There’s no way I’m off the hook for a recap of the marathon. It was the whole point of this blog, even though I essentially abandoned it back in February. I did not, however, abandon training or the marathon.
I’ve never written a race recap before, so I’ll do the absolute best I can. I’ve always found it difficult to recall a race in the form of a story. Somehow I blank on 90% of the details aside from the results, and just move on to the next. For some reason I remember almost everything about this one, so I’m trying to get it all down quickly before it starts slipping away.
Just a note, if you like pictures over words, you came to the wrong place. Try to use your imagination if you stick around. I’ll try to fill in some of the gaps.
As far as preparation on Friday and Saturday, I left early on Friday to go to the race expo, which was a little weak, but they usually are. I always forgot that only the races that cost a small fortune have the best expos with the most free crap. Every Polish girl loves a freebie, so I can’t help that, but great expos will almost always expose (heh) me to running-related things I’d never heard of and then end up buying on my own all the time anyway. But moving right along, I just grabbed my number and shirt and got a sandwich and frozen yogurt.
I have to mention the shirt. I’m always a big shirt critic, only because it’s like my favorite part of doing these things. Races are over quickly but the shirt stays with you forever! Anyway, they went back to using the shoe print logo from years past (last year was something different, and better in my opinion), it was really generic looking. Also, it was blue. Medium blue. Every time I get a blue race shirt a piece of me dies, because there are way too many great colors in the world that miss out on the chance of a lifetime to be incorporated into and worn with pride on one of those shirts. But after coming to terms with the color, I was able to end up with a kids’ large instead of an adult small, because those bad boys are surprisingly giant-sized and of course they don’t make extra small.
*As I post this, a week and a half later, I have to admit to wearing that damn blue shirt WITH PRIDE (yes, caps) on an early morning run today. Since the 26.2 is so visible and everything. Less obnoxious than a 26.2 car magnet? Maybe?
On Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4am, so I rolled out of bed around 4:15 and was eating the marathon variation of my standard pre-race bagel with peanut butter (added banana). The original plan was to go back to bed after eating, then get up again at 6 and have my coffee with a vanilla Stinger Waffle (the best!), but I had the coffee with the bagel and ate the Stinger a little after 5. I figured this route would prevent me from peeing my pants during the National Anthem and would allow my stomach more time to settle. I wish I had pictures of this stuff. Next time I’ll remember.
I showered and got ready and there was zero stress there. I had everything, and I mean everything, all laid out and ready to go. I’ve been asked before by non-runners why I would take a shower before a race since I was about to get all sweaty anyway. Well, I shower before a race ESPECIALLY because I’m about to get sweaty anyway. My rule is the longer the race, the more necessary taking a shower before is. Better to start with a clean slate rather than go athlete sweaty on top of an already non-showered situation. This also becomes very important when you have people who expect to give you a hug waiting at the end. Oh, also the shower helps relax my muscles that became stiff from sleeping.
Wore a tech tank, spandex shorts, and my FuelBelt. The FuelBelt thing…I’d call this Mistake #1. Usually I don’t bring anything other than my keys on any run 12 miles or less. If I did, I’d use my SPIBelt which supposedly fits a ton of stuff, but I can really only fit up to 3 gels and a few other things before it gets bouncy. Anyway, since I brought 5 gels (all GU – one Salted Caramel and 4 Orange Vanilla Roctane), toilet paper (it’s a superstition), gum, keys, ID, money, earbuds (just in case – I don’t race with music and this was no exception, but just wanted to be prepared), and other stuff I’m forgetting, I went with my FuelBelt. The problem is, the only other time I wore it was for my first marathon in 2011, and I forgot to practice with it a few times before this one. It ended up being really uncomfortable and difficult to adjust so it wouldn’t ride up. I basically had it around my hips/butt for the entire thing and would have to pull it down every 1-2 miles.
I love love loved the fact that there was no driving to this race, which meant no worrying about parking. It was super nice out so I threw on old fleece pants and a long sleeve t-shirt from my high school tennis days and walked down to the race. I wish I had a picture of what I had on because it looked totally weird.
I treated the walk as a warm-up just to not be all stiff from the night before. There are varying schools of thought on whether or not a warm up before a marathon is necessary, and the general idea is that it should depend on how fast you’ll go. If you’re an elite expecting a finish in the 2:3o range, then you might warm up. If you regular lay-person it’s probably not the best idea, since you’ll need to conserve every ounce of energy you have to complete the thing. I got there in plenty of time to pee, which usually never happens, but not with so much time that I’d be lurking around the starting line forever feeling the anxiety grow.
They started the National Anthem at 7:30. I typically don’t pay a lot of attention to the National Anthem at these things, mostly because I’m readjusting my bib and also because I’m a dank ho, but I actually kept looking around for the person signing because she was really really good! Usually they’re all right but not this awesome. Solid find!
Then the announcer lady thanked Beyonce for her lovely rendition.
Anyway, this race had pacers, and I thought about seeing if I could hang with the 3:30 group, but decided against that because I wasn’t sure how they’d pace the first mile and my strategy was to start out super slow. Didn’t realize until the gun went off that I had ended up with the 4:15 group, so it was pretty crowded for a while.
I don’t usually take photos during races because it slows me down so much, but I figured an exception could be made for the first mile given the holiday.
The first few miles were fine; I still kept it on the slower side than race pace just to be safe, figuring I was conserving energy to really pick it up by the halfway mark. There were a couple tough hills in the first quarter but it evened out for a while after that. After the last notable hill I heard a dude tell another dude that there would be any more big hills til the end, and that it feels good after all that flat running. Dafuq? Maybe he was a comedian but he sounded like he truly believed that a hill would feel good. Sorry, hills never feel good, and if you think so get your foolish ass off the loony bin immediately because you need some serious help. Anyway, I took advantage of most of the water stops and took my first gel at mile 8. I’d been prepared at home with the course map and made a tentative schedule of when to take gels and chase them with water.
Between miles 10 and 11 I realized that the course was about 4/10 of a mile too long. I’m not sure if it had been that way since the beginning or if it was only right there, but mine and a whole bunch of other peoples’ GPS trackers all started going off at the same time signifying 11 miles, but we hadn’t quite made it to the mile marker yet. Here and a couple times over the next few miles I asked people if they thought the course was long and they all said yes. Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t losing it. There’s really nothing anyone can do about that, and you have to accept the fact that your time you thought you had won’t be accurate. The part that sucked though was thinking you’d made it to whichever mile and then realizing you really hadn’t. This is one of those things that happen though, and you have to accept that the stars are never going to align perfectly. And by stars I mean the gun, the chip, the course, and the GPS.
So moving along, they had a timer at the 13th mile, which said 1:50 and some change when I crossed it, so I knew I really had to pick it up if I wanted to hit the goal and split negative. Ehhhh.
Even though the stories I heard about the last six miles being the hardest were true, I didn’t bonk and I never hit the wall. A couple times I slowed down which was frustrating, and even though I wasn’t exactly comfortable I never felt like I was in pain or that it would be impossible to continue. This was a nice surprise because I had been preparing for the second half to be almost as catastrophic as my first marathon. But year, the last six miles were the worst part. At that point, you’re tired and losing steam no matter how good you feel. Also on this course, the end of it ran along the northeast part of Narragansett Bay, and it was super outrageously mega windy. Not even exaggerating. Especially that spots that bridged the bay and you had water on both sides. It was totally silent except for the sounds of bibs rippling in the wind and runners sniffing.
The final 4 hills happened in the last six miles, one in particular in East Providence that I’ve climbed many times in training but am somehow never prepared for how steep it actually is. I knew that monster was coming and after that was when I basically accepted that 3:35 wasn’t happening. Oh and PS, where there’s wind there’s usually dust. I need to get goggles. There was one more highway bridge after that and the wind situation didn’t improve.
At this point, I was I think less than 3 miles away and losing steam but a tiny part of me had this idea that if I could finish out the last few miles with a sub-7:00 pace there could still be a chance. That didn’t happen at all, in fact, miles 24,25, and 26 changed paces within about 30 seconds of each other ( +/-/+) and the last mile average was a brutal 8:48, but I hustled the final .2 anyway, especially when the finish line was visible, really only because I felt was physically able to do it.
So that was that! I went and met up with my friends who had come but I kind of just moped even though I tried not to. I definitely didn’t feel like celebrating, so I grabbed a ride with Alicia and Andy after only like 20 minutes or so. My friends rule though. They made signs, Tom brought a big warm hoodie so I won’t catch hypothermia, and even though I was all covered in salt and sticky from GU, they hugged me anyway. :)
So, the results:
And the splits I recorded:
I guess the toughest part after was processing this, the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice that had meant everything to me for the past year, was all over. And that I had technically failed. So I pretty much spent the rest of the day coming to grips with that because I didn’t really know what else to do really. The sentiment behind everyone telling you that you did great anyway is always felt and always appreciated, but sometimes it’s just not what you want to hear. I figured I’d allow myself to wallow for the rest of the day before beginning the process of snapping out of it and moving on.
After a more than several disappointed hours, and in the interest not being Debbie Downer anymore, I decided to go ahead and listen to my mom, boyfriend, friends, and boss (the following day) and be proud of the result. It wasn’t my goal result but it was still a significant improvement, and it does show me that 3:35 is within reach. Even though there are a few tweaks I would have made here and there in training and during the race, those are only occurring to me in hindsight. I never hit the wall, and never felt like there was absolutely no way I could keep going, so credit is definitely due there. I can without a shadow of a doubt say that I went out there and gave it my absolute best with everything I had. This is the perfect spot to stick an inspirational quote or two, but I’m not doing that because those make me gag and because we get the idea by now.
I think at some point during one a particularly misty phone conversation I said “I won’t try again!”…but that’s not true. Derp! I’ll try again; I’d be a moron not to. Who knows when, but absolutely within the next year and a half for sure.
After I recapped everything for my boss (who’s been along for the ride since day one, and beyond wonderful about it), she said I should go for sooner rather than later, and pick a fall marathon “for fun.” Ahhh wait what? People run marathons for “fun”? Had a good laugh over that after falling off my chair. But hold up…
Baystate’s on October 19th? Uhhhh. Hmmm. Ummm.
Ok, gonna go pick up another hobby before this really starts to spiral out of control.
PS: here’s a dump of my race photos. I fully own the fact that I’m the least photogenic runner in the world. Someday I’ll put together a composite of all the best-worst ones.