This PR was a LONG time coming.
Almost 2 years and 4 marathons ago, I set the goal to break 4:15. A short history:
Chicago Marathon (fall 2011) - extremely hot conditions on race day forced me to abandon my PR attempt.
Goodlife Toronto Marathon (spring 2012) - PR'd, 4:15:11.
Niagara Falls International Marathon (fall 2012) - fatigue and other factors caused me to have a horrible race.
This training cycle went extremely well. Paces that used to be puke-inducing suddenly became easy, and I ran over 50 miles during peak week, also a record.
Remembering what a few hours of shopping did to my legs, I was a bit worried because my SIL's wedding was on Friday night, 2 days prior to the race. I tried to stay off my feet as much as I could, but I did dance for several hours (not nonstop) in 5" stripper heels.
Saturday I took it REALLY easy. I had originally planned a carb loading pasta dinner but for various reasons no one could make it and I decided to have the exact same dinner that I had before ATB: a green salad with italian dressing, lobster mac & cheese, and a Caesar. Hey, it worked last time, right?
Race day I got up early enough to have breakfast and finish my coffee, but not enough time to let the coffee work its magic, if you know what I mean.
Daily Mile friends pre-race.
I was shivering at the start but not 1 km in, I knew we were going to be in for a hot race. It felt hot in the sun even though the temperature was only 10C. I stuck firm to my small goal of sub 4:15, despite easy/long runs getting a LOT faster the last couple months of the training cycle. Sam and I were supposed to run with our friend Phil, but couldn't find him at the start.
I don't think this is going to be one of those race reports with excruciating detail. We made every effort to not go out too fast, the first half is more steeply downhill, so we took the downhills a bit faster but not too much. Fell to the old race pastime of making fun of other people's outfits. (black and white striped capris? jacket and tights on a super warm spring day? flappy yoga pants? REALLY?!) Hit the half in 2:02:54, lots of wiggle room for sub 4:15.
We had run the last 33K of the course on a training run, and again, knowing what was coming on the course was so helpful. Saw Phil on an out and back portion, he looked to be a few minutes ahead of us. Rolling hills from about 26K to the finish. Saw a guy cutting corners and it made me so mad. Here's the TMI part: suddenly the coffee did a number on my gut and I yelled "SHART!" to Sam and dove into a bush, fortunately we were in a park and not a residential neighbourhood. Turned my Garmin off out of habit and lost about 200 m but it actually ended up making my splits line up with the km markers again so it didn't bother me too much.
The last 6-7 kms has always been my biggest problem mentally, and it was so helpful to have Sam pull me along. We both pulled each other along. She'd walk, I'll yell at her, and we'd keep going. The uphills were slow but there were just enough downhills to stretch things out and keep it from being agony. There were a lot of death marchers and passing those people energized me. We were still on pace for maybe a sub-4:10 but I tried not to think about it. Just being under 4:15 was enough.
This was past 35K and we were dying..somehow we didn't look like it though. I had this calf cramp where my calf would knot up and I'd sort of trip and miss a step but not bad enough to make me stop, plus it would die back down pretty quickly.
Hit Lakefront Promenade, finally and came up to a familiar figure, Phil around 41K. I don't remember exactly what he was saying, but I think it was somthing about not feeling great. "Phil?" I said, "just SHUT UP AND RUN!" At this point I was a couple steps back from Sam and Phil and the calf cramps were coming more frequently. My hands and head were buzzing in the way they do when I am red-zoning it and I didn't have any more in me.
Thanks for obscuring my face, Phil.
Now that it is over and done, I am annoyed that my bush stop was probably what cost me sub 4:10. The thing that I am ecstatic about is that there was only ONE crappy km (35K - 6:23) during the entire race. Considering my planned pace was 5:55/km, a few kms in the 6:0x range were perfectly acceptable. I do feel like I have conquered a HUGE mental hurdle when it comes to marathons, and I'm almost tempted to run a fall marathon, but I have already set the goal to race a fast half in the fall, because I really hate doing the epic long runs in the summer heat.
Marathon #8 for me, #1 for Sam.
Official chip time: 4:10:28.30
Pace: 5:57 / kilometer
Field Placement: 456 / 851 (53.6%)
Age group: 30 – 39
Group Placement: 47 / 98 (48%)
Gender Placement: 153 / 352 (43.5%)