I think part of what makes marathons so rewarding is that each race has its own unique challenge.
Let me start with, about 2 weeks before the marathon, my adductors became cranky. I was told it was an over use issue. I had to stop running. In fact, I didn't run for 9 days, with the exception of a bad slow 4 mile run mixed in the Monday before the run, and a test 0.5 mile the Saturday before the marathon. Not good.
It took 1 massage/PT appointment and 2 ART sessions to relieve the tension.
But in the end, my adductors were not the reason why my marathon was tough. I didn't even feel them during the run. (Although, I did have them taped)
1- 8:53 (crowded start)
2- 8:15 (gah! pacer too fast)
3- 8:26 (Gu at mile 3.5)
My plan was to start with the 3:45 pace group or 8:30 pace, and hang there for the 1st 10k or so.
The start was actually pretty crowded. I had many runners bump into me, and even grab me. (It felt like a swim start during a triathlon, being kicked and slapped everywhere) This was annoying.
Because of the crowding, the 3:45 pace group was pacing a 9 minute mile for the start. I realized this, and picked up my pace just a bit, weaving my way through the crowds, leaving the 3:45 pace group slightly behind me.
On the 2nd mile, the 3:45 pace group passed me, which made me think I was still running too slow, so I picked up my pace. After the pick up, I realized this felt too fast, I looked at my Garmin and they were running an 8 minute pace! I quickly let them go ahead of me and settled back into an 8:30 pace. I didn't run with the 3:45 pace group after that.
I felt perfectly fine the 1st 6 miles, but I did have to take in a GU at mile 3.5, which is a half mile early for me. I typically take in my GU's every 4 miles. (Perhaps my bunk was because I did not fuel properly in the weeks leading up to the race???)
**I can say, with fact, my body from the start of the Eugene race, did NOT feel as amazing as it did last November during the Two Cities Marathon. My body and legs felt so light and fit that day; I felt like I could have run forever at Two Cities.**
7- 8:20 (Gu at mile 7)
10- 8:26 (Gu at 10.5)
I was having fun during these miles, especially miles 7-11. I saw my boyfriend. My adductors were happy, so my worry for my legs at this point started to fade. I also felt like during these miles I could drop pace safely to 8:20- 8:25. My body still feeling ok, but I was still definitely needing my GU's early.
14- 8:19 (Gu at 14)
17- 8:36 (Gu 17.5)
I hate seeing my pace slip. At the half mark I started to feel tired, the 8:33 pace started to feel like work. (This pace, during my training cycle, has felt easy and even slow) I tried to knock any negative thoughts out of my head, just saying it was probably a small incline of the course and this is why my legs were feeling tired at the time. (Mile 13) So, I picked my paced up on mile 14, but this felt hard. My legs felt like I should be on mile 24, not 14. My effort felt like a 7:40 pace, not 8:28!!
By mile 15, I walked a bit, and I knew any chance at a BQ or even a PR were a no go today. As I began to run again, I started chanting to myself my running mantra, "the body achieves what the mind believes" over and over. I refused to give into any negative "I can't finish" thoughts, at this point. I again picked my pace up for mile 16, but my legs were heavy, hurting, and the bottom of my right foot was beginning to hurt. (Like it typically does around mile 24/25 of a marathon.)
But by mile 17 I slowed again, my legs and body were betraying me, sigh. But why?? I had just run a 22 miler at 8:23 average pace and a 20 miler at 8:17 average pace and felt strong...but on the big day, these paces felt like I was trying to run a pace I have never attempted before. Again, I stopped, this time to stretch my foot out, and then started to run. Ok, to be honest, by this time, I was thinking maybe I should DNF, because I did not want to break a foot being stubborn, or hurt my body trying to complete something that clearly my body is saying "I can not do this today". At this point, was also when the 3:45 pace group passed me by, sigh...with my aching body, and the 3:45 group passing me by, I broke down and I just started to cry. I was starting to feel defeated, and as hard as I was trying not too let the mind games take over, they were.
By mile 18, I was running/walking lot. I believe during this mile, I ran by a medical table, stopped, turned around, and started to walk my way back to the medical table...but, I stopped again, stubborn, turned around, and and started to run on, I wanted to finish this.
Miles 19- 23
20- 9: 00
I cried a lot during these miles. I was hurting so bad. My legs were heavy, and tired. The bottom of my right foot ached. My pace was getting slower, and slower, yet my effort remained the same - giving it my all. By mile 22, I started to feel out of breath, and my heart rate felt higher then normal, so I took my pulse. I then convinced myself my pulse was skipping a beat (it wasn't) and my anxiety began to take over. I panicked. I stopped, and started to walk slow; I just wanted the next first aid station. I was convinced I had pushed my body too far, and I was having some type of heart arrhythmia, now.
I finally walked my way to the mile 23 first aid station, and told the medics my foot was hurting. (I omitted the increased work of breathing and heart rate, because instantly, when I arrived at the help station, I felt better.(Anxiety)) Here, I stayed, and sat for about 5-6 minutes, firmly decided I was done running for the day. After a brief look at my foot, the male medic talked me into trying to walk a bit to see if I could continue on. I tried, and jogged a bit past them, then stopped- my legs hurt, and my right foot still angry, so I turned around, and sat back down.
The female medic asked if I wanted a ride back to finish/start area, I said 'yes'. I let her know I could call my boyfriend, and she lent me her phone. I dialed, and he answered, "uh oh" he said. I began to cry that I was hurting, that I was done and wanted to be picked up. His response, he would come get me, but also reminded me how close I was to the finish and he asked if I was sure if I wanted to quit? I cried, I didn't know what I wanted to do, but all I knew was how bad I was hurting. I just wanted the pain to be done.
The boyfriend asked if I thought I could make it to the next aid station, that was just past mile 24, to see how I felt. I replied, that I didn't know. He told me, if I go and I still wanted to be picked up at mile 24, he would go. I agreed, and said I would try. At this point, I was probably at the med station for about 10-15 minutes.
I stood up, wiped my tears from my cheeks, told the medics I was going to run to the mile 24 med station, turned off my Garmin, and began to jog on my stiff, angry legs.
I actually ran the last 3 miles, and never stopped, not to walk or to stretch, I just ran. As I approached Hayward field I had all kinds of emotions. Mad it was a bad run and I bonked, crying from the pain, but also so happy to be done. I ran onto the track, hurting bad, but I finished! 4:08.(My marathon PR is 3:43) I got my finishers medal and marathon #5 finish....I cried when I crossed the finish line. I actually I cried for awhile, especially when I found my boyfriend. I was crying from the pain (my legs and foot ached), the disappointment that this run did not turn out as planned, but I also cried at the glee to be done running. ;)
I know many may think, "why didn't she just DNF early, and live to run another marathon in a few weeks?" While BQ'ing is something I want more then anything, I am not in a rush to get there, either. I will get there when it is meant to be. If not this race, then the next! I also didn't quit early on because of my plan to take time off from the marathon distance after Eugene- I knew if I quit this day I wouldn't turn around and attempt another marathon in X weeks, I'd be done on a DNF. I am so thankful that my boyfriend convinced me to keep going at mile 23. I had a weak moment, but he was able to to snap me out of it.
I plan to race shorter distances for awhile, and maybe I'll attack a winter marathon. But for now, I am "resting", aka, Coach wants me to work on speed and shorter distance races for the summer.
I have had time to reflect back on my training cycle on my 11 hour car ride back home, and I can see where this cycle was not up to par to the ones I have run strong/PR'd.
-I only peaked at 35-40 miles a week this cycle. The marathons I have had the best outcome, San Diego, Shamrock and Two Cities, I peaked at 45-50 mile a week. The marathons I lacked the extra miles (Marine Corp and Eugene) my marathon performance lacked.
The marathon knows when you haven't put in the homework.
-I lacked the extra easy runs in between the hard runs. I was just running what I had to- interval, tempo, long run, easy 3.
-I was 133lbs for the November marathon I PR'd. Eugene I was 5 lbs heavier. (Yes, 5lbs can make a difference) I am applying nutrition program from my coach next cycle.
-I do not think I took enough time off between the November marathon and this cycle. The whole training cycle felt like a burden. (Lack of motivation = why weekly miles were lower then my normal)
-I need my recovery week. I once complained to my coach that I hated recovery week. (taking every 3rd week easy) Now, I think my body best responds to a break from training every now and then.
I was definitely feeling burnt out at the end of this cycle.
-This taper I ended up having 9 days off from running. I think whatever fire I had to run a marathon, was gone with this time off. While I didn't lose fitness, I did lose my fire. I couldn't get excited for it, I didn't even get nervous. I kind of didn't even feel like running it, honestly. Ya, I know, not a way to head into a marathon and expect to succeed.
-Strength training didn't even exist, and yoga even eventually fell off the map too. I plan to add back 1-2 days a week of strengthening, and yoga at least once every 2 weeks, at minimum.
-I will keep my next marathon attempt a secret, on the down low. I tend to find the runs that a lot of people know about, and set a high expectation on, are the ones I bonk at. I actually do have a marathon in mind, but only my coach and my boyfriend know, for now.
My fire is definitely re-lit to race the marathon.