Marathon #4 has come and gone and now it’s time to move on. But not before I write a really lengthy race report and show you a ridiculous number of pictures. By the end of this you will feel like you have just run a marathon, or you will be sound asleep.
I guess I could be disappointed with the way things turned out. Probably a year or so ago I would have been. Maybe I’ve learned to take it easier on myself or maybe I’ve come to the realization that race times aren’t everything. Since I started running a few years ago I have learned so much about myself - how much pressure I put on myself, how hard I push, how dedicated I am, how much my colon works against me.
What I have also realized more recently is that sometimes I have tunnel vision that keeps me from enjoying what my body is actually capable of doing. I’ve grown weary of judging myself all the time and not celebrating the fact that I am 46 years old and can run a marathon even having come through some pretty major injuries. I swear, it’s all about reframing things. My attitude has shifted from a place of “it’s never enough” to a place of “I have everything I need.” That makes me happy.
3:45 a.m. wake up call and the first thought was “Ugh. Can I run a marathon today?” Great attitude. But, I knew I could and I knew I would. Ken (who was running the half) and I headed down to Denver for my 6:00 a.m. start. This was a pretty small race, at least for the marathon, with only 1,200. I dropped the kids at the pool (or the porta potty – child abuse), I threw my junk clothes and half eaten bagel at Ken jumped in Corral B at the last minute. The weather was perfect, the morning calm. I felt ready to go.
For the first few miles I hung right on the ass of the 3:45 pacer like he was my own personal savior. My primary goal for this race was to qualify for Boston and I needed a 3:55. My marathon PR is a 3:42 but that was on a very fast and downhill course (Colorado Marathon), so I didn’t expect that time or anywhere near it. To give myself some room, I had created a 3:50 pace band (about an 8:46 average), and I knew in the first 8 miles I had banked some time.
I was going to do this. I comfortably passed the 3:45 pacer, feeling lots of energy as I ran through a downtown firehouse (damn firefighters were not naked and not even topless) and through the Bronco’s stadium. My energy waned a bit as I realized that there was no water as promised between miles 2 and 8. This made it hard to get down a gel, and kind of threw me off my fueling schedule. I got to mile 10 in about 1:29 (8:54 average), which still put me about 3 minutes ahead of my goal of 3:55. I knew I needed to keep on pace or I wouldn’t hit it. I started to feel nervous about not having more leeway (foreshadow).
That’s when the steady climb began. We were also running on Colfax, a major/busy road that goes from West to East Denver. Plain and simple, it’s ugly with lots of strip malls and car dealerships. Part of downtown Colfax is know for it’s wide array of hookers, pawn shops and liquor stores with bars on the windows. I thought I might turn some tricks for a bit of extra cash, but didn’t want to mess with my time goal.
No huge hills, but just about 10 miles of gradually heading up.
I knew my friends Joie and Kathy as well as my kids would be somewhere around mile 14. As I began to tire, I frantically searched for them, wanting to get a mental jolt. And, then there they were.
Kathy and the kids:
Gave a quick hug and was out of there.
More car dealerships. Who needs mountain views when you have those?
In all fairness, there were some pretty parts to the course, like running around this lake:
I plugged on hitting 16 miles in 2:21. A couple of things happened. First, I got the dreaded “low battery” message on my iPod and it died. I really rely on music the last few miles of a marathon and I’m pretty sure I yelled “F&ck! Sh!t” to anyone who would listen. The other thing that happened was that I realized I was still 4 minutes ahead of my qualifying time and had been running an 8:48 average.
Then the wheels started to come off and I felt it all slipping away. I got nauseous. My legs didn’t want to move as fast. My stomach started cramping badly. I don’t think the antibiotics I was taking were doing me any favors either. Joie met me at mile 22 to pace me to the end. She was trying so hard asking what I needed, what I had to do to BQ at this point, and I could not even think. What I needed was to lay down and die.
At this point, goal times and pace times were all a bunch of numbers in my head, and we were trying to calculate what I had to do. She got ahead of me and just told me to hang on, but I couldn’t keep the pace. I just couldn’t. I kept moving, but I needed to be at an 8:15-8:30 and I couldn’t maintain that up some of the hills. At this pint a BQ was solidly gone and the best I could hope for was a sub-4 finish. I came in at 3:59:08 and had it not been for Joie I’m pretty sure that would not have happened.
Here is me coming out of the finish. I must have looked like shit because someone asked if I “needed medical.” No I just need to get the hell out of this mess of people before I throw up all over them.
Ken finished the half in 1:53 and was there waiting for me with the kids.
I don’t think Heidi cared about the race. She was just happy to see us.
She did care a lot, however, about the huge chocolate donut I brought home.
I missed a BQ by 4 minutes and was 16 minutes slower than my marathon PR. Sure that stings a bit, but honestly, it’s just not that big of a deal. My training went well, but not great the last several weeks due to a hamstring strain. I knew it was going to be a toss up as to what would happen. I’ve got lots more races coming up this summer and I’m thrilled to be going into the season in pretty good shape and not injured. The great news is I have no aches/pains today, no post-marathon shuffle.
I am going to get kind of philosophical here – but what else I have realized is that the people in my life who love me don’t care how fast I run or even if I ever run another race. And, I think I am learning to treat myself with that same kindness. That doesn’t mean I won’t still train my ass of, but it does mean that when I give 100% and it still doesn't get me the result I want, I can be at peace with that. And, I know I gave it all I had yesterday.