If I’m going to be honest, I wrote my last post with the expectation that nothing could be worse than my marathon experience in 2011. I was unfortunately very mistaken. However, because of much better preparation I still hung on for a 3:04, which is a massive PR and almost makes the excruciating pain worth it. Almost.
For those of you that care about the nitty gritty, my plan was to do a tight negative split; running the second half 30 seconds to a minute faster than the first. Effort-wise I figured I had to go out very comfortable, and then dig super deep the second half to overcome fatigue.
Enter the mind games. A few weeks before the race, workouts were going really well and I thought, how cool would it be to run 2:59? From then on 6:50/mile was tattooed in my brain. I told myself I wasn’t married to the number, but I kind of was.
The gun went off on race morning and my first mile was slow. The second mile was fast. Then slow, then fast. My mind was blown. Turns out, the combination of long inclines/declines and mile markers that seemed to be placed wherever they felt like, made tracking pace impossible. Normally I wouldn’t be bothered, but what about my 6:50? I almost started thinking about purchasing a Garmin.
I wasted a lot of energy in the first 6 miles worrying, rather than listening to my body. At mile 8, I re-established my goal to low 3 hours and stopped looking at my watch, hoping this would help me relax and feel better. It did a bit.
Even still, I never really settled in, I had to concentrate so hard on keeping my cadence high and arms relaxed. Mile 13, I saw Hillary and she gave me a little encouragement, she told me I still looked good which is what I needed to hear. I hit the half at 1:31, not bad, but I was feeling tired and fairly certain a negative split was not in the cards.
Mile 16, I hit the only turnaround portion. The race was getting real. This is where I saw Alyssa for the first time and realized she was less than a minute back. My hips were screaming and I knew I would be seeing her again.
Mile 20, I saw Hillary again. Honestly, I don’t even know what she said, but I personally wanted to lie down in the street and die. I remember trying to convey to her my pain, but words never came out.
The last 10k was a flashback to my previous marathon. I stopped caring about my time and finishing for that matter. I just wanted the pain to be over. I even tossed around the idea of walking, and then quickly pushed that out of my mind.
Just as I was about to throw in the towel and shuffle it home, I heard the dreaded voice of Hillary behind me, informing me that I was about to get caught. A wave of dread came over me and the realization that I couldn’t anonymously crawl this marathon home.
Alyssa came flying by, I felt like I was jumping into the open door of a moving car. Seeing her actually gave me life. I stayed so close to her, afraid the imaginary string that held us together would break with any distance. I was practically putting my feet into her footsteps. It was so hard at first, then I was able to pull around and run beside her, it was comforting to know we were both in a world of hurt.
We ran the like this for a mile, over the final bridge and then the finish was in sight. I had nothing left and there was zero probability of me winning a sprint finish. I waited to see if Alyssa was going to make a move and the move never came, so right before we crossed the finish line, I decided we should hold hands, purely for the Team HPB photo op. Sadly, it must have looked pathetic and maybe more like we were helping each other over the line, but the photographer never got the picture.
Turns out, Alyssa beat me by 1 second and she definitely deserves this victory since she’s personally responsible for me breaking 3:05. We finished 5th and 6th female, which is a little shocking since we’re both relatively inexperienced marathon runners.
My takeaway from the race…marathons suck. I have two data points now and I don’t need a third to prove this. Although, never say never I guess.
The aftermath of the race was both awesome and horrible. We spent the afternoon at Alyssa’s BF’s father’s house in Phoenix which was absolutely beautiful with a patio and pool looking out into the mountains. My friends from college, Carlyn and Brian, were able to spend the day with us, they were the greatest hosts letting Nate and I spend the weekend at their house especially when I woke up the next morning puking my guts out in their bathroom with the stomach flu. Thus, it wouldn’t be right to not thank my wonderful hubby, after running a 2:45! He carried all my bags and escorted my limp body around 3 airports trying to get me home without dying or barfing on a stranger, thanks Nate!
So for now, we focus on recovery and get ready to start the tri season in March! Puerto Rico here I come!