If you know me at all, or have read that other blog I used to have, or have read this blog much, you know I like to draw out my race reports. I like to add the details. They are typically in “parts” and the end results are always saved for the final post. I make it a little painful for you. Oops…
I took off and waved to a few of my people. I had no idea what to really expect for myself. And, really, I didn’t have much time to think about it, as the initial 1/2 mile quickly transitioned into an immediate ascent of switchbacks. From here on, I felt like I was in a zone.
Typically, I break marathons into chunks: 5, 10, 13.1, 15, 20, and then it ranges from mile to mile or two 5k’s. It depends on how I feel. But for this one, I hadn’t even considered it. I think I was so focused on the first half, and getting up those 2000 feet of hills, that I knew I would readjust my thinking at the top. So, to 13.1, I go.
I charged up the hills and went as fast as I would allow myself. I knew I was holding back a bit, but I also knew that I wanted to conserve. I may be feeling good now, but I might need some energy around mile 9, when I still have more hills! I was so focused on my music, my breathing, and my body, that before I knew it, I was nearing the 5 mile marker. It was here that our route intersected with a backroad. And it was here that part of my support crew began cheering. Loudly! I love a good fan base at a marathon! It’s such a boring sport to watch for non-runners; even some runners! So, when I can get some friends out to watch me run past, and then gauge where and when I’ll be in view next, is really exciting!
I was feeling good; dropped my gloves, and kept ascending.
Views to my right:
I wish I could remember more from the race in those next crucial miles, but I don’t. It’s actually kind of strange for me, since I am usually one to recall the details. Especially from a race! What I do remember is a lot of climbing uphill! There would be an occasional, and brief, reprieve, with a flat road, but the remainder was up. I remember keeping my head up and my eyes on anyone in front of me that I could find. We were so spread out by this point, that to actually catch someone and pass them was rare. But I made it a game, to reel someone in, perhaps play the back and forth game, and then finally pass them. When I wasn’t running near someone, I tried to observe the scenery as much as possible. It was brown and dry, but beautiful, with the deep caverns. Like a mini-Grand Canyon.
I bypassed all the aid stations up to this point. I had my belt on, and finally around mile 10 or so, I convinced myself to actually take something. It had been such a cool morning, that even the fluids in my bottles were pretty high. I guess I don’t drink much when the weather is so race-worthy. After a few Blocks and Beans, I was still feeling pretty good, but my legs were definitely tiring after 12 miles of uphill.
I turned a switchback and suddenly hear my name being called! My friends are back! They’ve found the other intersection and they are waiting for me. I need it. I’m tired and devastated to see another hill as I round the corner. This has to be it, I tell myself. I’m so close to the halfway that I just need to make it to the top. I carelessly tell my crew that I’m good. But after a few strides I feel badly that I haven’t said more, so I swing around and yell, Thank you!
I push on ahead to the top of the hill. I pass the exchange point for the relay team. I just want to get to the top of the hill! What goes up must come down! I know this is the top.
There isn’t much time to enjoy the top as I just as quickly begin to make my way down. This is an entirely different kind of hurt. After 13.1 of uphill, my legs are confused.
Within that first mile of downhill, my lateral right knee begins to ache. Something new in this training cycle. I had been favoring and giving a lot of attention to my left side, but hadn’t had any issues with the right. I wondered if the sudden change in going downhill was causing my right IT to act up. I ignored it. It persisted. I kept ignoring.
I hadn’t really been checking my watch (the boy’s Nike+) during that first half. I thought it would be unfair to my mental state to check the pace for an uphill climb. But at the halfway point, I had checked my overall time: 2:01. Great! There would be a chance for me to break 4 hours! A menial goal I had in the back of my mind.
But after several miles of downhill, I was noticing that I was either sub-8:00 or right around an 8:00 pace, every time I looked. I didn’t want to wear myself out, but I also couldn’t help the momentum of the course.
Around 17.5 miles, I checked my watch, but noticed something strange. It still read 17.2. 17.2?! I’m way past 17.2! What?! Did the Nike+ freeze on me? I haven’t gone through the tunnels yet! In fact, I’m out in the open! How did this happen? What will I do?
I can’t believe I’m a slave to the numbers. But maybe it helped me. I was a slave no longer.
I passed 18, 19, and 20.
I was now focused on how I felt; not how the watch was projecting the way I felt.
21, 22. At 23, I had caught a girl and another was right with us. We chatted through that mile as we ran through two tunnels.
24. A final intersection where I could hear my friends shouting. They were calling my name and everyone else’s too! Apparently, they had met the race director at this intersection who gave them a race roster. They were looking up bib numbers and cheering for runners who they didn’t even know! I love my friends!
I was surprised to see the boy jump in with me and tell me he was going to run me in for the final two. Who’s pacing who now? He took my fuel belt (which had been bothering me the last few miles) and my headphones (because I couldn’t re-clip the Shuffle onto my waistband after taking the fuel belt off). The boy chatted and filled me in on the past few hours, because he knew I didn’t want to talk. I told I was ready to be done. My calves were cramping. He stayed with me until we hit the last stretch. He stayed with me when a girl passed me with 50 yards to go. And he stayed with me until just 20 yards shy of the finish. What a doll. I crossed and smiled. I was pleased.
Net time: 3:40:35
Overall place: 21/303
Womens Place: 4/151
Age Group Place: 3/25