I was able to chalk up my 3rd marathon win this year and a new personal best for 2013. It was all the more fun to be able to experience that with family and friends.
Where to start the recap? Perhaps with, well, the race? Okay, because you asked so nicely :).
We woke up the morning of the race at 6:00 for "first breakfast". As I'm not a good fat burner, I know I need a lot of easily digestable carbs before the race and need to take in a lot during the race as well. So, two rounds of breakfast it is. Nate, Ben and I sat down to enjoy oatmeal. The rule we had made the night before was "nothing negative" - only positive comments allowed. I've learned how powerful this can be for a race. Nobody complained about the wet weather. Ben commented on how he loved the oatmeal - as he stirred it around, obviously trying to choke it down. Personally, I love plain oatmeal with a little fake sweetener. I don't know if he shares that same love, but he wasn't allowed to say anything otherwise :).
Note to self - don't eat so much the day before, so that you can wake up hungry. I wasn't hungry at all, so probably didn't eat enough at either breakfast.
I was finished pretty quickly and laid back down for 20 or so minutes of fitful sleep before getting up again. Time for a little more food, getting my race gear on, writing a few splits on my hand (2:45 on one hand, 2:50 on another), and packing up everything I'd need. I headed over to the elite staging area. Nate and Ben left after me for the Dome, both with nervous anticipation for their first marathons.
The elite staging area was great, although lonely. There were just 4-5 people there? Guess that's a good thing, so I can concentrate on myself. But I sometimes like the distraction of other people. I put in my first 4-5 minute warm up with 30 minutes before the start. Feeling pretty good, although not amazingly springy. Doesn't matter, I told myself. This is my race and I am ready.
I was told we'd have an escort to the start so sort of waited around for that. With 10 minutes before the start, I decided to make my way over myself. Glad I did... don't know if there ever was one? Because of the confusion, I missed my second warm up and strides... duh. Nichole, you know better than this! I should have brought myself to the start line earlier to do what I know I need to do. That was dumb.
|Right before the start!|
Except that at mile 1 I felt a weight on my chest - it was humid and warm. Disregard it, I told myself.
As I tried to maintain sub-6:20s, I quickly realized that wasn't smart. My legs were working much harder than they should have to maintain mid 6:20s. So I went with how I felt, telling myself that I'd rather cruise through half way and then be able to bring my pace down then than burn myself out too early.
I came through the half in about 1:24:30-40, not quite sure. I did the math as was excited that I'd be able to run sub 2:50, if not 2:48ish with a solid negative split.
At mile 16, family told me that woman #2 was only a block behind me. Hmmm... good to know, but a little too close for comfort!
My next hand check point was at mile 17. I was still feeling great at this point, and noted I was 45 seconds faster than where my 2:50 split said I should be. Awesome! I knew 2:50 was about 6:30 mile pace, so thought to myself that if I could continue to run 6:20s, if not faster that last 5-10k, that I could finish in 2:48 or so. I'd be pretty happy with that!
But at that point, the sun had come out. Rut-roh. Such a noticeable difference between the humid and warm cloud-covered air and the bright blue sky with direct, unfiltered sun. And as you all know, I am probably one of the worst heat marathoners out there...
I hung on for another 3 miles or so, willing myself to ignore the heat. Dr. Asp's training comes in handy here.
Except when your body actually does shut down... there's nothing your mind can do to will yourself to continue to run fast. And that's exactly what happened. I became increasingly dizzy and light headed. I'm honestly not sure what is the exact cause - I've always dealt with dizziness at the end of marathons (although it's better now that I take 6 gels along the course and have a lot of breakfast before hand) - so could be sugar/nutrition related or heat related. Or both.
Either way, I faded... quickly. Luckily, it looks like everyone else did as well. The woman who was just 20 seconds back at 16 miles finished 5:15 behind me. So as bad as I faded... it could have been a lot worse.
BUT - this is absolutely something I need to figure out before Chicago. It affects my performance a lot. Obviously, I don't know if there's much I can do about the heat or my reaction to it (it has been much more severe since the Gustavus 5k heat incident) - but if anyone has ideas, I would be very appreciative. I'll explore a few different nutrition options as well. I also might be willing to try carb-cycling during my next training cycle to try to get my body to be able to burn fat... whatever it takes to ward off this awful last 10k dizziness... just need to do more research first.
But - back to the race! I still have 10 miserable kilometers to cover! I was so thankful for my lead bike at that point. I focused on her yellow jacket and told myself to stick with her. Only problem is that she slows when you slow... but let's not dwell on that. I pretended she was another woman I was racing for the win. Just stick with her! I honestly don't know if there was a whole lot of other thinking going on those last few miles... just pure survival mode.
At 25.5 miles, a second bike came up beside me. OH CRAP!!! I knew there were lead bikes for the 2nd and 3rd place women as well (well, assuming... since I saw the bikes for the 2nd and 3rd men). I thought she had caught me!!!!!!!!!!!!
I looked to my left to see if I could catch a glimpse of her. She had to be really close as that bike was now directly at my side. I didn't see anyone, but put my head down and decided to dig. However crappy I felt and un-functioning my brain was, I am strong and I can fight.
Luckily, she never showed. Apparently the other bike was just to help lead me in, and it's actually really cool to be escorted in like that. Eventually I had three lead bikes with me, but there were about 45 seconds of terror in there before I figured out what they meant. :)
There is nothing like finishing in the Fargodome. You go down a slight ramp before entering (don't trip on the grate! As Nate reminded me... as that's how I made a graceful appearance in 2009 - being introduced on the jumbo-tron and then landing full-out on the ground :)) and then finish your last 30 or so seconds in the Dome. It is so awesome to do it as the lead female. Three bikes with loud horns all honking, and the announcer encouraging the crowd to their feet and their loudest. This was my first time getting to break though a finisher's tape. :)
|Published in the Grand Forks Herald. Photo credit to Dave Wallis / The Forum.|
|Not used to this sort of thing...|
|The family (Jim, Karen and Jess are still out on the course). Dad, Nate, Ben (back), Mary (Ben's girlfriend), Mom.|
|1:37:59 for Claire in the half! Not bad for someone who just decided to start running/training this January, right?!?|
(weird that I oscillated so much between high 6:20s and high 6:10s. Usually I'm more even than this - perhaps the turns/wind had something to do with this?)
6:21 - started to allow myself to open up. Felt so strong and in control.
6:29 - started to not feel well. Sun had been out for the last 3 miles or so without cloud cover.
6:55 - Oh man. Dizzy. Lightheaded. I didn't care about much here other than putting one foot in front of the other. Focus on the biker ahead of you!
6:56 for .46 (course measured long by my Garmin)
Here's my post from my first Fargo marathon. Interesting that I mention shooting for the Trials back then... as a 2:58 marathoner (my first sub-3!). Dream big!!
Interview after the race: http://www.valleynewslive.com/story/22288487/nicole-porath-wins-the-womens#.UZf946iiX9s.facebook
Good picture of me breaking the tape: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/image/id/79612/headline/Nichole%20Porath,%20of%20Northfield,%20Minn.,%20is%20the%20womens%20division%20winner/
Can I email them to ask for a copy? Would they actually give me a copy? I wonder - I'd love to have it (already right click copied it...).
I'll end this by saying that I know I have an extraordinary journey ahead of me in order to make that sub 2:43 standard this fall. I can't even tell you how fun that sounds... having to be "all in" to chase some crazy "should be impossible" goal :). If I've needed Team Nichole in the past, I will most definitely be relying them in the next 4.5 months. As heavily as I ever have. Please feel free to reach out - in any way. I always love comments here. And I know I have so many insightful readers who have provided me great advice and suggestions in the past.
But in the meantime, this week I'm going to allow myself to eat whatever I feel like, enjoy a drink or two, and just run easy - however long or short I feel like. There will be plenty of all-in weeks ahead of me!!!!!
Oh - I'm meeting with Jerry tomorrow afternoon to strategize for Chicago. Pretty sure there will be an excited-lets-start-training post shortly thereafter. LOVE that part of the training cycle!!
|Cookie coma, commence!|