When Barbara asked me what my plan was, it helped me verbalize what I’d thought about the previous night. I knew I would PR as long as I didn’t do anything stupid.
First 5 miles : warm up with average 13:30 with 2:1 run/walk
5 - 15 miles : bring average pace down 13:20. Keep with 2:1
15 - 20 miles : further down to 13:15 while doing a 3:1
20 + miles: 5:1 or whatever goes. No expectation on pace.
This would hopefully leave with me enough oomph on the last 10k and get me to a 5:45 finish (13:10 avr. pace).
(My original aim while training was to try to get to a 13:00 pace – a 5:35 finish that I felt was doable. But looking at the weather with temps being in the high 60s with no shade in the second half, I changed it to a 5:45 finish. Maybe I got scared and backed out, but I also knew how important it was for me to finish strong in this race and prove it to myself and I felt I changed my goal accordingly)
When we started, I had expected the first mile to be slightly faster just because of the crowd and adrenaline. I thought we were going slow but at the first mile marker the Garmin read 12:15(!!) and I was a good 20 paces behind Barbara, Olga, Barry and Michelle. I gave up trying to keep with them or even to yell and get their attention and also moved to run on the dirt by the tram tracks on the road divider. I saw Meghan blaze by before my mind could even register her and Yvette gave me a shout out.
Barry joined me at the “train running” at about 3 miles. I was taking it easy and very careful not to get too caught up. So Barry, sorry that I didn’t talk much. I was much too afraid of getting my HR up to where I couldn’t control or bring it down. I only stopped to talk to a 70+ year old man who had #42 on his back and take a picture with firefighters walking the marathon in full gear.
After we passed Café Du Monde at about 10miles, briefly wondering if beingnets could substitute a Gu, the road got progressively worse. Am I to keep my eyes on the ground watching for pitfalls or keep my eyes in front and plan to weave around people? A tad too much to think about while running a marathon, IMO. When the split for the half and full came at 12 miles, I gave a huge sigh of relief that I had gotten through my Chicago nemesis point (although it really was 10-15F cooler than Chicago). And ... I was still feeling good.
13.1 and Beyond
Barry stopped for a bit for his hamstrings after the split while I went on. I expected him to catch back up as he had a few time before but while I saw him at various turnarounds, we did not run together again.
The crowd thinned down by about 85% after the split and it felt like a training run all by myself! I was a tad behind in the pace I was trying to average at, but I was also afraid of picking up too much when I still had 10+ miles ahead of me; especially after seeing so many of the 4 hrs and under people bent over or limping. So I waited until 15 miles to move on to 3:1 as planned.
I had my music full blast, I was grooving and moving and passing people. Barry had been the interval keeper and with music I couldn’t hear my Garmin beeps, so I would look at the times and do mental math to add in 3:1 intervals. And that in itself surprised me – I was attempting to do mental arithmetic at miles 15+ ?
Miles 17 - 22 The Long Lonely Stretch
The lake path was beautiful, hot and direct sun, but the wind (66F and 14mph as weather.com told me) made it feel not as bad.
The first turnaround on the route wasn’t that bad, but the next one – just WHERE was it?! Finally I thought I spotted it, but it was a d$#% f$#%$#@ traffic circle and there were TWO bridges beyond it. TWO!!! I told a race volunteer that this was NOT mentioned in the elevation chart and that I wanted my money back.
Finally, finally the turnaround was at mile 20. Except for being annoyed with the unnecessary bridges that popped up on the route I was still feeling good. And just like I mentioned on Facebook – was starting a 10k race after a rather long warmup of 20miles. At mile 21 I realized that my Garmin had stopped sometime (maybe when I took my phone out to FB?) and was annoyed some more. Then I told myself that I was sure the race officials were recording my time so I didn’t really need to depend on the Garmin as long as I gave it a good shot. I almost gasped at the audacity of that statement. Me! Pushing aside statistics and numbers that easily!!
Miles 20 and Beyond - Lets Worry About One Thing at a Time
Miles 20-21 were a little serious but I had increased my intervals to 5:1 and I was keeping with it. Then this pukey feeling started building up. And a tiny nag in my quads. And a feeling in my hamstrings. And that pesky ankle. Woah – that’s way too many things to worry about while running and still doing math. So I decided to focus on one thing that I could bitch about and picked the pukey feeling since that was completely new to me.
I wondered if I should stop and puke and get it over with. But the buildup wasn’t completely there, and the pukey feeling wasn't quite as strong as when I do the speed intervals/tempos, I felt it would be a waste of time (Sorry if TMI). So I told myself I could puke at mile 23 and that if I kept with the 5:1 as planned, I’d get there sooner; even though that empty cab waiting at the traffic lights was so tempting.
I was still running, but frowning more than smiling; forcing myself to smile since that seemed to make the pukeys feel better. And so reached mile 23, but there was no water station nearby and I told myself that there was no way I was puking without water nearby. Plus chocolate milk at the end would taste yucky if I puked now.
W.T. F - Where's The Finish
5k to go and phew ... homestretch and now I can run for it and the puke can suck it up.
But did I really sign up for Chicago already and want to do Philly too?
Why did Phideppiddis have to run to announce the victory? Couldn’t they find him a spare horse? Did he stop to puke?
Guru is right, I am completely bonkers. I am NOT doing this thing again.
Is that couple really holding hands and running, let me get nearer and see. Aww, Lovebirds!
Why doesn’t Chicago allow race number transfers? Because I know one number that is going to go waste and tons of people who missed out.
Are those girls really running dressed as matching zebras? Let me catch up and see. Why yes they are! Zebra Tshirts and Zebra tu-tus. How cute! But I still want to puke some.
So many people missed out on Chicago. I stole a spot from someone.
How come I have a Gu left on my belt? Did I not take them as I was supposed to? Let me count where I took them - 4, 8, 12, ... what comes after 12?
That kid is super cute dressed as Tinkerbell. No, thats not Tinkerbell. Who's that fairy then. Waah, I miss my kids.
I wonder how my legs are running all by themselves.
Why is this not ending? What do you mean 25 miles!! I have a whole another MILE to go? Someone fire the race officials for making this course this long.
THE Finish Line
Just run 2 benches, oh that wasn’t too bad, 3 bench runs, run closer to hear what the band is playing?
The band is giving someone a huge drum roll and telling bystanders to applaud. Oh my, that was for me!
And how many benches can I count on this side now?
Hey look the photographer, the photographer! Smile, smile!
And another one! Smile some more.
Eeek .. there’s the fake finish line. Hats off, hands in the air and big smile. Ouch, my hands won’t go up that high, they hurt. It’s ok, just one last hurrah.
Why is this girl with the microphone in my way and in my face? How does she know my name? Wait, did she just announce my name for everyone to hear. What do you know! That was famous!
And – then my mind blanked out for a bit and I can’t remember anything else other than shouting YES a couple of time! The next thing I remember is a medal around my neck and a medic hugging me, or I was hugging him or something like that. I gulped down 3 chocolate milk bottles, picked up my gear, talked a ton with another chatty runner and danced my way to the letter G where the gang was waiting.
Post Race Analysis
When I look back at my splits - I love how it worked out perfectly with a great last 10k time inspite of that mess in my tummy and head. I ran exactly as I had trained, and with the same conservative pace I had trained in (the race pace was conservative, not the training pace). So this was more of the usual training run with 5.2 extra miles added in.
And 2 days later, while I still remember those pukey miles and sometimes feel that I do not want to run even a single mile ever again, I'm already looking to see how I can bring down 5:46 to 5:30 (which I feel is doable with some concentrated training, confidence and a decent race day like Sunday). But thats another post for another day :)
Perhaps because my goals were conservative and not an all-out, I had a great experience and learnt to trust my body in being able to maintain and then pickup towards the end - just like I had trained it to.
Traveling down and rooming with similar minded people was a fabulous experience. Having an entire group come down to do the half after running 50k in mud the day before - a great booster and put things in perspective. And being able to share Barry's experience with his first marathon was great (I do feel bad about going ahead at the split though; I was on autopilot and was zoned out on so many things that morning).
There was good crowd support and a huge crowd for the first half and of course, the other Get Fit people. I was on my own for the second half, but I was prepared for that and did not freak out even when the sun was blazing.
Right now .... I am too exhausted to think beyond (unlike Chicago when I was itching to sign up for another one right then). Chicago is 8 months out and Philly is 9.5 months out.
In another 2 months, when Chicago training starts, I am sure I'll started pestering the coaches with more questions and more planning. I guess the good thing is I expect to fully regain my insane mind after a couple months of break.
Until then - Stretching, Swimming and getting back into some basic Strength Training.
And of course some TLC to my husband and kidlets who put up with this craziness.