Saturday, March 02, 2013
I DID it!
I can't even believe that I live to tell the story since I feel pretty HURT but I made it! I am now believing that this marathon is really in the cards for me. Although I was super stressed about the fact that this was supposed to be a half marathon training race but in fact was 20 miles it all turned out okay. I went back and forth all week about the appropriate technique for handling this race and in the end - by this morning - I had decided that I would respect the distance. I would run the 13.1 mile pace at a fairly average pace, not too slow, no walk breaks but not like a PR or anything. From there I would not just stop and walk the remaining mileage, I would run at a steady pace and walk through the water stops, as I were really running the whole 20 miles.
The race that I did this morning is called the Black Cat Road Race 20M in Salem, MA. They also have a 10M race too. Race temps were perfect, 40 degrees, cold in the beginning but not cold at all towards the end. After getting lost in the morning but seeking the kindness of the MOST helpful gas station attendant in the world for directions (yeah - I do not roll with a GPS but ironically my Garmin has a GPS...hmmm), I made it to the race spot in plenty of time. They even had a shuttle to get you to the start area. On the shuttle bus a woman struck up a conversation with me and told me all about the course, honestly she pretty much freaked me out! She talked about how hilly the course was and how she had run Boston a number of times - like legitimately qualified not donated funds - I was amazed at her ability but not gonna lie - immediately I realized that I was essentially running with the big dogs at this venue. As soon as the shuttle bus filled with more people and when we entered the gym area, it was reaffirmed that I clearly was a fish out of water. These people are the real deal! Not an ounce of body fat to be found! My fuel belt was one of *very, very* few because these people need not hydrate - NO these people know how to manage their electrolytes without such novice gadgets...DUH
The race start was a bit lonely. Lots of running clubs with there talking amongst themselves. This is a huge training race for Boston so you had very focused athletes there. It was very impressive to see and after I got over my feelings of inadequacy I then realized that it was pretty amazing that ME, Crystal, Miss I fall over my own two feet regularly was out here running with THESE people, pretty fantastic! After about an hour wait we all lined up to get started.
At the beginning of the race I was in the zone. I felt spectacular seriously! I listened to my own self talk for once and did not go out full force keeping my pace slower than typical. The crowds through Salem were very encouraging. What was tough to gauge though was how many people were doing the 10M vs. the 20M since it was the same course except that the 20 Milers got roped into running the whole stinkin' thing again, but of course I was not quite thinking about that little gem of a fact right then, I was moving full steam ahead and making great time and playing a game in which I would pick out who I suspected was running the 10M which made me feel like a real deal athlete. The course for the first 10M is out and back, which sucks! You feel every single hill up AND down but I pushed through. I did not stop once and was kicking @ss if I do say so myself! Around 6M on the way back for the 10 Milers was when things started to suck, real bad. Right then and there you KNEW who those 10 Milers were because they were kicking it into high gear! It was tough not to follow along but more importantly the realization that they were almost done, really, really sucked. Oh, but it got worse, I took off my long sleeve running jacket at about mile 9 and could then audibly hear the crowd cheering for the 10 Milers finish. I threw my jacket on the ground to the side of the start but alas, instead of following those 10Milers down the finish shoot to the left, I had to suck it up buttercup and run to the right, right past the finish line. This was mentally really tough. I wanted done, I really did! I NOW only NOW understand since I have done 6 half marathons, how the people doing the FULL marathon feel when they have to run concurrently with the halfers. I now regret sprinting happily to my finish all the while secretly thinking - BOY, it would SUCK if I were doing the FULL and had to run the whole thing again! OH - how the tides have changed, I am now THAT person...*sigh*
I plugged along after mile ten and even turned off the I-POD for a bit which was helpful so I could be with my own thoughts and just concentrate on moving one foot in front of the other. During this time I met up with this guy, kind of a hippy guy who was SMILING and I mean widely too. He turned to talk to me and told me that I was doing great and he said something about we only have about 75% to go. I thanked him and kept on running. At the 13.1 mark, even though I said I would not look at my Garmin, I did, 1hr 58 mins, EXCELLENT right on target to where I wanted to be. At this point I still had not taken any walk breaks which was in the plan but I did decide that I would take consciously my first walk break at 14.5 miles which was where the med tent was, this of course served another purpose too, if I was going to keel over and die or something, I knew that I would be in good hands ;)
After I walked through the water stop at the med tent, I was happily surprised that I actually felt pretty good and I kept it moving. After mile 16 it all began to really suck. My right ankle kept on hurting, not sure why but I kept going. Then my toes on my right foot because to start cramping like which was really weird but I chalked it up to not having done this distance before. I kept on moving though even over those sh!tty @ss hills that I remembered so fondly from my first loop around - by the way, who is with me that DOUBLE loop courses should be BANNED immediately!! - but I kept on going. It felt like an eternity by the time I hit mile 19 and I was a mess. I was running alright but man was it hard to focus. I was pouring gatorade, NOT water over my head at this point. NO song on my I-POD could make me get mind over matter although I had no shame and was singing a ridiculous song out loud which only drew attention from the police officers directing traffic. I did not stop though because I knew that I was almost there. At the last 1/2 mile there was yet another hill which I ran right over and as soon as I saw that blow up arch finish line I kicked my legs like I was running a 5K! It hurt but I ran right over that finish. I saw 3hrs and 5 minutes and was SOOOOOO happy! WOOOOOHOOOO!!!
Then I wanted to die...
I will say this 20 miles is not for the faint of heart, just sayin' you WILL feel your body hurt that is for sure. I do have a respect for this distance and I cannot even fathom seriously running 26.2 miles because I heard the last 6.2 miles is where the real pain starts. BUT going into this experience although unplanned for, not entirely sure what to expect in the least and coming out VICTORIOUS has me thinking that my goal of being the "ultimate athlete" and a marathoner WILL happen and it WILL go my way and I WILL make sure of that - NOTE: I am awful cocky right now - something about running 20M just makes ya feel like invincible - just sayin'!
Well back to training, thanks for listening!