The race itself is actually less interesting than the events surrounding the race. The entire week preceding the marathon was quite simply a disaster. The kids woke up with low grade fevers about a week before the race, which turned into a nasty chest virus. Nick had to travel for work. There were several visits to the pediatrician's office. Kaylee wound up on prednisone. Emily had croup. Then of course I got sick too. The low point was when Kaylee had a coughing fit and vomited while I was trying to get Emily ready for bed. Emily was already grumpy because it was past her bedtime and she had croup. I didn't want to put her down because crying would only make the croup worse. Blah! Disaster! Obviously, I survived. My mom came and helped out a couple days, which was nice not only for the extra set of hands, but for the company too. Then Nick came home about 24 hours before the marathon and had a fever too. Lovely.
I didn't even think about the marathon most of the week. On Thursday afternoon, I asked my mom what she would do if she were in my shoes. Would she run? She said she'd go to the race and make the decision at the last minute depending on how she felt. So that's what I did. To be brutally honest, I did not want to run. I was tired. And I was afraid. Once I make the decision to start a race, I want to see it through if at all possible, and it could have been a really bad day. I was definitely more sick than my last marathon and less rested, where I suffered greatly and wound up running a good 45 minutes slower than I expected.
I learned a lot from my last marathon debacle though, and tried to step up to the line with a plan that would hopefully see me through the race relatively unscathed. I have asthma and when I get sick, it gets worse. During my last marathon, I didn't realize that one of my inhalers greatly increases my heart rate. As a result, what was a comfortable pace during training, wasn't a comfortable pace on that day. Half way through the race I started having chest pain, and from there I had to alternate walking with running in order to finish. It. Was. Ugly.
What I've learned since, is that running doesn't actually impact my asthma as long as I adjust my pace properly. Also, my increased heart rate due the inhaler is fine as long as I adjust my pace. The key is to ignore what I think I should be running and simply run at a pace that breathing is easy. That, of course, isn't always easy to implement.
My second issue was going to be lack of rest. There wasn't anything I could do about that. I'll say it again, I was afraid. It could have been a really really bad day. I was also scared that I'd not only have a bad day, but then be extremely exhausted and go home and not be able sleep because the kids were still sick. At the same time, I didn't want to skip it and then regret it. Definitely a pickle.
Anyway, I went. I was not enthusiastic. I was not mentally prepared. I was tired. I was scared. But I ran, and I'm glad I did. The whole race was a struggle. Even the first mile. Did I mention that I was tired? I am amazed that I was able to run the time that I did.
A lot went wrong leading up to the race, but everything that went wrong was out of my control. I tried to maximize what I could control, which was:
- My training. It was solid. I knew that. All of my training paces were actually right on for a 3:22 even though my goal was 3:30. Also, when I started having IT band issues I immediately backed off. I stepped up to the line with no injuries. My IT band was fine throughout the race, and didn't hurt after.
- I needed to be focused on being patient and running what was comfortable for my breathing. The entire race was a struggle, but I just kept telling myself to get to the next mile. I never really hit "the wall," although I did slow down once I hit mile 24.
- I needed to fuel. I drank 50 ounces of electrolyte sports drink during the race, and I was ridiculously thirsty when I finished. I couldn't have done this without my parents. They were on the course and swapped out my bottles more than once. I have never drank so much during a run. I think it must have been because I was sick that I needed so much. I also took a gel every 30 minutes until I got to mile 20, when my stomach decided no more. I am certain that the race would have been a complete disaster if I hadn't fueled well.
Oh, I'd also like to give a shout out to Pam, who made the first 10 miles of the race bearable. She ran up to me and another girl, Shelby, who I met at the start and asked if I wrote a running blog! So cool to have someone recognize me! She talked the whole time, and I mostly listened because I couldn't really talk. It was the best part of the race.