I’ll try to keep this short and sweet – mostly to capture some details on the race – and more so so I can move on & start thinking/planning for what’s next (since I can’t blog about what’s next until I’ve recapped – seems like a good rule).
As you know, this was not a good race for me time-wise. My worst since I started working with Jerry and taking my running seriously. You’d think I’d be a little bummed, right? I’m not.
In a nutshell, how did it go? Great for the first 16. I clipped along at 6:10s, not even breathing. I went 100% on effort. I should do this more often, both in races and practice. Some were faster, some slower (esp. into the 35 mph wind – blocked by a pack of men who made sure to keep me sheltered – gotta love how nice marathoners are). I can tell my lungs are stronger than they ever have been before. Nate even commented that when I went past he thought I wasn’t going that fast – good to know, glad I can make 6:10s look slow!
|Nate ready to cheer, despite a green/dark green/yellow/red looking radar! What a trooper. Also love the Team Nichole shirt! 🙂
But then mile 16 happened. I was going up a little uphill when all of a sudden a warning light went off in my head. My quads already felt shredded. What? How can this be happening, so soon? I specifically train high mileage so the distance of the marathon doesn’t get to me. I’ll feel it at mile 23 or so, but that’s to be expected. I have NOT felt it at mile 16 since I started marathoning. I let myself slow to 6:30s, knowing I could still finish in sub 2:46 if I just held that pace for the next 10 miles. By mile 18 or 19, though, my quads just weren’t firing right, and I slowed to 7 minute miles or so. I averaged 7:50s for the last 6 miles of the race. Talk about a way to lose mountains of time! I told myself this was just like the cool downs I did this fall where your quads were trashed and you shuffled along back home. Just like that, Nichole. Just a cool down, you can finish. Just 6 to go. Then 4. Then 2. Then the finish line :).
Once I finished, I found a spot inside the Sutter Club (elite hangout building post-race) and prayed for my legs to stop hurting. I scooted up next to a wall to put the legs up. That seemed to help.
|Post finish in the Sutter Club. Ow. BTW, first time racing in arm warmers. I loved them! And nice that Brooks makes a XS/S size (still a little long for my short arms, but hey, I’m happy!).
I am so glad I took the opportunity to race. Thank you to all of you who urged me to do it. If I wouldn’t have raced, I would have always wondered what I could have done. I also feel like I would have felt unfulfilled (all that work this summer, and no race to cap it all off).
I also learned a very valuable lesson: it is very, very difficult to re-train and re-peak for a race. I’m glad I learned this now vs. a year from now when I’ll likely be chasing down an Olympic Trials Qualifier. I had always wondered if it would be best to drop out of a race if you were gunning for a time/pace and just weren’t hitting it: save your legs for another marathon in the next couple of weeks when you might be feeling better. Now, there’s no way I’d consider doing that. Instead, I think it’s better to race, no matter the outcome, and then look at least 2 months down the road for another opportunity.
Perhaps if I would have raced closer to NYC things would have been different. A month was simply too long, at least with how I had tapered for NYC (pretty severe) and the fact that I couldn’t get too high with mileage coming back up – which meant that it’s been over two months since I’ve logged anything close to decent mileage. For me, that’s a huge deal. I rely on that mileage strength and I know that’s why my quads weren’t strong enough to handle the distance. I also had cut out strength work 2 weeks before NYC and failed to pick it up with any regularity post-NYC. Totally, totally my fault. I came into CIM softer than I should have. I noticed it in my quads and in my core. I also rely very heavily on this overall strength.
Funny aside: a friend who has given me a lot of advice throughout this taper/re-taper thing (she went through it earlier this year) told me afterwards that she dropped out at mile 16 of her “re-taper” race… interesting to note. Glad she hadn’t told me that before the race…
I also reflected back on the past month, the stress of deciding whether to race, the mental energy it took to start back up again, the absolute craziness at work, getting sick twice because I was stretching myself way too thin… I need to look at what I’m doing outside of running- work load, personal commitments, whatever else is eating into my time. I need to cut out what isn’t important, schedule in time for more sleep, recovery, and the little things.. Because if there’s one thing this last month has showed me is how dang important this crazy dream of mine is. I want to reach my potential as a marathoner (where ever that is). I am severely limiting myself running around like a chicken with its head cut off like I have been this last month.
Another very cool thing about the weekend: I stayed with a blogger friend, Jaymee Marty. It was so nice to finally meet her! She & her boyfriend Mike are so incredibly nice (guess that goes without saying, since they were willing to house two crazy hoodlums who they hardly knew for 4 nights!). Crazy how this blog has expanded my connections within the running world. I never expected it, but think that’s one of the coolest things about it!!!
As Jim said today, “The thing about one night stands is… they never work out!” :). Hahaha! It’s true! They serve their purpose, but they never work out long term. This race did exactly that for me. It served its purpose, putting this fall training/racing season to rest, re-setting my brain from being stressed about running and racing to being excited to train and race, and reminding me how much I want this.
So – expect my typical post about plans for the next cycle, goals, etc., sometime this weekend! This is always my most fun post – nothing beats dreaming, planning, vowing to be better/smarter 🙂