So, to the actual LONG LONG report. Part of me would like to just sweep this under the rug and talk about how I should get my hair cut instead, but here goes:
To my unspoken goals....
A goal: 3:14:59
B goal: PR-3:18:36
C goal: get my ass to Boston
Actual time: 3:20:16
*traveled overnight on Friday to Duluth from Ryan's hockey tournament. We were prepared to sleep in the car (due to my cheapness and my unwillingness to pay $400 for a 2 night required hotel stay when I only needed 3 hours). An unexpected act of kindness from some hockey parents on the opposing team Friday night and a leap of faith outside of my comfort zone found me sleeping in the house of a COMPLETE stranger ONE block from the shuttle pickup! SINGLE GREATEST WEEKEND BLESSING!
*Woke up race morning after 2 and a half solid hours of sleep not feeling too hot-bloated! HEIGHT of PMS since for the one time in like FOREVER my clockwork cycle decided to fail me-TMI....I did however feel mentally ready to run! I was EXCITED, a little nervous, but confident! It was RAINING HARD, the air was still humid/thick, and windy but NOT sweltering hot like I initially feared!! Reminded myself that rain was better than blazing sun!!!! I was apparently the ONLY unprepared marathoner waiting for the shuttle as I had no garbage bag over me, no bags on my race shoes which I was wearing (Everyone else had their race shoes in their check bags) Fortunately, I had on a lightweight jacket that kept my shirt pretty dry but by the time I got on the bus, my shoes were soaked and I was WET! The bus ride was good! I was super annoying Chatty Cathy and I'm pretty sure everyone just wanted me to shutup.... Reminded me so much of Boston since Grandma's is also a point to point course!! The bus arrived to the race start about 6 am. STILL raining and race didn't start until 7:30 am. I had an hour and a half to kill standing in the rain-no shelter.
*Adapt and Problem solve as Ana Maria says!!!! There were no lines for the port o potties being I was on one of the first buses. They were clean and unused. I set up shop in one and hung out protected from the rain reading blogs on my phone and thinking of AM starting her race! By the time I finally came out, the rain was stopped and all in all the weather was much more desirable. Not ideal by any means with the humidity in the air but actually quite unexpectedly cool and much more desirable!!!
*Checked my bag and made my way up the start corral to line up. After pushing through LOADS of people to get there, I realized I had checked my handheld water bottle in my bag which had some of my gels in the pocket. I generally take 5 in a marathon and drink TONS of water. I have a SYSTEM and I find COMFORT in it. I tried to make my way back to retrieve it and realized I would never make it. I had 2 Gu's with me still and started to plan a strategy for using them.
TO THE RACE:
I lined up a bit in front of the 3:20 pacer. My unwritten secret plan was to run approximately a 1:39 first half and then bring up the pace for a 1:35-1:36 second half. I felt this was TOTALLY doable based on the course, my training paces, my races, and my history of running quite well progressively. I'm not the type to overestimate my abilities and I almost ALWAYS reach goals I set for myself.
To the best of my memory which may have failed me a bit here....
The gun went off and I started running. Planned to go out as relaxed as possible in the first mile and hopefully end up between 7:45 and 8:00. Clocked a 7:47 and it felt just right. First water stop at mile 3 where I downed two cups of it. Just before the 5 mile mark, I decided to take one of my 2 Gu's. My logic was that I could take one at 5, one at 10, this would bring me strong to 15 and I would try to drink Powerade (which I NEVER drink) to get me through. I was MORE afraid of crashing early and then mentally struggling and know that I process Gu much better before I feel that I need it. Felt very strong and easy through mile 5. Weather was not bothering me too much and I felt good. Weird feeling right at mile 5 after I had taken the Gu. My heart just started fluttering and breathing was all awkward for a few seconds but then it passed and I felt fine.
Slightly rolling course but by far the "easiest" course I've run. No monster climbs and about mile 8 or 9 you began running right along Lake Superior which is beautiful. I had another weird short yuck feeling around mile 7 but again it passed as quickly as it came. Took another Gu around the 9 mile water stop and subsequently ran a 7:12 mile 10. Dang this stuff works good for me!!! Things were feeling great
Starting at mile 11, I stopped drinking water. I decided to try for Powerade only which was in retrospect not the best decision. I HATE these kinds of sportsdrinks (I rarely drink anything other than water and once in a blue moon Heed which is easier on my stomach). I tried to drink too much here I think. I crossed the half in 1:38:42 feeling great and just where I would have liked to be at this point. My husband surprised me at 14, I wasn't expecting to see him yet and I can see myself running over this bridge with a huge smile. At this point I think I really felt like this was going to be a good race and things would come together for me. As soon as I entertained this feeling I started feeling something not so awesome going on in my stomach. It didn't slow my pace too much but it was noticeable. I skipped water and powerade at 15.
This is somewhat of a blur. I know I was starting to feel a bit yucky mainly in my stomach by around 16 or so but my pace wasn't suffering too much (wasn't increasing as I had hoped but not overly suffering) Started feeling like I could hold pace but maybe not have the super finish kick I planned...... I remember grabbing the course Clif Shot at mile 17. Again I skipped the Powerade stop because I thought I would take the gel instead. I hadn't drank anything since 13 and was now drenched in sweat. My stomach was churning and I thought I would try to make it until 18 before I took the gel. Somewhere around 18 I started opening it and dropped it. EVERY part of me wishes I had stopped to pick it up. Instead at the mile 19 water stop, I chugged TOO much Powerade trying to make sure I wouldn't fall apart. Still managed to run mile 19 in 7:19 but shortly after, a HUGE projectile fountain erupted all over the side of the road and I really started feeling terrible. I went from a 7:19 to a FULL stop and then a brief walk somewhere around mile 20 when I saw my husband on the side of the road. He offered me my other handheld but I couldn't take it. It was filled with Heed and even the word HEED made me gag. He came right on the course with me and told me I was on pace for a really good PR and to just bring in the last 6. He was saying stuff about how many texts he was getting from my family and friends etc. and how they were all cheering and I remember looking and telling him to call them and tell them I was FALLING APART. I felt positively AWFUL. When I started running again, my legs did NOT want to cooperate. They enjoyed stopping WAY too much.
Honestly I don't have a bunch of memories here except it felt like I was running into a major headwind many of these miles. Kind of a blur of dry heaves, no drinking as I knew I couldn't handle it. I was forcing out my pace and then walking seconds later. Walk, run, gag, repeat. My legs felt rough. They felt heavy and drained and unlike they've ever felt in either of my previous marathons or EVER actually. I'm pretty sure this was "the wall" which I claim to have never experienced. There was a climb "Lemondrop Hill" at mile 22. Some tattooed guy slapped me on the back and we ran up the hill together. The downhill that followed POUNDED my quads. I have strong legs, I LOVE hilly courses, downhills have generally been AWESOME for me. This was NOTHING like the downhills in Boston (this was just short and easy) but I literally grabbed both of my legs with my hands running down this hill. Somewhere after mile 25 the 3:20 pacer passed me. He had lost his ENTIRE posse. Running completely solo as far as I could tell. I thought in retrospect that if I was a pacer and had lost my WHOLE group and saw a few strugglers (me and others) right on the 3:20 barrier that perhaps I would try to encourage them to run it in with him. NOPE. Didn't matter, I had nothing.
This is a fantastic course. Lightly rolling but most would consider it FLAT. Only one real hill at mile 22. I'm not sure flat courses play to my strengths....I believe I perform better with the muscle recovery of hills. Twin Cities is MUCH more rolling than Grandmas....
The course was extremely well organized. Very efficient with water, sponges, ice, etc. It truly is a beautiful course with a great atmosphere! I am ABSOLUTELY putting in for the half marathon here next year which is run on the back half of the course. The shirt and medal were really nice and I got a water bottle and bag as well!
*I spent a lot of time trying to process everything about this marathon. I don't feel my pacing was off at all, I do know I was having hydration and fueling issues. Even so, I just can't explain how I could feel SO awful late in the race. I've run this pace for LONG distances, I run higher mileage, I've run MULTIPLE 20's at a reasonably quick pace...There is NO doubt in my mind that my training is better, I'm faster, I'm stronger but yet on an EASIER course than Boston, I absolutely FOLDED. Furthermore, I can run a 22 mile in sub 8 and still be able to run the next day and experience little to no DOMS but 2 days later, I was struggling with stairs here. WTF!!! I need concrete answers! Ha ha! Sounds like I'm a schizo digging for reassurance. Not at all!!!!! I'm pretty sure these are just normal processings of a competitive mind. I'm really not upset. I can run a 3:20 marathon even feeling like SHIT and I need to be proud of that!!!
*For the record, I'm not about excuses.....Things could have gone PERFECTLY for me and I would have experienced the same issues. I can speculate, I can wonder but I can't state that I could run any faster than 3:20 in ANY conditions until I've proven that in a race!
*I DO have some race pictures. Wow, does pride come into play here! Not sure ANY of these will make it to the blog-HA!
So, I've been completely separated from blogland for a few days. I came down with strep throat which resulted in a 102 degree fever and MANY hours on the couch. When I wasn't on the couch, I was still running my kids around and trying to get my ducks in a row. I've managed two short 4 mile runs the last two days and my legs are feeling fine.
Again, special Thankyou to the MANY people who encouraged and supported me before, during, after the race. Was so awesome to get my check bag and look at my phone and see all the texts and and emails and FB comments and well wishes! I felt the love BIG TIME!!!!
Back to the ramblings soon and I promise to make my rounds here! Been on a bit of a prescribed computer break and just now starting to catch up! Good luck to all those racing this weekend!!!