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Chisholm Trail Marathon: I've been faster, I've been slower, but I've never been more thankful

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The short:

I love running marathons!  On March 24, I finished the Wichita Chisholm Trail Marathon in 2:57:18 (6:45 average pace), placed 3rd overall female, and extended my sub-3:00 marathon streak to 7 in a row.  And as always, I grew as a person during those 26.2 miles.  The person who finishes a marathon is never the same person who started it!

Official results are here.


Requisite clock shot!

The long:

It's been years since I've trained for a marathon without a specific time goal that my workouts are targeted at and my mind is focused on.  After I returned from 8 weeks off with an injury in October-November 2018, I had some rocky training in January and February 2019, and started to wonder if I'd ever get fit or feel strong running again.  It seems like some people bounce right back from time off, but that has not been the case for me!  I got in 3 solid workouts in March (details coming in my March recap), and a 20 miler and 23 miler; based on of those 5 runs I figured I was in shape to run about 6:45 pace for a marathon, although it sounds kind of ludicrous when I write it like that, because we all that 5 runs does not a solid marathon make!  My main goals were to run evenly and by effort, to place as high as I could in the women's field, and to smile while doing it.

Race morning brought sunny skies and 45 degrees.  I was so pumped to run another marathon I could hardly contain myself and could barely sleep the night before the race due to excitement!  From the gun, I had to really restrain myself not to go out too fast, which is actually rare for me.  My goal for the first mile was to not run any faster than 6:50, and I hit it in exactly 6:50.  That was the only time I looked at my watch during the race.  I ran by feel and by the field of runners around me.  I used to really micro-manage my splits in races, but I think I'm more successful when I don't monitor them.

I was in 4th female from the gun.  The leader went out pretty fast (I'd guess under 6:20), and I could see two women running together between the leader and me (I'd guess 6:35 for their first mile).  It's hard not to chase when you're running for place and feel so good so early, but I knew it was a bad idea and that if any of them could maintain that pace I couldn't stick with them anyhow, and I wouldn't get the best out of myself if I tried.  My top marathon advice:  always, always, ALWAYS go out slower than the pace you hope to average.  No one ever won a marathon in the first 10K, but many have lost them!

After the field thinned out I found myself running with a man, Leroy, who I've done some training with when visiting my parents for holidays.  We ran side by side and caught up a little from mile 1 until almost 6.  He'd recently dealt with an injury as well, and wasn't quite sure what to expect from the race.  Around mile 6 he told me he was going to drop back a bit, and I was eyeing the two ladies in front of me, so I focused on gradually pulling them in.  Miles 2-6 were 6:47, 6:54 (incline), 6:46, 6:45, 6:41, and my 10K course split was 42:04.  There was a clock on the course at the 10K, so I saw my split but I wasn't sure what pace that was, aside from sub-7:00.


With Leroy around mile 5

I was passing quite a few half marathon runners, including the 1:30 pace group, and feeling good.  I was dying to reel in the two women in my sights, but told myself to be patient and not accelerate just to catch them so early in the race.  I decided to try to pull up on them gradually, and then fall into pace with them.  The female leader was so far ahead I didn't think catching her was realistic, so I figured those two were my biggest competition.  Miles 7-10 were 6:38, 6:48, 6:41, 6:44.  I pulled up with the ladies and a man who'd been running with them (who I had also met at the start through a mutual friend, so I knew he was Victor who was aiming for 2:58).  The women asked if I was another half runner, since a couple had just gone by them, and I told them I was in the full as I settled in with them.

I recognized one of the women as Jalayne, a friend of my friend Amber.  Amber had mentioned Jalayne to me after I ran against Jalayne in the Bill Snyder half last year, and again mentioned that Jalayne was running this marathon.  Since I'd only beat her by about 40 seconds at Bill Snyder, I knew she would be tough to beat in this race because I was nowhere nearly as fit currently.  I am generally really good at gauging what I have to give, and the pace we were at felt sustainable for 26.2, plus having a group to run with usually helps me run faster.  Miles 11-13 were 6:35 (decline), 6:53, 6:50, and my course half split was 1:28:26.  Like at the 10K, there was a course clock, so I knew my half split and figured I was on track for a high 2:56 or low 2:57, which I was happy about because as much as I tried to push it out of my mind, I wanted to keep my sub-3:00 streak alive and knew it could go either way in this one!


Julie, guy in blue I didn't know was there, Jalayne, me, Victor


I nearly died laughing at this picture because all 4 of us look like

we are in terrible pain (this was just before the half, so we weren't)

Jalayne and I officially introduced ourselves, and I met the other women in the group, Julie.  Julie and Jalayne said they had been training together like crazy for 20 weeks for a 2:55 marathon, and learning that wasn't exactly confidence-boosting when I considered that they started their training cycle when I wasn't running at all.  But, I was running within myself and hoped I could draw on my mileage and past experience to make up for my shortage of workouts and long long runs.

I stayed with Jalayne, Julie, and Victor, and around mile 15 another man named Damien joined us.  It was great having a group to run with, especially because the last time I ran a marathon in Wichita it was essentially a time trial from the 10K to the end!  Miles 14-18 were 6:41, 6:49, 7:02 (incline), 6:42, 6:37.  I could tell that Jalayne and Damien were both feeling really good, and the three of us were pushing the pace a bit, while Julie and Victor didn't seem as perky.  Damien pushed ahead slightly just before mile 18, and I told myself to go with him, putting myself into second place female.  My family was cheering on the course around that time, and told me that the leader had about 1:30 on me but she looked like she was really hurting.  Mile 19 was 6:31 and my course split at 19.1 was 2:08:50 (random, but it was a two lap course of a big rectangle, so it had been the 10K timing mat on the first lap).


Damien taking off with me trying to follow around 18

Just before mile 20 we turned west into the wind for the final 10K.  On the first lap the wind hadn't been too bad, but it had picked up a lot during the race.  The only drawback of straight marathon courses is the potential for long stretches against the wind.  I tried to draft off Damien, but he was feeling really good and I couldn't hang on (I later saw on Strava that he ran his final 5 miles between 6:05-6:20 pace and finished in 2:54!).  Being out there solo after having others to run with for so long was tough, but I kept reminding myself that anything can happen at the end of the marathon and if the leader was really struggling I might be able to catch her.  I also knew that the other women could very well come back for me.  Miles 20-22 were 6:45, 6:56, 6:47.

Around mile 22-23 I really started to feel my shortage of workouts and really long runs.  Around 18-20 I thought I'd have a lot left and really be able to throw down the final 10K, but by 22 I was having much more trouble getting my legs to keep turning over.  I think my endurance is really good from all of the easy mileage I ran, but there is certainly a reason you need both mileage and workouts!  I knew that keeping on to the finish wouldn't be a problem, but my legs sure wanted to slow down, and the headwind wasn't helping.  Spectators kept telling me that I looked stronger than the leader and to "go get her", and at mile 20 I was really working on that, but by mile 23 I was just trying to hang on. Miles 23-25 were 6:53, 6:44, 7:07, although they felt like about 9:00 pace, as per usual at that point in a marathon.  Just after I passed 25 I heard someone coming up behind me and just hoped it was a man, because I didn't feel confident about a fast final mile.

It wasn't a man, it was Jaylane.  She pulled up next to me and we encouraged each other, and then ran side by side for a half mile or so.  Her training consistency trumped my "unique" cycle, and as I fought with all I had she pulled away.  By the time we were nearing the 26 mile mark, I knew she had me, although I didn't give up because anything can happen.  I couldn't will my legs to go any faster but I gave it my all!  Mile 26 was 6:58 and my final kick was 6:19. 


You can barely see me, but I love my parents taking

pictures/videos and Albani standing on the course!

The announcer called my name as the third female finisher, after announcing Jalayne in second.  I stumbled through the finishing chute ecstatic to be comfortably under 3:00 after all I've been through in the past 6 months, but of course wishing I would have had a little more to hold onto 2nd, or a 6:30ish pace final 10K to take over 1st, who finished in 2:55:59.  I'm not there yet, but I'm closer than I was!

Before the race, one of my friends was considering pacing me (which did not work out), and he asked what pace I thought I'd run.  I told him 6:45, and low and behold I ran exactly 6:45 pace per the course!  I was almost more excited about my accurate prediction than the actual marathon!



Post-race I found my family, was interviewed by the local news station (clip can be seen here - my dad and I are each in it twice!), and attended the overall awards ceremony.


Media tent


I'd like to thank Goodr sunglasses for hiding my face as much as possible!

I had a wonderful experience and plan to write more about the event and my post-race thoughts soon!  Not long ago I did not think that I'd be able to run this marathon at all, and even a month ago I sure didn't think I'd be able to run it at 6:45 pace.  We make plans, then God makes better ones, right?

"Run in such a way as to get the prize." - 1 Corinthians 9:24b




Family shot/Albani's distracted


I couldn't do any of it without him!


My mom bought Albani this shirt & I love it!


3 x sub-3s


Official results & course splits


It's not every day you cover 30 miles on foot!


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What a great race, Sara! Having support through training and on race day is so helpful. Hope you stay healthy and kill it at Grandma's.

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2 hours ago, Dave said:

What a great race, Sara! Having support through training and on race day is so helpful. Hope you stay healthy and kill it at Grandma's.

Staying healthy is always the #1 goal!  Without it, nothing else ever falls into place.  I had a really good stretch from mid-2014 through Sep. 2018 so I hope I can get another 4+ year stretch, but I am thankful for each day.

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Congrats - I'm thrilled for you! I know the end of the last year was such a struggle so this is just such a joy to read. 

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Congrats! FWIW - I love reading your race recaps.  They are so inspiring, and it's very interesting to hear the perspective from the front!

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On 3/26/2019 at 3:17 PM, eliz83 said:

Congrats - I'm thrilled for you! I know the end of the last year was such a struggle so this is just such a joy to read. 

Aww, thanks!  We all have ups and downs, so I know there will be more of both, but running is certainly a joy overall!

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4 hours ago, SandiBeach said:

Congrats! FWIW - I love reading your race recaps.  They are so inspiring, and it's very interesting to hear the perspective from the front!

Thank you, I appreciate that!  I love reading other's race recaps too.  There are always many things to learn from everyone's experiences.

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17 hours ago, CompulsiveRunner said:

Love Albani's shirt … what a great role model you are for her!

My mom bought that shirt for her and I love it!  And thank you, that means a lot.

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