Despite the results of the race, I haven’t been avoiding writing this post. I truly have just been swamped with all things life-related since getting back on Monday night. In fact, I have really wanted to get this post written, process my thoughts one last time and then finally move on from this race altogether.
Let me start by saying that the weekend overall was fantastic. Spending four days with running friends from all over the country exceeded every expectation that I had and left me wishing we all lived closer together so I could be around them WAY more often.
From the moment Holly stepped off of her plane at the Chicago airport until the minute I said goodbye to Steph and Laura in Chicago Monday night, I was surrounded by beautiful and amazing women. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, we encouraged each other and we laughed some more.
My most favorite parts of the weekend were just sitting around the house…
We were all exhausted from a long day of travel Friday, so we were in bed before 9:30, but up bright and early the next morning. We went for a walk/adventure to get coffee (why are so many coffee shops closed on Saturday mornings?!), then met the rest of the crew for a shake-out run at Pre’s trail.
It was so awesome to see Nuun teammates, Twitter friends, meet bloggers I have followed for years (ahem, Page) and new bloggers who I can’t wait to follow from now on (Hi Nicole!). With every conversation, I fell more in love with social media and blogging and was so thankful that this little blog was the seed that eventually led me to be in those moments.
After the run, we had brunch at the infamous Off the Waffle (MUST TRY), where we continued the ever-developing conversation about Sunday’s race strategy.
Eventually we made it to the expo where we had the pleasure of hearing Lauren Fleshman speak. She is adorably pregnant and her talk was spot-on, really hitting home with me on at least 2 of her main topics.
We finished out the expo with a flurry of meeting more new people (including Holly!) and chatting with friends, before heading out with Chief Hydrator, Mason, to drive parts of the race course and talk more about how to approach the race.
Finally it was time for a big “team” dinner at our house, where we combined efforts to feed the masses 🙂
It was a fun evening, but once again, I was exhausted before the sun went down, so we got our race gear ready and were in bed by 9:30.
In general I slept decent both nights, but Sunday morning I was up well before my 5 a.m. alarm. Holly and I laid in bed for a few minutes, but quickly realized that no more sleep was happening, so we got up and started the process of getting ready. It was nice to have plenty of time, especially since race nerves were in full effect and I used the bathroom 3-4 times before ever leaving the house. (foreshadowing)
Emily and Kristina came by right at 6 and Em dropped us at Hayward with plenty of time before the start. It was a cool morning and I looked ridiculous, but I was happy to have throw-aways to stay warm.
After we dropped our bags, we only had about 10 minutes before the start and with no time for another porta-potty stop, I easily found an inconspicuous place on campus to pee. I won’t call out any of my other friends above who may or may not have joined me 🙂
Finally we huddled for a short pep talk (theme: “Go Fast, Take Chances”), then made our way to the corrals for a moment of silence for Boston (where they unfortunately still had Sweet Caroline playing over the speakers) and the National Anthem. Then finally we were off.
Holly and I had a loose plan to run together and in the first few miles, I kept saying to her, “I can’t believe we are finally running.” I have this moment in every marathon. There is so much build up and then it starts and you are just doing what you do…going for a nice, loooong run.
Miles 1 – 5: 8:02, 7:59, 8:01, 8:00, 7:57
Right on target through 5. We saw super-pacer Mason quickly at mile 4 and he reminded us what was coming up then told us he would see us again soon. Right after mile 5, I started thinking that I needed to go to the bathroom. It wasn’t urgent, but while the grass was tall and there was an easy place to stop, I decided to go ahead.
It was definitely a premature stop and probably one of my only regrets from the race. I was stopped for 30 seconds or so and then headed back out to try to slowly catch back up to Holly. Fortunately it was a slight downhill section, so I was able to make up the time quickly. Despite a fast couple of miles, I didn’t feel like I was working too hard.
I caught Holly right at the end of mile 7 and while I still felt pretty good, I knew I was going to have to stop for the bathroom again. That worried me and I really started doubting my race.
We cruised up the only real hill at 8 and it actually felt like it woke my legs up a little, giving me hope that things were turning around. As we headed into the Oiselle/Nuun cheer crowd at 9, I told Holly that I was looking forward to seeing them, but needed to keep my heart rate down because I don’t recover well from adrenaline spikes during a race. And once again, it proved true. I started feeling really blah just before mile 10.
About then, Holly and I decided that we would make a porta-potty stop together. That FINALLY took care of the bathroom problem, but I never really re-gained any momentum back.
Miles 6 – 10: 7:58, 7:40 (catching Holly), 8:00, 8:02, 8:27 (2nd stop)
Shortly after we hit the 10-mile marker, we saw Mason again. I asked about everyone else, then told him that I was “having a moment”. I knew it was WAY too early for that, but I also have come out of those moments before so I wasn’t overly concerned.
Holly and I ran the next few miles about 5 feet apart, which was helpful for me to focus on how I was feeling and what I needed. The Gu I took at 10 helped some and for miles 11 and 12, I settled back in for a bit. Those 2 miles (11 & 12) were the last miles in the race that I held anything close to race pace.
Just before mile 13, I lost my Garmin screen. I told Holly and she asked if I wanted to know the pace…I told her I knew exactly what it was (8:15) and she confirmed that I was right. Looking back, not seeing my pace as it degraded was a HUGE blessing in disguise.
Just before the half, Meggie came by us, chatting away. Seeing how great she was feeling and knowing that I should have been feeling like that too really deflated me. I tried to hold her pace for a step or two, but knew it was impossible and I watched as her and Holly pulled away. By mile 15, I had hit a wall and basically felt like I had zero energy.
Miles 11 – 15: 8:04, 8:05, 8:18, 8:19, 8:40
The rest of the race is a blur. I remember seeing the cheer crowd at 16 and giving them a thumbs down and telling Meghan that my race was “over”. I watched sadly as the 3:35 pace group passed. I saw Jocelyn and told her that I didn’t think I could finish. Then I watched sadly as the 3:45 pace group passed (and was worried that Terzah wasn’t with them). I mourned my race. And over and over again, I asked myself WHY? Why did I work so hard for 16 weeks and have this happen? How did I run a 1:38 half marathon 5 weeks before but couldn’t run a pace 30 seconds slower than that for the same distance that day? I was baffled, shocked and just wanted to crawl onto the grass and lay down.
I also asked myself what I could possibly learn from this race.
Miles 16 – 20: 8:57, 9:35, 10:11, 10:22, 10:48
It took everything I had to continue to put one foot in front of the other. But at some point, I decided that I WOULD finish. And that I WOULDN’T walk. And so those became my goals. And in the last 10k I decided that I knew what this marathon taught me…it taught me that a finish is not always guaranteed. And that sometimes just finishing the marathon is something to be truly proud of.
Miles 21 – 26.2: 10:56, 11:15, 11:17, 10:56, 10:06, 9:29, 1:28 (8:53)
Marathon #4 Overall Time: 3:57:12
I wish I wasn’t admitting this, but I didn’t take in the moment in Hayward Field. I was only happy to see it so that the race would be over. And I forgot to put my hands over heart for Boston.
Immediately after I crossed the finish line I burst into tears. And I didn’t stop crying for a really long time. I got so many hugs and encouraging words from my friends and I was so, so very thankful for all of them. They got it. They understood.
The only thing that made me happy in those moments after the race was hearing that Molly and Kristina had killer sub-3:20 races, Laura and Meggie BQ’d, Jocelyn had an incredible PR after a tough spring and Sarah and Robyn PR’d the half. I might have predicted that I would be jealous of all of their fantastic races, but I truly, honestly was SO glad to be able to celebrate their PR’s. I didn’t want anyone else to feel the way I felt.
After the race, I wanted nothing more than a shower and a beer. Not necessarily in that order. Having amazing company for the rest of the day lifted my spirits really quickly and by the time I got out of the shower I felt like I had kind of washed the whole thing away. I enjoyed listening to everyone rehash their races and talk about what went well and what didn’t.
And it only took several beers, a few margaritas, a nuun-tail (Grey Goose, water and Lemonade – TRY IT) and a really great chat with Casey before I accepted the day and was ready to move forward.
I will wrap up (finally, right?!) with saying that I got a bit of a reality check Sunday afternoon when Jocelyn asked me “When was the last time you didn’t PR?” I thought about it for a long time, then came to the blog to confirm…but the truth is: I have never NOT PR’d. I have done one 5k and one half marathon for fun, but other than that, there isn’t a distance that I haven’t PR’d every single time I have run it since I started running. And as you probably all know, that just is not realistic to maintain in any way whatsoever.
I know I can learn a tremendous about from this set-back and that someday I will have the day that I trained for in the marathon.