October 20, 2013
Having not run a marathon in 7 years, I wanted to get my marathoning feet wet and have a positive experience. My pre-race goals:
1) Don’t be stupid
2) Run < 3:45
3) Run all miles < 9:00 (a first)
4) Try to run without stopping (a first) or walking (a first)
This was my first time running a race that I had to take a shuttle. Because of the shuttles, I got to the start line about an hour early. I remember getting off the bus and seeing 6:51 on my watch because I thought that was a ridiculous amount of time to kill for an 8am start. It would’ve have been so bad but it felt really cold.
Shortly after getting there, they made an announcement for the 10k that they needed to start heading to the corral because their start was 20 minutes away. I thought maybe I had the start time wrong, but then I noticed that my watch still read 6:51 and the seconds weren’t moving. Luckily I remembered how to restart it, and it seemed fine after the reset. But it had been stuck for 20 minutes (this becomes important later).
I killed time by peeing multiple times and hanging out in a heated bus shelter. With about 20 minutes to go, I left the shelter and went to ditch my pair of warmup pants. (I’d worn a pair of fleece pants over my tights in an attempt to keep warm while waiting, something else I learned from ’06). I found the 3:45 pacer and talked to him about what his race pace strategy was (8:33-8:34 instead of 8:35 to have a bit of a cushion). I had turned my watch on about 9-10 minutes before the start, but apparently that was too far because the power save kicked on with 1 minute to go. So I had to hurry and unlock the bezel, resync with the satellites and relock the bezel.
I decided to run with the pacer and then evaluate after a couple of miles. We got off to a decent start, but my Garmin beeped at me after the first mile that it was almost full and laps needed to be deleted. I know that you’ve got some time before the memory actually fills, but that the watch completely stops recording once it becomes full. Not wanting to chance my watch stopping, I then started trying to delete the old history while running. Good times.
Mile three was uphill, but it was gradual enough that it didn’t feel too bad. We then turned onto a bike path, which was kind of narrow. It got a little crowded, especially one part around 4 miles where the “cheer zone” built a balloon bridge that was barely big enough to fit two people across.
The 5 mile point came in the middle of a nice downhill stretch, but we could see the big hill ahead. I moved ahead of the pace group somewhere around this section. Mile 7 was similar, where the mile mark was at the end of a downhill that preceded a big hill. I felt pretty good through here.
Things kept moving along. I think the pace group caught back up to me, and we were together for a bit before I moved on ahead. Around 10 miles, it started warming up enough that I was able to take my gloves off, although it did drizzle every now and then. The pavement had been wet the whole race, which got a little dicey in spots (especially the downhills).
I hit the half point in 1:51:33, and math told me I was on track to run 3:43 if I could hang on. I kept plugging away, although at some point I started feeling like my hips were getting sore and something was a little funky with my left hamstring. But knowing that my day tends to end as soon as doubt creeps in, I told myself that everything was ok, that I was strong and that I was doing fine.
There was a little bit of an incline in mile 16, but the 17 mile mark was at the start of a large decline. The pacer caught back up to me around this point, and I wasn’t too happy about that. But he’d been running ahead of pace, so I figured I just needed to hang on. The big downhill miles both clicked by in 8:27, and the last of the downhill was 8:31. I was doing math all along to calculate finish time, and then at
some point it turned into how much more I had to run. Then we headed into the woods and I don’t know what happened but I hit that mile in 8:56. That kind of jolted me a bit (see goal #3), and I was able to get back on track in the next mile.
Mile 22 went back uphill (again, really?), and by this point my hip flexors were aching. Somewhere in here, my Garmin beeped that I had a low battery. WTF, Garmin, seriously? I knew I could make it a couple of miles after the initial warning, and hoped it would be enough. Mile 23 was hit in 9:02, which kissed goal #3 goodbye along with the pacer. This section of the race was freaking terrible. There were supposed to be two “cheer zones” with radio stations, but it was mostly desolate with few spectators. There were a lot of turns, and several small hills. I totally shuffled up those hills but I didn’t walk. After holding onto my gloves all race, I managed to lose them shortly before mile 25 when I was trying to reattach my bib. (I was wearing a race belt, and I moved it as we approached a photographer. Doing so broke the bib and I had to rehang it).
I hit mile 25 in 9:11 and at 3:35:45. I needed to be done, as I just ached (hips and feet). We ran down a small hill — and then my Garmin fucking died. 1 mile from the finish, and I had to run blind. ARGH!!!!
So we had a few more turns, and then got to run straight. I had no idea how much farther, but at one point a woman said we were at 26. I tried to pick up, but I felt like I was in quicksand. Finally the finish arch came into site – but the clock hanging from it was off. The clock was approaching/ticking 3:47 when I crossed, and I said “yes!” to myself even though it was off my goal because that’s still a good time.
I then finally got to stop running. I have never run 26.2 non-stop, and holy crap did it hurt to stop. I got my medal and declined the space blanket because I felt warm. I got some water and found the 3:45 pacer. He came in with 30 seconds to spare, so it’s too bad I couldn’t hang with him. I don’t think anyone did stick with him, though. Anyway, I took my post-race picture, and then went to find the gear check. The gear check people were awesome! As you walked up, they pulled your bag so it was sitting there for you by the time you got there. I pulled my phone out to text and call my husband. I let myself cry a little, just feeling emotional. Then I updated my social media. I had changed into a dry shirt and added pants, but I was so cold. I added my jacket, and then went to ask for a space blanket.
On my way to find my car, I found where they had results posted and found that I’d run 3:46:20. I wonder if I would’ve been able to dig deeper had I known I was that close to running 3:45. I’m surprised that my final 1.2 averages out to a 8:49 but I really had no idea how fast I was running for that stretch.
1 | 8:35
2 | 8:30 | 17:06
3 | 8:29 | 25:35
4 | 8:32 | 34:07
5 | 8:23 | 42:30
6 | 8:35 | 51:06
7 | 8:18 | 59:24
8 | 8:26 | 1:07:51
9 | 8:34 | 1:16:25
10 | 8:26 | 1:24:51
11 | 8:39 | 1:33:31
12 | 8:32 | 1:42:03
13 | 8:37 | 1:50:41 (1:51:33 13.1)
14 | 8:31 | 1:59:13
15 | 8:37 | 2:07:50
16 | 8:45 | 2:16:35
17 | 8:27 | 2:25:02
18 | 8:27 | 2:33:29
19 | 8:31 | 2:42:01
20 | 8:56 | 2:50:58
21 | 8:38 | 2:59:36
22 | 8:45 | 3:08:22
23 | 9:02 | 3:17:25
24 | 9:08 | 3:26:34
25 | 9:11 | 3:35:45
26.2 | 10:35 (8:49/mi)
1st half – 1:51:33
2nd half – 1:54:48
3:15 positive split
Interesting note: I ran a 1:54:41 second half split at Chicago ’06. The 10 minute difference in times is due to a 1:41:29 first half there. With only a 3:15 positive split here, I think that shows I ran much better here overall.
I’m overall very pleased with today’s effort. Other than a couple outliers, the paces for the first 22 were relatively close together. This might be me being cocky, or making excuses, but I think this would have been a 3:42-3:43 on a flat course. While the miles in the last 6 were small, the earlier hills kind of did me in. I ran really well on those early miles, I could tell I was running uphill but didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard.
So I achieved goal #4, and I like to think that I achieved #1. I think I ran relatively well, and was able to stay mentally strong until mile 22. Since attempting to run sub-4, I’ve never made it that far without breaking down. (Usually I fall apart by 17 miles).
Notes: took 4 gels. Blackberry Gu at 5 and 10 and Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gu at 15 and 20. I carried my 20-oz handheld with water so that I could take my gels on my schedule. That was a good call, since the water stops were spread out and small. I did take water from the stops, too, to conserve my water, and there were stops where it was confusing who had water and who had gatorade. They really needed more water in the last 6.
I don’t think I’ll run this one again – too hilly, and the last 3 miles are too lonely. The spectators were great, but there were a lot of miles with no spectators.