California Marathon: #1
San Francisco Marathon: #1
Because I can’t keep it in, here’s a spoiler alert at the beginning … 3:58:00!!!!
Okay, back to the start… (and prepare for lots of words!)
It was weird to arrive at the start with it starting to get light out. The late July start really makes a difference on this front.
However weird that was, I was certainly acting weirder, or should I say just a bit freaked out. Months of training came down to minutes left before I embarked on a journey towards an audacious goal. Little did I know how hard it would be to get there.
Mom and I ran this section together (plus a little bit beyond the mile 5 marker) and it was so much fun. Looking back, I know this was the section that hurt me. I knew I would go out too fast but couldn’t hold myself back to a 9 minute pace, which was my goal. Instead I averaged about 15-20 seconds faster than that. Oops.
I’m proud of Mom for sticking with me as far as she did. If the infamous hill at mile 5 hadn’t been there, I’m pretty sure we would have been able to cross the bridge together. Unfortunately, it really winded her and she had to slow down a little to catch her breath.
Thankfully, we’d talked about this ahead of time. Since I could tell that she was struggling, I hung back for a few steps but then ended up saying “If I don’t see you again, I’ll see you at the finish!” and heading off on my own.
I still felt really great through here (even though I had to use the restroom since the start but was waiting for a portopotty with no line). I still couldn’t keep myself from running 15-20 seconds faster than my goal pace. Even mile 9 which included the portopotty stop came in under 9 minutes. (8:50) Whoops
It was at this point that I started noticing my lack of ability to run tangents. At each mile marker I realized how much father apart those mile markers were becoming from my Garmin distance alerts. (I ended up running 26.70. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.)
I don’t remember much about these miles; they were pretty middling. I do remember looking longingly over at the first half finish but that’s about all I remember.
Almost immediately after I crossed the halfway point my left calf started to tighten. I haven’t mentioned it but the past few days this has become a nagging problem. I hesitate to call it a problem because it hasn’t interfered with my running, yet. I’m sure it’s just because I’ve been neglecting proper foam rolling. I was a little worried last night but thankfully, the calf didn’t start tightening until the second half. (By the way, I noticed it until everything else started tightening and aching. Fun! Fun!)
Then came mile 16. That’s when the wheels started to fall off, big time. I struggled emotionally through these miles, especially when I walked through my next fuel point (16 miles). I could feel my goal slipping away. The negativity in my head had me convinced that that was the case and I did not want to look at my Garmin to confirm that. (Plus, I’m pretty sure that it would have taken too much brain power to do the calculations.)
There was one bright point in these miles. At the point where the full marathoners break away from beside the first half marathon finish (and you can see others who’ve already made the loop around Stow Lake) I heard someone call out “I made that shirt!” (I was wearing my “I Run This Body” shirt.) I looked up to see Pavement Runner but didn’t have enough brain power left to get out his name. I loved seeing a fellow blogger out on the course.
(Yes, I’m horrible at running tangents. We’ve already confirmed that.)
I’m pretty sure these were the most miserable miles I have ever run. I just knew that my goal time was slipping away from me so I used these miles to console myself with my B and/or C goals.
I walked every hill. I walked every water stop, taking two cups of electrolytes and two cups of water. (It was not enough! I definitely should have brought my hydration belt with me.) I even struggled with the most awful side stich that forced me to walk much more than I wanted to. (Although, on second thought, that was in the Park so I should have included that in the previous mile section.)
At the same time, I kept glancing down at my Garmin and (since we were much closer to the finish) figuring out that I, somehow, was still on track for my goal finish. I have no idea how that happened. The only thing I can think is that my body decided to try to keep running at the earlier pace (even though it was about 15-25 seconds slower than my first half splits).
I was in agony the entire time. I kept trying to focus on the race and just enjoy the fact that I was going to finish, if not with my goal time…pretty close to it.
I couldn’t believe it when I figured out (and I’m still not sure how my brain got enough calories to do the math) that I could probably power walk a minute or two in the final mile and still be able to shuffle my way to a sub 4 hour finish.
It wasn’t pretty, but I got it done. The only reason I walked twice during the final mile (which I never do!) was because I wanted to be able to run across the finish line. I knew that a sprint was out of the question but since I didn’t need it, that was okay with me.
I think that the perfect song to have been playing at that point would have been Maroon 5′s “Misery.” You can tell how awful I felt in those last few meters. Mom could even tell when she saw me. She was excited for me but knew I must be feeling all those miles.
I was ecstatic, though no one would have been able to tell. I had made my goal. After all that, the pain was worth it because I made my goal.
It took quite a while before I felt even slightly back to normal (normal that is for post-marathon). I was able to smile for a post-race pic.
There you have it. Marathon #4 (with a 24 minute PR!!!!) is in the books. I have a lot more to say about this race but this entry has gone on long enough. Reflection to come tomorrow.