Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!

It’s been awhile since I got to write about a race that went exactly the way I hoped but this was that race.

From the daily emails that Steamtown sent with runner info (and humor) to the weather, things were organized and looking good for race day.

So settle in for a full recap, for those of you that want the details.

I took the taper and carb loading seriously.  I was going crazy last week with only a few short runs and was doubting myself but on Saturday all of my worrying switched to excitement.

My parents came to watch the girls so we left Saturday afternoon for the expo, dinner (sushi), dessert (Krispy Kreme!) and an early bedtime.


I woke up Sunday early and ate a bagel with a little peanut butter and half a banana and drank Performance (electrolytes) two hours before the race, plus probably 16 ounces of water.  I feel like I nailed fueling in this race- I felt good from start to finish.

Runners loaded buses in downtown Scranton for the 45 minute drive to the start, at Forest City High School.  The race is small enough that the school allows us to come inside to stay warm.  It was freezing at the top of the hill with the wind, but otherwise perfect temperatures for running.

I checked out the pacers- there was a 3:15 and a 3:25, but no 3:20 pacer.  The 3:15 pacer told me he planned to go out a little fast to bank time in order to make it up the hills at the end, and I knew that probably wasn’t a good strategy for me.  I really wanted to run this smart!

So I ran my own race.  We were off with a cannon!

The first five miles felt awesome: 7:24, 7:30, 7:42, 7:37, 7:29 – I couldn’t believe how good I felt! I focused on keeping it easy and relaxed, and then started looking for hubs who was going to be at mile 8.

7:30, 7:49, 7:44



I knew at this point that it was going to be a good day. Miles 9 and 10: 7:42, 7:35

We passed a ten mile clock (1:16) and I was on track for a big pr.  I kept telling myself to hold back and see how I felt at mile 18.

Miles 11-13: 7:44, 7:39, 7:52-  In retrospect, I kept it a little too easy here and could have done a better job sticking to my 7:39’s but I was mostly running by feel.

The first half has a lot of net downhill which eventually becomes really tough on the quads.  I was happy when it started to even out around mile 12-13.  The flat roads felt good, although I had to kick it up a gear in order to stay consistent.  I started counting down to mile 17, where I would see my husband again.

We ran two miles through a gorgeous trail and the fall colors were so brilliant!

7:35, 7:34, 7:33, 7:45


I woke up early- Making signs is hard!

Mile 17 was a nice mental boost! I loved hearing the personal cheers and seeing hubs with his sign.  And I was still feeling so good!  Mile 18- 7:28


We entered another gravel trail and I focused on breaking the race into two mile chunks.  I knew there were some decent hills coming soon.  Miles 19-20: 7:41, 7:37

At mile 20, I was amazed there were only six miles to go but I was kind of clueless where I was at – my watch died half a mile into the race and I had to restart it and was off the whole race..  I think that was a blessing- I wasn’t stressing at all about not breaking 3:20, I was just so thrilled that my race was going so well!

More than any other marathon I’ve run, I was really in the moment, soaking up the views, the people and enjoying myself.  It flew by!! Except for the final 5 miles, of course.

I held on to pace for 21 and 22 (7:45, 7:34) and then hit some tough hills.  Mile 23 had some tough uphill and mile 24 had over a half mile that was pretty relentless.  I didn’t look at my watch at all, but focused on getting up it as strong as I could- 7:50, 8:35

That split likely would have discouraged me so I’m glad I missed it! With just two miles to go, I repeated all of the words of encouragement you all have left me over the last few days – I imagined Allie running alongside me keeping me moving, I remembered Tina’s words to believe in YOU, I remembered that I can do hard things and two miles is nothing!

Although in a marathon, those last two miles take! Mile 25- 7:48

As we came into the final mile, we could see one last hill looming ahead.  Once I started climbing, it didn’t feel too bad, but as we peaked it, instead of going down it continued to have a slight incline to the end of the mile, brutal! – 8:02


Once over the hill, I tried to push my legs down the final .2 as quickly as I could.  At this point, they were definitely screaming from the downhill at the beginning of the race, but overall, it really wasn’t until the last mile that my body told me it was done running a marathon.


Pain face!

Final push- 7:27 pace

I knew I was not going to break 3:20 but didn’t know how much of a pr I had (previous pr was 3:32:58)… as I got close, I was so thrilled! Final time is 3:23:23- a ten minute pr!


I am really proud of myself for running a smart race and really enjoying it! I wasn’t nearly as focused on my watch as I usually am- I missed half my splits and didn’t care.  I was just so excited to be cruising along at a pace 30 seconds faster than my fastest marathon and feeling so good!


As I met up with family afterwards, I told hubs if this is the last marathon I race for time I will be happy with that.  I know how many things can go wrong (stomach issues, heat, fueling, sluggish legs) and I feel lucky that everything went so smoothly.  Of course, my he wanted to record me saying that because who knows how long that feeling will stick… 🙂

Thank you all so much for the supportive comments on Instagram and Facebook! I was really encouraged by them and really feel that it helped me run well.

And now to ride this marathon pr high as long as it will let me…while not running this week as I recover.  We’ll see if that works!

Have you had a race where everything clicked and you felt better than expected?

Have you raced more by feel than by your watch?

I’m linking up with Hoho Runs and Miss Sippi Piddlin for the Weekly Wrap!





52 thoughts on “Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!

  1. Wow, it really sounds like you had a perfect race and truly enjoyed the experience! I don’t think I have ever had that happen for a marathon. You definitely worked hard and deserve this huge PR! Hope you have a great week recovering and riding the marathon high. Congrats!

  2. Wonderful race, Laura!!! Wow: 3:23 marathon. That is so very exciting. Congratulations on enjoying the race and not freaking out about your watch (that would have done me in right there) or the hills. I’m so glad you saw the pay-off of a really smart training program!

  3. AHHHHH!!!!! I had *all the feels* and goosebumps reading this Laura!!! I’m just so happy for you and so proud of the work you did to make this happen!! And I’m REALLY so happy you envisioned me running you in, just as I hoped you would! We all need help and motivation out there so if I couldn’t be there in person, I’m so honored I was there in your mind 🙂
    You absolutely crushed this race with a HUGE PR and felt good throughout which is truly amazing. I hope this race high lasts for a good, long time. Celebrate YOU and what you have accomplished because it is a BIG win!!
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown – OffseasonMy Profile

  4. YAY!!!!! What an amazing race. Congrats!!!! One of my coaching clients ran Chicago yesterday and made the same comment – It all went by so fast. You know that’s the sign of a great run! And good luck on sticking to your last marathon for time comment. One of my friends said she was done with marathons after running her best feeling marathon last year. Guess who is doing Boston (again) next year?!?!? Lol!

    • Thanks so much, Angela! I don’t think I’ve ever had a race pass so quickly. Even half marathons feel much harder and slower- definitely a good day.
      I know… I’m so curious what will happen over the next year or two… I’ve been averaging a marathon every 18 months or so. I don’t see myself doing more than that, but I am probably not done with this distance either… !!
      Laura recently posted..Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!My Profile

  5. Yay Laura!!!!! Congrats on a huge PR! Sometimes watch dying is a blessing. Sounds like it gave you the chance to enjoy your experience more instead of obsessing over the numbers. I can only hope to have my next marathon run so smoothly. My last was a 3:32 (like you!) and it was anything BUT smooth lol rain, thunderstorm, heat, humidity….I’m praying things go better in there weeks!
    Jess run pink recently posted..#MarathonMonday {WK 15} Family. Balance. Running. My Profile

  6. Yay Laura!!!! So glad it was a good race for you! You are an inspiration for how hard work and discipline pay off!

    • Thank you, Janelle!! It would have been nice to have an easier ending to see how I could have finished but I’m really happy with how I handled the pacing and the hills. Looking forward to hearing about your experience in a few weeks!
      Laura recently posted..Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!My Profile

  7. Congratulations!!! That is so exciting. I’m happy for your new PR. Will you consider doing a post on what your taper week looked like & how you carb loaded? I think this is something I need to figure out before my race in February.

    Thank you!

  8. You have no idea how excited we are for you! Way to go on running a text-book perfect race. I know you have worked hard and it is always great to enjoy the fruits of your labor! 🙂 I can’t wait to see your recap on NYC. It’s nice to have a competitive PR race and a celebratory marathon!!

    • Thank you, May!! I’m so happy with how it went! Yes, it is so nice to have zero pressure going into NYC. If I run a four hour marathon, I’ll be happy. I’m just excited to soak up the city and the crowds and run for the love of running!
      Laura recently posted..Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!My Profile

  9. Congratulations on a great race, Laura! I love that everything clicked and you had great splits, even with the hills on the end. Way to go for knowing your body and pacing strategy and not going with the pacer if you didn’t think that was smart… you still met your goal and all the pics are great.

    I hope you are having a good recovery from the race!
    Amy Lauren recently posted..Weekly Rundown: October 3-9My Profile

    • Thank you so much! That’s a great question. I went into this thinking it would likely be one of my last full marathons, but I did love running Boston… I have some time to figure it out… and I’ll need to have a conversation with my husband as training for a full is a whole family decision at this stage of life with two little girls!
      Laura recently posted..Steamtown marathon recap and new pr!My Profile

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  11. BEASTMODE. You killed it DEAD! Such an awesome job. SO many congrats! I kind of do a mix of pace and feel and pushing myself accordingly. But I’ve found that you can only push things and manufacture paces so much! But you nailed it!

  12. So awesome to read you had a great race! Feeling good from the start to the finish really is what every runner strives for and you did it!
    I know what my decision would be as far as Boston goes is I could run as fast as you.

    • Thanks so much, Tricia!

      Yes, I’m definitely leaning toward Boston- the only thing holding me back is that I ran it once before and the year I did we had a horrible winter and training was miserable. I swore I’d never do another spring marathon again!!

  13. Congratulations on a 10 minuted PR! Your splits are incredible. Isn’t it wonderful how, sometimes, everything just comes together perfectly? We work so hard for that and it’s a huge reward. Thanks for linking, Laura!
    HoHo Runs recently posted..Me, Irritable?My Profile

  14. Congratulations on the PR! It is just such a huge accomplishment to be able to run so strong! It is wonderful to have a day where everything just clicks like that 🙂 Great recap, it is very inspiring!
    Karen recently posted..My 225My Profile

  15. Wow! This is amazing! congrats! I’m considering Steamtown for next year to try and BQ! I really have to get my fueling game under control however. I feel like that has bitten me in the butt the last several marathons. What did you think about the course? I’m so used to running HUGE marathons with tons of crowd support, I’m scared of trying a smaller one!!

  16. Congrats on a near-perfect race and a new marathon PR! I ran Steamtown many years ago and set my PR there with a 3:29:04. I returned to run Steamtown four more times and it became one of my husband’s and my favorites.

    I remember how funny the emails from the race director (or assistant race director) were. One year the city or park service decided to “help the marathoners out” by adding a nice thick layer of mulch on the trail the week before the race. It was awful and like running on a mattress. I remember the following year the emails made a humorous reference to that with promises that no new mulch was being placed on the trail.
    Debbie @ Deb Runsq recently posted..Grateful For Every StepMy Profile

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