Oh my gosh, I finally feel like I can breathe. Yay, I know, it is just a race...I've worked too hard and taking yourself to the next level in the pursuit of any dream is a big deal. Running is my passion and LOVE. I was a little stressed about the Philly marathon. I wanted so badly to get close to my year end race goal. I had a 2:47 plastered in my head and after the Hartford debacle, I thought that my chances were slim at turning it around in 5 weeks but I put on my thinking cap on and laid out my plan. Week 1, recovery. Week 2, a bit of miles – a bit of speed but not too much. Week 3-4, back to hard training just not high mileage (75 miles each week). I did a lot of longer mile days and 3 speed work days plus 1 day completely off for every 7 days. I even managed to set a 28second pr around Central Park on Wednesday of week 4...this workout was pivotal because it showed that I had speed in my legs and I pulled it off after a 20mi run on Monday and a 14mi runon Tuesday. I was pretty psyched though tried to avoid getting over confident because the marathon is evil and can defeat you quickly. I attempted to keep my cool. Then, I lost my cool. I was getting the ultimate nerves and talking myself down from my confident 'you can do it' attitude. Probably drove Mike crazy. I needed to get the race started.
Initially, I was going to run the negative split plan...you know, the way you should run. I bit conservative and reserved then blast it to the finish. Well, I decided that wasn't the plan for me. I needed a plan I felt confident would get me under 2:50 so that plan was the reverse of the negative split. I call it the preplanned positive split method. I decided I was going to go out in a 1:22 then slow the pace about 10-15 seconds, what?! Yay, that was the plan and I figured if I was having an incredible miraculous day I would be able to pull off an astonishing time. I was comfortable with the positive split.
Everything went bad from the beginning (it got better, of course). After the first 5 steps, I realized I had to pee very badly and 6:15s felt pretty darn hard. Oh no. I convinced myself that there would be absolutely no bathroom stops until after 13mi but every porta-potty haunted my conscience, drew me in but I resisted. I resisted, barely. I focused on the plan, ate every 4 miles plus took in a few swigs of gatorade as often as possible. The stomach went bad, oh shoot-nuggets. Not good. My mind kept saying 'this race is over' and at one point, I even started contemplating going back to racing Ironmans and how I could make it work. Oh geez, I was feeling low and wasn't even at 10 miles. Oh bother. The good news was I attempted to stay as close to the plan as possible and didn't stop fueling even though my stomach wasn't perfect. I crossed the halfway point in 1:22:51. I immediately slowed the pace by 15 seconds and within the next 2 miles switched from honey gels to a clif gels and my entire body and mind changed. It was unbelievable. I've never experienced that, ever. I didn't have to pee anymore (and didn't pee myself...can't do it while running) and my stomach felt great, my legs pretty good but I didn't try to slam the pace as I felt I still needed to stay in a happy, somewhat comfortable place. I stuck with the clif gels for the rest of the race even had a bit of caffeine which was a first. I was laser focused. By mile 18, I just knew I wasn't going to have any meltdowns today...I knew I'd be able to run it in pretty strong. I was a bit over focused and at the 20mi turn around, there was a lady directing us where to turn and I though she was reaching out to give me a high five so yep, I gave her a very unexpected and unwanted high five then giggled about it for the next 3 miles. The last 6 were amazing. I kept running a bit faster...I mean, nothing overly crazy but faster. I got chills because I knew I was going to finsh this race strong and hit my goal. Not my ultimate goal (2:47) but so close and fought so hard for my finish line time. I was thrilled. Happy. Fist pumping. Jumped in the air. Screamed something like 'oh yay, baby!' Finish Time – 2:48:46.
Lesson for anyone...never give up even if your race starts out badly, IT CAN TURN AROUND!