My 6th marathon:
Goals: Break 3:20. Place in the top 15 women. Place in my age group.
Not sure where to start or end this thing.....
Weather...low of 52 and high of 84. 52 is a pretty warm marathon start in my opinion. I was a little worried but the forecast ended up calling for mostly cloudy which it was until the last 8 or so miles. Weather ended up fine. I was never hot and never cold. Pretty comfortable after all.
Things with my body were ok but not perfect. A few little things weren't right and my legs just didn't feel fresh from the start. I also didn't have my "normal" breakfast. I ALWAYS have milk with breakfast as it keeps my stomach settled and I love my dairy all the time. And like an idiot at the grocery store the night before I bought OJ and bananas and bagels...but NO MILK! Idiot. So I had OJ for breakfast and I was burping up acid all day. My stomach is NOT used to no milk....literally it's been years since I have gone a morning with no milk. At the grocery store I accidentally dropped one of the OJs and had to go to the deli to call for a clean-up and in the drama I forgot to get milk. For the first 10 miles I was breathing too hard and it just didn't seem as "easy" as it should have been. My legs just didn't have the usual "pop" of race day. Maybe they would have the next day, or the day before; but they were working so I just went with it (not like I had a choice). I was holding back on some miles but on other miles I was having to work in order to stay at 7:40s.
miles 1-6 hold steady at 7:40s on the downhill
miles 7-10 hold steady at 7:40s around the flat lake
miles 11-16 push a little to hold 7:40s on the UPhill
miles 17-20 let it rip....7:20 or faster....downhill
miles 21-26.2 fight with whatever I have left. Leave it all on the course for this 10k....mostly UPhill
This should put me around a 3:18 (allowing for some error). Previous best time 3:26.
I did pretty much as planned for the first 16 miles even though it seemed harder than it should have been. I don't usually breathe very hard for the first 10ish miles. Remember 10-16 is all uphill:
The downhill started to get tough. I had managed to stomach gels at 7 and at 14 so I felt like I had some energy but my legs just weren't under me. I was aiming for UNDER 7:20 on the downhill. Just couldn't get it going. After 19 I had to have a little talk with myself. I actually walked through the aid station, took my gel and took TWO cups of water and drank both of them. I told myself I'd gone too far to stop or give up or settle. I had to push the last 10k as planned even though the downhill hadn't been what I wanted.
When I reached mile 23, my soul was crushing. I wanted it so bad but my legs just didn't have the kick. The last 6 miles are mostly uphill...slow grade but enough to make the wheels fall off. We had cloudy skies up to this point and the weather had remained pretty nice. I wasn't hot at all....why couldn't I go?
The buildings mess up the splits and the read on the garmin because of all the mirrored skyscrapers.
Mile 24 was probably 8:00 or so.
I got a total surprise shortly after 23, two of my old violin students that live in Denver now were on the course to cheer me on. I almost cried. I hadn't expected them (or anyone) at this point in the race. My head was hanging low as I rounded a corner in downtown and then I heard my name and looked up to see them. I gave high fives and told them how awesome they were for being there. I headed up the hill...pushing...using my arms to try and add more thrust. Their mom snapped a picture in my moment of happiness:
Finally out of downtown I had 1.5 to go. I had walked this street the day before and I thought we would NEVER get to the turn onto Vine Street. Felt like MILES!!!! Finally we got to the turn and I worked to pass as many 10-mile racers as possible. I was so done. I had nothing. I started to beat myself up and say mean things. Why wasn't it working? I was doing the math....was it even possible for me to break 3:20 anymore? Would I have to run a 5 minute mile to do it? No...just a 6:30. I tried. I "sprinted". I looked down....8:04 pace. Seriously. That's it legs? That's all you got. I round the corner to turn into City Park for the final mile. My parents are there and 4 of my brother's friends yelling and screaming. I'm shaking my head and almost in tears. (My parents account was that I was smiling and looked great....ha!) I go and go and go and go until I finally see the start (I think it's the finish)...it's not....no one is there...it's empty. Why is it empty? Where is everyone? WHERE IS THE FINISH??? I keep looking around the corner and there it is. I look at my watch. 3:20 has passed. My heart breaks. I keep pushing anyway. I cross the finish and stop to rest my hand on my knees. 3:21:45 A medic pats me on the back and asks nicely if I'm ok. I tell him I'm fine and that I just need a minute. He said to let him know if I needed anything and congratulated me. I got my medal and got waters. I had to ask people with nothing in their hands to open the waters. I couldn't do it. I couldn't really walk either. My legs were shot. I finally made my way over to the side of the finish chute and held on tight, lowered myself into a deep squat to rest my quads and stretch my calves. I immediately started to cry...sob really. I was so disappointed. I was hiding under my visor crying for like 5 seconds when a girl tapped my shoulder (she was wearing a 13.1 medal) and asked if I was ok...if I wanted to use her phone to call someone or anything. I told her I just needed to cry for a minute because once I found people I knew I wouldn't be able to. She giggled and gave me a little hug and told me congratulations. I got up (after crying for like 3 more seconds) and got some food. When I got out of the chute I couldn't find anyone. No Thomas (my brother). No Ryan (my husband). No parents. I stopped by a tree to drink some more water and sit down. As I leaned on the tree, I saw my brother through the crowd and he saw me. He came over to me and we hugged. He had gone 3:03 (he went 2:59 in January 2013). And let me know that he had passed Ryan around mile 20 and he hadn't seen him. This worried me since Ryan had trained so hard and was set-up so well to be 2:55. We finally found him. His stomach had been rough. He couldn't take any gels after mile 6. At 20 things fell apart. His arms and back were cramping and his pace slowed into the 9s. Not a great day for him. Ended up 3:11 (he was 3:01 in November).
Another friend of mine who has been a runner since 3rd grade and done probably 20 Halfs ran her first marathon. We love running together since we are both very competitive and love setting training and racing goals. She crossed in 3:41...a Boston cut as she will be turning 40 this fall. So extremely proud of her!!!
We walked back to our place and eventually found out that I had won my age group and gotten 8th place woman and 68th overall. I was so mad I didn't stay for awards...would've been so cool to go on the podium/stage they had set-up. I am happy, but humble. I left it all on that course. I couldn't have run faster (although it only would've taken 4 seconds per mile). I have to be satisfied because when I wanted to give up and slow down, I pushed harder....all the way to the finish. And I really can't be upset about a 5-minute PR.
What a day. What a race.
So, that's it in a nutshell. I think it's all a testament to Pfitzinger's program. My stomach wasn't happy, my legs didn't feel great and I still pulled off a huge PR on a medium-tough course. Another testament to this program is that in the last 6 weeks I have run PRs in the following distances:
....yep. For real. A PR in every race distance in the last 6 weeks. This Pfitzinger thing works for me like a very lucky charm.