What a weekend! I wanted to sit down and write this yesterday, but I was so sore that the thought of getting up off the couch and walking to the computer and having to sit down and get up again, was just too much! So, while I am still hobbling today, I got up the motivation to move around a bit.
So let's start with Friday. On Friday, Coach P called me to talk to me about my pacing and race plan. According to how I have been training I was all set for an 8:20 pace for the race. And for the first time, I believed him. I mean I have been running a lot and getting faster and this was a pretty flat course. So as long as the rain and the wind agreed with me, I could do this!
On Saturday, Nick and I headed down to the beach, I have a house down there, so it meant that I would be within 20 min of the starting line and could do all of my race prep at home. After hitting up the expo and getting my shirt and welcome packet we headed back to my house to continue to eating and watch the NCAA tournament. By 9pm my nerves were calm and I was ready to get this race started.
On Sunday, I got up and ate the piece de resistance of my fueling plan. The gut busting protein shake, banana and apple sauce. And then everything began to fall into place, or out of place, and that is enough detail on that one. The race had a 9am start (glorious, compared to normal triathlon starts we are used to) and we headed over around 8:10. We got the start, I made one more bathroom break and had just enough time to get to the start, listen to the national anthem and go!
In terms of racing conditions, the weather was definitely a little strange. We were running along the ocean most of the race and while it was only 52 degrees, it was oddly warm. I ran in my new short shorts, a tank top and a long sleeve technical shirt. By mile 2 I had already lost the tech shirt and was fine in just my tank and shorts. The other odd thing is that there were no rfid tags, the race was all based on gun time. So for the start I had to try to get as close to the line as possible without getting run over. I ended up 20 seconds back.
Once the gun went off, it was on! I had to fight through the slower people and those who were running the 10k. There were only about 1600 of us racing (around 600 marathon runners), so it wasn't too bad. I hit mile 1 at 8:21 and settled into my pace. The first few miles were fantastic. We ran a decent size bridge, but even then I was able to maintain a 8:27 pace.
The race was split up between 3 towns (islands), each separated by marshland and two bridges. The first challenge presented itself when we hit the marshland. Once there were no buildings around, the wind was brutal. We were facing 15mph headwinds, from mile 3 all the way to 26, with a 3-4 block break around mile 16. I realized then that I might not be able to stay on the 8:20 pace but I was surviving fine at an 8:30 pace. I felt fantastic, spirits high, but I started to realize that water stops were getting further and further apart. Any other marathon I have run, you can get water every mile or so. This one seemed to be every 2.5-3.5 miles. Once I realized that I started to just double up at stops, but still I was feeling incredibly thirsty.
Around mile 16 I noticed just how thirsty I was, my right quad was starting to cramp and I was getting a little nervous. I knew I would see my parents around mile 17 and I started hoping that they might be drinking water when I got there. No such luck. I saw Nick and my parents and kept going. The next thing I knew, Nick was running along side of me and ran with me for the next 2.5 miles keeping me motivated. I was able to stop at another water stop but by then both quads and both calfs were completely cramped. We stopped so I could stretch a bit and then took off again. At this point my pace was down to about 9:10. What could I do?
Nick dropped off at my parents and headed to meet me at the finish line. I crossed mile 20 at 2:58 and I knew my 4 hour goal was still within reach. I just needed water and a swift (mental) kick in the ass. Well the mental part was easy, but there was no water!! By mile 22 I felt like I was shuffling more than running (for those who have run a marathon before, you know the feeling). But I had to keep it going. I convinced myself for every 1.5 miles I ran I could stop and stretch.
I hit mile 25.2 at 3:55 and realized the 4 hour marathon was not going to happen, after a few explicatives, I took off and realized that although I didn't hit the 4 hour goal I could still PR. I crossed the line at 4:05:25, which is an 11 min PR for me and I couldn't have been happier. I had nothing left and that meant to me that I gave it everything I had.
After the race, we had to take a quick stop at the medic tent because I was not feeling correct. While everyone else was wrapped in mylars I was so hot I didn't want to be near anything warm. I also was having trouble bending my legs and my breathing was really shallow. Apparently I, much like all the others in the medic tent, was suffering from dehydration and a little bit of hypothermia. One thing I can say, is I looked way better than the others in the tent! Once feeling better we headed home to shower and eat some chicken cheese steaks.
All in all, I can say that I am very happy with the outcome. I know now that a sub 4 hour marathon is totally possible for me. On Sunday, the fitness was there, with more water I could have done it. I could have done way better than a 4 hour finish. But like I said, I know I raced as hard as I could, at the end of the day there was nothing left and I am proud of myself for not letting my pain and doubt take over and ruin my race.
Now I get a nice week off, to lick my wounds and relax. I am already feeling less sore, but I am a little worried about some knee pain that started around mile 23 and I am still feeling today. I am hoping it is nothing a little couch surfing won't fix.
So there you have it! First race of the year complete, and an 11 minute PR no less!