At this point, I’m easily cruising at 6:29 or below pace. I check in with myself: I’m feeling really good!! Should I start to push? I tell myself to continue to hold back. Stick to the plan. If you’re still feeling good at 20, you can go then.
So, I cruised through what’s normally referred to as “no man’s land” (miles 13-20) with very little effort. I’ll post splits later tonight. I took my 4th gel at mile 17 and sipped on that from miles 18-20.
I wish I could record my thoughts during this part of the race. Honestly, I have no idea what I even think about during this time. I know I thought back to my “epic” Sunday run a couple of times (I vaguely remember thinking once or twice that I wanted to let up, that this pace was tough and I wasn’t cut out for marathoning). Note for next time: it’s pretty important to be able to draw upon a really tough workout that you nailed. I think I’d definitely repeat that workout again, just for the mental confidence boost it gave me. Other than that thought, I can’t remember a single thing I thought about.
I took another gel at mile 21 or so and sipped on that until mile 26. That worked out perfectly. No diziness whatsoever (could have been I stayed better hydrated as well). I managed my energy as well as I think I could have.
Then came the 10k to go mark. At this point I honestly was looking forward to a nap at the finish line (I pictured myself in the medical tent taking a nap :). Is this normal? Honestly, I get sleepy at this point in a marathon, and I have no idea why (or if this is anything anyone else feels?). Has the caffeine in my gels worn off? Am I just allowing myself to lose focus? I shake if off, and charge ahead. C’mon, Nichole. Focus. This is the part of the race you OWN.
Problem is, the course profile for the last 10k doesn’t exactly lend itself to making up time. I guess I hadn’t thought much about that. Seems pretty dumb now. Miles 21-23 are entirely uphill. I didn’t notice the uphills much at all, though — thank you Red Wing for making me a strong hill runner — but it makes it impossible to make up time. 6:40 miles for 21-22 was all I could muster, and I was working hard. Bummer!! I was hoping to make up some time here, not lose more time!!
At 23 you crest the hill and I thought to myself — just 5k to go. I look down at my watch. I think I can still pull off a 2:50.xx if I can push these last 3 miles. I think, anyway — I didn’t really put too much math into that though. I tried to pick it up, but I was more spent than I realized. I did a great job of pushing miles 23 and 24, but let myself slow to 6:30 during mile 25.
As I’m charging to the finish line, I see 2:50 pass. NOOO! I sort of let up a little when I saw it turn. I crossed the line in 2:51.26.
What a great feeling. A 4 1/2 minute PR, and it came so easily! I was elated. Add to the PR the honor of finishing as the first local runner. That’s sort of a big deal for me — guess I had always looked up to those women before & thought they were “untouchable”. Can that really be me now? (I was just lucky that Chicago lured away all of the women that normally beat me, but let’s forget about that for the moment :).
On the drive home, though, I broke out in tears. I didn’t even hurt that bad during the race! I had the perfect day, unbelievable family support, and I didn’t race to my full potential. I felt like I had just wasted a marathon. You only get so many chances! What am I doing racing so comfortably?
Although somewhat negative (I’m trying not to allow myself to be negative anymore), I’m glad I had that reaction. I think it’s the turning point I needed in my training. Prior to this race, I had run every workout with a “I don’t know if I can do this!” attitude. I ran unsure of myself, unconfident in my abilities, and without much of a “let’s RACE!” attitude. Not like me at all. Since getting pissed at wasting a marathon, I’m now fired up to start training hard again, to race again (any distance) and make the best out of every workout I have. So, I think this race, and my anger at running too comfortably, were exactly what I needed to light that competitive fire again.
Random comments on the race:
The last 10k was in 40:48. Take out the slowing on the hills, and that’s a 40:28. Intersting that that’s still slower than my goal 10ks of 40:18. Does that mean that despite the fact that I felt great, I just didn’t have a 2:50, or even a sub 2:50 in me?
Even though the last 10k was a little slower than goal pace, the last 1/2 of the race was pretty much dead on, even with the hills. 1:25.15 for the last half. So I think you could safely say that after I stopped worrying about being behind, I raced a 2:50 marathon.
Dr. P, my chiropractor, made a really good observation when I told him about the race. I told him I didn’t know what to do after the first 3 miles when I was so far off. I hadn’t mentally prepared for anything like that! He said that I’ll never be able to plan for everything that’ll happen. I need to get better at relying on my intuition more. He compared it to the saying that says, character is who you are when no one is looking (or however that goes). A true racer/competitor is made in the moments that you don’t have planned. AWESOME way to look at it. This is something I can definitely improve.
Nate also had a great observation: I wasn’t prepared to have the best race of my life. I had trained myself to run a 2:50, and that’s what I set out to do. What if my body would have told me it was ready for a 2:48 or a 2:46? I probably wouldn’t have listened to it. So, I don’t know how you get over this, but that’s pretty important. Have a plan, but be prepared to throw it out the window (and be VERY prepared to do this). Be okay with racing out of your comfort zone. All things I was not ready to do on 10-3-10. But all things I WILL and HAVE TO BE ready to do come fall next year.
Now, what should the plan be for this winter? Another marathon? Or do a 12-16 week Daniels cycle to focus on speed? Leaving it up to Jerry to point me in the right direction… more to come :).