Long version: [Grab a cup of coffee or a nice fermented beverage and join me for a moment, I am sure I will have lots of details]
Unlike this spring when I was slammed at work and in the midst of a big trial/trial prep, this summer and fall, I had more flexibility at work and I took full advantage of it. Even though I took almost 2 months off and gained a few pounds, I hit training and by August, I was running 50, 60, 70 mile training weeks. For good measure, I kicked things up a notch and logged just a hair over 8o miles the first week in September (thank you Labor Day for an extra long run opportunity). My HR plummeted and I was nailing my workouts.
BUT, one day in late August, early September I stepped on the scale and was frankly horrified. I normally gain 5 lbs when I stop training, but once I snap back into training, all goes back to normal. Well, since I went back to work in 2008, this has been increasingly trending upward. When I ran Eugene in May, I was up 5 lbs. And now (in August) I was up even more. This was despite running said 50, 60, 70 mile weeks.
So I started tracking my intake and really got my nutritional house in order. I cut out (some of my favorite foods like cheese) and really tried to eat better. I also cut way back on beer/wine. And it made a huge difference. I lost 10 pounds in 4-6 weeks and was more than ready to rip up the streets for a fall marathon.
As you know, I lined up for the Chicago Marathon on 10.9.11. But it was hot and I bagged it at the halfway point hoping for a better day in Grand Rapids the next week. I had been planning to go to see friends anyway - why not set myself up for a better race?
So I duplicated my last week of taper. I got great sleep and I actually lost yet another pound. I felt strong and ready to dominate!
We arrived in Grand Rapids around 5:00 pm local time. I got out of the car and had a wicked bad stomachache. I felt super bloated - seriously - it was painful. Okay, okay, I have been in the car all day, it will go away. We checked into our hotel rooms and then headed over to KP and Tonya's for a meet-up and dinner. We had a fabulous time. Great food, great company. We left and went back to the hotel and I was in a bit of a pain locker. I freaking could not stand up straight my stomach felt so distended. So the boys headed down to the pool and - no lie - I took like 6 Gas-X pills. It helped a lot, so I went downstairs, watched the boys a while and then hit the hay.
I woke up at 5 local time (felt like 4) and felt better, but not 100%. I took several more gas pills and undertook my normal pre-marathon routine. It looked like it was going to be windy, but I was ready. John came in around 6 and then we woke up the boys and headed to the start. I was pretty exhilarated and nervous - both good signs. James said to me, "Mom, this time, do not stop at the half. Finish it. And don't slow down." I assured him that I would not stop and I would do my very best to hold my pace.
We then hit the pre-race flurry and I lost the boys in the crowd before I lined up for the start. Once again I missed the National Anthem trying to get to the start (darn!). I lined up right between the 3:14 pacers and 3:29 pacers. My goal was to go out at a 7:44 pace (3:23) and expect a slight positive split to hit my 3:25 goal. I knew this goal was aggressive, but I really felt I had a 3:23-3:25 in me this season with the training I had done. The winds were light, the rain was dissipating and it was an amazing morning for a race. We were soon off and I felt spectacular. In trademark Mindi style, about a mile in, I started to feel choked up. Very thankful to be here. Now. GO!
I did not see mile markers the first few miles but I was knocking off 7:45s easily. I felt easy and comfortable and excited. Although some guy started chatting me up. And would not stop. Dude - I am racing - I am not going to chat with you. Of course I did not say that, but comfortably distanced myself during the couple miles he was trying to start various conversations. (As an aside - damn you if you are chatting it up and running a 3:23 pace. Hush and pick it up!!!).... :)
At mile 4 we passed our hotel and I saw John and the boys with their signs. It was so awesome and I was so happy to see them. I turned the corner feeling optimistic. This is mine.
Shortly thereafter, we hit the trail and a wide open space. I had thought it might be super windy there, but it wasn't - it was perfect. We were just past 5 miles, so I decided to grab my first gel. I sucked it back and within minutes - I completely fell apart. I suddenly felt super gross and feverish. I felt like my HR was shooting through the roof. I literally felt like I might have a heart attack or something. What the fuck? It was mile 6 - maybe?!? I passed a very enthusiastic Team-in-Training spectator group and felt like I was dying. What am I going to do? I kept going and crossed the 7 mile marker, then stopped and walked for a second. I didn't feel good and I needed my HR to go down. I walked for a bit and told myself that this was just a rough patch - it would pass. I then started running again. The next mile marker clicked off around 8:10. Not bad. My goal is not out of sight - go.
But it was a fight and I seemed to have one rough patch after another. It was hard. I took water and gatorade because I knew I needed it, but EVERY time I felt like I was going to throw up or I would get an insane side stitch. Around mile 14 or 15, the 3:29 pace group passed me and I kind of threw in the towel. But then I thought about James and his telling me to fight. I need to fight. I slowed down, but I am not quitting. The rest of the race was just survival. I'd run, but any time I took in any fluid/nutrition, I either had a crazy side stitch or felt like I was going to vomit. So I'd walk for 30-60 seconds to get past it and then carry on.
I usually take a gel around mile 22 or 23. This time, I figured I'd cut my losses and just go. My finish time was 3:44:09. Way off my sub-3:25 goal, but respectable nonetheless.
My boys all gave me roses at the finish and I ran into all of my running buddies. I told James that I was so glad he encouraged me prior to the race and that I thought of him lots of times out there. He told me he was proud of me and that I had a great race. Aw, what a great kid.
We went to HopCat with KP, Tonya, Ailarie and Kath, had a couple awesome beers and then headed home. It was a whirlwind trip and my race sucked, but we really did have a nice short visit.
Regrets: None - other than getting sick. Could have things shaken out differently if I just went for it in Chicago? Maybe, but we'll never know and I do not regret setting myself up for a better race in Grand Rapids. It was actually perfect, and had I been feeling okay, I think I could have had a great race.
I also went out at a very aggressive pace and with a very aggressive race strategy. Would I have done better if I started at 8s, and tried to negative split? Who knows, but I think my stomach issues would have sidelined me no matter what pace I went out at. Shoot, I am 5 days out and I STILL don't feel very good. Oh yeah, and go big or go home. :) I am glad I went for it. One of these days, I will get it.
Garmin Splits: http://www.runningahead.com/logs/526c895d73944189ade2ac357b29b428/workouts/6452e93c8c3940d3886745ac680dfe60
Photos: Coming soon
I had a solid season and it is now time to look forward. What's Next (tentative):
- Half marathon the weekend of November 5-6 (maybe try to qualify for NYCM before the standards change)
- Wisconsin Marathon - May 2012
- Seattle half or full June 2012
- Capitol Mile - July 2012
- Women's Half Marathon - August 2012
- CIM - December 2012
Whaddaya think? Any advice/consolation/kicks in the ass appreciated.