The morning of the marathon arrived and I felt fine. I was nervous, yes, but I still had the it is what it is thought in my head. My biggest fear of the day was my body not holding up. I've struggled with hamstring issues this entire training cycle and the two runs prior to the marathon I had Achilles pain that was odd. I was really hoping it was my "phantom" injury of this cycle and that come marathon day, it wouldn't show up. Thankfully that was the case this time.
The weather was pretty amazing prior to the race start. The temps were a bit warmer then I would like at the start of a race and came in about 50ish degrees and sunny but by the time the race started, the clouds moved in and we had overcast. Everyone discussed their goals and expectations and where they were going to line up for the race and to be honest, I didn't really have a plan. Of course I wanted to PR but my paces through this training have been random so I really wasn't sure what I was up to that day.
So as soon as the race started, I ran and got myself into a position where I was able to get around people fairly easily. Of course people weren't lined up correctly so there was some jumping around people at the start. I found my easy pace and I remember thinking I could keep that pace all day. It felt comfortable and my breathing was completely controlled.
Mile by mile they ticked by. When we headed south or east the wind would be in our face so it made it a little more difficult but it also cooled you down a bit so I wasn't complaining too much, yet. I remember staying in the moment and being so happy my body felt good. Nothing felt off and running felt fun and easy. I was laughing and smiling and having a grand old time. Around mile 7 there was a church group sponsored water station. Their energy was amazing and I remember getting choked up at their enthusiasm. I realized I was having a hard time breathing so I had to push all my overly happy thoughts out of my head for a second to get my breathing under control again. It worked and I ran on.
|I missed the duck lips and gangter sign memo|
Around mile 10 is when the first thoughts of being a little tired came into my head. This is also the point in which we entered the river trail and the sun came out. The wind was now supposed to be at our backs but I never once felt it. The air felt dead and stagnant on the trail and I became light headed. I bargained with myself and said that I could walk at the half way point so that is exactly what I did. As soon as I hit that water stop, I stopped. I needed to fill my water bottle anyway since my Cocogo in my handheld was all gone and I wanted to fill it with Gatorade that they had at the station. I took the top off of my water bottle and asked them to fill it with the little cups they were handing out. At that point, the guy told me to just go in the back and dunk it into the big huge container holding ALL of the Gatorade. I felt weird about it and also didn't want to get my hands all sticky so I kind of just stood there contemplating what to do. Finally I saw a pitcher so I grabbed that, filled it and then poured it into my water bottle. So weird.
I went back to running and at this point would stop at each water stop and either eat or drink water. The air situation wasn't getting any better on the trail and the weather was getting warmer. At mile 17 is when you actually leave the trail and head back into business and residential areas. At mile 17 is when I hit my wall. I would try to run and then stop within a minute thinking how I was tired and I was done. This is also when I realized that music miiiiight just be a good idea. I put my ear buds in and as soon as I did, I noticed someone stalking me to my right. It was my friend Brian and so I took my ear buds out and said "Hey...what's up?" to which he replied "Oohhhh....you know....running a marathon." He asked how I was doing and I told him I was going down hill and that was pretty much all we said or at least all that I remember. I put my ear buds back in and we ran together for the next mile. It was perfect timing and was just enough to get me back into it. Eventually he was faster then I was and had more left in the tank and he went ahead but it's strange how the timing can be so right. It's the only time I saw a friend the entire race.
After mile 18 it was the good old run-walk method. The wind was picking up quite a bit and we were running into it a lot so it made it pretty exhausting. All that kept me going was the thought of my parents and my girls waiting for me at Lambeau Field. I thought about them constantly during the race and how I could not wait to see them.
Forward progress. Just keep moving.
Eventually I made it back to Lambeau. The sight is so amazing and I was so excited. As I hit the mile 25 marker, I ran and didn't stop until I saw my girls. As I turned into Lambeau I had a small moment of panic where I wondered if I would see them in there or not. I turned and instantly saw my dad and waved proudly. I ran to them and just hugged my girls and at one point I remember my mom saying how sweaty I was. Then I just stood there. I was holding back just straight up bawling and I couldn't move. My mom finally said "Go! Finish!" and I had to tell her "I can't! I can't breath! I'm going to cry!" And I was literally gasping for air. Eventually I got it under control, gave my dad a high five and told them I'd see them at the finish. At that moment, I was so happy. I knew the race was in the bag, I had a PR, and I was just about done. I never saw the cameras in the stadium. I was too busy looking up and taking it all in.
Right after you lap the stadium, you exit and head toward the finish. I finished in 4:31:50. About a 7 minute PR from my fall marathon. While I'm happy about that, here is where I am going to get a little down on myself.
The first half was amazing. I felt amazing. The weather was amazing. I felt like I was running easy. Yet this happened:
Being that this is only my 2nd marathon that I've actually really tried to run (not counting Whistlestop when I was really sick) I apparently am not good at the whole negative split or even remotely close to good at it. The first half of the race I ran in approximately 2:05 which means the second half I ran in approximately 2:26. This's a huge difference! I was completely bummed after the race that I could let it slip that much. I felt sooooo good the first half. I know I may never get a negative split full marathon but to go from a 9:30 average pace at mile 15 to a 10:23 pace at mile 26 is pretty much a heart breaker for me.
With that said, I did still PR. I am happy but obviously this isn't where it will end. I want to get better. I want to keep improving and trying different things and seeing what works for me. As of right now, I am signed up for Fox Citities Marathon in the fall and training is supposed to start this weekend already. As for now, I will take this weekend off for a long run but then we will get right back into it and see how it all feels. Hopefully I can learn more and improve yet again and feel a little better about it at the end.