This from my last blog post: "Anything under 3:29:45 is a win."
I like to cut it close. I finished Saturday's Richmond marathon with a time of 3:29:32, shaving off a whopping 13 seconds from my last marathon.
In fact, I am THRILLED with that time. This was a challenging run for me. It's the the first marathon I've ever run where I struggled more mentally than I did physically. And let me tell you... I struggled physically as well.
If you look at my mile splits, I was running pretty strong until mile 18. (I fell apart at mile 20, but we'll get to that in a minute.) But even before I got to mile 6, I was not in the game. I remember passing the mile 4 marker, picturing the 22 miles still in my future and thinking, "I don't want to do this."
That's not good.
Usually, I can get to mile 15 or 18 before any negative self-talk creeps in. But I ached early on, I was trying to keep my arches from cramping, and I knew by mile 8 that my right glute/hamstring was going to be problematic.
Looking back, I think I didn't take enough salt in the week before the race. I don't crave salt and never cook with it or put it on my food. I meant to buy pretzels and eat a handful each day but just never got around to it. I think I was properly hydrated and carbed up, but my electrolytes were low and I started cramping early.
A few moments stand out. One was at mile 20. I had been mentally willing myself to "just make it to 20," thinking that when I did, I'd be motivated enough by only having 6.2 miles left that I'd keep going. Nope. I passed the mile 20 marker and stopped, leaning over and grabbing my knees when--What the hell? Who just grabbed my ass??
It was my friend Michael. And in his defense, I think he was aiming for my hip/back and I shifted right as he got to me. "You got this," he said. "Come on and run with me."
Michael looked like he was cranking out a 7-minute pace. "I'm okay," I said, waving him on. "I'll finish."
"Keep running! You can do this!" he shouted back.
I think I ran a few feet then started walking again. Sorry, Michael.
It's dispiriting to watch the hard earned minutes you've banked tick awy on your watch, so I pulled myself into a slow run. I walked/ran the last 6 miles, sometimes pausing to stretch out the glute/hamstring which--as foreseen--kept knotting, sending quivers up my leg. I passed a runner on the ground at mile 23, hands cupped to his groin, medics around him. We all kind of gave him a silent "hate it for you, pal" salute as we sailed by.
Then at mile 25 and a half, I stopped. Just stopped. I had had enough. My legs were screaming, my feet were cramping and I had checked out mentally about 3 miles earlier. Screw the PR, screw the finish. In that brief moment, I just didn't care.
A woman tapped my back. "We're so close," she said. "Don't give up." I just stood there and looked at her running by me. She turned around and looked back. "Come on!" She waved her arm at me.
God. Bless. Her. Sometimes it's just the smallest gesture of faith that gets you moving again. I started running and felt ME return to myself. Hey--there I was. There was my drive, there was my ambition, there was my hell yeah. I only had a half mile left! I could do anything for a half mile. Let's finish this.
I ran up to the woman. "Good job," she said.
"I owe you," I said. "Appreciate it."
Then I kept running.
Richmond is a downhill finish. I can only imagine what I looked like running in. I had nothing left in my quads which meant I had no brakes. I was scaring myself with my pace but I literally couldn't slow down. I just prayed I didn't trip because I had zero chance of catching myself.
I crossed the finish line, hobbled to get my medal, and walked myself straight to the medical tent. They saw the look on my face and one guy came up and grabbed my arm and said, "What do you need?"
"Ice," I said. "My legs."
They sat me on a gurney and taped ice to the right glute and my left knee. After about 30 minutes, I felt human enough to walk and find my friends and some food.
Overall, I'm not even bummed I couldn't hang on to pace. I worked for every bit of this marathon and wanted to quit so often that I still can't quite believe I hit a PR.
As for what's to come, I want off marathons for a season. I'd like to run some half-marathons, run some trail races, and even do some long, slow endurance runs. It sounds odd to say I'd rather take it easy and run 50 miles instead of 26.2, but that's actually how it works.
As always, thanks to everyone for all your love and support. Can't begin to express how happy I am to have this one behind me and in the books.
And now for the stats.
- 13th in my age group, top 4%
- 113 woman in, top 3%
- 609 person in out of 4716 people, top 13%
By the mile. Keep in mind that at best, I should have been a 7:38, I was trying for 7:45's, with worst case being I wanted to run 7:58's.
Mile 1: 8:04 Mile 14: 7:51
Mile 2: 7:47 Mile 15: 7:55
Mile 3: 7:37 Mile 16: 7:41
Mile 4: 7:39 Mile 17: 7:53
Mile 5: 7:28 Mile 18: 8:09
Mile 6: 7:34 Mile 19: 7:59
Mile 7: 7:38 Mile 20: 8:02
Mile 8: 7:38 Mile 21: 8:04
Mile 9: 7:46 Mile 22: 8:18
Mile 10: 7:30 Mile 23: 8:26
Mile 11: 7:45 Mile 24: 8:14
Mile 12: 7:58 Mile 25: 8:55 (Did I mention I had a breakdown here?)
Mile 13: 7:44 Mile 26: 8:31
.2 : 6:58