Oh man. Okay. I know this is an old recap, but it’s super important that i write about it. I’m coming to terms that blogging is a dying animal, but I still use archived blog posts for help with training, mental training and remembering all the sweaty bad details to help with future races and training cycles. So as long as it’s helping me, I’m gonna keep writing. I hope this stuff is still helping some of you out there.
The Brokebabes Marathon was a last ditch effort to try and PR and see if my potential, my peak, had passed for the Boston Marathon training cycle. I’m still bitter about Boston. I’m still cold from April. Literally and figuratively. Even now, running in the east coast winter wind, it takes me back to some awful memories of Boston. It still makes me angry that my time didn’t reflect the training. Even Des Linden, winner of that race, said the conditions made the race equivalent to running 30 miles, not a marathon. As in, we couldn’t “race” a marathon, it was about survival, like during an ultra marathon. Those conditions shook the best of the best. As bitter as I am, that race has carved me into a much more resilient runner and I learned a ton about myself that day. I have a TON more to get out of these 33 year old legs.
Two weeks after Boston I won a 10 Miler race in southern Maryland at a blazing fast (for me) pace. I thought that I could possibly try and hit another marathon hard and the PR I’d worked so freaking hard for, would appear on a time clock. I found a local marathon where my extended relatives live, asked for a place to stay and signed up. The race was exactly a month later than Boston, if I had anything left in my legs this was the last shot.
I made it to Ohio. Carbed up with Emmeline (we suck at taking pictures together btw). Did my normal night before race rituals while stuffing my face full of chips and candy, drinking a ton of Nuun and laying out a flat racer.
The course consisted of two 13.1 mile loops on generally flat, paved asphalt with a bit of dirt trail. However… dun Dun DUN!!! Thunderstorms in the forecast led to a last minute course change. Runners would be doing shortened loops around the park closer to covered shelter if needed.
I was mentally prepped for a 13.1 mile loop, the course change ended up being NINE 2.8 mile loops. Nine. 9. I’m not speaking German. Regardless of the change, I stayed calm about the whole situation and race morning went smooth as ever. I drove myself to the start of the small, local running event. I warmed up on what started off as great weather, cloudy and cool. I felt good, strong and ready to work. I was excited!
We all lined up, I set myself up at the front, and the race started. I followed directly behind the bike that was leading runners on the first loop so no one would get lost. My first miles were about 7:10/pace and felt easy. I remember hitting the first 3 miles, holding back and thinking, “Today is my day. I can do this.”
Very quickly after the 3rd loop, 6-ish miles in, things started feeling hard out of nowhere. My breathing was labored and it scared me a bit, so I slowed down, thinking I had plenty of time so early on. But nothing changed. Mile 7 and 8 came. I stopped at my cousin’s stake out point with her husband and kids where I found myself hyperventilating. Becky told me to put my hands up over my head and try to relax. I didn’t realize it, but she told me a huge fog rolled in and it was extremely humid.
Below is a snapshot of the race loop, the temperature and the humidity. I wasn’t imagining anything, 100% humidity. I’ve never raced in 100% before.
Once I could talk to Becky between the wheezing, I told her I might drop out. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever said out loud during a race. It made me tear up, and my cousin did her best to keep me calm and moving. After her pep talk, I continued. I slowed quite a bit, and even with that adjustment to pace, I still had to take walk breaks to catch my breath and stop wheezing.
The time goal was no longer on my mind. I just wanted to finish. But let me tell you something, when you start walk/running a marathon at mile 8, you’re not going to have a good time. I felt like I hit a wall over and over again, yet I willingly kept slamming my body into it. As runners, we are taught that there are easy miles and hard miles, you just don’t know what order they’re gonna come. I stayed positive, thinking I was just going through a rough patch, and hopefully I’d be able to run (albeit not at my racing pace) but I’d be able to enjoy myself and do an easy long run. I didn’t drive all the way to Ohio, have my family watching me do an insane amount of circles just to be like “eh, I’m done.” So again, I continued on. Or should I say, “I persisted.”
This marathon was about staying present and putting one foot in front of the other, whether i was running or walking. Just continuing on, quarter mile after quarter mile. (yes, i was checking my watch that often.) Every several minutes felt like an eternity, seeing the same course turns, markers, the water fountain on the left, the metal sculptures on the right, were driving me insane. The thing that kept me going was Becky, Josh, Gabby & Pierce cheering for me. I kept apologizing for how long this was going to take (must be that weird Midwestern, Catholic, probably should be Canadian problem I can’t shake).
Each loop they cheered me on like I was winning the race. Like I was the best runner they’d ever seen. The fun thing was… I was winning the race. If I’m not mistaken, there were 5 women in the marathon and most of the event were half marathoners. I received cheers and “keep going” “you’re looking awesome” etc, from a ton of people. And that, quite honestly, kept me mentally in it. I didn’t check out, I wasn’t giving up. Marathons are hard and humbling. Somehow through it all, I was having fun and enjoying a very long Sunday run.
I finished in 3:47:44, the course was short (25.7 miles) but I just didn’t have it in me to go beyond the finish line. Just tack on the excess mileage from all the other marathons and we’ll call it even. I’m proud I was able to finish. Proud I can walk/run a sub 4:00 marathon. And proud of my first ever marathon win!
The biggest takeaway from this? I set a positive example for some awesome young kiddos. My second cousins, Pierce & Gabby won’t forget the day I ran a marathon and for that I don’t regret pushing on for a second.
The second learning experience, especially as I start to dip my road weathered toes in the ultra world is that during longer endurance races “the wall” isn’t predictable. It won’t always come between miles 18-22 as it often does during a marathon. And sometimes, it won’t be a bad couple miles, it might end up being a bad 20 miles. I scored a lot of mental points, knowing I can still go on and move forward, even when the body rebels and conditions aren’t ideal.
And if all else fails, Ohio has some great places to stock up on beer.
What are your big plans for 2019?
Any races on the schedule?