4:08:56. Not my worst time, but my most disappointing marathon, for sure. I’ve been trying to digest what happened and analyze why I feel so crappy about it. I think it boils down to me having SUCH high expectations/goals for this one, and then being SO far off the mark with my finishing time. I’ve had high expectations before, and come up waaaaay short (even worse than this one), but this time it was different because in my opinion, based on my training, those expecations/goals weren’t just a hope – they were really realistic. I know that I can run sub 3:40. So what happened this time?
My goal was sub 3:40 (8:23 pace). Because it was supposed to be hilly through mile 17, my plan was to be at pace or slower through mile 17, to go slow down mile 17 (because I’d been warned the hill could kill you), then to pick it up on an out and back from mile 18 – 24, then to just hang on til the end.
The weather was just about perfect. 37 degrees at the start, about 45 when we finished.
Mile 1 – 6.2 (52:42; 8:29 pace)
I started out just behind the 3:40 pacer. I wasn’t planning on staying with her, because in my experience they always go too fast and my plan was to go slower than pace for the first mile or more. She took off way to fast. So did the 3:45 pacer, who I ended up running behind for awhile, but then even he was going faster than 3:45 pace. I wanted to stick with my plan, do my own thing. And I was really happy with how I did. I felt controlled. I kept reminding myself to have patience. Slow down. Stick with the plan. It felt easy. And good. And I was happy. I noticed a slight hill at mile 5, but so far so good with the “hills” that I had heard about.
Splits: 8:31, 8:27, 8:12, 8:18, 8:55 (slight hill; measured long), 10:08 (for 1.2 miles, missed the 6 mile sign; 8:28 pace).
Perfect. I was right where I wanted to be and feeling great.
Mile 6.2 – 13.1 (1:51:42; 8:32 pace)
I did notice the hills in this chunk. Slowed my pace a bit on the hills, but then made up for them for the most part on the slight downhills. They definitely weren’t horrible, like I had imagined them. In fact, I would say they were noticeable, but not bad at all. I talked to some people afterwards who thought there were horrible. I guess my training paid off. Again, my focus in this section was on controlling myself and not going too fast. Being smart and saving it for later.
Signs I liked: “Winning!” “Embrace The Suck”
There was lots of great course entertainment. Little bands. One man singing acts. Lots of spectators. Little kids holding out there hands for high fives. I took it all in and was having fun.
Even though I slowed down here, I had planned on doing that because I knew there were hills, so I wasn’t worried. Still feeling good.
The mile markers were small and very hard to see. I missed a bunch of them, so I would end up just pushing the lap button after I’d gone so far that I knew I must have missed it.
Splits: 6:31 (for .78 miles, because I had missed #6; 8:28 pace), 8:28, 9:15 (for 1.1 miles, 8:28 pace), 7:56 (for .92 miles; 8:39 pace), 8:41, 8:51, 9:05
Mile 13.1 – 20.4 (3:02:56; 8:58 pace)
In the earlier miles, 13 – 16.5, I was still a little slower than pace because of the hills (the “evil uphill” that everyone talks about is a slow steady uphill from about mile 15 – 16.5). But I wasn’t worried about it because my plan was to speed up after 17. Ha.
The long, steep series of down hills at about mile 16.5 – 17.5 killed me. Something tweaked in my right upper thigh/groin area during this time (it had felt off on an earlier small downhill and then really flared during mile 17). Even though I backed off and ran the downhill slow and relaxed (I was chanting “relax, Cindi; relax, take it slow and easy; relax”), it didn’t work. Something tweaked and I felt like my leg was going to buckle and I’d collapse.
After that, I kept trying to pick up the pace, because the course was relatively flat, but I’d look down at my garmin and see that I was at like a 9:45 pace. WTF? I could not move my legs faster. And i kept feeling like they would buckle on the small downhills that remained, so I ended up walking down the remaining downhills (and crying and dropping F-bombs)
I was sooooo mentally discouraged from about mile 18 through the end of the race. I was really mad that my goal had been in reach and it was not going to happen. I was emotional (nice timing for that-time-of-the-month to arrive the afternoon before the race; grrrrrrrr). Every single mile from 21 on, I cried. At first it just a few tears, which I tried to brush back. But by mile 24, there were times when i literally had tears streaming down my face and I was sobbing. WTF? And the F-Bomb count? Off the charts.
Splits: 8:25, 9:46 (missed marker, so long; 8:46 pace), 8:32, 8:50, 9:15 (this was after mile 17, the evil downhill), 9:14 (this was when I was supposed to be tearing it up and going 8:10 or faster), 9:45,
Mile 20.4 – 26.2 (4;08:45; 9:31 pace)
At mile 23 one of the kickrunners, bob, who was running the race and planning on a 4 hour marathon caught up with me and realized I was having a bad day. He tried to be helpful and say, “We have 32 minutes to cover 3 miles, I’ll help pull you in. C’mon”. After about 1 minute of trying to go a 10:00 pace with him, I told him it wasn’t happening and to go ahead.
I hated having my name on my bib. Little Rock puts it on there automatically (in the future I would ask them to NOT put anything – to leave it blank; Can you do that? Or i’d bring tape and cover it up). From mile 18 on, when I was feeling so low about myself and the day I was having, I would hear people shouting “Go Cindi” and it would make me mad or sad or embarrassed. I hated the day I was having and I just wanted to be anonymous and blend in to the crowd, but that stupid name on my bib wouldn’t let me. There was one dude at the top of mile 25 (where there is a hill) that must have been affiliated with the race (or an over-zealous fan) because he had a loud microphone set up and he was reading everyone’s bib names and commenting and (he thought) encouraging them. I could hear him from far away, yelling people’s names. The whole way up the hill I was thinking “please just leave me alone”, but sure enough when I approach him, he had the loud “C’mon Cindi you can do it. Smile Cindi, it won’t hurt you.” I was so irritated and angry right then. And embarrassed. Ugggg.
At mile 25.5 of the race they have a lipstick stand, where you can take lipstick to look pretty for the finish line photo. I was going so slow at this point that I didn’t even need to stop “running” for them to shove a tube of lipgloss into my hand. Great. Free lipgloss. Maybe the shiny lipgloss will distract from the tears that were streaming down my face and the scowl on my face in the photo.
Splits: 9:59, 10:51, 11:40, 12:32, 16:04 (missed marker, so 1.25 miles; 13:03 pace), 9:58 (only .75 miles, so 12:58 pace), 2:52 (11:58 pace for the final .2 miles; SOOOOOO frustrating and embarrassing).
Crossed the finish line and got that “World’s Biggest Medal” (which is obnoxiously huge and which already broke – they have a spinny middle part that is shaped like a world and it broke out in my bag on the way home).
The details: 4:08:56 (9:31 pace); OA 561/1812; F3539 Division 35/114; Females: 154/735
So that’s the race. In terms of goals, a complete bust. But, on the bright side, I finished another marathon. And I learned something: I really do not like downhills. And they don’t like me (which is why I also am questioning the whole Boston thing, since there is so much downhill at the start). I will try to avoid downhill races in the future.
The post race party was a blast. They have it at 4:00, which is nice because it gives you time to clean up. And they had tons of free food and drink (4 hours of free beer!).
In the last miles of the race I was telling myself, “I’m done. This is ridiculous. I really am NOT running anymore marathons.” Guess what I started flipping through last night on the couch? Daniels’ Running Formula – plotting out a schedule for Grandma’s. 🙂