If you read my last blog -- Confident -- you know I'm not a super confident runner .... or apparently person as several people have pointed out lately. I'm a work in progress, I suppose. I did however feel super confident in my training leading up to the marathon. The 1 mile PR, the amazing last 20 mile run and an 8 mile bridge run where I ran an 8:07 mile without trying (unheard of for me).
As I was driving the 6 hours down to Chesapeke, VA, I had my music cranked and was getting more amped as I drove. I figured I had done everything physically possible to get ready so it really was now or never.
Barn is full! LFG!
We had a group of about 12 local runners who had made the trip down to the race. Eight of us gathered to have a pre race dinner. A couple of us received a text from a guy who was supposed to run that said to have 2 beers pre race for luck. I messaged back that I would only have one and if the race went well that I would celebrate with 2 the next day.
My pre race dinner was a salad with salmon on it ( pre Steamtown dinner was a buffalo chicken salad).
My alarm went off at 4:45 am the next morning. Ugh! But surprisingly I had managed to sleep well -- really, really well!
I choked down some hotel coffee and made a packet of oatmeal. Another runner and I made our way to the start and got there approximately an hour before the start. @Slow_Running would be so pleased with me.
I choked down a 2nd package of oatmeal that I had brought (so roughly 450 calories total).
The course was on the Dismal Swamp Trail -- not really a trail -- more a bike path. It was a double out and back - 6.55 straight out and 6.55 back, repeat.
The weather people had been predicting 20-30 mph winds with rain. We lucked out as the rain had cleared as well as most of the wind (maybe 10-15 mph?) We did however have 90% humidity and 60* temperatures.
We gathered as many of our local runners as possible for a pre race photo. A colorful bunch!
I made the decision to run with an arm band so I could play music -- great decision, carry a small handheld with Gatorade --great decision, and wear a belt that had loops to hold the Gu -- worst decision.
The race started in waves based on your predicted finish time. Fast runners first. I was in the middle group. Took 1 pre-race Gu.
The gun went off. I felt like I was running well, but was disappointed to see a 9:00 on my watch. Ugh. I know I shouldn't have let that bother me so early on, but I was expecting an 8:xx from the taper. I pushed myself to get the pace down and I knew that it could be a huge mistake with the humidity.
The miles went along well. I was bee-boping to my American Top 40 music and waving to all of our other local runners. I also was Galloway-ing -- 1 mile run, 30 second walk. Doing that helped to make me be able to break the marathon down into manageable chunks. The 4 x 6.55 was also a nice way to break up the 26.2.
There were 9 aid stations total that had pretty much just water and the weakest electrolyte mix ever! No Gu.
First 7 miles were -- 8:56, 8:53, 8:58, 9:00, 8:37, 8:31, 8:39.
I did feel like the wind was in our face for the first 6.55, but then at points on the way back I felt like sometimes it was in our face. It was weird because the course was straight. LOL Gu at mile 5.
I got to see Tom and Harlen crushing their first quarter of the race before I turned. I was after them with Bob close behind me.
On the way back I felt like I was in a groove and my pace picked up. Miles 7-13 - 8:31, 8:24, 8:39, 8:29, 8:21, 8:31.
I definitely raced this marathon. I felt comfortable but I definitely was working and was worried that I would run out of gas. Gu around 9.5-10.
The turn around point for the marathoners was a bit confusing. I managed to go through the little U-turn and to grab a cup of water at the aid station. It was filled to the brim. I spilled it all over myself and it went down my wind pipe. OMG! I was choking. I threw the cup of water and just tried to not stop running. Such a graceful runner!
My mathematical brain knew that there were only 2 parts of 4 left. My runner brain knew I wasn't close to the half way point of mile 20.
I changed my run walk strategy after the 1/2 turn around to run 1.5 miles, walk 30 seconds.
Miles 14-16 - 8:34, 8:29, 8:53. Gu at 14.5. As I was finishing up mile 16 I knew I only had a Tuesday morning left. Every Tuesday = a 10 miler before work. I was feeling confident that I had a good Tuesday run left in me.
I had passed a port-a-potty at 17 and thought I was good. At mile 18 I was no longer good. Quick detour out into the woods. Mile 17-18 -- 8:44, 9:29
At the last turn around I was still jockeying places with one female runner who I had been with from the beginning. I know she had tried to drop me a couple of times and was probably super annoyed with my run walk method. I decided it was time to get rid of her. No more walking unless it was at one of the 2 aid stations.
Last Gu around mile 19.5-20.
From mile 19-22 I was still feeling strong -- 8:39, 8:24, 8:43, 8:37.
At 22 I felt like I wanted to be done, but I also knew I was not quitting and still had gas in the tank. I just had to dig a little deeper for it. 8:37, 8:55, 8:58, 8:55
As I was almost to the finish line I was catching up to 2 runners. I came up on one gentleman who tried to drop me. Ummm, not today, sir. We managed to catch the other runner and then I surged ahead of both with a final .2 at 8:26.
My not so photogenic race finish. (There are much worse ones that I am not posting!)
Yippee! Final time of 3:48:13
One of the other runners who was so excited for me grabbed me for a hug. All I could think was let me go change and then we can hug because I'm a hot mess!
It was a flipping fabulous day to be a runner! PR of 5:28 (prior PR was from 2015 when @BANGLEtrained me). BQ of -16:44 (4:05). I hit everyone of my A,B,C,D goals!
A) BQ, B) sub 4:00, C) PR, D) 3:49.
Everyone in our group had an amazing day. 3 BQs, lots of PRs and many 1st time marathoners. One gentleman did DNF due to a knee injury at around mile 22.
I won my age group and got the 3rd OA female masters award.
Back row -- J-first marathon, C- PRd and had a helluva fun time doing it, H- BQ at 3:18, J- 1:30:55 half
front row- T-5th OA, BQ at 3:03, me, T- 1st marathon, B- knee injury
We had a fun time that night doing shots and playing Crimes Against Humanity.
What a fantastic group of people!
Love ya, SJ Runners!