It was at kilometre 26 that I noticed I was running beside Walter.
“Walter!” I said.
“Sarah!” he said.
“I hate marathons and I’m never running one again” I yelled.
Then I did a little freakout – a jump hop and punch the air kind of move.
Unfortunately, it really didn’t help anything. Possibly made things worse. I was hurting pretty bad.
I decided at this point I was going to walk through the next water station, which was just over the hill. Because what did it matter now? Now that I’d decided my marathon running days were over.
I approached the water station, slowed to a walk, grabbed a white paper cup, squished the top to make a funnel and poured the cool water down my throat. When I attempted to start running again, my right foot hurt like crazy (blister) and I contemplated pulling out. At kilometre 27. Oh dear. I imagined a big fat DNF beside my name on the results list.
I remembered last year at this point in the race. I was still feeling strong. Oh so good. And because this was my hometown marathon, the Vancouver BMO Marathon, I knew this stretch of road well. I’d practiced. But none of that mattered now.
Hmm, pulling out due to a blister? No. I decided to finish this race after all and got myself going again. Well, to be honest, the only reason for my decision to finish was that I didn’t want my husband waiting and worrying for me at the finish line.
It was actually waaay back at the 10km mark that I knew I was in serious trouble. I had just crested a hill so steep you had to crane your neck to see the summit and it went on for at least a kilometre (there may be some slight exaggeration going on here, but then again, maybe not). As I crested, I expected then to get back into my pre-Mt Everest groove… But it didn’t happen. I never really recovered. Instead I started freaking out. It didn’t help when my goal time pace bunny flew by me. Flew. As in, no chance of keeping up with them.
Now, there’s this little rule you’re supposed to follow when running a marathon. It’s called “Don’t go out too fast”.
See, the reason that hill killed me so bad was because I went out too fast. At kilometre 8, my GPS lapped to signal another kilometre gone by and I glanced down to see a 4:22/km (I was supposed to be maintaining a 4:59/km pace in order to finish under 3:30:00). Whoops! Haha. Oh well, time in the bank, right?! Argh, will I never learn?!! Seriously!
So there I was at kilometre 10, and then kilometre 27 – paying dearly for my mistake of going out too fast. And it got worse. I got passed. Yes, I got passed by Cathy (you rock girl), then Laura (kudos to you girl), and then Kelsey (awesome work girl). I got passed by many others too. Let’s be honest, that in itself hurt. I like to do the passing, thank you very much.
I dragged myself through the longest and most painful last 15km ever. My pace slowed, and then even when I thought it was not possible to slow any more, it slowed again.
When I finally saw the finish line, it was bittersweet. I bolted to it as fast as I could (which was not fast).
I crossed. 3:45:59. And wanted to cry.
Wait, I think I did cry. Just a little.
That was nearly 2 months ago. Maybe I wanted this marathon to magically disappear off my list of completed races. Pretend it never happened. Maybe I wanted to forget it as soon as I could. Just look forward.
But that would mean I learned nothing. So when I stopped and thought about lessons learned, I realized the way I’d trained for this marathon and the way I’d trained for last springs marathon were vastly different.
First, last year I learned that I thrive on high-mileage. This year I took my mileage down. Cut it nearly in half. And expected better results. (I know, weird right?)
Second, last year I wanted it. I mean really, really wanted it. I could taste it, pictured it, visualized it. I talked about it non-stop. It wasn’t just a dream, it was a soon-to-be-matter-of-a-fact reality.
My mantra last year was, “It comes down to how much you want it”. And oddly, I didn’t take up that mantra once this year in training.
Did I not really want it?
About a month before race day I was skyping with my coach. I said to her, “I didn’t do that run because I was really tired. I didn’t want to run on fatigued legs.”
She said, “Marathon training requires some running done on fatigued legs. It’s really an essential component.”
She was right of course. And when I’d trained for my Boston qualifier last year, I’d run on fatigued legs a lot.
Did I get lazy this year? What went wrong? Why did I come up with a million excuses for moving runs around, skipping a few here and there and settling for drastically reduced mileage?
I think at the end of the day, when it came down to how much I wanted it, that ‘how much’ wasn’t enough. I didn’t want it bad enough.
I don’t know why. Maybe the timing wasn’t right.
But I can tell you I want it now. A lot. Huge. Big time.
I’m going after a sub-3:21 marathon in Victoria this October. It’s a wild and audacious goal. Which is great, because those are the kind that make me tick.
Wait, actually, I’ve got it.
You know what my real problem was when it came to this past May’s BMO Vancouver marathon?
I didn’t get a new outfit for the race! I re-used the same one I’d worn for CIM last December.
Phewf, well glad I figured that one out. Off to Lululemon to purchase the perfect marathon outfit (pink of course). Hmm, and then I’ll have to find a pair of matching Nike Frees…
Oh and by the way… If you hadn’t noticed already, I didn’t really mean what I said to Walter. I was just hurting big time. I actually love marathons and I will run another one again. In fact, make that many – starting with the Victoria Marathon this October 13th.
For the love of running, for the love of marathoning… I will run many, many more marathons.
108 days to race day.