I started out feeling great. At the 1/2 way point I was on track for a 3:20 and figured that would happen. At mile 15 I started to slow, just a little, like 10-15 seconds. At mile 20 I completely hit the wall & it took everything in me to not walk or reduce myself to a complete shuffle. I finished a minute slower than last year, but felt 100 times worse. Finish time: 3:30:50
Now if you want the details & specifics and are willing to read my complete breakdown of the race then read on.
Even though I was by myself and had no one to blame I was running a little late on getting to the race. That left me with little down time before the race. Once I was parked I headed straight to gear check & dropped off my bag. I was in such a hurry and had complete tunnel vision I didn't even realize until after the fact that there was a long line and yet, I just walked up to the guy handed him my bag & then left. Haha, ooops! Anyway, I enjoyed a brief meetup with Amanda from Too Tall Fritz. She was running her 4th marathon in 14 days. Wowza!
After that I only had time for a last quick (ok, but there is nothing quick when thousands of people are waiting in line) trip to the porta potties and I slipped into my start corral. Within 2-3 minutes the gun went off and I started off feeling great. Temperature wise it was leaning toward the warm side. It was 52 degrees, but the sun was coming up strong & clear over head of us. I knew the forecast called for lower 70's by mid day and I could tell it would be on the toasty side. Overall I do feel like the weather played a role in part of what happened.
I thought I took my first mile very easy & conservative, but according to my splits I ran a 7:03 I felt completely comfortable with this pace, but I did kick it down a notch. My plan was to hold back a little for the first half, maybe 20 miles, if need be, to make sure I had something left at the end. And, well, we know plans don't always go how we want. But....the beginning miles went by pretty quick. I remember seeing the first few mile markers, but before I knew it boom there was mile 7 and then another flash and there was 10. I was running strong and feeling really good.....maybe too good to be true. I mean, come on, let's be honest...I did not train for this marathon. Oh, I've been running, but I did not train. Can't take credit for that in any way shape or form! Anyway, my first 15 miles looked like this: 7:03, 7:35, 7:34, 7:28, 7:29, 7:28, 7:39, 7:27, 7:46, 7:43, 7:24, 7:41, 7:26, 6:57, 7:48. For the most part I was in the 7:30 range. Not bad for a girl who is horrible at keeping pace & does not rely on anything to tell me what pace I am going. (I turn on my device & stick it in my belt. I leave it running and do not look at it until after I've finished.)
I knew early on in the race I was out in front of the 3:25 pace group. I passed them very easily and put some distance between us. I don't know how much distance because I never tuned around to look. If you've ever run a big race you can just tell when you are near a pace group because there is a cluster of them who stick together. I had none of that my first half of the race. My goal was to keep in front of this pace and according to my 1/2 time I was on track to run a 3:20 finish. Perfect, but ya, I did mention it was too good to be true. Right around the 13 mile mark that 3:25 group came up behind me and they helped spur me on for a few miles. I wanted to keep IN FRONT of them! I was ok with slipping down to that finish time, but I could not let them get ahead of me. I think that is where my 6:56 came from at mile 14. I pushed ahead to try and get some distance on them. At mile 15 though I decided to not fight it anymore & let them pass me, but I was right behind them. Slowly though they pulled away, but not by much, probably 15-20 seconds and I hung on for a few more miles. I felt ok, but could feel myself slowing down. My next few miles were 7:45, 7:48 & 7:43.
Remember I mentioned the temperatures. I know 50's, 60's even low 70's doesn't sound that warm, but the sun was bright and strong. Most importantly I haven't run in these temperatures very much. We had a very cold, harsh winter with A LOT of below freezing and sub zero temperatures. Our spring has been very limited as well. I figured I haven't run in these temperatures since late October, maybe early Nov. And then bam, here I am out running in it again. I could certainly feel it affecting my body temperature. I was slightly overheated. I took in water & Gatorade at every single station. It actually seemed like they added more stops than in the past (and maybe they did last minute with the increased temps). I even began pouring glasses of water on top of my head for just a little relief. I definitely began to feel fried or baked, which is not a good feeling when you're not used to it. So I do believe that the temperatures played a large part in what happened next.
I've never had this happen in a marathon before (I did once in an ultra), but at mile 19 I slammed in to THE WALL! I was miserable and all I wanted to do was walk or reduce myself to a complete shuffle. Every single step was incredibly hard and I just wanted it to be over. I could definitely feel the affects of the weather and the very obvious fact that I was not trained for this. My base training & natural ability still kept me going at an ok pace, but it was tough. At mile 20 the clock showed 2:35 so I figured I wasn't in too bad of trouble with a finish time if I could just keep going. But, of course, I have that horrible perception of what pace I really am going. I didn't think I had slowed down that much, but for all I knew I was clocking a 12 minute pace. And I still refused to look at my timing device. At this point my goal was only to finish. I knew this could happen and here I was faced with it so I just kept putting one foot in front of another and didn't dare complain. In hindsight I know that my gps and the race timing went wonky so I don't have definite paces for the last 6 miles. I can only average that I ran a 9 minute pace.
I did perk up a little during mile 25 and right before I hit mile 26, as I turned a corner I saw the 3:30 pace group coming up behind me. That lit a little fire underneath me for I was determined to finish ahead of them. It was a little encouraging to know that I wasn't too far off my PR finish from last year. I pushed to the end and was never so happy to be done. My finish time was 3:30:50. Exactly 1 minute slower than last year! Except last year I felt awesome & great and was ready to do it all over again. This year....the complete opposite, but I'm not complaining. Considering how little to no training I had for this race I did ok. A finish is a finish. And a BQ is a BQ.
I was staggering a little when I finished and must've had a look on my face because someone came rushing up to me and yelled (ok, it felt like they were yelling, maybe they weren't) "ARE YOU OK?!?!" It took me a few seconds to mumble "yeah, I think so" and I kept on walking. Someone put a medal around my neck and I posed for a picture.
This is NOT my usual big smile, oh look I just *easily* ran a marathon.
As quickly as I could I staggered over to the medical area & grabbed some ice bags.
I found a tiny sliver of shade and painfully lowered myself on to the ground where I set about updating my family, friends & social media with how I finished. After about 15 minutes, I even more painfully stood up and went up to gear check to get my bag. Once I was up there I realized that I did not get my I-Challenge medal. I tried to tell myself that I didn't care about the medal and it was not worth going through the agony of down and up those stadium stairs again. But who was I kidding, I earned that medal & I wanted it.
Since I was there alone I had no reason to stick around so I left. I stopped for one more picture and by then was actually feeling much better. I really think the shade & ice did a ton of help.
There's my big smile! And with BOTH medals!
How I placed:
Overall: 173rd out of 1,685
Female: 28th out of 693
Age Group (35-39): 3rd out of 122
Woo Hoo, first time I've ever placed in my age group in a marathon. Super excited to see what my award is. They mail those a few weeks after the race.
A few more specifics re: my splits
1/2 way point: 1:40:17
20 mile mark: 2:35:36