i had high hopes for this race. it was my 3rd year in a row running it, both time with nice PR’s and last year with a BQ. i know the course, know the race and trained hard pretty much this whole year with this as my goal race in the end.
i wasn’t really sure what i was capable of for a marathon. this training cycle has been weird and i had a couple races that weren’t what i hoped would be and didn’t help in my goal planning for this race (or maybe they should of). i was training with ~8:10 as my goal pace and was nailing all those workouts. i figured i would run a lot of the race by feel, but i also wanted to give a good PR a shot.
after almost 10 hours of sleep on friday night, i woke up and jess and i lounged around watching tv for a bit, then we got ready and headed over to sacramento. the drive was easy and our race hotel (the hyatt) was great, i would definitely stay there again. after we got settled, we made the couple block walk over to the expo and i got to meet up with some friends from twitter and facebook which was fun! we walked around for a few minutes and ran into tara picking up her relay packets, then we headed to lunch since we had only had a bagel and it was already 2!
we ate a pretty big lunch of pasta, then walked back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit. i was feeling really tired then and could have definitely taken a nap, but i knew that would hurt my chances of sleeping later. around 6 we decided we should probably eat again so we went and got some pizza and then were back at the hotel by 7:30. everything was set out and ready to go and i was in bed probably by 8.
unfortunately my brain would NOT shut off and i couldn’t fall asleep for anything. i was tossing and turning pretty much until 11pm. i had a slight headache too which was really annoying me. i woke up a number of times through the night and was wide awake at 3am. our alarms were set for 4, so i tried to make sure of that extra hour but it didn’t really do much.
when the alarm finally went off i jumped out of bed and started getting ready. my head was still hurting and i found a random advil in my bag, so i took that hoping the headache would go away. i ate my breakfast (english muffin with peanut butter and later a banana) pretty easily and we were ready to go right on time.
the forecast was calling for a 50% chance of rain the whole race with temps in the low 50s. it had warmed up a lot over the week which kind of irritated me (i love my low 40s!), but low 50s was definitely still good. i hoped the chance of rain would mean it would be overcast and i was even hoping for some sprinkles during the run. i decided to wear my black PR tank and my nike capri tights since i had been running only in capri tights lately and i just haven’t been in a shorts mood. plus i like them better if it rains.
we walked over to the bus line and were on a bus within a few minutes. i was really trying to concentrate on the bus about what was about to take place but my mind was spinning a million miles a minute. then i got really tired and wanted to take a nap.
the bus ride feels so long but eventually we were there. we got off and it wasn’t that cold at all, but i still had on throw away sweats to keep cozy. we went to the porta potties where there was the LONGEST line of bathrooms i have ever seen! it was a runners dream come true when it comes to race porta potties. i wished i had my camera, it was seriously blocks and blocks long.
after a couple trips to the bathroom, we decided to check our sweats and then headed over to the start line. i said goodbye to jess and lined up where the 3:35 pacer should be. he showed up a few minutes later and everything just seemed to be clicking and working together so perfect, i hoped this was a sign of a good day. a few minutes later, the countdown happened, i took a salt cap and we were off!
i had time goals in mind for this race (A: 3:35, B: PR 3:39, C: BQ 3:40), but i really wanted to try to run a smart race and run a lot by feel and not start off too fast. isn’t that what we all say?
the pacer pulled ahead pretty fast weaving around people but i wasn’t worried. i had heard stories of him starting off really fast and i just wanted to keep him in my sites if possible and run my own race. the first .75 mile is downhill and is very easy to go too fast. i looked at my garmin and i was going 7:45 so i pulled way back. this is NOT how i planned to start my marathon.
the first few miles of the course are all up and down rollers, but the downs are longer than the ups and they are really fast miles. it is almost impossible not to start off too fast. i kept checking my garmin and having to pull myself back. i was seeing 7:55 constantly and would make myself slow down which was really hard. it almost defeats the purpose when you are running fast downhills, so i just settled for a middle ground of around 8:00s.
mile 1 – 8:02
mile 2 – 8:01
mile 3 – 7:59
mile 4 – 8:09 (gu)
i was finally finding closer to the pace i was shooting for. i was constantly making myself reign it in but by this point i was very close to the 3:35 pacer. the course continues to roll through some rural houses and some farms and there were a few spectators out around here too. i had started with a handheld water and was reminding myself to drink from it often. this worked out well since the first few aid stations were packed.
somewhere in here i felt like i had to burp so i finally did and with it threw up gu in my mouth. this has never happened to be before and was not a pleasant way to be starting the marathon, and i really hoped it wasn’t a sign of things to come. the first relay exchange was around mile 6 and i saw kristin and stephen there cheering which was a great boost.
mile 5 – 8:08
mile 6 – 8:08
mile 7 – 8:08
i was cruising along and the miles were flying by. i was pretty much packed in with the 3:35 pacer at this point and feeling pretty good. the hills do make you tired but he was doing a good job and going up them easy and using the downhills to make up time. during mile 8 he slowed WAY down. i looked at my watch and we were running in the 8:30s. this kind of threw me off and was messing up my groove so i pulled ahead a bit to try to keep my rhythm going figuring they would catch up again once we got the long downhills in mile 10.
mile 8 – 8:29 (gu)
mile 9 – 8:24
mile 10 – 8:08 (salt)
this is my favorite part of the course! you wind down these hills into old town fair oaks and its so fun. there are lots of spectators and a big long downhill you can fly on. i was having fun and really trying to take in the race around me.
at this point the sun was out and i was starting to get a little warm. in the shade the air felt great, but in the sun i just felt warm and wished i would have worn shorts. around 11/12 i decided to finish off my handheld and get rid of it because i also wanted to get rid of the gloves i had on my hands. i tossed both aside and felt a million pounds lighter. the second relay exchange is right around the half and i saw kristin and tara here.
mile 11 – 8:09
mile 12 – 8:18 (gu)
mile 13 – 8:19
half marathon 1:47:30 – exactly on target with my 3:35 pace band
there are a couple tough miles in between 12 and 16. some long slight uphills and just lonely boring spots. i was remembering a lot from last year where i was fighting the wind so hard and was thankful there wasn’t much wind out that day. i was just continuing to run how i was feeling. i was getting pretty tired but when i would look at my watch i was still running in the 8:teens. somewhere in here i was losing steam and the 3:35 group pulled ahead. i could see them for a long time and eventually they were out of my sites.
mile 14 – 8:13
mile 15 – 8:23
mile 16 – 8:24 (gu)
i was really getting tired here. i started feeling all wobbly and just really out of it. i was forcing the gu down and very thankful anytime there was an aid station coming up. i wasn’t excited i was only at mile 16 because i was already ready to be done and i had a very long way to go.
my legs pretty much stopped going at this point. i remembered this being my tough section last year and just willed myself to get through the next few miles. i was hurting and couldn’t figure out what i was doing/did wrong. i just hit a wall hard right here and was fading really fast.
mile 17 – 8:41
mile 18 – 8:57
mile 19 – 9:13
pretty much at this point i was in survival mode. before i had known i could keep an X pace and still get a BQ but that didn’t seem to matter to me anymore (also since i am already going to boston 2011!), but i kind of wanted to show that i could still earn my spot there and it wasn’t a fluke last year. i didn’t care much anymore though and just was trying to force myself to keep going. somewhere in the early 20’s the 3:40 group passed me, and somewhere in here was the last relay exchange and i got to see tara again.
around mile 20 i saw some teammates which was a great boost. i was happy to see a friendly face at that point and they got some pics of me running by.
i was toast by this point. my legs were hurting so bad and my stomach was pretty pissed of too. i was feeling sick and not wanting to take anymore gu but i did at mile 20. i started walking through the water stops and chugging water, i was so thirsty! i kept on running, although slow, and did have a few walk breaks i wasn’t excited about. i made sure to talk to myself about it: if you walk you cannot be all crazy on yourself tomorrow being mad, you just have to walk and deal with it and not look back. so i did.
mile 20 – 9:39 (gu)
mile 21 – 9:29
mile 22 – 9:57
this part of the course is so pretty and i have never really had a chance to pay attention to it before. there are some amazing older BIG houses and the streets are lined with trees covered in fall colors. i made the choice that if i was going to be hurting and struggling, i was going to find a way to enjoy myself and have a little fun. i was smiling at the camera and the spectators and just trying to find a good attitude through it all, i was going to finish another marathon after all!
my second fastest marathon time is my first CIM and it’s 3:44:27. i had this time in the back of my head through the last couple miles too, but around mile 23 the 3:45 group passed me as well and i just didn’t have much to hold on to and really just didn’t care that much to push it to get there. i knew i was going to finish and with a still respectable time and that i was happy with. i was picking up the pace a bit now and running more just willing myself to the finish line.
mile 23 – 9:12
mile 24 – 9:10
mile 25 – 9:12
the last mile was finally here and i just wanted to be done. i made myself run a little faster and enjoyed the streets lined with spectators. my legs hurt, my feet were killing me and my stomach was hurting bad too. this last mile always lasts so long but eventually i saw the mile 26 marker and was making the left hand turn. one more quick left and the finish was right in front of me. i gave it what i had and was so happy to be done.
mile 26 – 8:40
last .3 (garmin) – 2:34 (8:21 avg)
garmin: 26.30 miles/3:46:03/8:35 avg pace
26.2 miles/3:46:02/8:38 avg pace
age group: 80/402
my “shortest” marathon so far! i must have run the tangents well
i had had my garmin in my current lap screen pretty much the entire race. when i turned it over after i finished i was once again kicking myself that i didn’t change it over during mile 26 – 3 seconds!
layla handed me my space blanket (yay for friends who volunteer!) and i saw kristin just ahead and katie too! we all stood around recapping the day and i was fun to chat with everybody. we waited for jess to come in and then we headed over to get some yummy post race food.
i am pretty sore today which is to be expected, that course always takes a toll on my body. my feet are a mess! i have never had more blisters than i do from this one. two huge blisters on the sides of my feet and a couple on my toes, i will definitely be losing at least 3 toenails.
post race thoughts
i was never really sad about my race at all, a little disappointed it didn’t go as well as i hoped, but i have my 3rd fastest marathon! every time i do one of these i always come out saying the same thing: marathons are hard!
i was talking to chris last night saying i wonder if i would have started at a 3:40 pace if i would have finished better and come out with a BQ still. he said if i wouldn’t have tried to push myself i would never have known, so i was happy with that. i tried to go a little big and just lost it, that’s ok. i think maybe i was just missing that extra bit of fight in me today.
one of these days i might get this thing figured out but until then i will just enjoy racing, trying new things in training and just running. the marathon is a LONG way to go, so many things can happen and sometimes thing just don’t click exactly as you hope, but it’s still a great accomplishment no matter what.
and you know the best part about this marathon being over? BOSTON IS NEXT!!!!