So, I have a secret. Did you know that running a marathon is not my favorite thing to do? I know, not the best way to start out a race recap, but it’s something that needs to be known. I LOVE running. I do love racing. And I LOVE half marathons and shorter distances. But marathons, they’re not really my thing. I just don’t think it’s a distance that I excel at. So why do I keep running them? I often wonder that myself. Up until last year I ran them as a means to achieve a goal – to run the Boston marathon. It was never my goal initially. I just ran one for the heck of it, since I’d seen my husband do it so many times. But after he thought I might be able to qualify, it became a passion of mine.
After qualifying and running Boston 2015, I thought I’d stop running them. They are just soooooo exhausting! (I guess that’s why Pheidippides died after his run to Athens. But I digress…) I love training for them, and having a plan and a daily goal, but without something at the end, a training plan seems a bit pointless, so I signed up for the Erie marathon again. Erie is quite honestly the perfect race for qualifying for Boston. It is the flatest race I have ever seen. It’s mostly shaded and a state park, so you know it’s scenic!
But when I found out the Erie was not going to qualify for 2 years like it has a few times in the past, I was bummed. I pretty much thought “what’s the point of running it now?”. It had a great appeal to me when it could qualify me for 2017, but now, it was kind of missing something.
We got to Erie on Saturday, with just an hour left at packet pickup, and the pre-race pasta dinner that we had signed up for. It was our 23rd wedding anniversary, so it was our special night, even if it was cold and raining a lot!!
I got my race outfit ready that night, and per pre-race tradition, we watched “Run, Fatboy, Run“. That is one movie I will never tire of! The perfect humor to take off pre-race jitters.
I actually got some good sleep before the race. We had to get up at 4:45am, because it was recommended we be at the park at 5:45am. Sadly the mini fridge in our room was turned down too cold and the milk I brought for my Frosted Mini Wheats was actually an icy slush! Yes, I like a heaping full bowl of fiber before a big race! It keeps me full and works for me. Don’t judge 🙂
Parking on Presque Isle is a challenge, but the race does a great job of getting every one in efficiently. Unfortunately the rain caused one of the parking lots to flood so they lost a large number of parking spots. We sat in a long line of traffic until 6:40 when we finally found a parking spot. Luckily a lot of people were still finding parking spots and the race was delayed 17 mins, because I was still in the port-a-potty when the race should have started! But soon enough the gun went off and we were racing!
I have been training for a 3:51 finish, but I typically have a pretty strong fade at the end, so we decided that we’d try for a 3:50 finish, and run an 8:40 pace for as long as I could and that would still give me some cushion for a PR (my finish last year was my PR, 3:53:27 8:54 pace). I thought that sounded good, and for quite a few miles we had the 3:45 pace group in our sight.
The weather was great – a little windy (not really an issue), and temps in the 50’s! I don’t think I ever thought it was hot or I was too warm at all during the race. Immediately as I started the race my car key came loose from being tied tight in my shoelaces and I spent the next 26 miles running with a key flopping and scratching my Achilles occasionally when the other foot got too close! I was not about to stop and take the time to fix it.
But then it happened. Around mile 14 I started wishing I was done. Around mile 16 my pace started to drop. It was too soon for this crap to be happening! Around mile 20 my pace was getting pretty bad, around 9:20. Ouch. And double ouch, my glutes were now feeling like they were on fire!! Alan knew I was struggling and kept it positive, but also honest, as he reported when my 3:50 finish was no longer going to happen. Well, that was OK, I knew that.
Around mile 22 I think Alan told me that I needed to keep it up, and if I did, I would still get a BQ, and probably a PR too! But I had to work harder. And I think that was about that time I also informed him that I didn’t even care if I finished in 4 hours, I just wanted to be done. Haha! Glad that Alan knows I am just getting down on myself and I really would care.
When it came down to the last two miles, he told me that I really needed to push it or I wasn’t going to get a PR. I knew it. I was completely aware of it. I could see my overall pace slipped from 8:40 early on, to something much closer to 8:50 now. No cushion left. And no fuel left in me! I was so tired, cranky, and engulfed in pain. I really did try my hardest, but there was nothing left. We had a friend there who took this picture of us around mile 26… funny because we actually look pretty good! And laughing like we were having a good time! I was thinking – “oh good God, just let the finish line be around this corner!! I am going to die!!!!!”
But here’s the view from the back. Felt and looked like my feet weighed 100 pounds! (hey, but look at that great calf definition!)
Finally, the finish line was in sight! We finished in 3:53:56. A BQ, but 30 seconds slower than last year. Waaaaaaaaa. I honestly didn’t know if I should be happy or sad. But one thing for sure, I had given it my all and I couldn’t stand one more second on my legs. Two volunteers helped me through the finish chute and I sucked down some chocolate milk.
I immediately went to lay down in the shade. Alan was having a great time watching my lips turn purple and me shake while I tried to open my milk container! Please, just take me back to the hotel – now!!!! It hurts to move my legs!!
So there you have it. It was a good race, other than the fact I couldn’t finish strong and really wish I could have went faster somewhere in the race to better my time.
I’ve had a few moments of sadness and regret that I didn’t do something differently to get me to my goal. But in the end, any day that I finish a marathon AND get a BQ is a pretty great day and I’m proud of my accomplishment 🙂 Now I just need to cross my fingers and hope that the cut off time is similar or less than last year so I will get in to Boston 2016.