Missed My Mark (oh the marathon)

The marathon. Forty-two point two kilometres. Twenty-six point two miles. It’s a long hike, no matter how you look at it. It’s a great accomplishment, no matter what time you complete it in. One that deserves huge congrats upon crossing the finish line.

But wait. What if you cross the finish line in a time that is slower than your goal time? What if you miss your goal? Do you still deserve huge congrats? Do you even want huge congrats?!!

Or would you prefer to sulk for a bit, get angry for a few seconds, mourn your PB that never was and then start pointing fingers (obviously this lost PB wasn’t your fault).

Then, after a few hours, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and begin to plan your next race – the one where you will indeed crush your goal.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s just say you set out to run a sub 3:30:00 and end up with a 3:38:56.

Wait a sec… Haha. Okay, yah you got me – that’s what happened to me!

victoria 2013

Here’s how it went down:

Sunday, October 13th

5:30am – My alarm sounds, my eyes spring open. I’m up and out of bed in a flash. I didn’t sleep well – I was dreaming of racing, which actually kept waking me up. No matter, I’d had great sleeps the previous few nights so I knew I’d be okay. A half hour later hubby and I are eating our oatmeal, chia seeds, honey and banana. I drink my matcha latte. He drinks his black chai tea. We go through the practiced motions.

8:00am – We’ve just come back from cheering for the half marathoners, who began their race at 7:30am. We grab out bags and head out the door. It’s our turn.


8:40am – Hubby and have just finished our warm-up and dropped our sweat bags off. It’s a gorgeous sunny day, and although The Weather Network says it’s 8°C it actually feels warmer. We don’t need our throw aways after all. We’re jogging over to the start – we’re about 500 meters away – just need to turn the corner. All of a sudden a gun goes off and people cheer.

“Ahhh, #%$&!!!”, I yell. And start sprinting to the start line.

I hear hubby say from behind me, “Wheelchair, it’s the wheelchair start.”

8:41am – Oh. Right. We resume our jog to the start line and take our places. It’s a small marathon. 1726 marathon runners. There’s no corrals. Hubby slides in beside the Kenyans. Like I said. Small race. I’m not far back.

8:45am – The gun goes off. People cheer. I start running.

9:00am – I’ve spent the last 3km running behind this guy named Jamie. He doesn’t know it, but I’m on his heels. I bet he’s pacing himself for about the same time goal I want. So far he’s (unknowingly) held me back from going out too fast. I know I shouldn’t pass him. I’m so close he must wonder who’s breathing down his neck. I wonder if he’s getting annoyed with me? I bet he can see there’s someone shadowing him out of the corner of his eye.

9:01am – “Hey Jamie, what time you going for?”, I say as I pull up next to him.

He glances over and smiles, “Hey, how are you?”

Right, I suppose it’d have been nice for me to start off with pleasantries, geez Sarah. After all I don’t know him well – met him at a Frontrunners clinic where I gave a nutrition talk, where he is a group leader. He was kind enough to give me a ride back out to the ferry afterwards. But I am too focused. I need to know his time goal. I need to know if I should back off or pass him. He tells me his goal and it is few minutes faster than I’m hoping for. He takes off.

9:20am – I’m running around Beacon Hill Park. I feel great! A huge deer is charging out of the bushes towards all us runners. He stops in front of the path. He’d have collided with me had he kept going. But he stopped. It’s all good.

10:05am – I’ve been following this group of runners. They seem to be running my pace. Their leader is talking a lot. He’s making it look easy – this marathon thing – easy. I’m feeling good, only at 16k so I’d better be! But not so good that I’d want to be, like, chatting it up or anything.

10:06am – Okay, here goes. I’m passing the group of runners. It’s a risky thing to do, you know, to pass people. You do not want to get passed back.

“Great work Sarah!”, I hear the group’s leader call to me as I slide by them.

Whaaa? Who? No idea. Did I smile at him? I think that might have been a grimace. Shoot. I hope he doesn’t think I’m a snob. And, am I really feeling as great as I think I am?

10:20am – Oh! There’s hubby! I’m on my way out to the turn around point, he’s coming back. He looks good. I think he’s on pace. Am I on pace? Yep, all good.

10:27am – Half-way! I’ve crossed the half-way point. This is good. I’m good.

10:35am – Crap. I just got passed back. By the group of runners with the leader who knows who I am. Oh man, how embarrassing.

10:55am – Hmmm. Not feeling so good anymore.

11:00am – Where’d this $#@& hill come from? Man, I have potty mouth today.

11:05am – Silly GPS. I don’t need to look at you anymore.

11:45am – Okay, anyone can run 10km. Anyone can run 10km.

11:50am – Okay, anyone can run 9km. Anyone can run 9km. Keep going.

742162-1184-0033s11:55am – Hey look, there’s an official race photographer… Shorter strides, pick the feet up, smile… And, oh yeah, fist pump!

12:02pm – Oh, this is hard!!!

12:22pm – Here goes. Sprinting as fast as I can!!! Ahhhhhhhhh… The finish line!

Yes, I ran the Victoria Marathon last Sunday. I crossed the finish line a good 9 minutes off my goal (and almost 20 minutes off my original time goal of sub 3:21).

My husband crossed sub-3:00. Got a lot of huge congrats. Rightly so, he put in a lot of training and finally broke 3 hours in the marathon. Took home a shiny new PB. People love a good PB story. We runners are always chasing PB’s and we need to see others attain them in order to keep our hope alive. Train hard, get PB.

Hubby and I were out there training the same amount of hours and minutes. I loved the company on those early morning runs. But it comes down to this – I didn’t put in as much mileage as what got me my current PB.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Average weekly mileage over 16 weeks for 3:33:24 BMO Vancouver marathon 2012 = 105km
  • Average weekly mileage over 16 weeks for 3:38:56 Victoria marathon 2013 = 90km

For hubby, this time round was his most mileage ever.

So it is. That’s how it works.

Am I disappointed? Yeah. For sure. Of course I wanted a PB as much as the next marathoner.

But I’ll tell you this — I’m happy with how I raced! I got so much right for this race.

Also — when I start to get down on myself, I stop and remind myself how far I’ve come. For my first 9 years as a runner, I could not break the 4-hour barrier in the marathon. I nearly gave up and let myself believe I could never run a sub-4.

Oh, and this — I had fun out there! I honestly enjoyed it. Even the tough stuff. It was all good, even when it didn’t feel good. I was running and I was hurting and I knew I had missed my goal. But I made a conscious decision to enjoy this day I had put so much time and energy into preparing for, no matter what. And unlike my spring race, I didn’t curse the marathon. Ha! I consider this an improvement.

One more thing — I will run the Eugene Marathon next July 27th, 2014. It is there that I will run my sub-3:30. And if all goes well, it may just be a sub-3:21.

Never give up.

4 thoughts on “Missed My Mark (oh the marathon)

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