My alarm went off at 0400 hrs, thank goodness it wasn’t time to get up just yet. I wake up early to eat and then go back to sleep for a little while before big races. I had an Extend Nutrition bar with some water and went back to sleep until 0530 hrs. A cold front was suppose to have come through overnight and the weather was cooler than it had been the past week, which made for good running conditions. I dressed in the tank top and shorts I had been running in all summer, but put on a winter hat, gloves, and arm warmers since the temp was only in the upper 40’s.
I pulled into the parking lot at M&T Bank stadium around 0645, I sat in my truck till 0730 then made my way to the start line, it was cold but I knew I would warm up once I started running. As I waited in the starting corral I went over my game plan in my head; go out slow and try to make up time later in the marathon. A woman came up to me while we were waiting to start and we started to make small talk and introduced each other, her name was Sandy. She noticed my Garmin and asked what pace I planned to run and I explained my plan; she said if it was okay she was going to run with me for a while. I didn’t mind and she said she was hoping to finish under 4:19. This is just another reason why I love the running community, you never know when you are going to meet someone new!
The marathon started just after 0800 and we were off, we took the first mile out at around a 9 min pace, right on target, the first few miles were a slight uphill towards the Maryland Zoo. My hat at gloves were gone by mile 2, I threw them off to the side of the road. As we ran Sandy and I talked about where we were from, running, and just got to know each other. Our pace quickened a little without either of us really noticing to around an 8:30 pace. That was a little faster than I wanted to go out, but I was feeling comfortable. The first few waters stops were pretty crowded, so crowded only one of us got water, but runners being courteous people, we got enough for each other. As we passed through the Zoo, some of the animals were out to greet us. We saw some penguins; while some runners stopped to take selfies we kept on moving through. Our pace had quickened again and we turned in a sub-8 mile, I knew we had to slow down and bit and we eased off the pace.
As we left the zoo, the course had a few hills but then flattened out. St. Paul street to the Inner Harbor was downhill, so we could relax a little bit. Running through Harborview we saw some of my friends and I dropped my fuel belt with them. It was getting really lose during the run and was becoming annoying. I took the bloks out and put them in my pocket before dropping it. As we circled the Under Armour factory I really had to pee; Sandy said she would slow down and run along the side of the road so I could catch back up. A tree made a great substitute for the port-a-potty that had a line, hey I wasn’t the only one doing that! To catch up to Sandy I threw down a 7:30 mile, I had a feeling that would come back to hurt me.
Passing the 13.1 mile marker, Sandy saw some of her friends. I thought my Garmin said 1:50, but looking at my times on the marathon website it said we ran the first half in 1:54, I could have seen my watch incorrectly. Either way we were making good time maybe a little too fast. I mentioned to Sandy maybe we should slow down a bit, she said we should just keep up the pace. I was still feeling good and we did. Going through Harboreast I saw all the people I know from Lululemon at their cheer station, it was motivating to high five all of them as we went by. Coming out of Harboreast Sandy and I both noticed how quite it had gotten along the course, there weren’t many spectators for the next couple of miles.
Approaching mile 16 and Patterson Park I slowed the pace a bit; Sandy kept the pace going and we lost each other in the crowd as the half marathon and marathon merged together. I saw my parents cheering on the sidewalk, which was some more motivation. After passing Patterson Park, I didn’t see Sandy anymore and the climb to Lake Montebello started, for the next 4 miles there would be an incline. In mile 18 I lost my steam, someone was handing out full bottles of water and bananas, I grabbed both and walked while I drank the water and ate the banana. I finally cleared the hills and made it to Lake Montebello at mile 20 I started doing the math in my head of how fast I had to run each mile to make it under 4 hours.
Alternating between walking and running I watched the time tick away on my Garmin. Going out faster than I wanted was coming back to haunt me. I tried to find the energy to keep going, my legs were exhausted. Mile 22 was the final incline and it really slowed me down. I was going back and forth between 9:20 pace per mile and 11+ min a mile, I was in trouble. At mile 24 I still thought I had a shot at breaking 4 hours, but I would have to throw down two sub-7:30 miles, my legs didn’t have it in them, or my mind wouldn’t let them do their thing. Either way it wasn’t going to happen.
I crossed the finish line at 4:11:16. So close to breaking the 4 hour mark yet so far away. Even though I didn’t break 4 hours I was happy with my time; I PR’d by 32 minutes. I immediately started analyzing the race in my mind and where things went wrong. Then I started thinking about when I can run another marathon and when I could be ready.
I made my way over to get a foil blanket, I was freezing, I had tossed my hat and gloves a long time ago and the temp dropped after that. I finally got a foil blanket, met my parents, and got my jacket from them but I could not get warm. I think it was in the low 40’s or upper 30’s by this point. We took some pictures and stood in line for a while to get my Maryland Double Medal and King Crab Challenge medal holder, in total I was outside for about an hour and shivering the entire time.
I did get to ring the PR Bell!!! Everyone before me went up got there picture and struck the bell once, after my mom took the picture I struck the hell out that bell several times!!!
Waiting around the finish area I looked for Sandy but didn’t see her anywhere, we actually connected later in the day and caught up a bit, she finished in 4:01:40 a PR for her as well.
When I finally made it to my truck I was so happy to be able to turn the heat on and get warm. The warm shower felt great once I was home, except on my arm pits, the arm warmers had rubbed my arms raw, really raw. I continued to analyze the marathon in my head for the rest of the day and watched it on television. I had recorded it. That night the tradition of the marathon party continued, it was smaller than usual, but still a good time!
I have continued to think about what I could have done differently over the last few days and will probably do that for a while. I am looking at doing a half marathon soon, but will probably wait until the spring to tackle another marathon.
How was your race season? What are your goals before the end of the year?
Check back tomorrow for Thinking Out Loud and see if the streak continued…
-Veggie Fueled Runner