The hour arrived (6am, Sunday morning, on July 27th, 2014), it flew by (42.2km / 26.2mi), and then it was over.
Okay, so it didn’t really ‘fly by’. But for so many weeks upon weeks of focusing and prepping for this one single event – The Eugene Marathon – it did kinda feel like it was all over rather quickly. Of course, that is the perspective I held once I’d crossed the finish line! Oh that finish line…
With 30 weeks of dedicated training in my legs, 10 days of “fat-loading” and 3 days of “carb-loading”, I woke Sunday morning at 3am. Wide awake, no problem there – enormous amounts of adrenaline already pumping through my body. This being my 15th marathon and with so many half marathons and 10k races included in my training and over the years, race morning feels like a routine I’ve now got down pat and feel very confident in. Wake up, make oatmeal, make coffee – eat and drink. (Helpful hint – I’ve taken to using the little coffee maker provided in hotel rooms and running it through with just water to make my instant oatmeal – works like a charm every time!) Relax. Put on race outfit. Drink Vega pre-workout energizer with a teaspoon of matcha. Short warm-up run and drills. One last pitstop. Drop off gear check bag. Find start line. Take gel. Kiss hubby bye and wish him luck.
My bib told me to make my way into corral B. So I did – and looking for the pace bunny who’s time I hoped to run… I couldn’t find him. Making my way all the way to the front of the corral, I finally realized that both the 3:25 and the 3:35 pace bunny’s were in corral A! What?!! I followed the lead of a few others around me, moved the fence aside, ducked under the tape and positioned myself right smack between the two bunnies – 3:30 thank you very much.
Gun went off and within seconds I was crossing the start line.
Here’s the thing. This was one of the most uneventful marathons I’ve ever run. I never hit a wall (although I did slow in pace in the last 10km). I never had any crazy revelations. I never questioned my sanity or what I was out there to accomplish. I just ran.
For the first half I actually ran with the 3:25 pace group. The bunny was excellent – his pacing was perfect. Not all bunnies are known to do such a great job of pacing like this – had he gone out too fast, there’s no way I’d have been with that group. I crossed halfway in 1:41:37, feeling good. But getting hot. It was, of course (being a summer marathon in Eugene), getting hot.
It wasn’t long after crossing halfway that I began to lose the group. They slowly, ever so slowly, began to pull away. I kept them in sight for the next 10km or so but then finally they were gone. What was left of them that is. The group had already dropped about half it’s 3:25 hopefuls. And from then on, I was on my own. I passed some runners, some runners passed me. I passed a few I recognized from 3:25 group. Hubby actually saw the 3:25 pace bunny cross the finish line… He crossed and looked around him, but he was alone.
About the same time I lost the pace group, I realized my quads hurt like crazy. In fact, in running down a short steep hill I nearly cried out from the pain of them. And so I struggled to run with my pained quads, the heat, and my ridiculously intense thirst. I was so darn thirsty that at about 12km in I realized I couldn’t take any more gels (I’d taken only about 3/4 of one at that point). My body was just rejecting the gels that I’ve been 100% totally okay with in training. Argh. I knew I needed fuel but somehow couldn’t force myself to just get in another gel. So I mouth-rinsed with gatorade (then spit it out and drank a cup of water immediately after) at 3 different water stations in those last 10km. Research tells us that in doing this, our brains believe carbs are on their way and increases performance accordingly. Not sure if I successfully tricked my body or not.
During my last hot marathon (over a year ago), I told a fellow racer at around kilometre 25 that I hated marathons and was never doing one again and stopped to walk through water stations for the last half, finishing in 3:45:59. This time round I simply remained as calm as I could while leaving everything I had on the course. Unfortunately I did not keep track of time well enough to comprehend I wasn’t going to cross sub 3:30 until I was in the last kilometre. After crossing the finish line I actually burst into tears because the realization of missing my goal was a tough pill to immediately swallow. However, the tears lasted all of 10 seconds when I began laughing through them… And the happiness of attaining a new personal best set it. I’d just completed my marathon in 3 hours, 31 minutes and 15 seconds – a PB by over 2 minutes!
I’ve never finished a marathon feeling so beat up (QUADS!!!!!), yet so ready to get out there and run another one. Feeling so confident in my ability, I know I can absolutely break 3:30 this year. And next year – well we’ll save that for then. For now, I’ve got my sights set on the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon this November 16th. Here I come sub-3:30… I’m chasing you down!
PS. Immediately after the marathon, hubby and I drove down to a campsite on the Oregon coast and spent the rest of that week doing nothing but eating and sleeping (um, naptime each and every day, yeah!!) with a few walks down to the ocean. What an incredibly beautiful yet crazy windy beach that was (Bullards Beach Park and Campground) – it was over a mile walk to get there in order to save the campsite from being blown away by the fierce ocean winds. It was totally awesome – yay to post-race recovery relaxation. In fact, it was likely this break that has got hubby and me so excited to get back into training 😉