2011 A1A Marathon
Time 3:51:20 | Pace 8:50 | Age Group 7/23
To say I didn’t feel my best going into this race is a stagering understatement. I was confident up until my 20 mile run. Every run before that was a smashing success. Then the infamous 20 miler, two weeks before the race, crushed every bit of that confidence. I had great expectations for it, which may have been the problem. However, I am convinced it was the humidity that did me in that morning. After 10 miles, I had to take a break and honestly didn’t think I could carry on. But, indicative of the resolved person I am, I did make it to mile 20, albeit slowly and painfully.
That run changed everything. I no longer felt “ready” to run a marathon at the pace I had originally hoped for. My goal time was just shy of 3:45. Crazy, right ? But I was pretty sure I could do it. My body’s come a long way, baby.
On the day before the race, my body started to feel very achy. My legs and lower back, especially, were quite sore and I felt weary. Geoffrey, with a newly healed leg and already registered for the Half Marathon distance, decided to go through with it. We got our packets, watched a movie and went to bed early-ish. I hoped I would feel better in the morning.
I woke up feeling the same, perhaps worse though it’s hard to tell if I was just imagining the latter. We parked close to the finish line. Geoffrey’s idea was to run the half and then jump in the car and meet me around mile 20 to cheer me on. I know. I do have the world’s best boyfriend ! We walked from the car to the shuttle that would take us to the start line. We were nervous when 10 minutes prior to race start, the shuttle was still sitting pretty closer to the finish line than the start.
Finally, we were on our way. We arrived at the start with only a couple of minutes to spare. We chatted quickly with two of our friends who were walking the Half Marathon. Before we knew it, the race had started and we were all the way at the back. We ran on the outside until we found a gap close to the chute. Geoff and I barely had time to wish each other luck. It was a very anti-climatic way to start the race. To be honest, I didn’t quite like it.
Miles 1-5 ~ 8:40 | 8:42 | 8:40 | 8:39 | 8:34
The first 5 miles were frustrating. I didn’t care so much about my pace during the first mile, but, even then, I had trouble sticking to my goal pace. Don’t get me wrong, I was still enjoying myself, but I hate having to keep looking down at my Garmin. I normally find a “comfortably hard” pace that I know I can maintain and run by feel. I figured out quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to achieve my goal, but a PR was still in sight.
Miles 6-14 ~ 8:51 | 8:45 | 8:50 | 8:43 | 8:48 | 8:47 | 8:43 | 8:46 | 8:47
Once I decided to give up on my goal, the race completely changed for me. I ran in A LOT of pain last year and finished with a respectable though sub-optimal time. I was certain of a PR this year, so my new goal was simply to have fun. The next few miles were still a bit rough. My legs and lower back were stiff, but I kept chugging along. Somehow, I got distracted somewhere along the way and lost track of my fueling times. I ended up taking two gels too close together and my stomach let me know about it. I decided to stick to water for a while and energy drink only when I started to feel better. My body cooperated with that plan.
Miles 15-17 ~ 8:28 | 8:31 | 8:54
These miles were the most fun. It’s the turn around point where you get to see a lot of your friends as well as the top contenders. Their energy is contagious. Not only that, once you make the turn, you’re 10 miles away from the finish. I actually caught myself shouting “Yay ! Only 10 more miles !” Yea. I know how incredibly insane that sounds. I got crazy looks even from other runners. I was feeling so good though. In a way, I was excited and in an even more masochistic way, I was bummed that it would be over so quickly.
Unfortunately, I started to pay for all that exuberance as soon as we were clear of the turn around point. My pace slumped and my stomach started to annoy me again, but the rest of me was still feeling good. Mentally, I was a rock.
Miles 18-23 ~ 9:05 | 8:51 | 8:55 | 8:50 | 9:04 | 9:19
I continued to move along. I started to pass people who had passed me earlier, which I took as a good sign. Then, I saw Geoffrey. He rocked the half with a huge PR, drove home to pick up Luka and then met me at mile 20 as planned. Come on ! How can he not win Boyfriend of the Year ? I saw Geoffrey and Luka again at mile 22 which was great because body parts were starting to talk to me at that point.
Just as I did last year, I worried about “hitting the wall” after mile 20, but I never did. I was still a rock.
Miles 24-26.2 ~ 8:57 | 9:09 | 8:48
These were the hardest miles for me. As you pass the mile 23 marker of this course, every bit of shade disappears. It’s like an evil magic trick. It had to be 80 degrees at this point and although that’s absolutely wonderful when you’re lying on the beach working on a sexy tan, it’s another thing entirely when you’re running the last 3 miles of a marathon. I slowed down a bit at mile 25 because I wanted to finish strong. And, I did. My average pace for the final .2 was 8:14. I still had a kick !
On the one hand, it’s a bummer to miss a goal, but I beat my previous time by 21 minutes ! Plus, I am now certain that I have what it takes to bring home that 3:45 eventually. Most importantly, I had a blast. There isn’t one race photo where I am not smiling. In fact, I had totally zoned out around mile 18 when, suddenly, a man running in the opposite direction startled me by pointing and screaming “THAT’S A GREAT SMILE !” into my face. I didn’t even know I was smiling at the time. What can I say ? Running makes me happy, so I run happy.
So, what’s next ? Like I said in a previous post, I entered the the NYC marathon lottery and I am hoping I will get in. Otherwise, I will consider ING Miami in January or perhaps Disney if Ian Moss says the word.