There is probably TMI in this post but we are runners so we just ‘get it’ but read at your own risk because I’m just going to say it how it was.
First, I am stoked for this girl… she BQed and it was her first marathon! She was a blast to talk with on the bus ride. Don’t mind my toothpaste mark on my sweatshirt.
Rewind to Saturday—> my mom and brother walked into the living room and I was just hanging out on the ground. I told them I felt like I was going to throw up but that I was sure that the feeling would just go away soon. It did go away but it came back later that night before going to bed. I chalked it up to race-day nerves and I also had started my period (told you… way too much information in today’s pose) Thursday so I thought it was probably that too.
I woke up at 4:09 a.m. Sunday morning feeling a lot better and beyond excited to race.
We stayed at the Hilton which was awesome because the shuttle busses to the starting line of the race left from our hotel. I love the big races but the smaller ones are where I like to go for PRs. Small races take out the stress for me—> the expo, the traveling, getting to the starting line, busses and all of the logistics are just easier and I spend a lot less time on my feet.
We waited in line for the busses for a few minutes and then took about a 30 minute ride to the starting line. I felt great but the idea of food was not a happy one. I ate while on the bus because I knew that I would run out of steam without a calorie rich breakfast.
The startling line was a little bit windy but the temperatures were really great which got me thinking more and more that Sunday was going to be my day.
And then things went south a bit.
I’m sure my mom loves getting the play by play of every detail of my life. This was from right before the race:
After the above situation I felt better again but knew I was going to have some serious calorie catching up to do along the course. Luckily (I thought), I had a bunch of fuel with me to take and I would just chug water and gatorade at every aid station. When the gun went off I realized it is pretty bad to start off the marathon thirsty (because of above situation I mentioned) but I tried to not let it psych me out too much and to just drink as much as possible at the first aid station.
My coach and I had a plan adjusted to the course profile. Miles 1-2 (CRAZY downhill so this pace was holding back) 6:30 pace, 2-4 closer to a 7:00, 5-10 6:35s, 10-12 7:00, 13-20 6:35s and then that last 10k to do my best, adjust to the hills etc but to stick to under a 7:00. I was hitting each split exactly how he wanted and I was feeling more and more confident because it felt marathon comfortable (different than comfortable because it is still hard but you can trust that you can stick with it for 26 miles).
I ran with a few guys for most of those first few miles and thought I was in 2nd place for the girls. I took water at the first aid station and it stayed put but then at the second aid station when I took gatorade it came right back up. I just kept telling myself it would work out because while I didn’t feel completely normal, l I didn’t feel like I was totally sick?! I tried my first sip of a gu at mile 6 and the same thing happened… I started to stress about my fueling but hoped that my stomach would just calm down and adjust over the next few miles. This had never ever happened to me while running and so I was really confused too.
PS My favorite music strategy for marathons is to go the first hour without it. For the first hour I really focus on the splits and holding myself back a bit. I listen to my breathing, think about my plan and chat a bit with the people around me. At about the hour mark (or sometimes I wait until the 10 mile mark) I turn the tunes on. As soon as I put the music in I get really excited and love having the beat for the rest of the race.
I passed the first girl at mile 12 (and realized at the same time she was a relay runner) and hit the first half at 1:27:17ish which was about 20 seconds faster than the plan. Miles 10-14 were an extremely hilly section and so I was happy to get back out to the main road again after those miles. I tried some water and another gu and nope… my body still wasn’t letting it happen.
This doesn’t look very pretty but the course really had some beautiful sections. This was the main road we were on for most of the miles:
I kept trying to take in fuel from then on and it just wasn’t happening. I really don’t know exactly what was wrong but I have a few guesses:
1. I was around a few people right before leaving to Arizona that ended up having the 24 hour flu this weekend and who knows… I could have gotten that same bug and had the flu. Real fun timing.
2. My gut may not be fully healed. Overall, my stomach problems/IBS have been SO much better but maybe all of the race day nerves and eating more fat than I normally do (for some reason that seems to flare things up for me personally) may have made everything go crazy again. Sometimes my attitude about things gets me into trouble when I stay a little bit too positive about things including my ideas that my body heals faster than it does… I probably should have waited longer to go for another marathon and let everything have more time to heal. You live and you learn. My coach and I talked a lot about switching over to more organic running energy sources too due to my stomach being super sensitive these days.
3. The Marathon Gods were angry with me;) Very angry.
At mile 19 I was at an average of 6:44 so far and I was still in the lead. I was shooting for a 6:48 average for the whole marathon because gamins can be off (and mine was about .16 over) and so we wanted to make sure I wasn’t cutting it too close for the A goal by thinking my garmin would be right on.
19.5ish miles is when things went downhill fast. My stomach was feeling worse and I hit empty. Our bodies can only go so long with zero fuel and for me on Sunday, it was 19ish miles. I’ve hit the wall plenty of times before but this felt different. I stopped and walked for a few minutes each of those last miles. The walking most definitely helped me to feel a bit normal again before trying to run again. With each walking break I got passed again but at that point I just wanted to finish. I had 7 miles to realize that my A goal was out the window and to come to terms with it. I realized that it was completely out of my control which helped me to be okay with it. There was nothing I could have done, dropping down my pace was the absolute best I could give at that point running on zero. I was out of energy but I was going to finish even if that meant walking the whole way.
I got close to the end and I saw my brother from Kentucky standing there… I 100% thought I was just seeing things ha. I mean I was in the desert… it could have been a mirage. But nope, it was him. He flew all the way there just to come be at my race. He ran with me for a little bit and then I crossed the finish line. PS he is the brother that was an incredible runner in high school and he still runs now and he gives me the BEST pep talks.
And the last stretch. I don’t even remember it but I’m glad I have a picture to remember it now.
I finished 5th for the women and 1st in my age group.
After the race I just plopped down on the ground until my brother brought me over to the grass. Between feeling dehydrated, crazy sugar low and exhausted…. I broke down. To be honest, I didn’t feel super awful at that point because I missed the sub 3 (I mean it was annoying but hey, I beat my post-baby PR by 2 minutes and 14 seconds) because I knew I did my absolute best given the circumstances but I just felt super bad. I felt awful that my brother flew all the way to Arizona to see my race and I finished nearly crawling, I felt bad that my mom rearranged her schedule to come be with me, I felt bad that my other brother dragged three of his kiddos out of bed at 6 a.m. to make the drive down to the race to cheer me on. I have this weird thing where I just want to make my brothers really proud and I felt bad that I was pretty much crawling when they actually saw me on the course and 10+ minutes after I had told everyone. I remember in high school whenever I had a decision between right and wrong to make I would think about how making a bad decision would affect my brothers and how I didn’t want to disappoint them… Sorry, I tend to open up too much and I am now crying as I am writing this just thinking about disappointing my family. I know, I’m weird… You’ve known this since the first day you started reading this blog.
Now that I look back on how bad I felt afterwards (now that I am not so emotional/dehydrated/depleted) I know my family loves me no matter what but I was so out of it I just wasn’t thinking straight.
After I told my brother sorry for not getting the sub 3 like a million times he told me that I better stop it saying that. He was more proud of me for finishing the marathon with so many obstacles along the way than he would have been if I had an easy breazy sub 3 marathon day. He had felt strongly a few weeks ago that he should make the trip out to the race and I think it was because I just really needed him there to help me feel like a million bucks afterwards.
Obsessed with these kiddos. They stayed up making posters for me. The best.
About 20 minutes after finishing my family brought me a coconut snow cone (which I will never be able to eat again after this experience ha) to get in some water and calories. It didn’t go well and at that point I felt way worse off than I did during those final miles. My body just wasn’t letting anything in.
So, I got to hang out in the med tent for a bit to get back to normal and to stop dry heaving etc. The people there were great and so nice and after about 45 minutes I could leave. I stuck to water for the rest of the day and ate some chicken at about 8 pm and that stayed down but didn’t feel great.
A few battle wounds along the way that I don’t remember happening ha.
And a medal that I am proud of. I put it all out there and while I didn’t hit my A or B goal, I know I will just keep trying until I do. It might mean I take 2 minutes off with each race until I get there but that’s okay. I love the training and sometimes these crazy goals that we have take years and years but that will make the accomplishment that much more sweeter when I get it. Plus, I like to set crazy (for me) goals… it makes life more exciting and it makes me want to work harder.
A good friend sent this to me and I love it:
I remember towards the beginning of this blog I did a 1/2 marathon and came up short of my sub 1:30 goal by 2 minutes or something. It devastated me and I remember being grumpy for about a week because of it. Over the last few years I really have learned that running is just running. It’s okay to be bummed that you missed your goal but I think the key is to bounce back and try again. I think I’ve learned that there are a lot worse things than a bad race and as long as I gave my best effort… I’m proud of how it all went down.
And as my coach says, SHIZ happens. In every aspect of life. But how you deal with it makes the world of difference.
So, when is the next marathon?
Honestly, not for awhile. I’m going to recover then run easy and let my gut fully heal before my next marathon. Next year will involve 5ks, 10ks, a 1/2 or two and then one fall marathon. But stick around because I will have plenty of randomness for you along the way.
What does your 2016 running/race schedule look like?
Tell me about some of the hardest obstacles you have encountered during a race?
Big race or small race? Which do you prefer?