I am truly blessed.
Race recap (don't worry, I won't do it lap-by-lap!)
I met Matt Eckberg, a 2:43 finisher at this fall's Chicago marathon, and the rest of the crazy indoor marathoners the night before the race at packet pick-up and the pre-race meal. Since my personal best is just a minute slower, we decided that we could help pace each other. He found me through my blog so we communicated via email about our strategies before. How cool is that? This blog has brought me more contacts through the running world, more cool connections than I ever imagined when I started it. We decided that we'd come through the half in about 2:55 pace (neither of us had any idea what an indoor marathon would feel like) and then pick it up from there if we felt good, slow it down from there if we needed to.
The pre-race meal was fabulous, btw. All you can eat at Olaf's cafeteria. Although, not so much fun when you truly can't eat all you want :). I did sneak a bite or two of cream cheese carrot cake and a bite of chocolate chip cookie. Yummm :). I'm not shooting for the Olympic Trials standard yet, so totally legal on the cheating for the time being!
Dick did a great job going through the "you should knows", introduced some of the runners/volunteers (including me, which was really nice of him, so that everyone knew I was shooting for the record). Dick is so great. If you haven't met him, you must. For those of you have, you know what I mean :).
On to race morning: 5:00 wake up call for a 6:30 race start. I went for the single breakfast again. Single breakfast, you're asking? I've typically been up twice for 2 rounds of breakfast - typically falling back asleep in between. This is mostly because 1. I like to sleep as late as possible, and eating a lot close to the marathon start isn't smart, and 2. Because I know I need to have quite a bit in me to keep me fueled (now I know why - I don't burn any fat when I run/race). At CIM, I decided to try eating just once, but was hungry early on as I didn't have my first gel on the course until mile 7. This time, I wanted to try taking more gels earlier - and I definitely like this approach. I took my first gel at mile 4 and I feel like that was perfect. I also tried taking a caffeine pill before hand. The elite marathon nutrition study forwarded to me via this blog mentioned 3 men's typical caffeine regime and noted they take 60% of their caffeine before the race starts. I figured today was as good of a day as any to try a few new things!
The rest of my routine was exactly the same: 1st warm up (slow) with 30 mins to go, bathroom stop, change into shoes/race stuff. Eat part of banana, run second short warm up at a slightly faster pace and last bathroom stop. Then off to grab my gel and secure my spot on the start line! I have that system down pretty well :). It pays to have a plan!
And surprise! Jerry came!!
|Jerry the genius :)|
Then, the race: Oh, my... Luckily, I had Matt to run with for more than half way. We had planned to switch off the lead every 15 minutes or so, but he had a 4ish second gap on me at 30 minutes. I knew we were running slightly faster than the 3:00 pace I wanted to start at (then warm down to 2:55 pace) so was content to run in 3rd or 4th place. It's hard to know what to do in places like this... do you run a little faster than your goal so that you have company along the way? After about an hour, whenever Matt would gap me by a bit Jerry would encourage me to try to close the gap. "Company is a good thing!", he'd cheer. And in this case, I feel, more than most other instances, that was totally true.
Nate was so great in reminding me to eat and drink. In a normal marathon you have water stops reminding you to take something. Here there are 4 tables with your bottles on them but because they're tucked in the corners it's super easy to forget about them, even though there are technically SIX HUNDRED water stations. Plus, you're so concentrated on just zoning out and just RUNNING (and no mile markers to spark the reminder that: Oh! First gel at mile 4!) that I would have completely forgot to eat until it was way too late. Pretty sure Matt thought my husband was a little crazy when he was pointing out my gels, telling me to take water now, etc, but oh, so necessary.
I'm not sure where Matt and I became separated - he dropped back at maybe 1:45 or so? After that it was a little lonely. I actually felt great that that point. I remember thinking to myself, "Great! You're not even using your lungs yet!". I felt efficient, effortless, and fluid. I love running and how free I feel doing it :). But then, perhaps just to make me earn this marathon, I started to notice a large blood blister forming on the ball of my left foot. You know, those ones where you can feel the liquid moving around when you step on it? I looked down to see some blood on my shoe. Super.
From about 2:00-2:30, the effortless feeling disappeared and was replaced by a "I'd SO like to stop" feeling. Every turn (4 per lap, people - and they're sharp!) hurt because you were pivoting hard on that blistered foot. There will be some ugly grimace pictures during this portion of the marathon. I also became a little dizzy. I have had this problem a lot, although have controlled it better in previous marathons, and know I need to be careful when this comes on. I wondered if it was due to the heat (heaters in the building came on at 8:00, and although just 60 degrees, it feels warm compared to the 10ish degrees I've been training in). I dumped a little water over my head. I know it's also likely energy related. Because I was drinking more than I typically do, I purposefully skipped one of my gels and only ate a half of another (I have come to respect that full-but not sloshing around-stomach feel in a marathon and know when I need to curb the intake or risk stomach pain). Maybe this was also partially the cause? Or could have been the hundred plus laps I'd already run, ha!
At 2:30 the blister popped. Ahh, bliss! Anyone that's experienced this knows what I'm talking about. At that point, though, there was just 25 short minutes left. Nate yelled at me that I was risking the 3 hour mark by my recent blister-slowed/dizzier laps. At that point, blister-free and non-dizzy thanks to a recent gel, I was good to go. No more of those 73-77 second laps (72 seconds = 3 hour pace) - I was back to my 70-71 second normal. Nice. I love that rhythm you can find in a marathon, how bad can turn to good. Just remember that the next time you're hurting. It isn't always permanent, don't give up hope.
|Oh, man - just finished. Can you tell?|
On lap 8 to go, a wonderful man named David hopped in and asked me if he could do a half lap at my speed just to see what it felt like. I think at that point I was running around 70s (Jerry can confirm or call my bluff), so no small feat for someone that was running a 3:30 marathon and still had a good 45 mins to go. I was SO happy for the proposal though! At the half lap, I asked if he could carry me through two laps. He thought for a minute and said, "Yeah - I think I can only do two, but I could do that!". So he generously took lane two and lead me through two laps. Actually, now that I think about it, he may have been the pace change to sub-70s. He made the world of difference - because he delivered me to the lap mark with just 6 to go. Just over a mile.
Which leads me to an aside: do you know how happy it makes me to meet so many selfless runners? People willing to help me, pace me, aid me in my pursuits? The men at CIM who formed the best wind block imaginable for those 35 mph headwinds (just tuck in!), David who worked his tail off to make that last portion more do-able, Chick (Northfield runner) who was the best at moving in/being aware of where I was at during the race to help give me the best line, Craig and Brian and Brendan who are willing to do whatever is on my crazy training plan?!? To ALL of the people who came to cheer me on (probably at least 1/3 of the entire spectator field)?!? I know I say this a lot, but it is completely true, and I tear up as I write this. I means SO much to me, and has made this journey possible and that much more fun. Honestly. I can not thank each and every one of you enough. I can not wait to repay each of your support 1000% (or more) as I start to mentor other runners, help others with their dreams, and eventually live through the lives, endeavors, and goals of others by coaching. I hope you can feel the sincerity and power in what I'm writing.
But... there are still 6 laps to go! They were glorious. I thought about the 1000s that Slaine and I had done a week and a half ago. You did that, and your lungs were working twice as hard as now! You can pick it up! At 3 to go, I went. Just 1000m to go at that point.
The last lap was just awesome. The entire crowd cheered my name, Slaine was leaned as far forward as possible, screaming :). There is nothing like being cheered on like this! Nate, smartly, reminded me to raise my hands as I passed (knowing me, I would have forgotten!). I did, crossing the line in a new 11 minute indoor world record of 2:57:34.
*I must take the time for a brief aside to mention that I know this is an obsure world record, and I in NO way think that I am a world class runner. I am just merely the fastest crazy woman to run an indoor marathon! :)
Now, the aftermath. My foot is pretty torn up. I've had my share of blisters and lost toenails, but this one takes the cake. A world record size blister for a world record indoor time? Seems fitting :) Pictures below. I really apologize. What was most impressive was the flesh cells that worked themselves through my sock and shoe to form a glob on the outside of my flats (see the "B" on the shoes). Sorry to have made you lose your lunch.
|Note size in relation to my hand/rest of foot :). Toes are swollen too, not sure what that's about.|
And I promise, these are the ONLY flats that I have found that I don't blister in during a (normal) marathon! So this is in NO way shape or form representative of the Brooks T7. I promise. It does represent how your feet respond to running 150 laps on a square-ish track :).
I have to admit that I broke out in a whole-body cold sweat when the medical doc at the race cut the dead skin away from my foot. I am such a wimp when it comes to blood and medical things when it's my own body! Seriously, it's just the thought of it... it doesn't hurt an ounce. Thank you to Slaine for telling me a story and distracting me so I wouldn't pass out during the "procedure". Nate said I looked pretty green when the doc took out his scissors. [okay to shake your head at me, I know this is pathetic!]
Jerry and I talked afterwards. I started by saying, "I'm going to have to work really, really hard for that 2:43 this fall". (Said with a big smile) Because it's true. That's 15 MINUTES faster than today. Jerry reminds me that although this is a 2:57, it was a 6 minute win over a true 2:43 marathoner, and the third place runner (who I beat by 10 mins) is a 2:50 marathoner. So even though the time was slow, it isn't representative of the effort put in.
I know I am capable, but know that it'll have to be an all-in effort like it was for the 2012 Trials standard and like I was for New York this fall. We are going to have to be smarter, work my weaknesses, strengthen my strengths, etc. Today was the perfect end to a rough fall racing season. It'll force some true down time (I am not allowed to run on this foot until it is HEALED. There is no way I want it to become infected, cause a limp, alter my stride, cause a string of other injuries, etc). And I honestly need some mental downtime to help me get that fire back. It'll be a long journey from now until October, one that takes ultimate dedication and a mental attitude in love with giving it 100%. I also need some physical downtime.
But, before I scheme about the next two cycles, what I'll do better, more/less of, etc, I'll end this (in the off-chance that you've made it this entire way through this novel of a post!). Plus, I need to move on to a celebratory greasy cheeseburger, fries, and a drink!!
[More pictures added as they're sent to me - we desperately need a new camera, all of ours are just a blur. Advice on ones to look at? Luckily Slaine's dad is the BEST photographer and captured the race via his lens. Can't tell you how excited I am about that!]
Onward to 2013 (and really, the 2016 Trials :))!
Thank you all, again. :)