The Minocqua No Frills Marathon was marathon number 16 for me. I loved it. Definitely in my top 5 favorite.
My goal for the race was to finish 4 minutes under my Boston Qualifying time, which is 3:55. So I was hoping for a 3:51. I ended up with a 3:56:23. Not what I had hoped for, but I am satisfied because I literally gave it everything I had. I could not have gone one second faster.
I decided to try a run/walk method for this race. Why? Because in previous marathons, my races look like this: Go out faster than race pace for several miles. Reel it in to race pace. Blow up between mile 17 – 20, slow down and walk. Get pissed that I’m walking. Finish the last miles alternating between walking and waaaay slower than race pace running and be pissed at myself. Oh – and drop multiple F-bombs during the last slog.
When I ran the Blue Ridge Marathon I had to walk during it because there were literally 3 mountains in it that I could not run up (nor could most others). What surprised me was that I smiled during the whole race, didn’t drop F-bombs, finished the last mile faster than the previous 25 and felt fabulous at the finish line. So since that time I’ve been thinking about trying a run/walk race because I think the walking helps me out both mentally and physically.
I used a run/walk race pace calculator that I found online to dial in my paces. My plan was to run 12 minutes at 8:40 pace, walk 20 seconds at 15:00 pace. Repeat. 18.5 times until I crossed the finish at 3:51 (I built in for the course to measure a bit long).
This strategy sounded good in theory. But in reality it didn’t work out like I had planned. First, when the gun went off, my garmin didn’t sync up. So I spent the first several minutes trying to make it sync up and running (what felt like) way faster than I should be going. Finally it synced and I pressed start and then started the run/walk plan. I felt good, so for the first 11 or 12 miles I did each run segment a little faster and a little further than planned. (About 12:20 at 8:35ish pace). I figured since I was feeling good, I would bank some time. I went through the half at 1:54ish, which meant I was going too fast, but I was still feeling decent so I wasn’t worried about it. At mile 14, I got stung by a bee (and dropped an F-Bomb). At mile 15 there was a steep short hill (the only one on the course). At mile 16 – 17, things were getting hard. I had a porta potty stop that was SO necessary. And then I just wasn’t able to stay on pace. The miles got slower. I walked more. So pretty much the same slow down that always happens in my marathons happened again. The difference is that I wouldn’t say it was a “blow up” this time – I just got tired (cardio, not so much my legs). I tried every mantra and positive vibes trick I knew to get me to the finish line for a BQ, but it just wasn’t happening.
But I finished #16. 3:56:23. Which is my 5th best marathon time, which surprised me a bit given that I haven’t run a marathon in almost two years and that I am not 47! Truthfully, I think the time goal was a bit ambitious for my cardio level. Give me another marathon training cycle and I bet I’ll be there.
Would I try the run walk strategy again? Probably. But I think I’d do longer run time so that the pace wasn’t 10+ seconds faster than my marathon race pace. I do think having scheduled walk breaks was good for me. It gave me permission to walk/recover without feeling like I was quitting when I walked.
All in all a successful return to marathon running after a two year break! Bonus: my hotel was across from the Minocqua Brewing Company so I had some yummy recovery hops post-race! 🙂