Shortly after half way, I thought I sensed some fatigue in my quads. Not a good sign, I thought to myself. Should I slow? This could hurt a LOT by the end if I’m already feeling something now. I put it out of my mind. Whatever will be will be – just keep going. All you need to do is run a 1:23.30 for the next half. You can slow if you need to. I took a caffeinated gel at mile 15, and the quad fatigue went away shortly thereafter (note for next time: do I need to take more earlier?).
Taking gels and my bottles turned out to be a mess. All of the bottles looked the same, and although I had orange paper wrapped around mine, it was really hard to find. At two of the bottle tables I literally had to stop for a half of a second with my hand hovering over the bottles, frantically searching. They were pretty heavy to carry, even though they were only ½ full (and the squirt top didn’t work very well so I actually didn’t take much out of any of them) – so next time I’ll have to do a better job with them in general. It IS really nice to have them out on the course, if nothing else just as a way to get my gels out on the course.
From miles 13.1-20, Brenden and I cruised. At a couple of the “check point times” I had written on my hand I realized how far under I was. With each mile I gained another 2-3 seconds. I got so excited that after 2 of the check-points (I only had 5 written – 5k, 10k, 10, 19, 23 or 24) I dropped a 6:06 and 6:04. Oops! I was just so excited to be under my times & feeling good 🙂 (and obviously wasn’t really paying attention to my watch enough!). Other than these two miles, my splits were VERY consistent. Amazing, actually. I hardly looked at my watch – just cruised effortlessly. Despite this, I found ourselves in no-man’s land after we caught and passed the “slower” OTQ group of women at mile 4. There was literally no one around us or running our same pace. This surprised me. It wasn’t like my strategy was that weird… just 3 slower miles, and then locking into a few seconds under MP. I found myself completely alone, except for Brenden. So much for “pack running” with the other OTQ hopeful women.
I passed one of the “fast group” OTQ women that had fallen off the group around mile 19. I encouraged her to stick with us. She looked at me in a way that I knew she was hurting & there was no chance she was going to try. She just said, “You look GREAT! Keep going!”. We had a pact amongst us that we wouldn’t say anything negative (Not even to let the group know that you have a bad blister or that your contact is bothering you). I didn’t realize how key this pact was – and would be.
Overall, though, energy was managed very well. I took gels at about mile 6, mile 11, 15 and mile 18-21 (sipped on it). I took water at about every stop, sipping a little and pouring the rest over my head. I would have taken more gel, but I developed a side-ache after about 20 miles. I simply couldn’t eat any more. I got pretty dizzy the last few miles of the race, which I think is due to low blood-sugar (low brain sugar? Is there such a thing?) – I really think I should be taking more during the last half of the race.
At 20, Brenden reminded me that it was time to start racing. Ug. Really, I thought to myself? We have a 1:15 cushion! I thought about it a little more, and I knew deep down in me that I could push it if I needed to. I decided not to, though – my reasoning was purely “don’t screw this up”. Sounds very negative, but I knew at this point that I could only lose the OTQ. Just keep running, I reminded myself (one of the few things Brenden told me earlier in the race… that simple reminder would be so key these last 6.2 miles)
I was extremely positive throughout the entire race, with the help of the sports psychologist and his CD I had worked with for the last couple of weeks. The thing that most sticks out for me were the times I told myself, “You HAVE this!” and “This is your race!” and other miscellaneous cheesy positive thoughts. I usually tell myself these things during a race, but I’ve never told myself & BELIEVED like I did during the marathon. It’s really hard to describe. I also had practiced embracing and welcoming the pain I knew would be coming. Dr. Asp had coached me to think of pain as a good thing: it was a sign that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing and therefore, I should be looking for and welcoming any feelings of pain. I did exactly that. With 10k to go, I know I felt a few seconds of discomfort/pain, but immediately shut it out. Oh, good, I told myself. But other than a few seconds here and there of allowing myself to recognize how I was actually feeling, I totally shut out pain. I have NEVER done this, to this extent – to be so positive about how poorly I felt. I will be forever thankful for Dr. Asp’s help.
Brenden and I hadn’t discussed the “nothing negative” pact before the race. Turns out after the race, he told me that he was hurting really bad from about 22-23 to the end. What?! I exclaimed to him. I honestly had no idea – I thought he was doing great & pushing me. Had he said ANYTHING about hurting, I know I would have acknowledged my pain & wanted to stop/slow/walk.
I knew I was passing a few of the “fast pack” OTQ women between 20-25, but I had no idea how many. Turns out, I passed all of them except for 2 – one of which we caught at mile 25.5 and encouraged her to come with us. That’s pretty amazing to me. The pack was at least 20, if not larger, at the start of the race. [I have to shake my head a little bit. It seems like there would have been a lot more had they paced a little smarter?]
I had another “checkpoint” time on my hand at mile 23 or 24. I tried to do the math. WHAT?!? I knew I hadn’t been paying attention to my mile splits, but this couldn’t be right. According to my calculations I was going to finish in 2:48 or so. My heart sunk a little. But then I remembered that not too long ago Nate had yelled out to say I had a 1:15 cushion. Could I really have lost ALL of that, plus some? How long ago had he said that? I thought about it, in slow-motion pace, for a little bit before deciding that I just shouldn’t be doing math or thinking hard about anything at this point. I reiterated Brenden’s phrase from earlier in the race: We have this, as long as we keep running. So I told myself to stop thinking and just “keep running”.
The last 5k was a blur. We caught 2 women, fading quickly, around mile 25 or 25.5 and encouraged them to come with us. Both did. Other than that, I don’t have many memories of the last 5k, or the last 10k, for that matter. I didn’t hear any mile splits during that time, either. That could have been bad, but I found out later that the last 10k turned out to be within seconds of my first 10k. Wow.
And then we turned the last corner, with just under .2 to do. Brenden dropped back. What? I sort of looked behind me, as if to ask him why. I wondered if he was just letting me cruise in alone, so I could have the finish line to myself when I crossed? He should be here with me, I thought to myself! Did something happen to him? As I found out later, he had been holding on for dear life the last miles, and with .2 to go, he knew I could do it alone.
I tried to pick it up down the homestretch, but I don’t know if I actually did. It didn’t matter. I knew I had it. I saw the clock and knew I was in with plenty of time to spare. YESSS!!! Arms up right after I crossed, in relief and joy :). (video evidence)
Once the adrenaline left me, I realized I didn’t feel well at all. Nate took me over to the medical tent, where they quickly laid me down to do their routine tests (blood pressure 3 times because they didn’t quite believe the numbers, threatened to take blood (I am so deathly afraid of needles!), etc). I didn’t even care. Pretty sure even though I felt terrible that I had a huge smile on my face the entire time. I had made it!
Thanks again to everyone on my “team”. I had a lot of help to get me to 2:44:46, and a ton of fun doing it. Now on the the next one!