Headliner: I set a new PR of 1:37:49!
So let me tell you about it.
Leading up to the race, I tapered like a good girl and suffered the usual tapering side effects of feeling chubby and going stir crazy. I continued to eat as I had been eating despite not being nearly as hungry (I made this mistake before my first marathon, remember?), so I went into the race with nice, full glycogen stores.
I drove to the race with my friend Anna, who was also running the half marathon. It was so nice to have her company, and without her the 30 minute port-a-potty line would have been very lonely. Here’s a race hack I learned: when choosing a port-a-potty, get in the line containing the fewest number of women. I know that makes me a traitor to my gender, but I’m willing to grapple with some cognitive dissonance if it will allow me to spend fewer minutes of my life in a bathroom line.
After checking my gear and making that final trip to the restroom, I only had about 5 minutes until the race started. So…no time for a warmup. I tried not to let this mess with head. The weather forecast originally predicted rain and we had some unusually cold days earlier in the week leading up to the race, but it was neither rainy nor cold on the day of the race. The weather was the one thing I worried about (I sometimes have a hard time ever warming up if it’s too cold), so with that ending up a non-issue, there was nothing holding me back! Soon enough, the gun went off and the masses were running.
I wanted to run between a 7:20 and 7:30 pace overall, and I had been training to run exactly in that range. (For those who didn’t do the calculation, I ended up running a 7:28 pace.) I often kill my average paces with slow first miles, so I was determined to not let that happen this time. I aimed for a 7:30 pace and what I ran was…a 7:30 first mile. Boom. Muscle memory for the win. After seeing on my watch that the first mile was right on pace, I let my legs feel the rest of the race and tried not to obsess over my pace. Here are the splits:
I went a bit nuts during mile 6, just to keep things spicy. Miles 8 and 10 were entirely uphill as you can see, which is where the drop in pace comes from. Also, you’ll notice that I didn’t quite run 13.1 miles according to the above stats, but this was because I did a stupid thing. I noticed that my watch was about a quarter mile off of the mile markers on the course, so I stopped and started my watch a few times to try and make them align more. Sure enough, I forgot to restart my watch after I passed the 5 mile marker. Bleh. Never doing that again.
Anyway, I’m proud of how the hills turned out. Clearly running along the hilly roads near my apartment paid off. I remember around mile 11.5 thinking, “I don’t hurt all over. Weird.” This was the first race I’ve done in which I haven’t hit a huge wall in the last fourth of the race. I do think I ran my hardest, though, so maybe I’m finally adapting to this long distance nonsense? Either way, it was nice not to hate everything for the last half hour!
I also remember overhearing an adorable exchange between two guys running behind me. At the 13 mile point, the marathoners split off from the half marathoners – the marathoners turned left at a fork and the half marathoners turned right. This one guy behind me said something to his friend like, “Is she going left or is she going right? What’s she gonna do??” There were two cute girls about 10 feet ahead of me, and I’m almost positive this guy was talking about one of them. They debated about this for another 30 seconds or so, and then I heard the other one say, “Oh noo! She’s going right! Dude you missed your chance!” Apparently they were doing the full marathon. I still wonder how much of their race was devoted to plotting out a mid-race pickup line.
I saw my friend Abbe right after this and we high-fived. Seeing her gave me the will to push to the finish line, as you’ll notice that the last quarter mile of the race is uphill and I needed an emotional boost at this point. As always, I was flooded with sheer relief when I crossed the finish line. But, even though I was obviously tired, but I felt oddly okay. No protests from my MCL or any other old injury. Miraculous. For that alone, was so happy and thankful.
There was a part of me that was annoyingly disappointed for not breaking 1:37 or getting closer to it, but I’ve gotten over that now. A new PR is a new PR, period. I think I was seduced into thinking I could run closer to a 7:20 pace because my 10k and 5k times indicate that I should be able to run that, but that assumes my pace increases linearly with respect to distance. It does not. If I follow that model, I should also be able to run a 3:25 marathon and that is downright laughable. This race reiterated for me that my natural strengths lie in middle distances (like 5ks and 10ks), but it also reiterated for me that I like running half marathons regardless of my time. I absolutely loved training for this race and I loved running it. That’s really all that matters.