This was, by far, my best marathon to date. In terms of time (PR by 7:08). But, more importantly, in terms of fun and feel-good. This was my 5th marathon. I really didn’t know what to expect in terms of a finishing time for this marathon. For marathons 1 – 4, I felt that I was in shape to run sub 3:45, based on my training. This time around was different. It was a shorter training cycle (Pfitz 12/55). My paces were slower than previous cycles on the speedwork and long runs. I cut corners on a big hand full of the runs (shaving off a mile or two here or there, because I just didn’t feel like it or was running short on time). So I really didn’t know what kind of time I was in shape for. The other major difference was I really wasn’t focusing on BQ or any special time. I just wanted to train for, and run, another marathon because I like it. It’s fun for me. The training is an escape from life and gives me perspective. The marathon itself was something I was really looking forward to, because I love Twin Cities. All that being said, I still thought that I was in good enough shape to run between 3:45 and 3:50. So I figured I would go out at 2011 BQ pace (3:45) and see how it felt and back off if I needed to.
Official time: 3:49:41 (8:46 pace) (BQ for 2012, since I’ll be 40 then, and since it’s after Sept 20th now)
Place: 2312 out of 8211
Female: 555 out of 3394
Age group: 110 out of 532
Actual measurement per my garmin was 26.52 miles, which was an 8:40 pace.
- Mile 1- 8:35
- Mile 2- 8:28
- Mile 3- 8:35
- Mile 4 – 8:17
- Mile 5 – 7:58
- Mile 6 – 8:48
- Mile 7 – 8:24
- Mile 8 – 8:34
- Mile 9 – 8:30
- Mile 10 – 8:27
- Mile 11 – 8:30
- Mile 12 – 8:34
- Mile 13 – 8:33
- Mile 14 – 8:48
- Mile 15 – 8:18
- Mile 16 – 8:35
- Mile 17 – 8:32
- Mile 18 – 9:06
- Mile 19 – 8:51
- Mile 20 – 8:25
- Mile 21 – 8:50
- Mile 22 – 9:49
- Mile 23 – 10:07
- Mile 24 – 10:12
- Mile 25 – 9:22
- Mile 26 – 8:39
- .20 – 1:33 (7:26 pace)
The weather was fabulous! 39 and sunny at the start and probably about 50 and sunny at the finish. Calm at the start, slight breeze at the finish. The sun started to feel a little too warm about mile 15 on, but was at my back so wasn’t bothersome. If it had been overcast it would have been perfect, but I’m definitely not going to complain when you compare this weather to my previous races.
I actually had a decent night sleep – about 6 hours of sleep off and on. I woke up at 4:30 and felt really excited for the day. Ate a bowl of oatmeal, a mini bagel with peanut butter, a cup of coffee and 1/2 a glass of water. Relaxed, went to the bathroom a gazillion times and got to the Dome about 7:00. Went to the bathroom 2 more times inside and just hung out. Headed out side and dropped off my sweat bag about 7:30. Saw a line for the porta-potties and decided I needed to pee one more time, so waited in it and cut it really close – going to the bathroom at 7:50 then making my way into the corral. Since I was at the back of corral 1, it was pretty easy and I made it just in time for the gun to go off. I lined up behind the 3:40 pacer and figured I’d just keep him in sight for awhile, but not try to keep up with him. My plan was to do the first 2 miles at 8:35ish, then drop down to 8:20 – 8:30 for as long as I could and try to hang on to a 3:45 – 3:50 finish.
Miles 1 – 3.1 (26:09) (8:25 pace)
I was so excited to be off! I didn’t give in to the temptation to zip out at a fast pace. I deliberately slowed myself to about an 8:30 pace until about 1/2 a mile in when I saw boB (imaginary internet friend) in his bright orange shirt up ahead of me – so I sped up a bit to catch up with him and say hi. Shawn was just ahead of him too, so said hi to Sean who was pacing a girl at 3:40 pace. Bob was hoping for something faster than his PR of 3:47, so I knew we’d be running near each other for some of the race. We ran together off and on for the first 10 miles, then he went ahead and I didn’t see him til the end (he got speed 3:44:xx!).
The hill at mile 2 felt more challenging than I remember it, and than it should have. I definitely don’t think I did enough hill training/strength work this time around. Saw Justice Alan Page playing his tuba, as usual, at the top of the hill. Fun!
Miles 3.1 – 6.2 (52:26) (8:26 pace)
I saw Ryan and the kids at about mile 5. I had thought they would be about mile 4, so I started looking for them then. Between looking for them and chatting with Bob, it distracted me from focusing on my pace. Things felt pretty good. Not hard. Not easy. I was enjoying the spectators, having fun watching the racers, and just really happy to be running another marathon. When I saw the family at Mile 5 it gave me a good boost!
At about mile 6 I thought something was feeling weird with my left foot/shoe. I for sure didn’t want to stop this early, so I just kept telling myself to run through it. I also knew that there was tracking at the 10k point, and so I kept telling myself “stay on pace so that anyone that is tracking you sees that you are on pace”. Turns out the tracking system was all screwed up anyway, so no one really was able to get accurate splits, but it was motivating for me to stay on pace for each timing mat, in case people were tracking. The imaginary left foot issue resolved itself, so I’m glad I didn’t stop.
Mile 6.2 – 13.1 (1:51:31) (8:30 pace)
It started feeling more challenging at about 10 miles. Bob went ahead of me and I tried to keep him in site for awhile. I tried to focus on looking for Ryan and the kids and saw them sitting on the side of the bridge at mile 11. Ryan and Carter were deep in a conversation and didn’t even see me til I was past them – I was yelling “Carter!” to get his attention. Meghan had brought her friend Jane with, so I had even more support!
I think it was somewhere between miles 11 – 13 (maybe – or was it later?) that I saw Tina. I had heard a bunch of spectators saying “Go Sam” to someone behind me and eventually ahead of me. I remembered that Tina had said she was being paced by someone named Sam, so when I looked up I saw Tina and the Sam dude and a couple others. I caught up to them and talked to Tina for a few seconds before I let them zoom ahead of me. They were going at a pace that must have been faster than 3:40, and I knew it would be too much for me to try to keep up with them (or even keep them in sight).
When I crossed the half marathon mat, I was happy that I was still on pace. But I was feeling tired.
Miles 13.1 – 30k (18.65 miles) (2:39:30) (8:33 pace)
These miles were hard for me. I kept telling myself to try not to drift mentally and to just focus on maintaining about an 8:30 pace. But it felt challenging – mentally and physically. I was trying NOT to think about how far I still had left to go, but it kept creeping in my mind. I just tried to take in the crowds, look at signs, high five little kids and strangely dressed spectators (a wolf, 2 lego dudes), and watch the other runners (rubberduckman, dressed in a yellow towel and carrying a rubber duck; guy in pink tshirt and tights; girls who I think were twins dressed alike and in pink). I thought Ryan and the kids were going to be around mile 17, so I kept looking for them but couldn’t see them anywhere.
Miles 18.65 – 20 miles (2:50:54) (8:32)
After I hit the 30k timing mat, I was really tired, but I kept telling myself “You need to stay strong through the timing mat at mile 20 and reassess how you are feeling then” I knew that if I gave up before mile 20, it would be just about impossible to stay on pace. So I forced myself to kick it in and managed to bring the pace down a teeny bit. I remember hitting the 20 mile point and thinking “Wow. I don’t feel like I hit The Wall. Holy Crap – I actually feel ok.”
Somewhere around here I felt like I was cramping up and starting to have stomach issues. I felt like I needed a porta-potty, but told myself to hold off and see if the feeling passed. It did. Whew!
Mile 20 – 24
Right after the 20 mile mark one of the spectators yelled “You have this. Now’s the time to take it a mile at a time. ” Good advice. I can do one mile at a decent pace. Then I’ll reassess. So I tried to maintain pace for mile 20. And it wasn’t too bad. Then I saw Ryan and the kids just before mile 21 and boy did that make my day! I wasn’t expecting them to be there and I really needed a boost. Woot! They gave me some energy to try to tackle the hill from mile 21 – 23. But that hill felt sooo challenging. I knew I was slowing down and way off pace, but I just kept telling myself “move forward. just tackle the hill and do your best.” I slowed waaaay down, but really could not move any faster.
At Mile 23ish I saw my highschool friend Sue and her husband Bruce. Unexpected surprise to see them and, again, another boost. But my pace had slowed way down (Miles 21 – 23 were 9:47, 10:07 and 10:12). I was physically and mentally exhausted and I had no thoughts of BQ anymore. But i was ok with that. My main goal at this point was just to finish strong, have fun, and not be struggling when I passed my family at mile 25.
Miles 24 – 26.2 (3:49:41) (8:46 pace)
Just before mile 24 I heard someone yell my name and cheer for me. I turned and saw Matt. I was feeling super tired, but I thought back about the previous two TCM’s when I saw Matt at this same point and how sore and miserable I was those times. I wasn’t like that this time. I was tired but not hurt. It was at this point that I switched the screens on my garmin and looked, for the first time, at my average pace. Holy shit. I was at 8:39 average pace. This completely surprised me. I figured since I had just had 3 incredibly slow/off-pace miles, that I was done. I did some quick math and took into account that my garmin had me at 8:39 pace, but the distance I’m actually running will be longer than 26.2. So I figured it would be close, but if I was able to maintain 8:39 pace for 2 more miles I may actually finish officially at 8:47 pace or faster and qualify for 2012. Holy Crap!
I seriously don’t know how I did it, or where the energy came from, but once I realized Boston 2012 was a possibility I found a gear that I didn’t think was there anymore. I told myself to fly and to not give up. I remember thinking that I was scared of going this fast because I felt like I was going to collapse. But then I told myself, “who cares if you collapse? You actually have a chance at this. Go! Go! Go!”. So I did. I ran as fast as my body would allow me to at that point and I kept looking down at garmin average pace screen and just telling myself “maintain the 8:39 average pace and that may be enough”. I didn’t let myself look at my actual lap pace, because I was afraid if I was going too fast or too slow, it would make me stop mentally. Just look at average pace and maintain.
Passed the mile 25 water stop and didn’t slow down to grab more. Not time this time. I knew my family would be just ahead and I was excited to see them, but nervous about the pace I was going and whether I would collapse in front of them! I started waving when I saw them and briefly entertained the idea of just flying by and not veering over to high-five them (they are at the point at Summit where the course veers off to the left, so runners have to go a few steps out of the way to high-five them). But I thought, “no way. I’m out here to have fun and I will be super mad at myself if I don’t qualify and I also didn’t stop to high-five them.” So I veered over to them and high-fived a few of them, but kept flying.
My thoughts the last mile: Go! It’s gonna be close. Give it everything. It hurts. I’m gonna collapse. Who cares? You can do this. You are gonna make it. Go faster. It’s gonna be close you have to go faster. Go!
I was passing all kinds of people. I had energy and was surprising myself at how fast I was able to go. I heard a bunch of people screaming my name (wasn’t sure if it was people I knew or because I had put my name on my race bib this time). I kept looking down at garmin and eventually looking at the clock and knew it was going to be super close so I literally gave it everything I had the last .2 miles (7:26 pace!). I crossed the finish line at 3:49:32 on my garmin and heard them announce my name. I was so pumped that I had finished so strong and qualified for 2012!
I fueled WAY better this time. I think my fueling was key to being able to finish strong. In addition to breakfast, I had the following: gel 15 minutes before race; gel at miles 5, 10.5, 15 and 20. Nunn caps in my water 3 times (miles 7, 14 and 21). I had about 4 or 5 bottles of water in my handheld (I would slow down through the stops and have my cap off the handheld and grab a cup and dump it in, grab another dump it in, etc. til water bottle was full). I also grabbed powerade at about 4 stops and took a couple sips of it each time. I think this fueling was better and prevented me from cramping up like previous times and still left me with enough energy to feel strong.
I am super happy with the whole day. It was so FUN! I felt strong and happy and good (although obviously tired) for most of the race. Pretty much all of the people I knew that were running had PR’s, or at least a great feeling day of running. It was great to have beers with some of my imaginary (and now real life) internet running friends after the race and to eat at the condo with all of my relatives. Such a fun day!
Link to my finish video: click here
Boston 2012 here I come! Woot!