Sunday, October 13, 2013

(Belated) Yeee Ha!

Hard to believe the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon was already a week ago. And harder to believe that it went so well. And hardest to believe that given how well it all went, it took me this long to write a follow-up post. 

I can see from the blank expression on your face that this is not shocking to you. More shocking would be if I'd actually had my sh*t together and posted earlier!

Hanging in the car before the race. It was NOT balmy! Which turned out to be good....

To cut to the chase, here are the stats:

Time: 3:40:11 
Pace: 8:25
Place: 207 of 952

Place in Division: 27 of 165
Place in Gender: 67 of 521
Halfway Split (marathon): 1:49:30

Most importantly, this data means

I qualified for Boston by almost 5 minutes and I had a personal record by almost 4 minutes. 

It was, by all accounts, an amazing race for me. Since Boston is full for 2014 already, I have to set my sights on April 2015. I HOPE that this fairly decent margin beyond BQ for my age group (3:45:00) is good enough. For 2014 I've heard that runners needed to be about 2:00 faster than the official qualifying time, so I feel pretty good about my time. But, ya never know.

I am exceptionally grateful to the best BRF/coach in the Universe for doing all my thinking for me on race day. She not only kept track of pace for me and talked me through the ugly miles (about 16 - 19), she did it all on FOUR HOURS OF SLEEP! (She had AL East play off tickets. What are ya gonna do? NOT go see the Red Sox?!) At various miles on the course she described what Boston and other favorite races of hers looked like at that point in the race ("we are going through Wellesley now, girls will be screaming and offering you a kiss"). She reminded me to fuel and hydrate. She reminded me (not very successfully) to SHUT UP so that I would have some energy for the tough miles of the race. She also let me borrow her Boston Marathon visor because I left my hat at home. (DUH!) This became a very big bummer for her along the course because of the weather....

....which was was cool and damp and at times downright pouring. (I had agreed previously to hold my hand over Lauren's brow if it started raining during the race but she was gracious enough to reject my offer to do so when it actually started raining). We were lucky that only one brief stretch of the course went into the fierce wind. We were also lucky that the course looped through a few neighborhoods a few times because many families parked out in front of their homes and it was  nice to recognized some faces along the way. One guy was blaring "We Are the Champions" out his front door. Volunteer groups at the different aid stations were old pals the second time around. Being an attention whore, I made a sign with names on it for Lauren and I so that people could cheer for us by name. Only a couple of people did, but it was such a boost when it happened. In fact, we ran by one woman about 4 times. The first time she saw us she shouted my name and I made a big deal out of it. So, the next 3 times I saw her she went nutty for me and it was hilarious and awesome and, for me, super helpful. I saw her at an unexpected spot at mile 24 or so and it was like seeing a long lost friend.

The GPS on my phone once again was completely bonkers. It was far too generous with time and distance so I had to learn to ignore the voice telling me I was doing 8:06 miles. (I can also ignore the fact that it said I ran over 27 miles, all told). I am not sure what the pacing was for individual miles but I know we were very consistent  Mile 1 was about 7:58 and mile 26 was 8:01 or 8:02. Considering I wanted to punch the world in the throat by mile 26, I was very happy with that pace!

Physically, my body did weird things. My back got messed up on the drive down to the course. It was tight and 'stabby' as we walked around, stretched and 'warmed up'. (Seriously, I am not gonna warm up for a marathon. I think we can count miles 1 - 20 as a warm up, doncha think?) And almost from the first step of the race my right foot was numb. I get this same feeling in my feet when I do the Elliptical machine for more than 30 minutes or so, but this was very strange for a run. Eventually the tingling/numb feeling made it's way through my entire leg. I ran the whole race waiting for disaster to strike based on this physical symptom, but nothing transpired. 

Aside from those annoyances, the first half marathon was amazing. I would relive those 13 miles a hundred times if I could. I marveled out loud about how friendly and kind runners are. While no one will replace my true BRF, I made a few BRFFFMs (Best Running Friends For Five Minutes) I just made it up, but you can totally use it. I bet if you are a runner you know exactly what I'm talking about. All races are like that, but particularly marathons. Many people asked us about the signs on our backs (BQ or Bust 3:45:00) and wondered if we were a pace group. People overheard our chatter and joined in on all manner of subjects: weather, Boston, ultra runners (who are clearly far crazier than we are), signs held by spectators (my favorites included "The Pats are on at 1:00. Hurry!" and "You are doing this shit" and "GO, STRANGER!")

Of course, if the whole marathon was that enjoyable, it would mean I wasn't pushing myself hard enough. And, zoinks, miles 16 - 19 or 20 were just HARD. I don't have any specific things to report about why, just that my right leg continued to be a jerk and, well, I had been running pretty hard for 16 - 19 miles and there was pretty much no end in sight. 

Scott and the boys were by the side of the road at about 19 which was surprise (they had planned on mile 22) and a bit of a boost. I was afraid this meant they wouldn't be at 22 with the banana they had promised but, as I should have known, they were right where they said they would be. I gnawed the banana for about a mile (and got several kind of hilarious photos from the professional photogs on the course). Then, it was basically time to dig and get it done.

One of the few frustrations I had with other folks on the course was in those last couple of miles. At that point we were catching up with and passing 1/2 marathon walkers. I think it's fantastic that people choose to register and walk a 1/2 marathon. Great, healthy activity. BUT... at this point in the course there was a lovely, wide sidewalk available to them. These were not power walkers on a mission. These were pals who were walking together. And they were 2 or 3 abreast and they were IN.THE.WAY. I managed not to grumble at any one out loud but I came close. Lauren and I were in great shape compared to many runners at this point so we were having a hard (but enjoyable) enough time dodging runners who we needed to pass. Having to add walkers to our list was very frustrating. 

The final mile was endless, of course. We could see the tent at the finish faaarrrrrrr before we were close because the road curved along the sea shore. This was a huge tease and fairly cruel. But, we continued to dig deep and pass people. This included one very nice young woman who told us sincerely and kindly as she passed us at about mile 24 "You two have  been inspiring me for this whole race!" We were happy to hear that at the time but I did give myself a mental high five when we blew by her sometime in mile 26. Lauren and I both remembered later how nice it was to get by her again... not because we are nasty or competitive but because... well, because she was about 25 years old and these Old Broads like to pass the Young Chickadees!

As we got to the finish line I saw that we were well under 3:45 (we started in the 2nd wave and the clock said 3:42:something). It was such a relief to realize that those months and months of training and those insane mornings of hills and double digit miles before school all led to this outcome. Since late March I have run 766 miles all in pursuit of this goal. I felt fairly confident going into the race that I had completed the right training plan (thank you Train Like a Mother!) and had hit the right paces for those runs (thank you McMillan Pace Calculator!) but there are so many factors that make all the preparation in the world worthless. With the help of Lauren, with the support of my husband, and with a mighty band of supportive friends and family members (IRL and virtual) it happened.

So. Now what? I'm not sure. I did a 4 mile 'systems check' run yesterday morning and a 6 mile 'get me some space from this toddler' run this morning. I think, aside from my hideous toenails, my body has forgiven me the abuse I dealt out last weekend. I am not in a hurry to hit another marathon soon.... althhhoooouuugghhhhh, Lauren says Vermont City is pretty amazing and I COULD make that a 40th birthday goal. 

But, it's still too soon to say. I need to do a better job of strength training and working on my core. (If I had a nickel for every time I've made myself THOSE promises...) I can foresee a half marathon or two more for giggles than anything during the winter months. And then.... we'll see. I'm trying not to rush out of this BQ Euphoria too quickly. Takes more than 6 months to get there, I think I owe myself a couple of weeks of enjoying the victory before I lament that I have no 'next'! 

SO glad to be done. SO glad to have met the goal. SO love my BRF!

The bling, my signs, Polly, the bib and the world's ugliest race shirt. (The flash actually makes the color look brighter and less ugly than it is in real life!) 
My most lasting physical ailment. This toe is actually a lot grosser than it looks. The white at the bottom is pus forming. It has a match on the other foot. Not sure how long it will take them to fall off, but I am hoping it's soon! 

My crew. Troopers, all.

So ouchy. So happy. 

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