Tears and F-Bombs (Little Rock Marathon Race Report)

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.  🙂

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15 Responses to Tears and F-Bombs (Little Rock Marathon Race Report)

  1. Kristy says:

    Reading your race report reminds me of my marathon last May. I felt the exact same way, except my problem was the non-stop rolling hills. I was so pissed, mad, angry, upset, and frustrated from Mile 18 to the finish. I hated it every second of those last miles. I crossed the finish line in 4:13 (and I wanted a sub-4:00 — ha!).

    You ran a smart race. You didn’t go out too fast and did great on the uphills. Don’t give up on the downhills (and Boston) just yet.

    4 hours of free beer?!?! Oh my!

    Congratulations! And rest up…you have another marathon to train for soon 🙂

    • Thanks Kristy. I know, I’ve never wanted a race to end so badly. Every single second of the last miles!

      There was also free vodka, wine and jello shots (but I just stuck to beer)! It was quite a spread of food and drink. Great post race party.

  2. missy says:

    GAH! you are only allowed one crappy marathon* and YOU, lady, already used up that card! pppffftt.

    i totally rubbed the Marathon Genie last weekend in hopes that little rock was going to be your breakthrough, total kick ass marathon. you are totally a sub-3:40 girl.. you SO have it in you. i really, really admire you, cindi. the determination and discipline you pour into our sport while balancing a career and family life is just beyond inspirational. the fact that you juggle all three gives me hope that i will also, one day, be able to do the same. i have no doubt that you are setting an example for your kids as well re: goal setting and tenacity.

    so, while this training cycle and race ended with a result that you were not aiming for, along the way, you have inspired me and given me hope. sometimes our journey is just as important as our goal, no?

    but back to the goal – there is NO DOUBT in my mind that you will be smashing 3:40. then, i’ll need to get back in shape so i can keep up with you 🙂

    finally, re: boston. during training, i ran long, hard downhill repeats and also would run down a steep hill at the end of my long run since its basically downhill miles 24-26.
    basically, trash your quads during training and you’ll be fine come race day.

    i look forward continuing on this journey with you and can’t wait to celebrate with you when you run that sub 3:40 🙂

    * i may get slammed for saying this, but i think every marathon runner needs to experience one fucking awful marathon.. it builds character and maintains reverance for our sport.

    • Awwww, thanks Missy. Your post made me laugh. You are so sweet. I don’t FEEL like an inspiration, I just get it all done because it’s all stuff that needs to get done and running keeps me sane! I’m sure the 3:40 will happen some day. I’ll keep trying. 🙂

      And I agree, we all need a crappy marathon. But enough already!

  3. Mindi says:

    I second everything Missy says! I can’t stop thinking about you and the fact that you have been in such great shape, had strong training seasons, yet keep having just craptastic marathons (all relative of course). I am starting to seriously wonder if it has to do with your taper. You are healthy and strong throughout training, yet during several of your races, you have had weird twinges pop up and throw a wrench in things. The reason I wonder is because inevitably, it seems the 3-10 day window before my goal marathon, I always have weird pains, twinges and tweaks. But by race day, I am usually 100% rested and strong. Maybe your taper is too short and you need a couple more days to get to that 100% so you don’t encounter one of those twinges? Who knows. But I have always felt taper time is such a valuable, yet delicate time. Because you are resting more, your body seems to go in repair mode, yet also seems more vulnerable to aches, sniffles and coughs. Think about it. I know you have the training down pat. There is something just off. And I think if you can figure it out, you can really conquer that beast.

    Until then, congrats on another great season despite a ridiculously hard training winter. And another big race in the books is something to be proud of. As is your time – even though it wasn’t the goal. Cheers!

    • Hmmm, I don’t know Mindi. I’d have to look at my log/blog history, but it seems like the twinges/aches/pains that have popped up in taper end up being something completely different than the “issue” that ends up sabotaging my actual marathon. I have to say that I think the things that have popped up during taper before have been all in my head (i.e. not really an issue, just me imagining it might be something, freaking out and blogging about it). This is the only time where there really was an issue in taper (my right shin, I know I wasn’t imagining that – it was there for days and definitely not right). But the shin didn’t bother me in the marathon, it was my inner thigh/groin (also in the right leg, but those don’t seem like two body parts that could be related??)

      I’m mixing things up for the next training round, with a whole new plan so we’ll see!

      • Mindi says:

        I didn’t mean that you twinges in taper came into play in the race. I am saying that maybe the thigh/groin thing was something that should have been nothing more than a silly taper twinge if you were still in taper mode, but since you were in your race it blew up x 100. In other words, maybe you needed 2-3 more taper/rest days. Who knows? What are you trying out for Grandma’s?

  4. Mindi – not sure. I think my taper was pretty much by the book, actually probably cut back more than required when the shin flared up, i switched runs to biking. Who knows? I’ll blog about my different training plan soon – it’s a bit more aggressive in terms of quality and mileage, but also just something completely different, which I think I need mentally instead of doing Pfitz again. I need to wait til I see how I feel when I run again first though! (Probably will run Sunday)

  5. Jen Jones says:

    I can’t wait for the post Grandma’s race report from you titled:

    “Smiles and Hells Ya’s!”

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