So pre-race goes pretty much according to plan - had a ridiculous amount of pasta and moderate amount of wine the night before, bed early, and of course didn't sleep well. (I don't usually get nerves before footraces but I really had no idea how this was going to go down.)
Get to the start line plenty early and all of the wetting-down and adjusting of the HR strap isn't working to get a good reading. Considering my race plan is by HR, I'm unhappy but also unsurprised - the damn thing has been giving me trouble for about two weeks, and a new battery didn't help. So I think for a bit and decide to hang with the 4:15 pacer and see how it feels. I'm definitely nervous about running a freakin' MARATHON without heart rate data. Also, this means that my lovely coach will have no HR data for any of my big footraces this year. Lovely.
|Me with our awesome pacer. Sorry for the blurriness!|
Gun goes off and legs feel good. A group of hysterical guys from Jersey join in and we're giving each other shit. (I earn their respect when they give me hell about something - I don't remember what - and I reply with "Just remember what my elbows and fists are level to. Just sayin'.") I keep an eye on pace to make sure our pacer isn't doing anything funky, but she is ON IT. Watching both Garmin distance and the mile markers to make sure we make up any extra "distance" from not running tangents perfectly.
|The 4:15 crew. And yes, he DID look like Vin Diesel. No, I did not mind.|
The first ten miles feel great, but after that it starts to feel not hard, but definitely like work. My boys notice and one of them goes, "How you doin', Frodo?"
"We ALL hurtin'."
It is great to come upon the 13 mile mark but it's also a feeling of "Oh shit, I'm only HALFWAY there." I can't wait to get to mile 16 and start the 10-mile countdown.
|I look like I'm lost but am looking for Dr. Z. to grab more gels.|
Around mile 17 or 18 we get off the lovely bike patch along the river and onto the road in a not very nice or picturesque part of town and this is where it gets REALLY hard. Even the pacer slows down, although that was part of her plans - fast on the bike path, slower on the road. Also, we have to run in single file which is making it even more awkward. I am SO tempted to hold up and stop and this is where having a race crew was so helpful - I knew the boys would NOT let me fall behind and I desperately wanted to stay with them, and that kept me going through those miles.
|The pain is real.|
Finally we're back on the bike path, although not as scenic a section, and I am hurting SO BAD. I'm not tired (15 hour IM anyone?) and not breathing hard, but my legs are just SHOT and feel like cinder blocks.
At mile 23, I finally have to walk and let the pacer go. Unfortunately I learn that while walking is GREAT recovery for the cardiovascular system, it doesn't do a damn bit of good for shot muscles. I hobble forward a bit and then try to jog. My goal for the next 5K is just to keep it under 11 minute miles. (One of them is CLOSE - 10:59.) Dr. Z, who I've seen off and on on his bike is now pedaling right next to me cheering me on and keeping me going.
|I love everything about this photo - that expression with the sad wave, the ambulance, the runner off on the side collecting herself. The last 10K of a marathon is BRUTAL.|
Finally I make the last turn and somehow find a way to get back at 9:00 pace for the last bit, which seems to stretch on FOREVER - I hit 26.2 "Garmin Miles" in 4:13, keep running and running, and FINALLY a quarter mile later pass through the arch and of course go down. (Sorry no pictures like I usually have but the finish line was so crowded Dr. Z couldn't get a photo of it.) I'm immediately hauled into a wheelchair and for those keeping count yes that's two A races I had this year, both ending in a wheelchair. :-D
I got out of the wheelchair pretty fast, but this was definitely the most pain I've been in post-race. My legs just felt like they were on fire and I may or may not have shed a tear or two from it. The limiter of the day was definitely muscular endurance, which is good to know and something to work on next season.
And with that, a breakthrough season of PR after PR is over. Happy to sit on my ass for a few weeks and devise crazy new goals for 2016!
Time: 4:16:57 (9:49 official pace, 9:40 Garmin pace with extra distance) - Ten minute PR!
41/78 AG, 752/2111 (Yes I place worse the longer the race is, LOL!)