Sunday, March 30, 2008

The National Marathon March 29, 2008

Wow! What a day and what a race.

My training for this event had gone pretty well except for a good solid week or so off dealing with the flu. I also had the help of my chiropractor, Dr. Kibby and also some last minute help from Dr. Lee with a couple trigger point injections in my glutes, which had been causing some pretty bad pain.

I arrived at the start with about an hour to spare and took care of a few things, got dressed, ate a snack, etc.... I had worried about the weather, but although colder then normal, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was cold and breezy enough to warrant ear warmers, a long sleeve shirt and gloves for most of the race. I ended up tossing all but my gloves around 18 or 20. For runners is was pretty good. For spectators a bit cold.

About 15 min pre gun, I am in line for a final bathroom trip. Time was ticking and those of use in line were stressed. Right after exiting the stall I had to run, climb over the barricades and hop into the race which was already moving to the start! But, it was all fine in the end.

The start was crowded as most of the 7,000 (I think) were half marathoners. They were easily identified with a big "HALF" bib on their backs. Trying to find my groove, I weaved in and out some, slowed, picked it up. Basically, trying to find my own space. This lasted most of the first 10 miles or so.

The course was more challenging then it appeared on paper. Rolling would be an accurate description. I felt like I was either climbing a hill or coming down a hill the entire time. I tried very hard to relax on the uphills and use the downhills to pick it up.

Right before the half way mark the half marathoners headed to the finish and the marathoners continued on. I asked a half-er for a spare GU, before he parted. There was suppose to be GU on the course and I had not seen any. I had only tucked one in my shorts, that was already consumed. I was stressed. Turned out that GU was offered during the 2nd half of th race. This was a relief b/c I had planned out all my fueling details based on what they said would be available. I am not one to carry my supplies. All in all my hydrating and GUing went perfectly. I alternated Gatorade and water and took a total of 4 GUs. One pre race and then one every hour.
Note to organizers: red Gatorade is not the best choice to offer runners in the later stages of a marathon. I think I do fairly well getting most of the fluid in my mouth, but even the best can have trouble when fatigued. There was no mistaking my miss on my white shirt! It ended up getting thrown on the side of the road anyway.

The only issue I had, that started in the first half, was stomach related. There were port a potties on the course, but I was not going to stop! So, I kept telling myself that the feeling would pass and it did, for the most part. It came and went for the rest of the race, but I just tried to ignore it.

The second half gave me more room, but also more wind to face on my own. I tucked in where I could, but found myself passing people and not wanting to slow to get wind relief. I checked my watch every mile (that I didn't miss) and compared it to the pace tattoo I had on my arm. If I followed those splits I would go below 3:45 and qualify for Boston!!

I also paid close attention to each mile split to make sure I was as close to an 8:23 pace as possible. Sometimes having to control myself and sometimes having to remind myself to pick it up. I liked my Garmin for that reason. Although I did run through some tunnels that caused me to lose reception. Luckily the Garmin is capable of connecting the dots, so it kept the pace, time and distance nicely.

I hit my lap button at each of the mile markers on the course (that I saw). Almost right away I noticed that my watch was not clocking an even 1 mile b/w markers. Many miles were .01 to.o4 longer! I started to worry a little b/c I feared the extra distance may dash my Boston dreams. I decided I need to take this into account, change my race strategy and pick it up ever so slightly. But, even with the extra distance I was able to gauge that I should make it in time (thanks to the pace tattoo).

After the race, with some help from some knowledgeable friends and my husband, we determined that the extra HALF MILE that I raced was most likely due to just running a little extra each mile. The course had many turns and people, so that could account for the extra distance. As my friend Steve put it: " 1 mile is 5280 feet, 1/2 mile is 2640 feet. Divide by 26.2 is right at 100 feet. So it is only 100 extra feet per mile, that is not a lot on a course with lots of turns."

It would be interesting to see the actual distance the elite runners run, vs. more average runners, during a marathon... or any road race.

Back to the race:
I was feeling good, aside from some aches I had expected and could deal with. Coming up to the dreaded 20 mile mark and I was fine (well, you know what I mean. As fine as you can be)! 21 miles and fine! 22 miles and my thighs were aching on the downhills. 23 mile started (I think) on a pretty steep climb and I slowed a lot, my hamstrings and hip flexor started to hurt a lot. I forced myself to look up, use my arms and keep the pace. I felt so focused the entire race. I was anxious every once in awhile, but I never had any strong sense of self doubt or negative talk. I prayed almost the whole time, and kept telling myself that as long as I did, I would be alright. I didn't freak if my pace was too fast or slow, I just adjusted and continued to focus on the task at hand.

I tossed all the extra clothes I was wearing. I didn't care if I was cold at this point. Miles 24 to 25, were windy, I think. I can't remember. I know that I hit my lap button at the 26 mile marker, which lay flat on the road. My garmin read .74 mile for the split. I wondered if the wind had blown the sign, that looked more like a kite, from further up the road. A cruel joke. I had more then the expected .2 still to go.

There was a lady in front of me that seemed to be feeling pretty good. I locked my eyes on her and used her to pull me along. We ran up the final hill to the finish. I considered passing her, but why? I could see the clock and knew that I had "won"! (I was also shocked to later see that my final mile was in the low 7s pace.) Upon crossing the line, I thanked the lady who I had clung to. We hugged and congratulated each other. Both of us smiling.

I finished right behind DC mayor Fenty. My husband and kids ran up to me to congratulate me. Seeing their excitement and love was a better feeling then just having crossed the line.

My Garmin Results:
26.70 miles covered
3:41:40 (8:18/m)

Official Race Results:
26.2 miles
3:41:38 (8:28/m)

I placed:
15th in my age group, out of 75
426th overall, out of 1386 marathoners

Now I am sore (the next day) and am trying to get my kids to massage my legs for me! This day is something that really made me realize that we can all do so much more then we think we can. Don't ever let your thoughts limit you!


Anonymous said...

Excellent! You are an inspiration for us all.


GeekGirl said...

You look sooo happy in that middle picture. Congratulations!!!!


MarathonMichelle said...

Congrats on your time and in doing the marathon! I know the health "challenges" you have experienced the past several years. Good to see you strong!

Michelle Klapheke