Garmin: 26.4 miles, 7:53 pace
26.2, 8:00 pace, 3:29:48 (net time), 3:30:30 (gun time).
Question: Do you all run this much extra during races?
Fun (???) facts: weather was 41 degrees and rain at 8am start; down in the low 30s by 10am, with hard rain and strong wind.
I am sitting on my couch sipping tea, compression tights on, icepack on my R ITband, feeling great and trying to collect my thoughts about the race. I confess I was a bit disappointed when I saw the results. It was very cold and I only looked at my Garmin's average pace (not time) during the race (the Garmin was covered by my shirt), so I though I did a 3:26, based on my pace... I was also disappointed that I did not start the race faster, that I played it out conservatively hoping to speed up at the end, when it was too late because the weather had turned bad around mile 15 or so.
But then I checked out the results, and saw how hard of a time almost everyone I know had out there, and realized that maybe my race strategy worked out to my advantage given the conditions. As with every race, I learned a lot about myself during Baystate.
I woke up happy to be running, and very excited. It was actually warmer than expected, 41 degrees, and a little drizzle.After agonizing the day before about what to wear, I settled on short tights, and long sleeve tech shirt, a fleece and a tank top that I planned to discard on the course, ear warmers and mittens.
I met Katie at the Arena, and we walked together to the start. I saw and hugged my friends the Sue(s) who ran the 1/2 marathon, and saw a few of my Runaway Moms running group pals who attempted their first full marathon. The atmosphere was great. Everyone seemed excited. I felt the energy of the crowd. It was amazing. When I ran Boston, I was too nervous to really sit with the experience. This time it was different, I took everything in.
The start was chaotic, as the 1/2 marathoners left about 1 min before the marathoners, so we had lots of slow people to weave around for the first 3 miles, until the courses separated. That helped keep the pace down at 8:06. By mile 5 we were averaging 7:58. Katie and i started the run together. She had lots of bad luck with injuries and asthma, in spite of v conservative training, and I knew from the beginning that she was struggling as her breathing was hard.
I felt pretty good from the start. I tossed my fleece and a shirt to the volunteers on the course while yelling: "catch this" (that was fun!). I was v comfortable, actually a bit warm. It was raining a bit, but nothing too bad. The air was crisp, and the course was beautiful. We ran near the Merrimack river for a large part of the race. We had a couple of rolling hills, very mild though. The entire course was mostly flat, as flat as New England gets (which is a rolling kind of flat). At mile 8 we went over the T. bridge. What an experience. I felt like my sneakers had springs on, and I almost lost my balance a couple of time. It was fun, actually, and a nice distraction. Around mile 9 I met a couple of people, mostly 3:30 seekers, and talked a bit. We had a bit of a downhill from mile 9-11, and we were going faster (7:56). Katie stayed behind. I felt a bit conflicted as I would have liked to run together, but I ended up going ahead. I was feeling super. At mile 13 we turned around to run the same 10 mile loop. I liked that, as I knew what was ahead. At mile 13 Chris waited for me and we exchanged my Nuun bottles, and I got more Gu. I felt absolutely awesome and excited. By then it was raining pretty hard, and I started getting cold. I decided to use the I-pod, and that was great. I have never run a marathon with music before (Boston was a huge party, and I did not want distractions from that), but in a small marathon like Baystate it worked great.
At mile 15 I was running with a couple of guys, and one commented that it was really cold. At that point I realized that my fingers and toes were numb. In spite of trying to avoid the puddles, my feet got soaked. No biggie, though. I started feeling a little tightness in my muscles, what is expected after running 15 miles. I was passing a lot of people at that point. Some were walking, some were getting medical help. I was getting colder and colder, so I decided to eat as much Gu as I had (I ate 61/2 total) to give my body all the help I could. When we got to mile 20, I was ecstatic. In spite of feeling cold, I felt amazing. Little pain, no nausea, no lightheadedness, no sign of the "wall". With 6 more miles to go, I decided to go faster. I managed to go down to a 7:55 average during the next couple of miles, but that was hard because my legs and arms were frozen. I panicked for a second because I could not pick up my water bottle from my belt - my brain told my arm to move, but it could not - but I refocused quickly and told my arms that I've got to run and will take care of them later. And then I had this amazing feeling, that everything was perfect just as it was, and I started smiling and encouraging everyone who was running. The spectators were awesome toward the end of the race, so many, including small kids sitting in the freezing rain. They were cheering on me a lot because I was smiling. I was so happy. At mile 25 I could not believe it is going to be over. I did managed to pick up the pace so that the average on my Garmin was 7:53 when I crossed the finish line. It was really cool to hear my name announced as I entered the arena, Ana-Maria V (somehow I am registered as Ana-Maria V, kind of funny, but I don;t think they would have attempted to say my last name otherwise). I passed a couple of guys in the last 100m, just because I could.
The moment I stopped the pain started. My R IT band was tight tight tight, so that I had to hold my leg when walking. My knee was locked. We ran only on the R side of the road, which was cambered, so my R leg overpronated the entire race. I felt some pain during the race, in my hamstring and ITband but the excitement of the race took my mind off of it. Pretty amazing how the mind can overule the pain signal!
I went to the bathroom to change, and there were lots of really tiny girls under the driers trying to warm up. I always said I love my body fat, but have never loved it more than during this race:)
So now the marathon is over, a day in the past. I can't wait to run the next one, which will be Boston. Mostly, I can't wait to do more racing. There are lots of prep races for Boston, and I plan to practice taking risks, crushing and burning during these races, so that I can build confidence come race day. There is no doubt in my mind that I can run a 3:20 next time, assuming proper training and no injury. I train hard (I like to train hard), I work hard, I eat well and can deal with pain and suffering. I love to train! Confidence is what I need to build. My brain needs to habituate to the 7:XX pace, and it will. Each race adds a bit to the confidence. One year and a half ago I Pr-ed in the half marathon running the pace I ran today during the marathon. That was a happy day. Then I ran a marathon, a faster half, an even faster half, and a faster marathon. Really, it feels like the sky is the only limit (and confidence, but that will come. I have a plan for that).
That's all for now. This marathon was a completely difference experience than Boston. I was in a flow, I did not suffer, I did not have to use mantras, or play mind games, I felt one with running, my music, the crowd, and the weather. It was beautiful!
Congrats to Mary for going sub 3:20 (wow) on 3 weeks of training (wow), and being 5/188 in our age group, Katie for being so mentally tough and finishing in spite of terrible asthma and hip pain, Kristina for PRing (the BQ will come), Tami for finishing her first marathon in spite of injury, and to all the Runaway Moms who ran yesterday in the full or half! We did it!
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