First off, I owe somewhat of an apology for my huge lapse in blog posting. When I first started working with my coach, I had all these plans of writing about my progress and keeping everything nice & orderly. Little did I realize my schedule was going to be so crazy that I just lived through each day and completely forgot about blogging. I realize I have some people that actually read here (imagine that ;) ) and that’s why I’m writing this post now. Plus I want to memorialize what these last few months of training have taught me, and where I hope to go from here. There will be a lot of numbers in this post and I apologize in advance.
Without going too much into detail, my life this year has been crazy busy. I’m currently taking 4 classes, 2 co-curriculars (basically they are like additional classes but you don’t meet regularly and teach yourself the material), working part time, volunteering on 3 boards at school and one in my city. I think I knew going into my second year of law school that I would be busy but I definitely underestimated how much. Add training into the mix and well- it’s been one heck of a ride, that’s for sure.
My training this year actually was so solid. Since May, I’ve logged 100+ miles per month, peaking at 170 in September despite missing a few runs from being sick. I am proud to say that my schedule did not cause me to miss any runs. I was dedicated to being prepared for this full and not having a disaster like Bayshore. So I missed a lot of family/social events (I had to get some studying in between all the running!) but I am really happy that I did. My monthly average for running was always around 9:00-9:10 which was on par with my goal for the full.
When I first started working with my coach, I told him that I thought I had a 4:20 in me for a full. 4:20 is about a 10 min avg pace, and while I thought that was doable, it still seemed so crazy in comparison to my first full time (remember, that was 5:12). Since I was injured and ran with friends, I really had no clue what to expect or even predict for a time.
Around June, after I did a couple races as training runs (re: not actually racing- one of the hardest lessons I had to learn this year), my coach suggested that I start looking more at close to 4 or sub 4. THAT SOUNDED TERRIFYING. But I deferred to his judgement (after all, he’s the expert), and I incorporated the modifying training runs without a hitch.
if I’m being honest with myself, the closer I got to that race, the more I really really REALLY wanted to hit sub 4. Friends would ask me my goal and I would be evasive, mostly because I was afraid of falling short. So much can go wrong in a marathon. at night before I went to sleep, I would close my eyes and visualize crossing the finish line and seeing 3:5X:XX on the clock (I was merely praying for 3:59) and how that moment would make me feel. I didn’t want to, but I was getting totally caught up in it. Which made it even more scary because I didn’t want to fail. I know, there’s always another day, another race. But human nature sometimes doesn’t follow that logic. ;)
When school really started ramping up in September (aka my highest mileage month– I’m the best planner ever for training purposes….), I definitely felt the pressure. But I also decided to eliminate anything that could contribute negatively to my time management. I stopped drinking 7 weeks out from the race, tried to go to sleep at a decent hour (I’m like a grandma so this wasn’t a hard sell), and got up even earlier to make sure I fit my runs in, so that I could do my readings at night after class/work. It wasn’t always easy but I just kept thinking about the ultimate goal.
September I also ran the Capital City River Run (my 3rd time- I just love this race and it has a special place in my heart because it was my first half), as a training run. I was just getting over being really sick (and I’d run an 18 miler while sick, which exacerbated it- not the best idea), so I didn’t look at my watch at all and was gentle on myself. I ended up running 1:53:19, which according to the McMillian calculator put me at a 3:58 full. I knew it was going to be close- I was either going to be just under 4 or over. But all I could do then was get through my 20 miler and then taper!
During taper, I was in denial for awhile and my nerves did not get to me. I just kept thinking like I had no upcoming race, no major dreams happening on October 19. That worked until about a week before, but then I just got so busy at school I still didn’t have time to think about it. Truly, working with my coach and doing 98.9% of the runs (remember, I got sick), I could not have felt more prepared going in. Looking back, there is really nothing I wish I would have done differently EXCEPT run hillier routes. But mileage wise, I was as solid as I could be.
I am flying through a lot of this stuff because this post is already going to be so long, so I’ll just jump right to the race. I started out strong- coach and I had discussed pacing and he said if I could try to maintain 9 flat for the whole race I would be golden. I started with the 3:56 pacing group (they were supposed to be going 9 flat), but I quickly realized a couple miles in that they were going more like 8:20/30’s and I didn’t want to burn out too quickly so I hung back about 30 seconds behind them. I was following my time on my garmin and everything was going well. First 7 miles I ran in 63:01, then I hit the halfway point right at 1:57:18. I was on target for a perfect pace. It didn’t feel hard or anything.
Then, I started having to go to the bathroom. UGH. I actually started feeling that way around mile 10, but I kept passing porta potties because there were lines and I didn’t want to wait ( that cost me 5 min at a 25k I did earlier this year). Finally, just around mile 14, I saw a porta potty that one person had gone in so I stopped, figuring it wouldn’t take that long.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. SO wrong. I waited 2 minutes just for them to even come out! I was SO angry, I was saying a lot of really choice words while I was waiting (I feel bad for the volunteers at the aid station nearby). When I got out, I could no longer see the 3:56 pace group. In my head, a small voice said “you just lost your sub 4″ and I started sprinting to try and catch them, but I quickly realized that was a dumb move. This was not a 10k where I was almost done, no, this was the halfway point. If I sprinted now I would surely burnout and crash.
I started frantically doing the math in my head and realized I had basically lost all the time I’d saved by doing 9 flat the first half. My mental mojo went way down…. I was running and still going along, but I just felt beaten down. Of course, then the pain started to kick in, right around mile 16 (it wasn’t that bad, but coupled with my negative mental energy it really didn’t help). I was so angry, in my head I just knew I was going to be over 4 hours. and it was all my fault.
I saw 2 of my friends running (who were much ahead of me- one BQ’ed ((HOTSKIRT!!!)) by 5 minutes and another got a 12 minute PR ((SMCC))), and seeing them gave me a little jolt back into reality. As I approached 18 miles, I looked at my garmin and realized if I could hit 20 miles by 3 hours I still had a chance at sub 4, as long as I ran faster than 10 min miles for the last 10k. I pushed it as hard as I could and hit 20 at 3:00:12. OK IT”S GO TIME NOW.
I decided to just take it mile by mile. Literally I was repeating to myself “just get to mile 21″ over and over until I did, then I moved to 22. By 22.5 I had to stop and walk for about 30 seconds. I kept looking at my watch to calculate how much walking would set me behind. I ended up walking probably 2.5 min in that last 4 miles (off and on), never taking my eyes off my garmin. Who said law students can’t do math? ;)
I was hurting at that point. My legs just felt stiff, my left foot hurt and felt like it was bleeding (it wasn’t) and I was SO tired. I started to feel a little lightheaded as well, so I took a GU, some water and gateraid. When I hit 24 miles I kept trying to run but had to stop and walk for another minute. I decided at that point I had to give it everything I possibly could, I knew I was going to be under 4 but I wanted to guarantee it. so I took off like a bat out of hell and held it until I crossed the finish line.
My splits (according to my garmin, which said the course was 26.41):
Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 1: 8:55
Mile 3: 8:51
Mile 4: 8:52
Mile 5: 8:55
Mile 6: 9:00
Mile 7: 8:44
Mile 8: 8:47
Mile 9: 8:49
Mile 14:10:26 (<<<<< Bathroom mile)
Time: 3:55:50 Official
Average pace: 8:59 (according to the GR website). PERFECT splits, despite the mishap.
Cannot describe the feelings of accomplishment I felt after (much later….. when I crossed the finish line I was pretty much wiped and had to pull it together a little haha). My friend Karly (who BQ'd! I just love bragging about my awesome friends) met me at the finish and I'm pretty sure she had to drag me to the medal station where she medaled me. I was way out of it and did not even think to take my own pictures, aside from the ones I took with my friends lol.
I'm going to save my post about what I learned from this race for next time, this post is crazy long already. I do want to say thanks to my family and friends who supported me throughout this journey (and asked when I was going to post a blog about it ;)). It makes me feel so special and honored to have you on my team!