I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving with lots of good food! What better way to spend the next morning than reading a super long race recap? I’m sure that was the first thing you felt like doing when you woke up this morning. If you’re up for it, grab some coffee and get comfortable because this is gonna be a long one!
Lately I have been feeling like I’ve had a pretty good gauge on how I will do in an upcoming race. For example, I pretty much predicted the time I would run in the Baltimore half although I get too superstitious to ever share those feelings before a race. So going into the marathon last weekend I tried to realistically think about my expectations. I had never really shared a “goal time” and that was because I didn’t really have one. I wanted to run as fast as I could on that day. I set my “goal marathon pace” during training at 8 min/miles because those training paces were challenging but doable. A 3:30 would have been a stretch but I felt like it was possible if all the stars aligned on race day.
As race day approached, my 8 min/mile pace was feeling SO comfortable that I thought maybe I could run close to that on race day. I didn’t want to go out too fast and blow the race, so I was planning to listen to my body. In the back of my mind I was thinking that most likely I would run between a 3:40 and 3:50. I guess you could say that was my goal going into the race.
My mindset in the days leading up to the race was really all over the place. I knew I had put in some really good training and was prepared, but I was also worried about my piriformis which had never quite been 100% since it started bothering me about a month ago. I knew I could finish the race, but I was also fairly certain that it would start bothering me at some point- it was just a matter of when it would start and how bad it would feel.
On Saturday (the day before the race) we took the train to Philadelphia around 12pm. This meant we had plenty of time that morning to relax and get organized. I was still sort of feeling like I was fighting a cold, although luckily I felt completely fine on race day and haven’t had any symptoms since. We stayed at the Sheraton which was a 1/2 mile from the starting line. I think everyone else had the same idea because there was a really long line to check in! We were told our room wasn’t quite ready, so we grabbed a quick lunch across the street while we waited. Once we got settled in the room we headed to the expo.
Ok if there is any lesson I learned front this whole race experience, its to not wait until 4pm the day before a big race to go to the expo! It was so crowded so we pretty much just went in and out. From this point on there wasn’t too much else significant leading up to the race…we ate, we rested, we slept, etc. So let’s just jump right ahead to the actual race.
The race started at 7 am, so we walked over from our hotel at 6:30. Once at the start, I had 15 minutes to spare and wanted to empty my bladder once last time. The lines were so long and not moving! I really didn’t want to start late and get boxed in, so at 6:55 I gave up and headed to my corral. I figured I could make a super quick stop along the way if I had to.
It was just under 40 degrees as the race started, but I didn’t do any sort of warm up. It probably would have been smarter to jog instead of waiting in line for the porta-potty. I realized as I started running that some of my toes were a little numb. I must have really poor circulation or something because this happens to me a lot when I get cold. As I ran the first mile they started to warm up, as did the rest of my body.
The first mile felt as expected. I began to loosen up and waited to get in the groove. I looked for a porta-potty, but the ones we passed had long lines. Yup lines for them on the race course. This was the case for all of them up until just about the half-way mark from what I remember. I started to tell myself that I didn’t actually have to go to the bathroom around mile 10 and I guess it worked because I made it through the whole race without stopping.
As I noted, I felt like my body would not cooperate during this race. Once I warmed up I felt like my stride was still “off”. It wasn’t too bad in the beginning but I think the hills around miles 8 and 10 suddenly activated my piriformis and from that point on it bothered me. The front of my left hip felt tight (or locked up) and the back of my right hip was tight- piriformis which eventually led to all those small muscles getting aggravated. All of this got gradually worse as the miles ticked away. It was a mind over body kind of race.
I was excited for the point when the half and full marathons would break apart. I wanted to be able to focus on running my own race without as many distractions. It got quieter after mile 13 when we split, and I started to get in a better place mentally. By that point I knew that I was on track for about a 3:45-3:50, it was just a matter of how I finished the second half of the race.
It seemed to me like the second half of the race went by faster than usual. There are a couple out and backs and turnarounds and I saw Rob twice (although he didn’t see me or hear me yell his name) and Michele once. The last few miles felt longer and my hips were really angry by that point. As hard as I tried, my pace could just not go below 8:30ish. I managed to run around 8:10 for the last mile but it was really a struggle.
I finally crossed the finish line in 3:46:33. I knew for most of the race that this would be a PR for me, but it didn’t really hit me until I was finished. After I stopped running I suddenly had an urge to cry and I don’t really know where it came from or why. Maybe I was just so happy I was done running…but I know there were a lot of mixed emotions. Part of me knew I could have done better had my body felt better, but I was also so happy with how I did.
Post-race was kind of hectic- They gave out food bags but nothing seemed appealing so I didn’t eat right away. Michele had texted me to tell me where she was, but I couldn’t find her and my fingers would not work to type on my phone. I eventually found her, we hung out for a bit and then parted ways. Rob and I met up back in the hotel room because he didn’t have his phone on him. I was SO cold by that point and tried to eat a protein bar but dropped the last piece on the floor of the hotel room and almost cried again. It was a very emotional day for me I guess.
The rest of the day was a struggle. I sort of feel like Sunday evening and all of Monday were a blur. Maybe it was a post marathon hangover? Can that be a thing?
So that’s my story, for now. I will probably write another post at some point about how I felt like my training went and more of my feelings about the race, including what I think helped me to run such a faster time than 7 months ago. Thanks for sticking around for all of that!
How was your Thanksgiving?
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