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I wrote an excessive amount of detail about this race (links at the end of this post), but here is a short-ish overview! When I chose CIM, I selected it with the express purpose of trying for a 2:45:00 or faster marathon. God placed the dream of achieving an Olympic Trials Qualifying time on my heart, and after an almost painful amount of marathon research I decided that CIM would be my best chance after the qualifying window for the 2020 Trials opened this fall. As race day grew closer, I felt like I was ready for a PR, but not for a 2:45. 2:46-2:47 felt more realistic, and I lamented on this quite a bit during my taper. I ended up deciding to target 2:46:55, 6:22 pace. As marathons always do, once the race began, it took on a personality of it's own. Miles 1-10 were at an average of 6:22 pace - right where I wanted to be. Then something clicked in my head, and for the first time I felt confident that I could run a 2:45:00 after all. I typically hit a stride like this in the marathon, where I feel like I can conquer the world. I start thinking with endorphins, and thoughts like "6:15 is way too fast for that many miles" are replaced with "6:15 seems doable for the rest of the race". Around mile 10, I could hear my husband's advice in my head: "You should try for the 2:45; if you lose it at the end, you lose it at the end...but you'll never get it without trying." I could hear my coach saying, "6:22 is a good starting pace, but don't be afraid to drop the pace as the race progresses." I prayed, "God, please make us strong and brave" ("us" being my friends Jamie, Kris, and I -- full story about the miles I spent with each of them during this race to come). I suddenly believed that I could run the remaining 16 miles of the race at 6:15 pace, which I knew would get me in at just under 2:45. From miles 10-22.5ish I did just that. Each mile that passed I was hitting right around 6:15 pace, with some variation for elevation, and each time I passed a mile marker I just knew I could run the remaining distance at 6:15 pace. A similar thing happened to me at BMO Mesa-Phoenix, when I just knew I had the rest of the race in me at 6:30 pace or better (on the other hand, at Dallas I knew I was going to come up a few miles short). Mile 18 - yep, I've got 8 more miles of 6:15s in me. Mile 19 - yes, I can do 7 more miles of this. Doubt crept in here and there, and I would question if I had enough left, but I just kept running the mile I was in and praying to be brave. When I hit mile 20 in 2:06:10, I believed I could run the final 10K in 38:50, or 6:15 pace. For the first time in this entire training cycle, I fully believed I was ready for a 2:45. I thought of all of the fast finish runs I'd done; I was ready to close with a solid 10K. Then around mile 22.5, my neck started spasming. My legs were still intact, so initially I didn't worry, but tried to tilt it forward and to the sides for some relief. It quickly worsened, and I also became dizzy. I knew it was the benign paroxsymal positional vertigo (BPPV) I'd experienced during my taper, and I knew it was trying to steal my 2:45! I wasn't going to let it take my dream without a fight, but I quickly felt like I was losing the battle. I felt like a puppet, my head pulled back on a string. I couldn't keep my head forward and I couldn't see the road. My peripheral vision was off and I almost felt like I was running into the unknown. I tried to focus on a girl's head in front of me, and kept telling myself "just follow her in, just get in". I didn't see my final 3 mile splits because I couldn't look at my watch, but they weren't nearly good enough for the 2:45 (6:40, 6:46, 7:01 -- I did see mile 23 which was 6:26 for the start of my slow-down). I wasn't sure I was going to make it in at all, so my disappointment with slowing down was replaced with thankfulness to finish. Something is going to give at the end of a marathon, and this was just it for me in this one. I crossed the finish line in 2:47:14, a PR by over 2 minutes on a course that was more difficult than where I ran my 2:49 (you can't earn an OTQ at Phoenix due to the amount of net downhill). I was overcome by so many sensations at once: excruciating pain as I fell to the ground in the finish chute, joy for the PR and to have made it to the finish, and disappointment that after finally feeling like I could run a 2:45 for about 12.5 miles, I was unable to even come close. I finished 65th female in the USATF National Marathon Championships, after not being seeded in the top 100 going in. Could I have run faster had I stayed at 6:20-6:22 pace instead of dropping to 6:15? Most likely; pretty much anytime you slow down at the end of a marathon you're well-trained for it's because you didn't pace within your capacity earlier on, and it's always better to negative split. I may have gotten in at 2:46:30ish, but I still wouldn't have gotten the standard. As much as I hate not having a strong finish, I am glad I took the risk. A marathon PR is always a risk, and this Big Time Goal was a Big Gamble for me. One thing that's changed in addition to my bright shiny new PR is that, for the first time, I feel confident I can run a 2:45. It's going to take everything going right (no BPPV!), but now I know I have it in me. Phoenix was a turning point because I knew I had to try (who is going to run a 2:49 and not try?); CIM was the point that I knew I could do it (who is going to be content with a 2:47 when that 2:45 is right there?!). Just like after my 2:49 at Phoenix, even if I never run a faster marathon, I am really proud that I ran a 2:47. I am thankful God gave me the strength to run it and put people in my life to help me get there. It wasn't that long ago that 6:22.7 pace was my 10K pace, and as Jon told me, I ran 19:49 5Ks for 26.2 miles straight! I have over 2 years to find 134 more seconds. Trying is always going to be intimidating, because it's freakin' 6:17 pace for 26.2 miles! But as at CIM, God will make me brave enough to try. Official results aren't yet posted, presumably since it was the national marathon championships, but my unofficial results are here. This link also has a few race videos and links to several super ridiculous-looking race photos (we will just say that the crazy posture I ran the final few miles in is illustrated well, and I now can't look at them without laughing!). More from CIM: USATF National Championships Panel & Expo Pre-Race Calm & Camaraderie Miles 1-10: Anyone can run a good first 10K Miles 10-22.5: Finding confidence for the first time Miles 22.5-26.2: The beginning of the end Post-Race Tears & Post-Race Planning Marathon Day Fueling
This weekend’s good, bad, and ugly: Good, dare I say great, was Saturday morning. My twins (10), daughter (4), and I ran the By the Bay 3K in Pacific Grove. This is held the day before the Half Marathon formerly known as the Big Sur Half. In typical Wirz fashion, we were running almost late, so my wife dropped the runners off at the tent to get our bibs at 7:40am, while the non-runners (her and Son #3) found a parking spot. The gun was at 8:00am. Bibs pinned, and we made it to the starting line between the national anthem and the start. The twins found a spot at the start, and Lily and I found a spot about half a dozen rows back (Deena Kastor and family spotting #1). Horn sounds, and we’re off like a bunch of spastic little kids. I let the twins run their own race (and prayed that there would not be a fight…). Lily did great! She ran a lot, walked enough to catch her breath and get a little rest. We got to the last corner, and I pointed to the finish line about 200 yards away, and told her that once she crossed the finish line, she would get her medal and pancakes. She took off like a shot. She heard the announcer say “Put your hands in the air when you cross the line,” and she ran the last 25 yards with her hands in the air, and wouldn’t you know it, she had those 25 yards and all those cheering spectators to herself. It was wonderful. The twins came in 11th and 13th out of 283. Lily came in 132nd of 283, and I was 133rd. She beat me by a whole second! After well-earned pancakes, and running into Deena again, and not acting like a stupid fanboy, we headed off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We usually go a couple times a year, and I think this may be the last time we go during a big event weekend. For the first time, I felt claustrophobic. I know I’m spoiled; we’re members and go multiple times a year. Free passes for Loopsters that come to the area. The good, bad, and ugly rolled into one: Sunday long run. This was supposed to be my 20 miler that would lead to a 3 week taper before CIM. After a later than planned start, I got rolling. The route was a 2.25 mile leg that led to a loop that I would run twice, hit the straight again, giving 20.1 miles. At the end of loop 1, I felt both calves and my right hip cramp up. I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn’t want to hurt myself, but this was the last really big run. The last week’s long run (14 miles) was ok except for the last 2 miles had a lot of starting and stopping from tight calves. I turned around, and with the exception of one more stop at the gate one mile out from my house, I made it home without stopping. After getting home, cooling down, and feeling a little upset, this is what I learned. 1. I probably could have sucked it up, stretched every ½ mile for 8 miles, completed the run, and been miserable or hurt myself. I chose to not hurt myself, and turned in a good run. The bad part about this is the self doubt that it causes. Will I be able to fight on race day? Should I have embraced the pain and not turned into the barn? 2. 12.3 miles in 1:52:27=9:11 pace. My goals for CIM have been to PR (beat 4:27 from 2005), break 4:00, and if I have a spectacular day, break 3:50. If I run more conservatively, like: 9:30 miles, I can still PR and go longer. 3. I am packing too much weight. 175# on a 5’6” frame is just flat too much. My appetite has gone up the last couple of months, and instead of dropping 10-15# during training, I have gained 5#. (?!&#!*&) 4. I have not been able to stick to a training plan consistently, specifically the consistent building on the long run, and that in itself is another post. So, after having a small freakout about not being able to finish, or blowing up in 3 weeks, I have a plan. I will get my midweek runs in, and even though it will sacrifice a taper Sunday, I plan on getting a 20 miler in this Saturday, 15 days out from the race. I should still get some physiological good out of it, right? The following weekend will see an 8 mile max long run from me. I realize that breaking 4:00 may become difficult. Cheers, D