So…. I kind of decided to run a marathon a few weeks back. I just didn’t say anything about it. *insert monkey emoji*
Honestly, after having my iron deficiency in late April, May and June were super maintenance months. I barely hit 100 miles in May and was under 130 in June. That may sound like a lot, but as someone who averaged 150+ every month for the past however many I can remember, it definitely caused me to lose momentum.
I also wasn’t doing ANY speed work. When I first started supplementing my iron, I would just go out and run/slog as much as I could until I was too tired to go. Basically lots of 3-5 milers. In June, I started trying to implement the long run back into my regime. I ended up hitting 11 miles as my longest run for June. Then on the weekend of July 4, I ran a 20k on a whim with some friends. That went better than I was expecting, so I started thinking about working with my coach again. We began training the second week of July.
My friend Amy was very close to her BQ (off by less than 2 minutes) and I had convinced her to run Erie Marathon as a last chance BQ. She in turn said I needed to run it with her since I had been so influential on her running it. I kind of hemmed and hawed on it; it was Sept 13 so only about 8 weeks away. I told her I would do it, and I planned to, but in truth I wanted a few decent runs before I fully committed and signed up.
July was a tough month to get acclimated. It was warm, and with a closer marathon, I had a more vigorous training schedules. IE ACTUAL SPEEDWORK. ?!?! I kept my head down and worked through it, clocking 160ish miles for the month.
August was harder. More training, work ramping up, and school getting ready to start. I was tired, kind of not sure why I agreed for the race in the first place. But I had one 20 miler and that went decently so I figured I might as well sign up at this point. Just over 200 miles clocked for August.
I will say that I am extremely grateful to have my ferritin seemingly recovered (I haven’t gotten retested since June) and have completed the training cycle. That said, for some reason I wasn’t totally “in” for this training cycle. I think it’s because deep down, I knew if I had more time, I probably would do better. In my heart of hearts, I would love to BQ (sub 335) but recognized dropped nearly 20 minutes on 8 weeks of training was unlikely for where my fitness was currently at. So I focused on a better goal: A. Finish B. Sub 4. C. Sub 3:55:50 (Aka PR).
Because of so many things that happened the week of the race and during taper, I really didn’t have too much time to get nervous about the race until the actual weekend. I traveled with Amy, my friend Karly and Julie (who graciously came to support us) and we made the trek to Erie, PA. This was the first marathon that Nate has not gone with me. It was definitely weird and I felt a little separation anxiety from him. I was able to talk to him, but it was not the same, so I will definitely plan on having him there next time ;)
The day of the race came quickly, just like my recap on it. I started out really strong, even though I felt decent at best. The course was beautiful, perfectly flat, and we had AWESOME weather – 50’s and a nice breeze, although there was headwind in some areas that kind of sucked. But all in all, couldn’t ask for a better day or course. Still, I just felt decent.
My first half was in 1:52 and some change. I actually hit 14 miles in under 2 hours. But at mile 11, I started feeling some weird cramping in my abdomen/diaphragm area. I’ve had it before (usually from breathing wrong) and tried to ignore it, but it would subside and then resume periodically. That made it VERY difficult to run.
Also, I truly believe my endurance wasn’t as strong as it needed to be for this race. I walked a LOT more than I would like to admit. My second half was around 1:58, so 6 minutes slower. That’s really not good. I had started out around the 3:45 pacer ant at this point, I was concerned I wouldn’t even GET to sub 4. The thought of quitting occurred a least a zillion times. It was basically me telling myself the entire way, convincing myself not to quit. And once I got to 20 miles (around 2:55), I knew I couldn’t quit. The option was gone.
I tried as hard as I could to hustle the last few miles, and made a pretty good effort. A volunteer said the finish was just around the corner, and sure enough, I could see the clock as I turned. I started sprinting, gutting it out and giving it all that I could to get there….. sprinting… dying… wanting to stop… where is the effing finish?! Is that clock a mirage!? it felt so far. I was running a 7:30 pace, which might have been why it felt so miserable, haha.
I finished a 3:50:46, a 5:04 PR. I was disappointed at the finish, I won’t lie. Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I am proud. I could’ve called it when I started cramping, or when I wanted to a zillion times. But I didn’t. I pushed through a lot of tough physical and mental obstacles and still walked away with a PR. I went from a super solid training cycle earlier this year, had an iron deficiency that knocked me out of the running game for a few months, and started seriously training for 8 weeks and managed to knock this out. Who knows what I could accomplish on better circumstances? :)