It all began last summer when I was reunited with my sister. You see, I was fresh off of an amazing 2nd marathon. We settled on Carlsbad with really no contest. From the get go we knew it would be good. a) ocean views on the course b) perfect "winter" race c) far enough to be away but close enough to only take up a weekend
After we organized the Winslow 10K race we immediately began the 16 week training plan for our marathon. Most weeks were great. My past posts on the matter can confirm this. But--some weeks were hard. Sometimes I was sick. Sometimes Kimmy's IT band gave out way too early. Other days we went out to run in ridiculously low temperatures and poor running conditions. All in all, it made us stronger. We were ready. We never skimped out on a workout.
Now fast forward to the events of yesterday and the day before.
pre race feelings
I was so confident about my performance that I was hardly nervous. My only thoughts were of just how fast I would be. Everything was going in my favor. Mentally and physically I felt like I was absolutely ready. I realize that I did make a rookie mistake though. I kept lowering my goal time. At first I just wanted to beat my previous race time. Then it was beat it by 5 minutes. About 2 weeks before the race I started realizing that I was not too far off from a Boston time. I had 11 minutes to shave from my time. In running---that is alot of time. Nevertheless, I wanted to see if I could do it.
I slept like a precious little baby. We defintely rested well the day and night before. I can give myself props for pre race rest.
The start line was well organized but not scenic. A mall parking lot actually.
The sun hadn't yet come up. I found it a bit comical to see a bunch of Type-A runners standing around in daisy dukes at 5 am in 40 degree weather. The things we do to run a race.
sunset along coast
May I describe the most pleasant, inspiring, motivational, and exciting part of the race? Miles 2-7 featured the absolutely stunning coastal route along the historic 101 in Carlsbad. Picture the sunset slowly stretching its rays above the blue-gray horizon that is the Pacific Ocean. At this point I confirmed that our race choice was excellent. At this point I also pushed pause on the tunes and took in the crashing waves while soaking up the feeling of still feeling fresh in the first half.
Miles 6-8 were detailed as hilly. I must say I would have to disagree. They were nothing more than city streets with an abrupt incline. After mile 8 I started realizing that I was seriously cruising. Somewhere around this time I thought I should check my pace but I was too scared because I knew it was faster than it should be. I didn't check. First mistake of the day.
(I checked later....the pace was 7:45) That's way fast for a marathon. no joke.
animal shelter mile 10
I hated this part. It was obvious that the organizers were just trying to find an easy stretch to get us out to mile 10. ugly, boring, and hard to follow after the beautiful ocean sunset stretch in the beginning. The only good part about this section was that the u-turn allowed for you to see who was behind you and how far away they were from you. I was desperately looking for my sister. I knew she was behind but I wasn't sure where. My worst fear was that she had to drop out due to her injury. If I didn't see her at mile 10 I don't know if I would have kept running. --mini panic attack-- and all of sudden there she was. Happy as can be. We high-fived and I resumed my maniac pace with no pain of any kind.
still ahead of 330 pace group
At this point I am on fire. I am totally rocking my pace. Far ahead of the 3:30 pace group which was not what I had planned on doing. BUT it felt good and the pace didn't feel too fast for me. I did get some cramping which I accredit to the cold water and ultima intake along the way. I couldn't get my fluid intake right. I always wanted to drink more but got instant cramps when I even simped any fluid. It was a major frustration for pretty much the whole race.
back to the beach
By mile 12 we were finally back where we should have been the whole time. As in the beach route. I didn't fly to California to run next to animal shelters. By this mile it had warmed up and we enjoyed a perfect California sunny day.
we took one last annoying u-turn on a street called Avenida Encinitas. This u-turn was tough for me. I experienced my first preview of fatigue. I was happy to hit the 1/2 way mark but I was not so peppy anymore. I was turning into a robot who just kept going. nothing to get too worried about, but definitely a sign to start monitoring my body.
now for a slight interruption to comment on the best purchase of the race. the headband. I chose a patriotic rendition of flowers. Not only did it cover my ears but it protected my headphones and kept my hair out of my face. excellent.
I am afraid that this is where the race took a turn for the worst.
death miles of 13-21
From miles 13-21 I was out of my groove. Still running my strong sub-8 pace but doing it in not so good of a spirit. By mile 18 I was pretty much grouchy. I wanted to know when the heck we were going to turn around for good and head towards the finish line. The beach scenes were great but even those weren't helping me at this point. I started getting a headache. I actually had to turn down my tunes because they were making my headache worse. I know, I know this is a bad sign. I had another sister sighting at mile 19. She asked how I was doing and I said "great" which was a lie. I thought I could make myself believe that though. I should add that she looked like a kid in a candy store. I was impressed and mostly grateful that she was injury free.
the first taste of nauseous mixed with spinning ground and headache
at mile 20 I started seeing the ground spinning from side to side as if we were out on the ocean getting slopped around by the waves. it was almost entertaining in my fatigued and delirious state. I think I could have gotten through it but the spinning mixed with the headache and the most unusual feeling of nauseousness was getting to me big time. my body surprisingly felt great. no feet, ankle. or leg pain whatsoever.
the crazy thought
between mile 20 and 21 I started playing out a scenario. What if I just let my body drop to the ground? Would it roll? Would an ambulance come? How long would it take them to come pick me up? Would they let me cross the finish line on a stretcher? I am not kidding. I debated these ridiculous ideas through 20 and 21. There were moments when I almost let myself drop to the ground. I guess it is a red flag when you actually think dropping to the ground is a better idea than to keep running. So now I am dealing with the spinning, the headache, the fatigue, the thirst, the crazy thought, and every other part of my body that was screaming to stop right now.
at mile 21 the gas tank ran out. I hate typing this. I hate thinking about it. I slowed the engine down to a jog and eventually to a walk. I hate that. I am shaking my head as I type this. It kills me more than you will ever understand. My eyes teared up and I felt like the biggest loser. I immediatley thought how I had just lost my dream time. It was hard to come to terms with that realization. I "walked" it out. Whatever that means. I said 997 prayers, relied on the cheering of those on the sideline, and the sheer will power of the thousands of runners on either side of me.
from a physiological perspective my body literally ran out of gas. as in glycogen index completely and utterly depleted. more on that later.
at mile 22 I began to run again. much to my surprise it was easier to run than it was to walk. that was a precious little gem from heaven for me. I painfully ran. I say that because now it was painful. My legs ached, my arms were stiff-you know, the usual marathon symptoms. No surprise there. That stuff is easy to deal with though. I was now carrying a burden on my back. The burden of guilt. I felt so incredibly guilty for running out of gas at 21. How could I? I felt like I had deceived myself. The crowds were so incredibly helpful though. They cheered me by name. My bib stated my first name and they must have seen that I really needed some cheering. The bands were neat too.
at mile 23 I realized that there was light at the end of the tunnel. it wasn't pretty but I kept going. I was thirsty and depleted in such a bad way. water wasn't helping, otter pops didn't help, I didn't even bother trying with the oranges or pretzels. struggle, struggle, struggle. and 2 more blows to my already wounded pride...the 3:30 and 3:45 pacers were now out of sight from me. that was really hard to accept.
pretty much the same as mile 23. hard in the worst way but a little more light at the tunnel.
at mile 25 I finally picked it up. I was sick of the middle-aged half-marathoners who were mostly blocking the course and not really doing much more. I started darting and dashing through them with the promise of a finish oh, so close. the thing that got me at a "sprint" or "dash" to the finish was a band that yelled out 2 more corners as they strummed their guitars. 2 more corners and I would see the finish. good enough for me. I took the bait and went for it. All out-well as much as I could give.
26.2 finish line
I finished with a smile. I did because it was hard. I finished something that actually seemed impossible just a few miles before. I was wounded but I still finished. If Kimmy wasn't still out there I probably would have found some private place to cry it out and figure what the heck went wrong. That's not what you do when you have a sister coming in. I crossed 3:57.
I heard her name over the loud speaker just 3 minutes after that. I immediatley got to my feet and forgot my drama. I thought her achievement was much more thought-worthy than my failure. I was very impressed with her finish. I can honestly say that my crappy race is acceptable only because she did so incredibly well. I mean that whole-heartedly.
What to do now?
3rd marathon...something to be proud of :)
Right now I am experiencing post-marathon blues. I feel like I need a purpose fast before I dwell on this unexpected marathon drama. I can tell you this much.....I am out for revenge. Watch me run my next race. I promise you I will get revenge. It is just the way it has to be.
The following things are in my back pocket
--organize another 10K for the spring
--start riding my bike to work/gym again when it warms up in a few weeks
--longer gym sessions (they are already ridiculous but now I can be as hard core as I want)
--Ragnar Del Sol 200 miles (March)
I realize that I can't let my unexpected result overshadow the many positive things I experienced before, during, and after this race. I ran a ridiculously strong pace from mile 1-21 (7:47 per mile) and can applaud myself for that. However, I need to consider that my training was not at a 7:47 pace. Our long runs were close to 8:30 or 8:40. I know I was capable of that pace during training but I always held back slightly because I was training with my sister. I never felt comfortable running off at my own pace. It was her first marathon and I needed to do my part to support and practice with her. Plus, the pace was a good fast pace anyways. I tried the faster pace during the real thing. That was the problem. Next time I can start week 1 training with a 7:45 pace and be ready to run that sub 3:30. Shoot, a 3:40 would have me crying tears of joy.
I can say that I did run the race in the pace that I trained for. It probably wasn't the pace I would have chosen if I was solo, but I wasn't and that's not important.
I will end this whole thing on a good note. I am so grateful that I am blessed with a body that can run and run and run. I am grateful for a supportive husband who gives me the green light to race and run in an excessive way. I loved running with my sister. I always wondered what it would be like to have a running partner. It is excellent. I hope we do this for the rest of our lives. And last but no least, I loved the beach. How could I ever run a marathon without the beach right next to me???
3rd marathon in 3 years. Cheers
for my baby Talan. we owe you for this one. Jesserfon