Let me start by saying that over the past 3 days there has been a lot of wine consumed. It feels really nice to just have a few glasses and not worry about being dehydrated for a run the next day.
So let’s back up to before the wine drinking commenced. Everything pre-race was pretty standard. Friday night pasta with turkey meatballs, salad, and bread. Lots of water. Early bed time (8pm) and woke up before 5am on Saturday. Saturday morning coffee, bagel with peanut butter and banana. Warm up and get ready at home before heading over to the race around 7am.
When I got to the start it was still pretty empty and I had plenty of time to just wait around. Camden Yards (the baseball stadium for the Orioles) was open and we could use the bathrooms in there.I waited outside for a while and then around 7:40 I ate some sports beans and warmed up. I went in to use the bathroom around 7:50 and ran into my mom and sister, who were waiting to run the 5k. I am in the background of below picture mentally preparing for the race.
Once I decided to line up, I looked for the 9:00 minute mile wave. It was so crowded that I could barely get through. There were spectators and 5k runners all along the side, so a lot of the marathoners had a hard time getting onto the street before the gun went off. I pushed my way through and started about 2 minutes after the gun.
Once the race started I was so excited to be out there. The fan support was amazing and I felt great. Even though the first 3 miles were uphill, I barely felt it. According to my garmin, my pace was around 8:55 at this point.
Still feeling great, and hit some major downhills. I went with a faster pace because I was feeling good and the effort felt less on the decline. I think my pace dropped to the 8:30s for some of these miles, but I didn’t feel like I was going that fast. Around mile 9 we got back into downtown where the 1/2 marathoners were starting to line up, and there was alot of crowd support there.
I start to realize that I have a lot farther to go. I am still running strong, and this stretch was flat. I was holding about an 8:50 pace and was with the 3:55 pace group during this stretch. It started to get windy and I began to worry that I couldn’t hold onto this pace. Saw my parents at mile 13 and ran along some of the 1/2 marathoners starting. Then we broke away from the crowds and it was quieter for a few miles. At mile 14 I was given a 1/2 of a banana which I accidentally dropped (and a few miles later really wished I had eaten it.)
There were lots of things that went wrong during these miles. We began an uphill climb, and also merged with the 1/2 marathoners. I was frequently boxed in, so I started walking some of the hills to save energy. I stopped at mile 17 to refill my water bottle, and the volunteer there was super helpful and refilled it really quickly. When I hit the 20 mile mark I started to do the math about breaking 4 hours. I don’t remember the specifics, but I think it was something like if I held about a 9:15 pace I could do it. (However, I didn’t full trust my math so tried to just tell myself to keep doing the best I can but not focus on the time or pace).
Somehow I needed another refill at mile 21. It was super hectic at the water stop around Lake Montebello. I ended up just grabbing a jug of water off the water table and refilling it myself. My legs were feeling really tired and I didn’t feel like I had any energy left. I guess that’s what they call “hitting the wall”. For some reason, I also started to get really hungry. This has never happened to me before, and I fueled exactly the same as other long runs/races. At one point someone was giving out swedish fish so I grabbed some, but I found that I couldn’t chew them while I was running. I took my last Gu around mile 22-23. (my other fuel was taken at miles 5, 10, 15, 18 or so). My stomach started to feel crazy at mile 24 but kept telling myself how close I was. Luckily there is alot of downhill during the last 2 miles, and so much crowd support at the end.
The Finish Line
Even during the last .2 miles, I still felt like the course was crowded and I was weaving through other runners at times. When I crossed the finish line, we kept moving, but pretty slowly due to the people in front of me. We got water, medals, etc and then were told to keep moving. The line for food was ridiculous. I think a lot of people were just cutting the line because we weren’t moving at all. After 10 minute I gave up and left the finisher’s area. I missed the beer tickets also (maybe that are was after the food?). I found my friends and family and collapsed onto a blanket my sister had brought. I had Rob bring me a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and flip flops so I put those on. My dad bought me a burger and Rob bought me a beer.We hung out for a little before heading home (after several comments that I might need a shower….)
This was a tough course, and I don’t think I regret how I ran. I questioned going out too fast, but honestly I think those hills from miles 18-21 would have done me in no matter what. 26.2 miles is a really long distance and there are alot of things that can go wrong. While positive splits are not cool, at least I finished and still got a decent time for me (right in between my other 2 marathon times). I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday than running for 4 hours. And now I want that sub 4:00 even more. However, I think I am done with marathons until the spring and want to spend time recovering and getting stronger. Yesterday I signed up for this:
Rob was already signed up, and I am planning for this to be a no-pressure way to end the 2013 running season. I am planning to take this week super easy, and slowly get my mileage back up to maybe a long run of 10-11 miles 2 weeks before the race. My max weekly mileage probably won’t get higher than about 30 miles.
While part of me is thankful to cut back on the running and regroup, there is definitely a part of me that wants to jump back into training and get some PRs/meet some goals. I will be thinking about my 2014 races and goals over the next couple months and working on plans to reach those goals.
How do you usually spend the week after a big race?
Any tips for running a 1/2 marathon 6 weeks after a full?