The real story? Pretty simple. I went out too fast, I freaked about the slow Lakefront area late in the race, and I used all my energy up on the first 13. The only thing I can blame is the runner. Moi.
Sunday morning David dropped me at the start area. I started at the very back of a crowded corral one, since two was so jammed I could not even squish in. I did not expect to see so many people up front, but of course most were running the half. This kept the course pretty crowded for at least ten miles. I started with a group of Varsity runners, and I stupidly stayed with them at the beginning. They are all faster than I am, and all but one were running the half. I had no Garmin reception in the crowd, and the fast start threw my pacing.
Mile 1: 6:36. What?! I doubted my Garmin was accurate, since it had been so off at the start, but this still scared me.
Mile 2: 7:00. I knew I should slow down and I dropped behind the Varsity group. It was loud and crowded. I got stuck in a "pack" I couldn't escape from as we headed down St. Charles Ave. I wanted to drop back a little but there were many people behind me.
Miles 3,4,5: 6:57, 6:55, 6:56. Weaving. Maneuvering. Cursing myself every time the mile beeped. I was struggling with my pacing. We turned at mile 4 and I saw David, who took my best race picture ever. I gave him thumbs-down: I already knew I'd botched this race.
Mile 6, 7, 8: 6:57, 6:59, 6:55. Back up St. Charles. Sun was coming out - I was already warming up. Pack thinned a little but I still seemed trapped in a large group. To get out of it I could either speed up or slow down. I should have slowed down!
Mile 9: 7:01, mile 10: 6:53: Through the French Quarter. Feeling fatigued at this point. "Slow down!" I screamed at myself. But I kept thinking, "If I slow down, I'll never make it up later. The Lakefront will be so tough". This was in the back of my mind the whole race. I simply can't trust myself to negative split. I'm always afraid I'll crash no matter what pace I run the first part at, so I start too fast to build a cushion. FYI a cushion has only worked for me once: at the Louisiana Marathon I started fast and hit the wall and still made my time goal. Other than that - never!
Mile 11: 6:58. Onto Esplanade. A little shade. I hoped the halfers would split onto the other half of the divided road here: nope. One of the runners was one of those loud-breathers: grunting puffing, moaning, gagging, spitting, snorting. humphing. I prayed he was a half marathoner: I could NOT shake him from right behind my shoulder and he was driving me berserk.
|The guy scratching his head is the loud-breather. If you recognize him, please tell him to breathe more quietly.|
Mile 13: 7:05: Finally the half marathoners split off and there was suddenly lots of room. The loud-breather did not. He stuck with me. I hit the half in 130:47. This shook me. My half marathon PR from December is 1:30:26. At this point I knew I was toast. Suddenly I wanted those last 13 miles back. Why was I running under 7's?! I should have been well over that. I was filled with regret and assessed my condition. I was hot, fatigued, and feeling a little low on fuel. My face was crusted with salt. My kidneys felt bruised. I realized I needed to hit the Gatorade and water big time or risk dehydration. I resigned myself to suffer for the second half and miss my goal.
Miles 14, 15, and 16: 7:08 7:07, 7:11. Straight up Marconi Drive, into the wind, full sun. I was hot and tired and I knew all I could look forward to was a long loop on the hot, windy lake. The last half of the course is a "T" up Marconi Drive with a loop on Lakeshore Drive. I was already starting to get into the panic mode that hits in the last miles before you hit the wall. I overtook a woman right before the lake. She was working hard. I didn't even care that I passed her.
My shoe came untied at mile 16 and I had to stop and retie. I was so frustrated that I didn't think to retie the other shoe, too; I felt it get progressively looser all the way until the finish.
Mile 17: 7:09. I turned onto the lake. Headwind. I grabbed some gels at the Gu stop. I started counting ladies at the turn around. I was tenth.
Miles 18, 19, 20: 7:05 7:03 7:09. Nice tailwind - but I knew this meant I'd turn back into the headwind for the last part of the lake loop. I knew this would be extremely hard for me. The sun was strong here, and finally, oh finally, I passed the loud-breather. Now THAT made me happy! I actually passed a good number of men on the lake: maybe ten?
Miles 21 and 22: 7:18 7:27*. Turn around. Back into the headwind. Struggling. I felt my form deteriorating and regretted skipping the gym for a month and a half. My lack of core strength was painfully apparent. I can hardly describe these miles: this wasn't hitting the wall, this was just total exhaustion. I had nothing left. I was ready to quit, but a little part of me knew I was tenth, and I really wanted to be top ten in a hometown race. I forced my legs to move. A friend running her first marathon saw me around this point (she rocked a 3:31!) and told me later that my exhausted appearance actually encouraged her: it reminded her that a marathon is supposed to be hard!
Miles 23, 24, 25: 7:19, 7:26*, 7:19. My mile splits were depressing me. I couldn't even do the math at this point, but I knew I wouldn't make 3:05. I wanted to give up, but a blue sports bra in front of me seemed to be getting closer. I caught her right at the mile 25 marker. She said something super encouraging, like, "Go for it, girl" and I immediately knew she wasn't actually trying. Turns out she is a professional triathlete for Zoot an this was just a long run for her. Figures!
|This picture is funny because you can see David behind me trying to get a picture, too!|
Unfortunately, I have to leave that as what-ifs. But I think it's time to try a negative split race. I don't ever want to end a race feeling that disappointed or that tired!
*Looking back, if I had just cut these miles down to 7's, I would have made my goal. Inspiration to hang on at the end of tough races in the future!
So where am I now? I have Publix marathon in about a week, a race I plan on using as a hilly long run for Boston, and then I have Boston. I have no idea how to run Boston. Any thoughts?