Sorry about the delay, I finally sat down to write the recap! I usually have tons of immediate thoughts about what went right, what went wrong, what i could have done different. But it happened, I had the perfect race. I guess I can Tarantino this race recap since most of you already know the result. 3:20:59. I’m a 3:20 marathoner and qualified for Boston!
This smile sums it up: i’ve been extremely content and overwhelmingly happy with the outcome.
The week of the race was littered with ups and downs. The weather wasn’t looking favorable and I was afraid I was catching a cold. My diet the week of the race consisted of carbs, water, nuun, zicam, vitamin c, and a few nights of 9+ hrs of sleep.
I had a few pep talks from clients and friends when the forecasted wind started stressing me out. Basically, I was ready to trash my goals for a sub 3:30 marathon because of the wind, but was quickly reminded that I trained super hard for this race, i’ve ran in crappy conditions all year and I could do this if I raced smart. Saturday came and I was feeling confident and ready to run.
My bib number was perfect: 2600. I know it’s a little superstitious, but the bib from the Parks Half Marathon I did in September was 2612 and i’ve had good vibes about 26 this entire training cycle. This was the first time running a marathon that the miles didn’t scare me. I was prepped and ready to run 26.2 miles, I was only nervous about the weather.
I had pasta for dinner and the rest of the night was spent finalizing my playlist, hydrating & eating, charging electronics, choosing what to wear for the windy morning, and coming up with a game plan for the windy race.
The plan was to go out slower than goal pace for the first 10 miles in order to conserve energy that might be wasted against headwind. I kept telling myself that the Hansons Brooks Method I used, trained me for the back half of the race, not the beginning. The book said the first 10-16 miles should feel good. And that was my plan. Make sure the first 16 feel good and comfortable while staying close to goal pace. Then i could reassess and start speeding up. According to the weather and the course map, the wind was blowing from the west, and the last 6 miles were heading back to Philly, eastward. At mile 20, cross your fingers, pray for a tailwind and if worse comes to worse, you made it to 20 miles you push as hard as you can and don’t stop.
Game plan in place.
The next morning came quickly, but i felt good. I was prepared to do my best, I trusted the training and my race plan. The hotel (the Sonesta) had shuttle service to the start, which was pleasant. It was cold out, but not awful. I used the bathroom, got right back in line and used it again 20 minutes later–best advice for a marathon, don’t wait until you have to go to the bathroom, just get in line cause you will.
I headed to the start corrals, focused on positive thoughts, my breathing, making sure shoelaces were double knotted and comfortable, Garmin was on, and the sunrise… it was pink and orange and beautiful.
Then we started. My playlist began and I settled easily into an 8:00ish/pace. As usual during a big race there was crowding in the early miles and i wasn’t about to fight it and waste energy. I settled right behind the 3:35 pace group and stayed there for 4 miles.
My ipod was playing super relaxing music, just what i wanted to keep my breathing normal and pace slow. This was probably the first time during a goal race I wasn’t feeling any pressure or anxiety while running. My inner dialogue was a lot of: “this feels too easy. Good, it’s supposed to feel easy, it’s only mile 5.” I kept holding myself back doing anything stupid so early on.
For the most part, I didn’t notice the wind, but was happy i was wearing gloves, a headband and sunglasses! We had one major gust here and there, but not enough to where I felt like it was affecting me. At one point there was a gust for a few seconds that caused me a guy running beside me to look away, shield our faces and cringe a little. When it stopped we both looked at each other and laughed. I feel like that dude was having a good day too.
Laughing into the wind, I started thinking about when to run faster. I was approaching mile 10 and finally had some elbow room as the crowds thinned out. I could see my paces getting slightly faster and I was feeling better with each mile, stronger with each step. I bartered with myself a bit. Make it to the halfway mark, see how you feel and we can start slowly getting into a faster pace.
Mile 13 came quickly, I felt better than alright, it was the easiest 13 miles i’ve ever run in my life. Alright halfway time to work a little and see where we’re at come mile 16. I have the legs under me and the workouts behind that supports a hard 10 mile effort. Come on 16…
“I wonder if I can go to Crossfit on Tuesday…” <—Literally what was on my mind right before mile 16 beeped at me. “Okay, now this is too easy. I have a BQ as long as I don’t do anything stupid. I have 4 miles until the turn around point where the wind should be at my back. Four miles to speed up and deal with wind and hills and then I get pushed home. I’ll let my legs fly at 20. Just get there first.”
Mile 20? 7:30? Alright it’s time for the legs to show off. And like that. I switched gears and started hauling forward. I was hyper alert and aware of my body and knew I had a 4th and 5th and 6th gear to shift into. When 20 came I was actually excited to see how fast I could run after holding back, saving energy and being smart. I wasn’t going to hit a wall. I wasn’t going to be disappointed. Even knowing I had a Boston Qualifying time, my mentality shifted to, “let’s see how much time I can go under.”
I flew. I did not have one person pass me the last 10k. I had a smile on here and there and was constantly reminding myself to be grateful of this body. I realized that all the hard workouts…all the tempos in humidity, the mile repeats on hills, all the Crossfit Wods where I thought my heart would surely explode, were exactly why I had the power and mental stamina to not just muddle my way through 26.2 miles, but to own them. This was my workout of the day and I killed it.
I was powering through the last mile and started getting a cramp in my left foot. At this point I was ready to be finished, but I didn’t see signs of how far left I had. I knew I was close and this is where the tunnel vision set in. One foot in front of the other, throw your arms forward and get across the line. I heard the crowds shouting and in my right ear the loud speaker said, “Cori Maley, Silver Spring!” I didn’t even realize where I was. In an instant I saw a time clock, a banner and my foot go over the first timing mat.
I took a huge breath in, and let it out in a cry. A tidal wave of relief, happiness and pride overcame me. I was proud of myself. Proud.
I was so happy it hurt. My time was 3:20:59… 30 minutes faster than my last, and 15 minutes faster than the Boston Qualifying time I needed.
This won’t be the last I talk about Philly. I have a thousand more thoughts on this race. For now i’ve been happy and content and enjoying the moment. Hang tight, tips for running your best marathon are going to be up soon!
Tuesday: Crossfit, 5m easy 9:15/pace
Wednesday: 6m whatever I felt like 7:38/pace
Thursday: Crossfit, 5m easy 8:10/pace
Friday: 1.5hr barbell skill work
Saturday: 10m easy 8:35/pace, 40 minutes lower body (PR’d deadlift 2 x 1 @ 195lbs)
Sunday: 5.5m trail running 9:41/pace
Total Miles: 31.5
Anyone running a December race?
How much time do you take off after a race?