:03, 8:07, 8:07

When we finally hit double digits, I was happy to have the early miles behind me. Molly stopped again around mile 12, but caught me right at the half turn-around. According to the clock on the course, we hit the half-way mark at 1:46:30. I looked at Molly and told her that if we stayed even, I would be ECSTATIC with a 3:33.

I felt really good after the half, but told Molly I wanted to be conservative and wasn’t ready to pick it up yet. I also discovered that even without my watch, I was really dialed-in to the pace and could feel when we got too quick and needed to pull back.

The miles were flying by.

Bayshore mid

Must’ve been around 18 because I was eating a pineapple Gu!

Miles 16 – 20: 8:05, 8:00, 7:59, 8:07, 7:56

It was in these miles that I think I was the happiest all day. My heart truly felt so happy to be out there running, on a beautiful day, with a great friend by my side. Going into the race, I wanted a fighting chance to have a good day and as we progressed past 16, I knew that I was in a position to do that. We continued chatting away with each other and the runners around us. We picked up some friends at different points and heard stories about each one. I love the feeling of camaraderie between runners in the marathon.

I was on a HIGH. I was loving the views, the company and that I was still feeling strong. Molly kept commenting that she couldn’t believe I was still talking!

It hit me around mile 19, that even if I bombed in the last few miles I would still have the sub 3:40 that I had been chasing since 2010.

Miles 21 – 26.2: 7:54, 7:54, 7:59, 7:49, 7:42, 7:27, 6:43 (0.2)

At mile 20, while I still felt great, I was hesitant to pick up the pace. I thought we should get to 23 before finding another gear. Luckily, I wasn’t the one controlling the pace 🙂 Molly tried to get me to ignore the splits, but I would see them and exclaim “7:54?! Too fast!!” But I just continued to let her lead and stayed right on her shoulder.

Somewhere around this  point, I finally acknowledged that IT WAS HAPPENING. I was going to BQ. We started saying it out loud to each other and every time I heard it, I believed it more and more. To say I was ecstatic is an understatement.

Around 22-23, I really started to FEEL like I was running a marathon. My right hamstring had been tight the whole race and it was screaming. My entire lower body was tired and ready to be done. I took a salt tab, thinking that my calves were feeling like they may cramp.

Other runners were commenting and cheering for us as we passed, because we were still talking, smiling and waving at the crowds. In these miles, I understood for the first time ever how people get truly addicted to the marathon. It was amazing. Asking my body for more and it responding is something that I have never experienced that late in a race.

We agreed that when we hit mile 25.5, it was all out to the finish. We were pushing hard and setting sights on people to pass. When we finally rounded the corner toward the finish, Molly pointed out that we could SEE the track, but to me it still looked SO far away. As we neared the chute, I started to get emotional. I started to cry, which was also causing me to hyperventilate, as it is really hard to run and cry at the same time. Molly calmly got me pulled back together and as we entered the track, she told me to push past the “old fogies”. We made our way around them and I lifted my arms as we ran down the final stretch.

bayshore chute

Then, because I didn’t do it in Eugene, hands over heart for Boston at the finish.

bayshore finish

Bayshore Marathon: 3:30:04 (PR by 13 min and 54 sec.!)

When we crossed the finish line, Molly showed me her watch. It said 3:30:02. I was SHOCKED and elated and just kept saying, “We did it. It happened.” I gave Molly the biggest sweatiest thank you hug ever.

At that point neither of us knew if we had squeaked out a 3:29 or not, but we knew it would be close. Looking back, I guess Molly knew in those last few miles how close we would be. She was really pushing me and while I can’t imagine that I had more to give, I still have to wonder that if I had known just how close it was, if I would have been able to dig out 5 more seconds? I certainly don’t want to be greedy and I am thrilled with the time, but ooohhh those 5 seconds would have gotten me an earlier registration date for Boston…

IMG_3608

There are no words to thank Molly for what she did for me. The day wouldn’t have turned out like it did without her. Having someone else worrying about pace, hydration and all the details allowed me to focus on just running. That was HUGE. And her job definitely wasn’t easy with the surging and slowing all day! She was running ahead at water stops, filling my bottle and putting Nuun in it for me. She also gave me the last of her bottle and got my salt tabs out for me at Mile 24 when there was no way I could have done it for myself. But the running Gods were surely watching over her because when she saw a volunteer at mile 23 with a bowl of M&M’s and wished aloud that they were skittles, suddenly less than a mile later, a HUGE bowl of skittles miraculously appeared on the course. That’s good karma, my friends.

I would love to be able to return this favor to someone and do what Molly did for me. So please, email me and let’s talk. I want to pay it forward and help get someone else to their goal.

So that my friends, is my (long-winded) tale of marathon magic. All I wanted going into this race was to “run the race I trained for”. But it far exceeded those expectations and then some.

About Corey

I am a 30-something swim, bike, run addict married to my best friend and in love with my two schnoodle doggies.
This entry was posted in friends, Goals, Race reports, Races, running, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

67 Responses to Marathon Magic: Bayshore Marathon Recap

  1. krissy m. murphy says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    I smiled SOOO big reading this.

  2. Jessica B. says:

    Wow! This might be one of my favorite blog posts. I’m a new reader and twitter follower of yours but I know Molly from when she lived in Cleveland. She was always an inspiring runner and hearing her stories gave me hope when I had IT band issues of my own. After reading all of her tweets I want to steal her and make her pace me for my next marathon lol.
    You did absolutely amazing during this race and so happy for you. You were clocking sub 8s in the last few miles! that’s incredible! Can’t wait to see what else you do and excited for you to run Boston. It’s by far my favorite running experience.

    • Corey says:

      Thank you so much!! Agreed – Molly is so inspiring. I have my fingers crossed that my time gets me in to Boston…I know this year it will be really tough! But I know I will run it someday!!!

  3. mollyberries says:

    Ahhhh! I love this friend! It’s one of my favorite race memories FOR SURE!!! You are SO awesome and I know you are going to continually surprise yourself with what you can do with your running. You are STRONG and STEADY! Soooo soooooo happy for you and so grateful I could play a part in your day!!!

  4. elleroos says:

    I got goosebumps! So amazing!

  5. Steph says:

    Congratulations times a million, Corey! So, so happy and proud of you 🙂

    I absolutely loved reading this. You ran so incredibly strong, I can’t even believe your amazing splits in the last 6 miles. I hope to grow up to be like you one day. Soak it all in, my friend, you deserve to celebrate this marathon for a while!

    Also, um, so excited you got into NYCM!!!!

  6. My eyes are tearing and I have goosebumps from reading this even though I’ve heard the story already. Some things never get old. 🙂 I love y’all and am so effing excited for you and proud of you! xoxo

  7. Sandy says:

    What a comeback story! Congratulations on an extremely strong race and a superb finish! You killed it!

  8. So amazing!!! I love hearing about races like this – where you actually DO negative split, don’t hit the wall and feel amazing. I’m so happy for you and I hope that you get to race Boston in 2014 but even if it does fill up, the accomplishment is in the BQ, the victory lap is running it (and I think you can defer 1 year?).

    On another note, I’m so impressed that you performed so well 5 weeks post Eugene. I’d love to heard your feedback from other runners who have run races so close together – I honestly didn’t think it was possible!

    • Corey says:

      As much as it is always the goal to negative split, I honestly truly never thought I was capable of it. Definitely a combo of a perfect weather day, fast course and having Molly there to help. And I agree with you…while I would LOVE to run Boston next year, if it doesn’t happen I will just have to come back and read this and remember that it was about achieving it…not actually getting in. Thanks for your sweet comment 🙂

  9. Beth says:

    Congratulations on the BQ!!! You are certainly blessed to have such a great friend.

    • Corey says:

      Thank you! I definitely know how lucky I am that she was able to do that for me…and she said she had a blast too, which makes me even more happy 🙂

  10. Sarah OUaL says:

    I am SO HAPPY and SO PROUD of you! After Ninkasi I didn’t have a sliver of a doubt you’d show up ready to kick redemption ass, but hot damn! The 100% perfect race has to feel so so sweet after all your hard work and ups and downs this cycle. Congratulations!!! Ride this high forever and ever – you earned and deserve it. (and I wish I could give Molly a hug for you – what a fabulous friend) 🙂

  11. So proud and happy for you!! I know you’ve worked so hard and dedicated so much time and energy especially with moving and everything else going on. I can’t wait to read your Boston post next year!! Congrats girl!!

  12. Megan says:

    This is awesome, Corey! GREAT JOB! You two killed it! Boston, here you come!

  13. evamadera says:

    I am so happy for you Corey! I had chills while reading your recap, so beautiful! I’m thrilled for you, especially for the BQ (and redemption)!

    • Corey says:

      Thank you so much. I am excited for you as you get closer to San Francisco!! And of coursing watching (reading about) your journey to your BQ as well!

  14. Nina says:

    Congrats Corey! Beautiful story and great job, you really deserve the BQ!

  15. Jenny says:

    This makes me so happy! I didn’t realize what a crazy, monster of a PR you ran at Bayshore until I read this! I’m glad you were able to skip the long bus ride ordeal to the start line and it sounds like you were completely well-rested for race day despite moving hassles (superwoman status!). Really looking forward to meeting you and our PR party at RnRChi 🙂 Congrats again, girl!

  16. Terzah says:

    I’ve been waiting for this report! :^)

    Big congrats on fulfilling the dream and grabbing the big BQ! I’m really happy for you and think you were very smart to keep it on the down-low on social media and just focus on recovering right and getting ready.

    Any chance you want to pace an old lady to a sub-3:45 in Chicago? :^)

    • Corey says:

      I would love to pace you in Chicago! Since I didn’t get a bib, I won’t be able to do the whole race, but let’s chat, because I am happy to jump in with you for some of the harder miles…18-26 maybe?

      • Terzah says:

        You are so kind to consider that! I’ll check into whether we’ll get trouble if we do that. I’ve never had someone to run with for those tough later miles–I bet it makes a huge difference. Thank you so much for considering!

  17. ErinAMG says:

    so happy for you, and what a baller of a PR you landed. holy moly!!! such an awesome read. I’m so glad you got such a healthy dose of marathon magic last weekend. good for you, girl! big hugs 🙂

  18. fullrunner says:

    Congrats again (and WOW what a PR)! It sounds like you had the perfect race, and I’m glad it’s inspired you to want to pay it forward to pace someone else one day 🙂

  19. Omigosh!! I was literally smiling the WHOLE time I read this! You and Molly–teamwork at its best! What a fabulous weekend Corey!! so so so so proud of you!!

  20. Steph says:

    YAY! I can’t help but smile because I can almost feel your happiness =)

  21. Such a great story! Congratulations, Corey! 🙂 I hope we both get into Boston for next year. It will be my first time too! I’m crossing my fingers!!! 🙂 🙂

  22. Meredith says:

    Ohhhhh a negative split?! Way to go, you are inspiring…brought a big smile to my face!!

  23. Beth says:

    I love this!!!! I’ve been waiting all week for this 🙂 Congratulations – you had such a good race and earned that time! I loved reading every detail of this!

  24. Beth @RxBethOnTheRun says:

    This post gave me the chills and made me tear up A LOT. One of the best recaps I’ve ever read. Congratulations on a magical marathon and your BQ! It’s the best feeling ever when it all comes together and you have that perfect race. I hope you’re still smiling. Can’t wait to cheer for you next year in Boston.

  25. WOAH!! That is incredible, Corey!! Marathon magic for sure!! I am SO thrilled for you.. you worked so hard and I knew you had it in you. Huge congrats!! Hope we can run Boston together!!

  26. Congrats Corey! Amazing amazing race! Do you realize you executed a perfect marathon which most of us will never do!?! Consistent splits, negative split at the end and all with awesome pictures!!! You are so speedy and I hope you are flying high from your PR! So happy for you! Had to be the Nuun 😉 xoxo

    • Corey says:

      Awe, thanks Jes! It definitely had to be the Nuun! Molly was hooking me up 🙂 I have DREAMED of this elusive negative split marathon for years and never thought it was truly possible. It will be the holy grail that I will probably always chase for the rest of my marathoning life!! But now that I tasted it, I want to run marathons all of the time. I completely get it now how people LOVE this distance.

      Also, btw congratulations times a million for Nuun HTC!!! You are going to have so much fun and I am so happy for you!!! Get that foot healed quick 🙂

  27. Kristina says:

    This is a GREAT recap and so inspiring!! I am thrilled for you and so glad that the experience was everything you imagined and more!!! So happy for you and looking forward to running with you again soon!!!!

    • Corey says:

      Awe, thanks Kristina!! I am DYING to read your Eugene report…I am so happy that you decided to write it!!! So glad to finally meet you!!

  28. Elizabeth says:

    I ran Bayshore too — although much slower. It was my first marathon, but stories like yours make me want to keep pushing and BQ myself. I already signed up for the Sleeping Bear Marathon in October. Thanks for the inspiration!!!!

    • Corey says:

      Awe thanks! Congratulations for finishing your first marathon!! My first one was really rough…it was so much harder than I thought it would be! It took me over a year before I was ready to consider another one 🙂 You will keep working your way down…I have now dropped 50+ min. off the time of my first one!

  29. I just could not wipe this big grin off my face while reading this post. So so so very excited for you. A PR, a BQ, and time spent with such a dear friend. You are one blessed gal! Very proud of you and all your hard work and I’m so happy you found the redemption that you deserve!!

  30. gave me chills!!!! congrats!!

  31. elizabeth says:

    finally actually reading even though i know the outcome and the play by play:) and still sooo happy and can’t stop smiling as i read it!!! and we’ve already discussed. pace me in a 1/2 this fall. get me back where i was!

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  33. Ohhh, WOW, I loved reading this recap!!! Congrats on a great race and running so strong. Simply amazing!! I ran a PR marathon last weekend and didn’t look at my watch after mile 10. I think if I had, my split times would have freaked me out and caused me to slow down. How great that you had a friend pacing you so you also didn’t have to worry about your pace. It is so freeing to not be a slave to your Garmin! How amazing that you wanted a sub-3:40 and almost ran a sub-3:30!!

    • Corey says:

      I just read your post. I don’t have enough will power not to look at the watch if it is there! I don’t know how you resisted!!

  34. lschwecherl says:

    Somehow I missed this post and have no idea how. Gave me chills – especially the photo of you crossing the line with Molly! Seriously – so magical. You deserved nothing but an amazing race and I’m glad you got it. (:

  35. Lauren says:

    I love this so very much!! Wow! Seriously excellent pacing!! Maybe Molly needs to come pace me in my next marathon? Because you ran a perfect race!

    So happy you finally got your redemption marathon and a huge PR! You worked so hard for that BQ. And I know that sub3:30 is easily within reach. Congratulations!

  36. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This post was so awesome!! I am late to the party reading it, but I have had it in my inbox waiting since you posted. Your race reminded me SO much of my first 26.2 (and my BQ!). When you have a good day, there is little that can get you down. I love that your last mile was your fastest. It shows that you have so much strength and potential to get even faster!!

    Can you and Molly pace me in NYC 😉

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  40. chanthana says:

    I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read your BQ @ Bayshore recap. I love it so much! The joy you felt, the camaraderie, the crying at the finish. I have felt that too and am so happy to see you capture your day so beautifully. Congrats again on the race and I can’t wait to see you in NYC this weekend 🙂

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