May 27, 2009

Bayshore Report!

What a great time we had! The entire vacation was wonderful. From the pre-race camping trip, to the race itself, to the post-race exploration of the Traverse City area. And boy did we luck out with the weather!

I won’t spend a lot of time talking about the camping trip, but I did want to point out one thing…

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Bear tracks! I know it is hard to get a sense of scale from this photo, but these tracks were big! We found them as we were leaving our campsite. They were maybe 20 yards from our tent! Plus, it rained the night before we found this track so it HAD to be a fresh print! Cool!

Okay, on to the race.

The race started out wonderfully. The temps were in the low 50s. Perfect! It was very overcast and we even felt a few drops as the gun went off. Those few drops were the last ones we felt. After that it started clearing up and turned into wonderful running weather.

I felt comfortable from the very beginning. Nothing ached! The tapering did the trick. So did following my “Nothing New!” mantra. I was slightly nervous about the moderate-sized blister I developed backpacking and even considered putting moleskin on it for the race, but then “Nothing New!” popped into my head again and I went without it. I didn’t even notice the blister (which I had drained the night before).

First mile went by in 8:45 due to crowds and purposely wanting to start out slowly. It was a little slower than I wanted to go, so I picked up the pace over the next few miles. By mile 3, I was back on pace for my 3:35 goal according to my pace band. I was feeling very good about it!

As I’ve pointed out in the past, my legs have this “negative-split” mentality and without a conscious effort, they started going faster and faster. By mile 6 or 7, I was hovering between 7:25 – 7:30 miles. It felt so easy, effortless even, that I decided to stay at that pace. Since my long training runs averaged 7:45 pace, I thought 7:30 was not unreasonable for the race itself.

At mile 19, I passed my husband.

However, about a half mile later, I started feeling the first signs of leg-fatigue. My heart and lungs were fine, but my legs were just starting to run out of steam.

Then came mile 21 and I couldn’t hide from the Wall any longer.

I’ve gotten tired during races before, but nothing I couldn’t battle through with mental toughness. This was entirely different. All new marathoners have heard of the Wall. We’ve read about it. We’ve been warned about it. We might even fear it a little. But nothing prepared me for the utter helplessness that the Wall brings with it. No amount of positive self-talk was getting me through it. My legs had nothing left.

I was faced with two choices: drop out or WALK. I didn’t want to do either. One of my goals was to run the entire marathon. But dropping out was definitely the worse of the two evils. So I walked.

From that point on I made small goals for myself. “Walk to the next mailbox, then try to run slowly again.” Then, “push yourself to that next road sign, then you can walk.” It became a cycle of run, walk, run, etc. It did the trick. It got me through to the finish.

The Bayshore Marathon ends on a college track. We run around about ¾ of the track to the finish line. The track is lined with stands that were full of spectators cheering us on. When I got close enough to the end to hear the crowd, I was done walking! They somehow managed to keep me running from that point to the finish line and I crossed at 3:31:30 (chip)!! A Boston qualifying time despite my miles of walking! WOW!!

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So I accomplished 2 out of 3 goals. I finished under 3:35 and qualified for Boston. Goal number three - to run an entire marathon - will have to wait until this fall at the Grand Rapids marathon. I decided I don’t want Boston to be my second marathon. I need a little more experience!

I also have come up with my goal for the Grand Rapids marathon. I want to be able to sustain the pace I had during Bayshore (7:25-7:30) without hitting the Wall. Now I just have to figure out how to build a training plan with that goal in mind.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my husband ended up passing me again somewhere after mile 21, I think. He ended up with a time of 3:23 and some change. He needs to shave off 8 minutes to qualify for Boston. You can do it, Bear!

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