There is a fine line between insanity and perserverance, between success and failure...I was lucky enough to dance on that line on Sunday and fortunately I ended the day with a big fat smile on my face.
I ran the Twin Cities Marathon on 10/07 and it was a bust due to ridiculous heat. I had been training for a 3:25 and came in with 3:53. This was after training my behind off for many weeks after a disappointing go at Boston thanks to a Nor'easter. I thought about recovering and focusing on local 5Ks, 10Ks and a half this late fall. Then I started reading what some others were doing and was getting encouraged from some friends to look to "Plan B." I just knew I could not get my head into another hard marathon training season after results that just did not correspond to my fitness.
SO, a week and a half prior to the Grand Rapids Marathon, I decided Plan B would be to try to run a marathon again. It was crazy to me and completely new territory. But I felt healthy and strong and decided, why the hell not?! I trained using Pfitzinger's 18/70 program and decided to use the end of his 4 week multiple marathoning schedule for the 11 days pre-race. My husband's band had a show Saturday night, so he could not come with me and childcare was an issue. I called my mom and said, "I have a HUGE favor to ask you." She cut me short and said "You are running another marathon, aren't you?!" Hahaha. I guess my craziness was becoming predicable. :)
All arrangements were made and I continued training. I also did pilates every day to make sure my legs were stretched and strong. The Wednesday before the race, I was up all night with a nasty stomach virus - oh no! Then the Friday before I left my husband had it. Saturday morning he was a mess and I felt terrible about leaving. But he told me to go - this was the time. So feeling like a complete lunatic, I took off for Grand Rapids. It was honestly all very surreal.
The 5 hour drive was nice and relaxing (surprisingly as I drove through Chicagoland). I got to Grand Rapids and the place was awesome. I would really love to come back for a longer visit. My hotel was fabulous and I felt guilty staying in this unbelievable hotel by myself just to go to bed at 8:00 pm!
Packet pickup was easy and I had the pasta dinner at the YMCA. Worst pasta I have ever had and I won't even get into the oily breadstick nastiness, but it was easy and the people were friendly. I got back to the hotel and went to bed. It took me a while to fall asleep, but I did get about 7 hours. I woke up rested and ready to go! The weather report said it was 27 degrees outside. Wow - a far cry from the start of Twin Cities!
I headed to the YMCA at 7:30. It was still dark and it was cold and refreshing. I walked around to scope things out, then got into the porta potty line. I'm glad I did so soon! It took 18 minutes to get my turn and when I got out it was less than 2 minutes to the gun! Yikes! People were all lined up outside the "corral" and it looked like it was going to be a messy start. The gun went off and miraculously the crowd moved very fluidly - no problem.
My original training goal for Twin Cities was 3:25. Since I was in new territory, I decided to adjust it upwards and go out at 3:30 (8:00 pace) and I see how I felt. I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The first couple of miles were nice. I was right on pace and it was a nice morning. The sun had just come up and it was chilly and foggy. I noticed that some people who were sweating had frost in their hair. It was actually comical to me, again after TCM.
The course was nice and the hills were very minimal. The only tough part was that a lot of it was on a bike path that was extremely cambered. I knew I would feel it on my feet. There were several out-and-backs and people complained about this some on marathonguide. I didn't mind it at all because it gave me the opportunity to see my competition and to look for fellow coolrunners. At first I was taken aback by how many women appeared to be in front of me - especially out of shape looking women! Then I remembered that there was a "velocity challenged" start for people at 7:00 am. Oh yeah.
I was holding my own and sitting behind the 3:29 pacers for quite some time. Just at mile 12, we started seeing a lot of runners coming through. It was a nice distraction as I was looking for rootsrunner, crunningman, corland14 and rochrunner. Roots saw me around 12.5 and yelled out, "Hey Runninlaw!" It was a nice boost at that time in the race. We continued up the trail and did a little loop and hit the 13 mile marker. I was at 1:43:50 or something. That meant my half was very close to 1:45. Perfect. I took my second gel. Then going back down the trail, I got stuck behind the 3:29 group, which was very large. They had slowed down and were hogging the whole path so I couldn't get around. Mile 14 was 8:13. I tried not to let it bother me and convinced myself there was nothing I could do about it and enjoy the little rest. Around 15 I was able to pass the group (with some scary jump into the grass). At 15.25 my garmin lost its signal. Figures. Oh well, I ran very well at Des Moines last fall after my garmin messed up. I can do this. I started to pick it up a little at this point and hoped I wouldn't push it too hard, too early.
Just before 17 I saw roots again. He yelled to me to "Dig Deep" (or at least that is what I thought he said) and we high fived each other. Again it was a great boost and I kept thinking, "Dig Deep." I was starting to pass a few people at this point and was just trying to stay strong without pushing it too much. At mile 20, I was assessing my situation and realized that I had never felt this good 20 miles into a run before. This is a good sign! I soon hit another spot where I saw people running ahead of me after another out and back. I saw a lady that I knew was after rootsrunner and thought, darn, I missed him. Then I smiled and thought, no - he is digging deep too and it just way ahead of her!! I was watching the women in front of me and trying to pick them off. I focused on that for the remainder of the race. Miles were ticking off in the 7:40s and 7:30s at this point. The last few miles were the only point of the race that I felt wind. It was a headwind, but nothing too serious. At mile 24 I saw a girl in a yellow hat that I had seen many times who at first seemed too far ahead of me to catch. But I was gaining on her and now it seemed possible. At mile 25 I was really close but I did not want to surge yet as I was afraid she'd hang behind me and take me at the end. So I continued behind her. Finally I saw the finish line just before mile 26 and took her. I surged forward and gave it all I could to the finish line. She never passed me. :)
I got my bag, made a recovery drink and looked for rootsrunner. Unfortunately I couldn't find him, but I looked at the results and saw his 3:04 - awesome. I was sure I came in at 3:27:xx, but my results said 3:26:29 - even better, baby!! :D
I watched at the finish line for a while and saw several runners come in. I saw a girl come in with a Boston Qualifying time (3:37ish) and she just started sobbing she was so happy and overcome with emotion. I congratulated her and thought how awesome it was. If I could bottle the exhilaration experienced after a successful marathon, my net worth would rival that of Bill Gates.
I soon headed back to the hotel and began my journey home. In the car I was thinking about everything and thought back to one run during training this summer, wherein I was trying to figure out whether all of the hard work and ridiculous number of miles was worth a measly 10 minutes off my marathon time. I really didn’t know. Now I do. :D It was more than worth it. You can never give those 10 - or shall I say - 11 minutes back to me.
I did not hit my original 3:25 goal, but I came pretty darn close. And I got my racing mojo back, which was desperately needed.
If you made it all the way to this point in the report, THANK YOU. And thanks to all of my coolrunning friends for all of the advice and support.
Gender Place: 22 out of 534
Age Group: 4 out of 86 - just barely missed that award!!!
Overall: 198 out of 1394