So... amidst the fireworks and the (horrible) band playing, the gun went off. It took us a good three minutes from the time the gun went off for my friends and I to actually go over the start line. With thousands of people racing, though, that's to be expected. Amy, Jess and I had planned to start out together, and even with all of other runners, we were able to stick together for the first two miles. My only goal during those first few miles was to take it easy, keep at around an 8:30 pace, and get loose. Most marathoners treat the first few miles as a warm-up. At around 2.5 miles into the race, Jess looked back at me (she was about 5 feet in front of me at that point) and I urged her to go on. I was glad when she and Amy took off... I didn't want them to hold back, as they were doing the half and I knew they both had awesome races in them! (And they did, both finishing in 1:48, and both going sub-1:50 for the first time ever! Yay, awesome mamas!!!)
Pace-wise, the first several miles went about as perfect as I could have hoped for me. Goal pace was 8:30 for three miles, 8:25 for three miles, and then dip to 8:20 and hold on for eight miles. Here were my splits for miles 1-6:
Honestly, I couldn't believe how perfectly things were going. I felt amazing. Alone, but amazing. It was weird racing totally by myself. I mean, I was surrounded by people--runners, spectators, race crew members. But I wasn't "with" anyone. At around mile 4 as we ran through Bexley, shortly before I took my first GU gel, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. It was my MIT friend Carolyn's hubby, Steve. We've been neck-and-neck on my last couple of races. I knew his goal was the same as mine, and I was happy to see a familiar face. He urged me to slow down a bit, but I was on track with my pace and felt like I knew what I was doing, so I pushed on. I was super-excited at around mile 5 or 6 when my good friend Tamara K. found me! Tamara and I trained together for the past few months, but she is now 12 weeks pregnant with her third baby, and wasn't planning on a super-fast half marathon today. She'd been looking for me, and it was so great to run for a bit with her. After a few minutes, though, she told me that it was time for me to start hitting my 8:20 pace (she knew my goal!), so I left her behind and began to work towards some speedier miles.
|I think this shot was taken somewhere in the first half of the race, based on how happy I look!|
After mile 14, I had planned to start getting a bit faster, dipping into the 8:15's. As I began to push my pace a bit, I started to get a few twinges in my calves. This terrified me. Calf cramps are no joke. I never get them while training, but I almost had one at mile 25 in my first full in April. Thankfully it went away. I also felt the same twinges during mile 12 of the Emerald City half marathon in August... again, thankfully, they didn't turn into an actual, full-on charley-horse. This time, unfortunately, I wasn't nearly so lucky.
|Definitely working harder here...|
I got a little pick-me-up when I had a strong split at mile 21, mostly due to a gradual decline in the course and no cramping. At mile 20, I was still only a couple of minutes off of my goal pace, and I thought, wow, if I can just finish the last 6 strong, I could still go sub-3:40! My hopes were dashed when again I had to stop at mile 21.6, and mile 24, with two walk breaks in that span as well. By that point, I could feel myself running more gingerly. I was worried with every step that my calf or foot would seize up again. I wasn't able to push my pace like I normally do towards the end of a race, as I knew that would likely cause more cramping. I could only hope at that point that I'd be able to finish the race. I will be honest, I was not in a good place. The tenths of a mile passed by every so slowly. I would check my Garmin, praying the numbers had moved more. I heard my little nephew Charlie yell "Go Aunt Marcie" at around mile 20 as we ran through Grandview, but I wasn't able to even look for him in the crowd... I just wanted to walk off of the course and quit. I've never felt like that before. Those final few miles felt like they took hours. I'd walk a bit, stop if needed, then try to run some more... repeating this over and over again when the cramps would return. If this sounds miserable, well, it was. Towards the end, any downhill part of the course would send my leg into spasms. I prayed for flat roads, cursing to myself each time that I'd have to walk a bit. Of course, the final 10K of the race is basically downhill. Not so wonderful for me... splits for miles 21-26.5:
My Garmin, of course, wasn't exactly on target with the mile markers. Typically in a marathon, a Garmin will register between 26.3-26.5 miles, even if a runner is really good at running the tangents. Mine ended up staying 26.50 as I crossed over the finish line.
|Only word to describe my face: relief. I was SO done.|
|Jen taught me well... faking it :)|
|Andrea and me... my joy upon seeing her is apparent in this picture.|
|Yay for a big PR!!!|
|Two awesome PR's! Love her!|
Jen, Andrea and Mary left after that, but I was able to find Christine and Ashley in the finish area right around that time. So proud of them for finishing their first marathons!!!
|Christine wore my "Virgin Marathoner" BondiBand!|
|Some of the most supportive runner pals ever!!!|
Well, I was in no hurry to get home, but I knew my kids and hubby would be waiting for me, and Christine was in the same boat. We actually made two (slow) trips back to the parking garage, as we were in her van pulling out when I remembered I'd prepaid to have my medal engraved with my name and time and had forgotten to have it done after the race! So, we had to head back for that... but eventually, we were on the road back to Westerville.
My take-aways from this race...
- I CAN go out strong in a race and not (totally) die.
- I CAN run a race and not negative-split, and still be successful.
- I can race 26 miles alone! Shocker!
- I have gotten faster in the past 6 months... a lot faster! 12 minutes is a PR to celebrate.
- I need to be more consistent with my tempo runs and speed work if I want to get even faster.
- I'm stronger--physically and mentally--than I realized.
As always... what is next? Well, I'll tell you what's NOT next, at least not anytime in the near future: another race! I am not planning on racing again till February. November, December and January will be blissfully-race-free. I'll be working back up to my normal four-days-a-week runs, and also doing BodyPump and swimming each once a week, plus core work on Sundays at Fleet Feet. I'm super excited about fall/winter running. I have amazing running friends at all paces, and I'm so excited to run just to run for a month or two!
Of course, I do have races on my radar. Definitely the Granville 15 miler in Feb, and perhaps a half marathon in March. I feel like I need a fast half marathon to mentally get me ready for my next full. When will that be, you ask? Well, April 26, 2015, at no place other than the Glass City Marathon in Toledo! I love this race and the course is about as perfect as one can ask for. I've convinced my cousin Katie and a few other running friends to join me for at least the half marathon there this year--it's gonna be a party! And that's exactly how I like it.