I AM A MARATHONER.
And my head is in the most wonderful place.
This is not how I anticipated the day would end. I figured 1) I would have a great time, be beaten, battered, and broken, and be so ready for the offseason and kinda hate running/marathons etc or 2) I would have a miserable day, be beaten, battered, and broken, and be so ready for the offseason and kinda hate running/marathons.
I didn’t anticipate 3) have some highs and lows but being so happy at the end with a slightly longer time than I had hoped, but feeling so good at the end, if someone would have told me that it was now a 50k, I would have been like, OK, let’s do this. Who am I? Who has their happiest marathon miles in the last 10?
Let’s go back and I’ll elaborate.
All week, there was enough work stress that I had trouble sleeping one night stressed about it, and I got a zit from it. My second zit in 2012. So to say that it was NOT EASY. Also, I was freaking the fuck out about the marathon and I figured that something bad would happen. Getting sick. Twisting my ankle stepping off a curb. Something. Finally by Friday I was in a better head state, and had gotten fantastic sleep since Monday, so I felt better about getting to the start line a-ok.
We went to the Texas Tri Series party, and I was 1 part bummed that my 2nd place finish in my age group wasn’t recognized because they only gave 1sts, but 100000 parts inspired to speed the fuck up next year. 2013 is for FASTER. No new distances (probably). Just speedspeedspeed and working on body composition. Also, got the news that Jack’s Generic will be at my home turf (Lake Pflugerville) and it will have an Olympic option! I AM SO STOKED!!!! Is it tri season yet?
I guess I like biting things. Usually awards. =)
Then, Saturday morning we woke up, packed, and headed down to San Antonio. I am never ever packing the day of again, I forgot so many things (most notably my foot powder – though it wasn’t all bad – I learned chafe-free works just as well if not better). But all the important stuff was there so it was a-ok. We checked in to our hotel (the Mariott Riverwalk) and we could see the start line from our balcony. Good hotel spot, check. We hit up the expo, which was across the street (another big win for the hotel) and got our stuff quickly and circled through all the vendors but I was grumpy because I was hungry. We decided on Saltgrass Steak House – boring chain, but safe food for my belly I know works pre-race.
We got lost getting there which made me grumpier because I was trying to limit time on feet, and then when we got there, they had discontinued the menu item I always get (grrr), but as soon as I got my chicken and shrimp, taters, and salad w/bread, I was a normal human again. After a stop in the room, we had to go back to the expo because they didn’t give me enough pins and Zliten found a leezard! However, that was a quick trip, and by 4:30, we were back at the room and in for the night. TV, dorking on the laptop, setting shit out, snacking, baths, and watching room movies ensued. Totes relaxing, as the kids may or may not say.
However, I did not have high hopes for rest. I had great “night before the night before” sleep and many nights before that, but shit was LOUD outside (our room was the ground floor on a busy street). The hotel even offered by the hotel and I was really kinda meh about all of it. However, 9:30 hit, and a few false sleep starts and some sleepy juice – I WAS OUT. And did not wake up until the alarm went off and it was AWESOME and felt rested. However, again – CRAMPS. Thank god I dealt with this at the Showdown Half a month ago, so I knew what worked. Ibu gels as late as possible on top of breakfast (pr bar, pita chips, and some gatorade) and packed some herbal muscle relaxers as a gamble. I forgot baggies, and I wrapped them up in a cough drop wrapper and then used my spi belt wrist thing. So it worked out. Overpacking ftw! However, I went to bed not full because I only really had one huge meal, and gatorade and pita chips a dinner did not make, so I was probably hungrier than I should have been starting out with 5 hours of running to go.
Most importantly, I wrote FIGHT on my nails and fist as a reminder.
We got to the start and made buddies with our friends around us – a gal from CO and another first marathoner from SA. But, then we had another bathroom need before the start, and because we were 20 corralls back (I was assigned 18, Zliten 21 because he sandbagged his finish time) we went up to the potties and waited. Worst porta ever, piss and shit on the seat, no TP, but I did my best and got out quick, and we jumped in corall 22 and started at 8am (30 mins after the start) and got our day on. I had hoped to keep the 5:00 hour pacer in my sights, but they started way before me. Oh well. Garmin pace ftw.
I wanted to mile by mile recap, but I just can’t. Goldfish brain and all.
Mile 1-5 I was having a grand old time. I was running conversational pace (10:30-11:30), dancing, singing, keeping Zliten amused and enjoying. Dodging and weaving all the walkers was annoying but I was lovin the course just like I did 2 years ago. Zliten pointed out the alamo to me, which I missed because I was so focused in 2010, and yeah, it’s freaking tiny. Someday I will go IN, but next trip. I ate 3 blocks around 5.
Mile 6-10.8 I was starting to feel rough. YAH I KNOW. TOO EARLY. This was causing me strife. First my arches started to hurt. Then my back tensed up. Then my glutes. I was like, OH FUCK SHIT NO. Worried that my taper was too taper-ific and my legs were not ready for this. But Zliten kept up MP pace range for me so I kept going. I was afraid this was going to be my demise of the marathon but figured I didn’t have much too lose and it’s not like it’s a breakneck pace to keep up so I kept up. I looked at the FIGHT on my hand and thought “why the fuck is this coming up in single digis”. Argh. Not happy miles at all. I had an planned shoving of the blocks in my mouth at 8 because that’s what I’ve trained myself to do. Feel despair = time to shove shit in your mouth. It’s like productive emotional eating.
Mile 10.8-15 I split off from Zliten and got a little emotional that finally, there was a race I was watching the half marathoners go and not turning in with them. I felt nothing but happy in Austin when I turned in, but this was my time. It was MARATHON GO TIME. I figured I would get choked up a bit, but I was just feeling proud/happy/scared that I was committing to really doing this. The miles got tougher as I went on because it was hot with no shade, and then finally around 15 – the ibu wore off and cramps set in. I crossed 13.1 at about 2:27 so I still had hope of my 5 hour goal around then but it was going to be a rough fight to get there.
Mile 15-16 Cramps hit. I didn’t have a water station for a while to take my gross tasting pills. So, I walked. I looked at the FIGHT and it did nothing. I needed the walk. Somewhere around here I tried a salt packet just in case I needed it and promptly spit it out and discarded it. Gross. I didn’t feel really off or anything, so I went with it.
Mile 16-18 Hit a water station, got the pills down, and then felt *better* and a great song came on, so I took off (back to M-pace). If I didn’t walk again, I could sub-5. I was feeling great again singing to myself and running strong. But my body wasn’t ready to keep up 10 more miles of straight running so I backed off around 18 and walked again.
Mile 18-24 Cramps came and went (pills worked but not all the way). I realized that a) I was going to finish b) it was not going to be sub-5 and c) I was ok because I was having a great great day. Mile 18 I knew I was going to finish. Mile 20, I realized every mile after that was a distance PR. Mile 21, I was taking a walk break, and there was a cheerleading squad and I told them to do a backflip and I’d start running again (and they did so I did). I walked through all aide stations and sucked down nutrition and water and ran when I could (I’d guess the ratio was about 3/1 runnng/walking). The awesome was that when I was running, it was m-pace range, but I was scared to continue that so I didn’t blow up. Going slower didn’t feel good at all. When I walked, it was 15-16 min mile power walking. Each mile I felt increasingly better and happier, but I wanted to save my hoorah for the finish. I tried to do a “no more walking” thing at 22, but I had to walk one more time through the 23 aide station.
Mile 24-26.6 I walked through the 24 station, got 2 gatorades and a shit ton of water, and at about 24.4, a good song came on and I realized that I was feeling great (no worse than 11 at least) and I was close, so I made the “no more walking” pact a reality. It was a HUGE confidence builder passing all the walkers and trudgers (and I mean, by running, I think I was mostly in the 10s, I really felt great and my legs were liking that pace). I passed the 25 marker, went around the go in turn, up the hill, down the hill, and was back to singing to myself and passing people and thinking about how I was going to cross the finisher line feeling awesome, strong, badass, and, well, a marathoner. I found Zliten cowbelling like crazy under the last bridge and this is how I left him.
I busted the fuck up the last hill and ran through the chute pumping my fist getting people to cheer and crossed strong (Official time 5:23:34). I got my medal and several finisher pics before I stopped my garmin at 5:24 and made my way through the finishers shit and stuffed everything that looked good in my bra (I had some DDDDDs by then, hehe) and then found the finishers meet up area and stretched and nommed and gatoraded waiting for Zliten. We met up and talked and I found out his last 2 miles didn’t go so well (he crossed 13.1 about 7 mins after I did due to body issues) but he finished and we recapped our time and then got me a finishers shirt because the race shirt was kinda lame and a beer and then got going before we got too comfortable.
I got cleaned up in the pool shower because we had to be out of the room before the race was over, and then got on the road. I have been craving (after not having for 7 years) a big mac and I knew it was probably the easiest quick food without an extra drive so we did it.
It was what I expected. No need for it again any time soon, but it was calories in were needed like right then, was fine, and sustained us for the drive home.
Zliten was feeling rough but was awesome and got us home safe, we drank champagne, ate pizza, and I wrote this blog post (after dealing with some work stuff). I saved it for the today to edit and… you’re welcome. It was sort of incoherent babble that I only got because I was there. Hopefully this is semi-coherent! 🙂 However, I did leave in all the curse words because apparently when you’re happy about a marathon, you curse a lot! Fucking-a!
So, to sum up… I wont lie. I am in love with the marathon in ways I never thought possible. I am resisting the urge to sign up for another in a few weeks. Or a 50k. I really didn’t think this distance was going to be for me. I’ve had some triumphant long runs but never an “omg enjoyable” anything over, like 12 in training. Every time I tried to push beyond 13.1, my head got stuck in this “that’s really far and I’m scared” place and I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t understand I could feel anything but pain in the 20s. I didn’t think I could rebound from a low during a race that long – I figured it was continue on with planned pace or die. I am not so much proud of my time (though I’m certainly not disappointed), as I am how I kept my wits and positive attitude about me, and felt increasingly strong as the day went on. This was an experiment. Can a half ironman turn around in 6 weeks and use that endurance and mental game to complete a marathon? The results are a resounding: yes.
Obviously I know what to do to improve my time next time:
1. Eat more the night before. You shouldn’t have to eat 3 times in 12 miles :P.
2. Train more long runs. Obviously. The blow up at 15 was partly because I’ve barely had any runs over 15. I need to become bffs with 20. x-on tired legs is great, but I can tell 15-20 is going to be my toughies until I get really cozy with it.
3. Pick a marathon that’s not on a hot and humid day, and also on that day of the month where I just want to curl up in a ball and die. Poor planning Quix. 🙂
4. Taper LESS. I skipped a few miles the last few weeks due to stress and I think I would have done better in the first half if I had done them, maybe?
But even though I want to sign up for another race, I promised myself an offseason, and I can’t think of a better way to go into it happy as fuck with what I’ve done. This week, I will do nothing but train wineglass to mouth reps, butt to couch reps, and practice saying yes to social invitations. Maybe some walking and yoga if I want. The goal is NO SWIM BIKE RUN, lots of social time, and keeping the gross food in check a bit. We’ll resume with anything healthy Nov 19th. Expect next weeks post to be…. not so much like anything else in 2012. I still have Turkey Trot 5miler and two more 5ks to do this year, but they are all “fun runs”. Meaning, I’ll run them as hard as I feel like at the time with no specific training, and the chips will fall as they may.
OMG I AM A MARATHONER. Seriously, I was so afraid of this race. 70.3, excited. 26.2, terrified. Now who’s afraid of the big bad marathon? Not me. Respect for the distance? Totally. Know how to better train for it? Absolutely. Scared of completing the distance? No mas.