Friday, May 10, 2013

NJ Marathon: Recap

First things first, I PR'd! Yessss! (You know just in case you don't make it to the end of what is I think the longest post I have ever written).
Or at least that is the enthusiasm I feel responsible to portray. Truth be told I have had a hard time all week summing up my thoughts; hence why this post is coming several days later. I feel like I have to be proud and want to shout it from the rooftops that "I RAN A MARATHON!" and that I am being a brat for feeling as though that triumph is FORCED. 

But let's start from the beginning shall we?

After taking total rest days Thursday and Friday, I felt it was 100% necessary to go for a baby shake out run Saturday morning. Or maybe it was that I had a new running outfit and it was taunting me to log some miles in it.

Either or, you choose.

So I went on a garmin-less couple mile jaunt that ended in DD coffee perfection.

After attempting to stuff in some peanut butter banana oat pancakes (a hardship in itself) I was showering, packing and off - on the train down to Long Branch to meet up with my racing buddies at the Expo.

I found the Expo itself to be rather...unexciting. EXCEPT for this:

After the Trenton Half Marathon did a spotlight on me this week, they told me to come on by and gave me this lovely jacket! (HI GUYS! and THANK YOU!!) Kind of made my day.

Picked up my bib (#131 I felt like a marathon rock star) and shirt and then we were off on our way to the hotel.

We chilled out for a while before realizing that oh it was about 7:30 and we kind of needed to eat, oops.

We managed to find ourselves a nice little Italian place and I filled myself with chicken and whole wheat pasta. It was divine.

By the time we got back it was late and didn't find ourselves with lights out until after 11:00. I was able to sleep without tossing and turning with nerves. 
In the morning we awoke when the girls did that were running the half and just chilled for a while waiting until we had to get ready. At about 7 I finally got my ass in gear and it began to get real: we were about to run another marathon!

I had no appetite but ate half a quest bar, handful of pretzels and an espresso gu for my breakfast before heading off on the half mile walk to the start. 
As soon as we got outside realized it was definitely cold and windy but I tried to remind myself it would be amazing once we started to run.
We reached the corrals about 5 minutes before the start just as the national anthem was being sung and inserted ourselves into corral c as they played a tribute Sweet Caroline chorus for Boston. 

The next thing we knew the horn sounded and they queued up Born to Run (come on now you didn't see that coming??) and, we were off and running! 
I had no true pace plans in place, just to run comfortably. The start was a little bit cold but knew that was pretty perfect versus the alternative. It was marathoning weather baby!

With the wave start and not that many people running the full, it wasn't too difficult getting through the start of the race and get into a groove. I looked down a little bit and noticed we were around 9:20ish and that was feeling easy so just kept it around there. I didn't want to be a slave to my Garmin and forcing any sort of pace, I was looking to run this by feel versus obsess with what I could or couldn't do. Especially given I really didn't train for any specific race pace.
The miles started ticking off. Around mile 2 and the first water stop Tara stopped and I didn't want to and figured she would catch up right away with me, but unfortunately did not I would wind up being solo until mile 20 or so.
When I got to mile 5.5 I started to nurse my first Gu in anticipation of the water stop ahead - and it was at this time that I either didn't zip back my pocket or they rest fell out but I would find out later on that I was without fuel.
I would also like to point out that VERY early on in the race my Garmin was 1/4 mile off. That kind of sucked the remainder of the race to be hitting mile marks with no actual mile marking in sight. Apparently NJ is notorious for that but seriously NOT amused.
I spent the majority of the time thanking those along the course, and looking for kids to high five. I love love love interacting with the spectators! I get totally envious of people who have family and friends come out since I have no one that will come out for mine. I get a little bit choked up to see what some will go through to be there for their runners. I don't know if they understand just how much that means. Rock on awesome spectators!!!
And a shout out to one of the best - BRENNAN! In full banana suit at mile 11.5 - I didn't know for sure it was her until after the race or else I would have probably tackled her awesomeness.
It was also at about this time I was focused on the fact that I needed to stop for the bathroom. It was not URGENT but I knew that it was better to stop at this point then to try and hold off the inevitable. Unfortunately the bathroom had a line but when I made the decision to stop I stuck with it and just waited it out. Definitely took a few minutes but in the grand scheme of a marathon, that was not about to make or break me.
Once I got going again I went to take a Gu and this was when I realized - they were gone. Insert minor panic attack. Or well major. I literally stopped running and had an oh shit what now moment. But soon enough just regrouped and kept going. I felt fine, and stupidly was pretty much like it's okay you don't NEED any fuel. You always run without anything. Stupid stupid stupid.
I hit the half way at 2:07 - and was pretty happy with it, as that included the few minutes for the bathroom. I was also feeling REALLY good at this point. I wasn't focusing on any time goal but thought I had the chance to get a pretty solid PR. (and yes was taking pictures and texting while running...I love to multitask!)
Within the next couple of miles though that would all change.
That whole skipping stops and underfueling and being dehydrated...around mile 15 or 16 hit me full force in the form of calf cramps. Now I have notoriously tight calves to begin with but insert over a dozen miles and not drinking or eating and well it is not going to help you out at all that is for sure. I had to slow down my pace. Partially due to it was more comfortable to go slower and the other out of fear that pushing it would make my calves ball up into total knots of pain.
I was also super fearful of hitting that dark place that I did in Miami where I was ready to throw in the towel and questioned why the f I run in the first place. Happy to report, that point never came during this race.
Soon we were on the course from the Asbury Half which brought back horrible memories in and of itself. Not to mention as we got to the lake to go around, the wind started in full force. Insert further slowing down. I was not in the mood to push through the cramping AND the wind. I just told myself to keep on running slow as I wanted but just to run because I would be mad at myself if I was walking.
This was also where I started to get annoyed. The turn around point was NOWHERE in sight. Seriously. You kept thinking it was up ahead but nope, not there, keep on going. I was envious of all the speedier runners making their way back. I was greatful though that there was a stop that had Gu and I have never been more happy to inhale one...mind you this was mile 18 or 19 at this point, I went from 6 to that point without any. I'm not sure if it was the lack of water or carbs but my legs were not too happy the second half of the race.
Or maybe that is just what happens when you run a marathon. Whatever, details, details.
FINALLY the turnaround came (literally a cone to reverse direction - it was sharp) and then the wind was even worse. BUT this was also when I saw that Tara was probably about 2-3 minutes behind me. And I yelled out that I was going really slow now and she would catch up.
As I passed the aide station again, I grabbed yet another gu to try and give myself more of a boost (but as we all know once you are behind the ball on fueling there is no "catch up" to be had but I could pretend that my body would be different).
Now I was kind of bored and wanted company so pretty much slowed and ran backwards waiting for Tara to catch up to me. I was happy for a little bit of company. She had found a friend that she was running with and then we realized that her family should be waiting about a mile further up at 22. That put a little bit of pep in our step. I was definitely hurting. I didn't want to talk (and she knows me well enough that if I am not chatting I am having an internal battle and she doesn't force it or question me - reasons why I love running with her) but it was nice to have the company regardless.
Seeing her family and boyfriend gave a boost for a little while - but by mile 23 I then got a cramp in my left side that was radiating. Running was now really uncomfortable. The next aid station had bananas and I told them to go ahead while I ate half a banana and had some water. At this point I didn't care if it upset my stomach - I needed something to try and ease the pain for the remainder. I also needed to tough out the remainder of the race on my own. I hurt and while I wasn't having negative thoughts, I prefer to be alone at those times.
The last couple of miles - they were hard. I just kept telling myself to keep on running that I was almost there.
For a while there was a woman from TNT running near me with her coach - that actually made me run faster to get away. The coach was giving her all these inspiration phrases and such and oy they were annoying me. I respond better to tough love - as in fucking run you have 2 miles left; you have come this far get your act together. Don't tell me to dig deep blah blah blah, just run. Jillian Michaels would be my ideal coach at that point in time to get me to the finish. What can I say, I am a strange person.
As we hit that final mile, I knew I was going to PR and instead of being elated I started to get disappointed. I knew how far off I went from first half of the race to second (positive splits FTW?) and was pretty much just ready to be finished. I was already reviewing what had gone wrong in my head and I hadn't even made it to the finish line.
 When all is said and done I finished in 4:26 about 7 minutes off my first marathon time.
Was I happy - yes. I think. Truth be told I did one 20 miler and then a couple of longer 15-16 mile runs. The disappointment came from the fueling. That was in my control and sometimes I am just stupid and think that I am a superhuman elite that can go go go! I was thrilled to not have major stomach issues - ONE stop I mean that is a victory! Things are definitely on the up and up with that.
But, I can't help it, I have mixed feelings on the outcome. I have been moody all week; I haven't even wanted to talk about it much. I tried to have the proper enthusiasm but it just felt fake.
I was with the 4:10 pace group for so long and it felt easy. The what if's all start and are clouding my head post marathon. I have had a lot of trouble sorting through my thoughts. I know it is expected for me to be all sorts of excited for a PR but honestly...I don't think my time was that great. I slowed to make it easy since my legs were cramping. What if I had just pushed? I want to have a ton of pride and a sense of accomplishment but it is more forced than anything.

I am my own worst critic. Type A perfectionist.
After going out for a celebratory meal and drink - want to know what I wanted to do - I wanted to RUN. Yup you heard that right. I got back to Hoboken and seriously contemplated going for a run.
Now I will update you that no I was not insane enough to do that, but I felt fine (part of where the anger and disappointment was coming from) fine enough to want to log some miles - who really wants to do that a few miles after completing a marathon?
But every marathon is a learning experience right?

I would like to say that I did really enjoy the marathon in general - well organized, I liked the course (of course hate the shore wind) but will probably do it again next year. I mean running through the Jersey Shore what is not to love? Jersey Pride. And the half starting earlier plus not as many people doing the full was great. And even with less people running the full, it was never too lonely.
I am hoping that I can take what I learned from #2 and fuel it into my training this summer for when I go for sub 4 in Hartford in October. Because pretty sure that is going to take a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Just 26+ minutes that need to come off. No biggie right?
So there we have it, another marathon checked off and the start to what is going to be a crazy ass month. I have a 10K this coming weekend, followed by the Brooklyn Half Marathon and the Dirty German 50K. But all of these are being run for "fun" no pressure.
Marathon number two, done and done.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the PR! I completely know what you mean. NYC Half, I had a 9:30 PR, and yet I knew I could have done more (or felt like I could have) and thus wasn't totally pleased with it in the long run. Although initially I was just happy to be done!!

    But I know you can do amazing things and that sub-4 WILL be yours!