Monday, May 22, 2006

Never Underestimate the Power of the MARATHON

What a great day. Sitting here now I just remembered the song that was playing on the alarm clock at 4am when I got up - "just Another Day" by Wings. Funny how I was just blogging about it the other day. So - off I went into marathon day - more relaxed becaused I already expended my nervousness the days before. I didn't eat as much as I would have liked - I actually felt sick most of the day Saturday - nauseated from nervousness. I ate normal food, and drank lots, but still wish I couldn've taken in more.

Marathon morning went off without a hitch. All 3 of our kids were troopers getting up and out of the house before 5am. It was a a beautiful morning - partly cloudy, low 50's - perfect marathon weather and an inspirational sunrise. I got my race packet n'all that. Didn't get to make my third trip to the porta-potty 'cause the line was too long. That's okay.

The race started and all was well. My pace goal for this race was 7:45-8:15 pace - hoping for a steady 8 minute pace. A big range, but all of my training and recent races pointed in there somehow. I wanted to go out a little slower than that pace. My first 4 miles:

mile 1 - 7:23
mile 2 - 7:44
mile 3 - 8:03

mile 4 - 7:46

A little too fast, and since I missed the porta-potty line, I stopped just after mile 4 to go, relaxed a bit, then continuted on. My next miles:

mile 5 - 8:15
mile 6 - 7:44
mile 7 - 7:57
mile 8 - 8:05
mile 9 - 7:44

Somewhere right in there my tummy didn't feel good and there wasn't a potty stop nearby. I puked up whatever I had at the aid station in that mile somewhere - I think at the 10 mark. I thought, okay, still running pretty fast, better slow down - go to the low end of my goal pace.

mile 10 - 8:33
mile 11 - 8:34
mile 12 - 8:20
mile 13 - 8:21
mile 14 - 8:21

Still feeling really yucky. Started drinking just the fuel at the aid station, but threw up again (not that there was much in there). Tried the porta-potty to make me feel better, to no avail. Took my second gel - 3rd if you count the one before the start.

mile 15 - 9:41
mile 16 - 8:50

Started walking through aid stations while I was drinking, and actually had water and ultima at a station in there somewhere.

mile 17 - 10:09
mile 18 - 8:59 - another gel

Somewere right in here I got really frustrated. I felt okay physically - muscularly - but my stomach was still really upset. I didn't eat too much differently than on my long runs, so I should have enough fuel, and I'd been drinking and having gel. My pace was starting to be slower than my training runs. And my pace sucked. The whole race I had not been able to settle into a pace, which is unlike me - I'm usually a pretty good pacer. I remembered last weekend and the 8 mile run I did on the track with my husband. How we cranked out 6 miles in dead on 9 minute pace, and I came back to run my last 2 in 7:38 and 7:03. So I thought, okay, let's just try to pace out the rest.

mile 19 - 8:45
mile 20 - 9:01

Still felt sick, so I tried the porta-potty thing again - didn't work. I had water and ultima and water and walked a bit. It was really uncomfortable to start running again.

mile 21 - 11:11

So, looking at the clock, knowing my time was not what I wanted, I had to re-evaluate. No 3:30 marathon was gonna happen (8 minute pace). I didn't even think 8:40 was gonna happen - which was sorta my low-end goal. But I didn't want to give up. I've done that in a marathon and remember watching the miles tick by slower and slower and how awful I felt. So, I know I didn't go out to qualify for Boston. I actually figured it'd be accomplished with my other time goals. I needed a 3:45. Truly, I have no idea how accurate my logic was at that time, but I tried to calculate it, and thought that if I could hang on to a 9 minute pace, I could run under 3:45 and have Boston qualified, and not have to run a whole other race if I wanted to qualify this year.

Screw this tummy thing. It wasn't going away, and I couldn't fix it. I gotta stop at this point and talk about race support. My husband and my youngest munchkin had been all over the course cheering for me, and driving by hollering for me. The entire rest of my family - my other munchkins, my siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, had been at another mile mark hollering. So I come up to mile 22 - and there they all are again, lining the sidewalk. I ran by high-fiving the kids - they get a thrill out of it. As I ran past my dad, feeling pretty good, I said, "Where is that huge hill you were talking about at mile 20?" (thinking he'e been teasing me because there wasn't one) He pointed and said, "just ahead". Oh shit. He and my sister had driven the course and been telling me it was a huge hill and I wasn't gonna like it. I've trained on hills, no big deal. But the whole course had been hilly, and I didn't want a big one right now when this entire 26.2 race was gonna come down to the wire. I ran past my brother, who'd already finished the half, who said, "You're fine, just cruise on the hill, and then coast on in." My new motto. Dang that was a big hill. My family being there at that spot had a huge impact on my race. So did the little girl somewhere holding the sprinkler on the course. And the man holding the cardboard sign that simply said: Courage. I told him he should rip pieces off and hand them to runners. He told me I didn't need any. I passed a monkey tree somewhere on the course (if you don't know what they are, you'll have to look it up - but I've always liked them, and that's what they're called.) But this one had stuffed monkeys tied all over it like ornaments. Hilarious. Some guy in a white singlet came up on my shoulder during mile 23 and said, "you're cruisin'". He hung there for a bit - maybe waiting for a response. I wanted to say, "yeah, that's right", or "who are you, and how do you know?", but I was now in the zone, and too focused to make small talk.

mile 22 - 8:45
mile 23 - 8:45
mile 24 - 9:08

I was feeling really good. I think I must've blocked out the tummy ache (it magically reappeared later after the race), and I have no idea what physical pain I was in, 'cause I didn't feel it. 2 miles to go of that last 8 that I had tried to pace out. I remembered again that 8 that I ran on the track with my husband. Remember my last 2 miles? I cranked them out hard. I thought - I can do that again. I'm laughing now, knowing that it wasn't rational 'cause I'd just run 24 miles, but it worked then. I had gone over a couple of mind tricks, thinking - I didn't come here to qualify for Boston, so what if I run a 3:46 - am I gonna be that disappointed? And I truly answered no, but the bigger issue was that I had embarked on this mission these last few miles, and wasn't going to give in to anything. If I didn't run that 3:45, so be it, but I was giving the rest of this course all I had.

mile 25 - 8:36

At this point, I couldn't calculate my time, and couldn't remember if I'd actually stopped my watch at one of my bathroom stops, thus making it differ from that time clock at the finish line. And the last 2 miles of this course were downhill. Did I mention that? Sweet for me at this point. I was flying. I don't think I've ever felt so good at the end of a race, and I almost always finish races strong. I came around a last corner somewhere and could see the finish line. I didn't believe that was it already and had to ask somebody, even though I've been to watch this race at least 5 times, and knew that was it. I think I was in shock that I was actually running that fast. I saw my husband and got so excited. He started runnning on the sidewalk as I was running down the hill. And I was telling him - "Oh, my god, honey, I can qualify for Boston - I'm finishing this - I feel awesome." I don't know my exact quotes - something like that. I was gushing with excitement and we got so excited together. I ran through the line and ran into some friends I hadn't seen in a while, so never really stopped to think about feeling sick. But I stopped to look at my watch.

I ran under that ominous 3:45, and qualified for Boston. And looking at my splits - that last 1.2 miles? I ran that in 8:57. I kept looking at it as my last mile split, and was bummed, thinking I was running so much faster. Then I remembered the .2 - I picked it apart and was running a 7:30 pace that last 1.2 mile. Sweet! Granted, it was downhill, but man! - 7:30 pace for the last mile of a marathon that I'd run at an average of 8:30 pace, and felt really sick?!

I felt fine for 30-60 minutes - a little euphoric I think. Then I found the porta-potty again. Then I left and was sick for a couple of hours. My brother made me eat some chicken, and my husband kept my hydrated and put advil in me, and gradually I came back to life. I discovered that the recliner chair was really comfortable and went to bed early.

Next marathon - 48 days.
Chicago trip - 3 days away
Soldier Field 10 mile is next weekend, and I swear I'm not runnin' faster then 9 minute pace and I'm taking my camera and enjoying running with my husband the whole way!

PS - You gotta go check out a different perspective of the race - I'd forgotten a few things until I read this race report. Support is amazing.


olga said...

This is absolutely awesome report on a great marathon! I loved your splits on miles 22-26 and how you gutted them out - that's a trooper everyone should be jealous of! Or happy with:) Nice, nice work, congrats on BQ!

Anne said...

What an epic effort, given all the stomach problems. I have this block going into my marathon because of similar issues. Let's hope I can summon the same courage you had to not only stick it out but stick it at the end. Congratulations!

Jessica Deline said...

WOW!! Way to go!! Great report :)

Sarah said...

Congrats! I loved reading your report. I'm inspired by the way you pushed through despite your stomach problems. I'm re-reading this post before my upcoming marathon....seriously.

Joe said...

Awesome job, Ginger. Way to stick with it even when you were barfing!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

wow, way to go!!! I got goose bumps reading that report. Too sweet.

Eddie said...

Hello, Just wandering the blogosphere and here I am at your blog. I enjoy the style of how you have put it all together. I'll be coming back again.


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iliketoast said...

what made you sick?

what a great effort and sensational result .... more for the effort than anything else

JustRun said...

Congratulations! Great report. I'm amazed by your effort with the tummy issues.