PIC and I making the best of the plane delay at DIA
A little history.....the first marathon I ran was in October 2007. Just 10 months before that, I really had no intention of ever running more than 6 miles. I mean really, what's the point? I was doing Olympic distance tris and you "only" had to run a 10k at the end. No need to run more than that right? In fact, I have friends that remember the time I said, if I ever want to run a marathon please hit me because I have clearly lost my mind. Fortunately, those friends never hurt me and I ran that first marathon. And it was great. I ran a controlled pace/heart rate. I ran the entire way. And I finished in 4:19. I was happy and proud and couldn't believe I had run a marathon. Not even close to qualifying for Boston, but that is for REAL runners and I'm just a swimmer pretending to be a runner. At that point, I had no intention of ever running one again...."one and then done". But a few days later, I knew that I would run another marathon.
Well, that day was Sunday. It worked out very well in my schedule to put the marathon in January. Although, with the cold and snowy December and early January, I was concerned about my prep. I took that week off after Clearwater. I did a pretty slow/conservative build. I actually never ran more than 20 miles although the snow run at the end of December was 3.5 hours. So I just had to trust that was enough. Plus, I was doing this on my own!! No coach!!! Yikes!!!! The 20 mile run went OK. The 18 mile run with tempo efforts went great. And then my new unofficial official coach started guiding me and had definite opinions about my last two weeks.
I arrived in Phoenix feeling fairly confident. My goal you ask? That's right. I wanted to qualify. For Boston. Because if it's a qualification process, I'm in....let's just see if I can do it. My pacing efforts seemed to be perfect for a qualifying time. I just needed 3:50, I believe that's an 8:45 mile average. But I had this feeling that 3:40 was in my reach. Why? I don't know, it just felt right. I knew that as long as I didn't take it out too fast and I nailed my nutrition, I had a great chance at doing just that.
The biggest problem I had on Saturday? Yep, I brought the wrong shorts. I had ordered some shorts without trying them on first and....well....let's just say I am not comfortable with my ass hanging out for 26.2 miles. 10k maybe. But not a marathon. No worries, a quick stop at the Brooks booth at the expo and I had new shorts! Also at the expo, mix1 who stocked me up with my pre and post race nutrition. Thanks Amy!! My nerves were pretty good too, I was relaxed! I was actually thinking more about Ironman Arizona in November than the marathon I was running the next day. Hmmm. Priorities?
Sunday morning arrived and PIC drove Sandy, Randy and me to the start (btw, she did a stand-up job as a spectathlete!). I got busy with my tour de portapotty, one of my favorite pre-race activities. If anyone is counting at home, that would be 3 stops before race start! I had done a couple of training runs with Sandy and Cody and we all gathered in Corral 2 for the start. We had a plan too.....8:45's to start for a few miles, and then start bringing it down. Sandy really wanted to hit it at 20miles like she had done last year and it sounded like a good plan at the time. The race started and we were off!! A very controlled mile 1....9:00. I was worried that it was too slow and I didn't want to lock in at that pace. But mile 2 rolled around and again 9:00. Hmmmm. I picked it up a bit and Cody and Sandy came with me. 8:45. Good. At mile 3.75 we saw PIC and she was screaming at us! I tossed her my shirt wondering if we'd see her again, she had a busy schedule trying to keep up with us and with her hubby who was running the half.
I was feeling good. My heart rate was pretty low and I was comfortable. The only thing was, my pink pouch with my gel blasts and sports beans was annoying the crap out of me. It was bouncing up and down and moving back and forth on my belt. Grrrrrrr. I kept having to move it out of the way, 3-4 times a mile. Grrrrrr. But I couldn't ditch it!!!! And I wanted to!!!!
The miles kept ticking along: 8:41, 8:40, 8:31, 8:33, 8:33, 8:17, 8:35. Sandy was keeping us in check too. That's too fast she kept saying. But I felt great with what we were doing. Mile 11 was pee-stop, just snuck behind some bushes real quick and then picked it up for the rest of that mile. 8:45. Then we hit a headwind. Cody saw some bigger guys ahead and we ran to them to tuck behind. The problem with this strategy though was A. the guy I tucked in behind was approximately 7 feet tall and I thought for sure his elbow was going to crush my skull, and B. they were running too slow. So on we went....at the half-way mark, I was right where I wanted to be 1:53-ish. The body felt OK, nothing bad nothing great but I knew I would hurt at the end (who doesn't hurt at the end of a marathon????).
Naturally, I dorked out and managed to turn my garmin off at mile 13.12. Fortunately, I realized it 8 minutes later. But from there on, I had to do race-math. Which I am not good at. The miles kept ticking by 8:28, 8:41, 8:20, 8:28. Cody and Sandy were taking water at the stops and I would run through sipping on my bottle but then they would need to catch up to me. After mile 17, they didn't catch up and I heard Sandy from behind saying the pace was too fast. She was breathing pretty good and I needed to make a decision. 11 miles left. My heart rate was fine and I had room to go. I gave them a thumbs up and I kept on with my pace. It was my race too and I had my goals. I needed to run my own race at that time and I didn't want to try to "hit" it at 20 at that point. I just wanted to speed up a bit and hold it to the end. Mile 18 came around and there was PIC!! And she said exactly what I was thinking.....it was GO time! And so I picked it up. 8:03. Felt good. I passed the 3:45 group. 6 miles to go. Only 6 miles. 8:09. 8:12. 8:12. Mile 22? 8:03.
4 miles to go. I decided I had entered the hurt locker. Because I really started to hurt. Constant forward motion. Dig Deep. Keep the turnover. My stomach turned and I started feeling a tad bit sick. I was passing all sorts of people. I'd see someone ahead of me and then all of a sudden they were behind me. I can get there. My race brain was telling me I was on target for 3:45 even though I had passed that group at 18, I thought they were right behind me. My nutrition bottle was empty and I was feeling thirsty so I took some water. For the first time in months I was actually warm running! 8:13. C'mon keep it going don't slow down gogogogogo. 1.5 miles left. YOU CAN DO THIS! 8:12. Turn the corner oh god there's another corner my feet hurt! And there's the finish. THE FINISH!!!!! I picked it up as much as I could and crossed the line. I saw a 3:42.
I did my typical hunch over and gasp for breath. I did it. I qualified for Boston. Does that make me a real runner? Or am I still a swimmer pretending to be a runner? I tried to walk. OUCH. OUCH. That I do remember from the first marathon, the moment you stop running at 26.2 miles it is difficult to take just one more step. I got my picture taken, I think I smiled. I wasn't walking real straight and a nice man from the med tent came over and asked how I was. Lightheaded? Yep. Can I sit down? No, he wanted me to walk with him a bit. So I had a nice conversation with him while he assessed my well being and I started feeling better. He finally let me sit down. I ate just a bit and I decided to see if I could find any friends in the mass of people. Of course, within seconds after leaving the finish area, I saw PIC hanging off a lightpost!
And she told me my official time. 3:41:59. An average of 8:28's. What can I say? I am so happy! I nailed my nutrition, I didn't start off too fast and I held on at the end. And it looks like I'll be heading to Boston in 2011! Who's joining me?
Me and Troy at the finish! Yes, he really is that tall and yes, I am really that short!
A huge congratulations to PIC's hubby Troy. He nailed his half marathon!! And to my running partners Sandy and Cody, well done guys and thanks for a well-executed 17 miles! Keith, I really wish I would have seen you that last mile:) Randy had a great race too and congrats as well to first time marathoners Gaye and Josh - way to go! (if I forgot anyone, my apologies)
The gang's all here at the finish: me, Keith, Sandy, Randy and Troy
And a huge thanks to mix1 for my pre/post race nutrition. As normal, I was only able to drink my fuel in the morning and 2 mix1's later, I was good to go. Thanks to nuun too - I drank it all weekend and was actively hydrated for the race!
Boo Yah Boston!