Yeah, I'm a little excited. I don't believe that I had the best day that I could have had, but I ran well regardless. Also for me, this is a huge PR.
I didn't post my goals prior to the race because I wasn't sure until that morning what my goals were. Two weeks prior, I went through my training logs several times trying to determine a good set of race goals. I was hesitant to commit to any goal until I knew how I felt on the morning of the race. This might seem odd, but I have yet to run a marathon when I'm not sick. A couple years ago I was sick and slightly injured. I didn't take that into account on the morning of my race. It was a disaster. I went out faster than I should have given the circumstances, and did I mention that it was a disaster?
Anyway, I'm trying to be smarter about this whole racing marathons thing. In high school and college the team races 5Ks, and the strategy is so different (and more aggressive). I'm just beginning to understand that racing a marathon requires patience and careful planning. After going through my training logs several times, I decided that 3:22:30 - 3:25:00 would be my goal (assuming I felt reasonably well on race day).
My plan was to run an 8:00 minute first mile, be around 7:45ish by mile 4, to hold 7:45ish until mile 20-22, and then either kick it up a bit or hang on for dear life (depending on how I felt). My first mile was 8:01 and I was at 7:44 pace by mile 5. Unfortunately though, something was amiss. I just didn't feel right. I was having trouble holding onto my pace. Initially I thought it was mental, so I started trying to find someone to run with, but I didn't have much luck.
I drank and took gels exactly the way I had during my long runs, and my long runs were done on the course at about the same pace. Yet, I was having so much trouble. I maintained 7:44 until mile 11, where I finally met a couple of nice people to run with. They said they were aiming to run 3:30, but they were pushing the pace a bit. I managed to hang with them for a couple miles, but my average pace dropped to 7:42 and I was having trouble. At that point, I figured my issue wasn't mental. There was simply something not quite right, so I let them run on. I passed the half at 1:42:00. Passing the half is great because then you can tell yourself you have more miles behind you than ahead, which is what I kept telling myself.
Somewhere around 14 miles I started getting a headache, which was weird. Around mile 18 my legs started burning, burning like the last mile in a 5K. At that point, I gave myself permission to let up on the pace. I was hoping that I was being smart and not a wimp. By mile 20, I was still hanging onto an average pace of 7:45 (according to my Garmin), but I was really hurting (my legs were still burning). When I hurt, I take things a mile at a time. I don't think about anything beyond the next mile. My slowest mile was 8:11, there was an 8:09 too, and a couple 8:01's. Then finally. The finish! I was so happy that I forgot to stop my watch!
I loved this race! Well, I didn't really like running the race, but I'm pleased with the outcome. I had a goal, things weren't going quite as expected, I adjusted, and still wound up running well. I've also decided that giving myself permission to back off the pace was the right choice. I felt extremely sick the rest of the day. My intestines felt like they were going to explode and my head was killing me. Also, everything is ridiculously sore today, my neck, back, stomach, chest, legs, feet...everything.
And I love that because? Well, the fact that I felt that bad afterward and I'm that sore today means I ran hard. Really hard. Also, my first half was 1:42:00 and my second half was 1:44:58. I would have liked to run even splits, but I don't feel my first half was so much faster than my second half that I went out too fast. Basically, I feel like I ran the best race I could have given the circumstances, and that's what it's all about.
Lots of love to my hubby for taking charge of the kiddos while I was out training and racing! A big thanks to my parents who were my support team for the day. And a huge congrats to AM who ran 3:14! Holy cannoli, she is smoking fast!