It was a cold morning (low 40s), and Rick and I huddled in our car for awhile before getting out. We made it to the finisher's area to drop off gear and use the porta-potties a little less than an hour before the race. We waited until the last minute to drop our gear since we each only had a singlet and shorts to start in. We were freezing! We walked with the crowds to the start area--about a 1/2 mile or so. The start area was just crammed full when we got there, and we had to squeeze into the start area and were tightly packed in. We were somewhere around the 3:20 pacer but couldn't advance at all. People were shoulder-to-shoulder.
7:04, 7:07, 7:25, 7:13, 7:05, 7:15, 7:03, 7:07, 7:13--Easy Running
Once the race started, I knew I wanted to make sure I was closer to the 3:10 pace group. I hadn't intended to run with them, but I started with them. Their first mile was fast--7:04--but I still didn't drop back. I enjoyed the company and the knowledge that we were running an even pace. These first few miles were easy and relaxed, and we fell into a nice rhythm of pace miles mixed with slightly faster ones. I was not bothered by the elevation gain in the first 3 miles. I fueled at Mile 5 and 9, trying something I learned from Tia. I was wearing a pace bracelet marked with the miles I was supposed to fuel at. I usually don't fuel so early on in the race, but I wanted to see if it would help me at the end. I used Sportbeans as fuel (4 packs total) and intended to use 2 Gus provided along the course.
7:13, 7:31, 7:05, 7:03, 7:16, 7:16, 7:16, 7:15, 7:15--Amazingly Even Splits!
I am impressed by how even our splits were for most of these miles. We found a good rhythm and stuck with it. I remember seeing Rick and Teddy around Mile 11 as we crossed going to/from the Under Armour facility (the race's main sponsor). They saw me with the 3:10 pace group, and I saw them together (I wasn't sure they would be able to find each other in all of the congestion at the start line). Rick and I were both happy for each other.
14:55 (2 miles), 7:37, 7:52, 15:07 (2 miles), 8:15, 8:56 (26 +.2 miles)--Finishing Strong?
I know with 2 combined mile splits it makes it hard to see how I did for this section, but I think the fastest mile for the part was around a 7:30 with the rest being closer to an 8:00. This section was hilly (up to mile 22). At Mile 18, the pace group cruised on, and I stayed a little behind them so that I could slow to fuel. They had been talking about how much time was banked (30 seconds or so), so I know I could stay a little behind them and still get a 3:10. I never saw the course Gu at Mile 12, so I hadn't taken anything since Mile 9. I took some Sportsbeans and tried to hang on. I just could not. I struggled with the hills. I was also bothered by seeing LOTS of people passing me near the end. Rick later told me those were half marathoners, but, at the time, I thought I was getting passed and it made me feel very slow! It is such a mind game in those last few miles. I also noticed that I could not eat at the end. I took some more Sportsbeans and a Gu somewhere in those last few miles. I could not choke down the beans and spit them out onto the road. I have to work on fuel at the end of the race.
So in the 20's, I knew I did not have the 3:10 once I started seeing my pace bracelet's times and not seeing the now-vanished 3:10 pacers. I was okay with it at the time but still disappointed. I started going through all of the "What if's" in my head. NOT a good way to pump myself up for the finish. When I finally saw the finish area, I was very relieved. I crossed the line in 3:12 something, a new PR but short of my goal of a 3:10. My calves started cramping and I felt a huge desire to lay down on the ground, so I did. And I sat. Yes, I know how bad that is, but it felt better than standing. Shortly after I convinced myself to stand up, I saw Rick. He'd gotten a 3:15. I felt bad when he asked how I did, and I said, "3:12" and he said, "Awwww" and made a little face. I wanted to be able to say 3:10. He wasn't trying to make me feel bad; he was just showing the disappointment he felt in knowing I was disappointed.
Thoughts After the Race
I ran a 3:12:31 on Saturday in the Baltimore Marathon. Rick and I talked afterwards, and we both met what we'd call the "A-" goal for ourselves at the race. I am incredibly thankful for a great race and another PR; in fact, I'm so amazed that God would give me another race like this just one year after the Chicago Marathon. Two years of PR marathons separated by all that's happened this year--wow. I thought Chicago was the race of a lifetime for me, but now I realize that I might still have even faster times in me! I missed my goal of a 3:10, but this experience has only made me want it more. I will take what I've learned from this race and use it to drive my next training program.
Thanks for sticking with this to read this all. The encouragement of my friends (both local and all over the nation) means so much to me. You all are holding me accountable for something I might never do without your advice, encouragement, and support. I hope one day to get that 3:10 and to share that experience with you all!
Now stay tuned for some of the WORST marathon pictures of myself I have even seen! I have the most awful expressions and positions in these. They are so awful they are funny!