There is not a lot to say about this race. It was not a goal race. I have run it twice now and it never goes well, but that doesn't mean I am disappointed. I returned to try to run a supported long run that I could use to jump start a bigger mileage week. For the next several weeks, race performances will be sacrificed for better training. This is part of my process. I enjoy training through races so I will still be racing (cheaper events), but most of them will be tired runs until I taper again for the next goal.
Friday I ran a hard 7 miles. Yesterday, I ran 15.2 miles with Team in Training, almost as a reverse progression (not intentionally). I started with some faster runners. Well, I should clarify. I started with Alanna who forgot her watch and therefore ran freely. Apparently Alanna likes to run a low 8 minute pace when she forgets her watch! That felt ok and I knew we would slow it down. Steve joined Alanna and me for 4 miles. He is one of our speediest TNT runners. We did slow it down, since both Alanna and I were going to run this marathon today. Alanna left and I stayed with Steve. I talked him into an easier pace for the next 5 mile loop about 9:20's. After Steve left, Maria stilled needed 5 more miles so I headed out with her, Sue and one more TNT runner at an easier pace.
My allergies and autoimmune system have been acting out lately. I did not feel great yesterday, but the pace only averaged out to mid-9's so I didn't really feel horrible. However, I was wiped out after the run and spent the day doing things around the house (made soup, tried to make gluten-free rice crispy bars with coconut and chocolate chips).
Usually I try to take Enzo out for his run after TNT's run, but I just didn't have the energy. Enzo has taught us a new trick. When Enzo wants to run, he goes over to his leash on the wall and hits it with his nose so it swings. We learned this means we are being asked to take him out. It is irresistible and thankfully Sid complied with Enzo's request leaving me home to vegetate (and make soup).
Today, I got up at 4:30 am and headed down to the race. I feel exhausted in the car and figured that was because I got up at 4:30 am to drive 2 hours. Once at the bus pick up, I found Alanna and we took the bus another 30 minutes, maybe?, to the starting line. We had about an hour wait until the start.
During that time, I had a lot of trouble figuring out what to wear from my gear bag. The weather was in that odd state of being above 30, but feeling like sub-30. Some people were in singlets and shorts. Others were in winter gear. I thought about the last ultra I ran in sub-30 and dressed like that. (T7 racers, Dry Max sock, calf sleeves, capri pants, long sleeve tech shirt, sports bra, light jacket, winter hat, and throw away gloves). Before I checked my gear bag, I decided that I felt too warm, so I swapped my jacket for vest and put my hat and gloves in my drop bag. I should have worn less, but at times I was cold, so no matter what I wore it would likely not have felt ideal.
I was a little cold at the start, so it seemed perfect. The wind was reported online to be 7 mph from the North so although we had to run in the entire way, 7 mph seemed ok. I know from law school, when I used to study a lot on the beach in Key Biscayne in Miami, that if the winds were under 13 mph I could ride my bike to the beach because I could sit on my beach towel and my beach towel, books, and a snack fit in my bike baskets. If the winds were 13 or more I had to drive my car to the beach because I needed to bring my beach chair since the winds would kick up sand into my books if I was sitting on the ground. So I figured 7 mph wasn't even enough wind to kick up sand, how bad could it be.
Off we go and I figure a 7:15-7:25 pace to start is reasonable. I expected a fade. I did train for this to be PR. But, I just ran 12.4 miles at 6:53 and 31.06 miles at 7:50. I have run a marathon at 7:27 and 7:29 paces at best, so I didn't feel this speed was too ambitious. However, because I started off feeling under the weather, any additional frustrations along the way just made me feel worse.
By mile two I was already getting frustrated from the noise of the constant wind blowing past my ears. I realize that sounds crazy, but at one point I covered my ears because I just wanted to sound of the wind to stop. We pretty much had to run into the wind the entire race so the force of it plus the noise was relentless. Next windy race, I have to wear something over my ears.
As we ran with the 10 milers, I remembered that the first 11-12 miles of the course is only stocked with water. I tend to rely on course supplied sports drink as my fuel and carry only two gels on me. I planned for my first gel at 9 miles (or nearest aid station). I don't think much of running the first 9-10 on just water, but in hindsight, my best 50k and marathons have always been fueled from 3 miles on and every 3 miles throughout on gatorade. When gatorade was finally on the course, the powder mix seemed to be very dilute. I do think that going so long without any calories and when I did get some it was watered down a lot simply added to how tough this race became for me at the end. Of course we are all free to be carry our own stuff to meet our own needs and the race website said no gatorade until almost the second half. I do feel that when a race charges about $100 per runner, it would be nice of them to get some sports drink on the course before mile 11, and if using a mix, make sure it is mixed properly at the stops that have it.
This race was not a goal race for me, so training in a depleted state works out to be better training anyway for me. I just didn't plan on it for today. I know that less than my preferred access to sports drink is not sole the cause of my crash, but it did become just one more straw for me today.
At one point, just past 13.1 I stepped on some crushed sea shells and a few shards became jammed in the sole of my shoes. I had to stop to remove that. That made me laugh so I thought I would share. :)
Last time I "ran" the ODM, it was by far the worst marathon of my life. I pretty much walked in the last 10 miles, learning at that race that eating a bagel in the morning was the worst thing I could do. It was the race I decided to experiment going Gluten Free with running fuel. As I passed the halfway point, I tried to stay positive but I was already feeling terrible physically and knew it wasn't going to go well for me today, again. I felt like it was 2012 all over again.
If I was able to DNF at that point, there was no doubt in my mind that I would have walked off the course today. Everything about me was achy. I had no pep in my stride. I felt completely exhausted and overly fatigued, more than I should at this distance. No pace felt comfortable. My large muscle groups like my quads felt weak. I was having trouble not slouching over. Coming off another low mileage week and running a flat course, it was so very odd for me to feel so beat up. I am not a fan of that feeling.
Just like the last time, at 16 miles, everything just fell apart for me. Today, I had already slowed down to about 7:50-8:05. After 16 miles it was just a matter of making to finish line so this could all be over. I cruised along at 9-10 minute pace, walking through water stops, stopping to use the porta-potty.
Over the next 10 miles, I hid my watch so I didn't have to look. I slowed way down because I had to, not because I wanted to. It would have been better for my body and mind to get it done faster, but I felt so weak and harder running made me feel dizzy and queazy. It felt like I was out there for days and when I finally looked at my watch with 2 miles to go, I was happy to see that I was still going to finish around 3:45, which is what I did.
Admittedly, I am a little frustrated that in my 50k, my marathon split was about a 3:22 and felt easier than today's 3:45. At the 50k I even kept on going. That was 3 weeks ago. Here I wasnt prepared or planning to PR, but I did expect to be able to cruise in around a 3:30-ish without much suffering. I suffered pretty much this whole race and I am not sure why, except to say sometimes these things just happen. My body has been fighting off some allergies for a few weeks now and I suspect I am just really tired from it all.
I left before the results were posted so I have no official stats at this time.
I am not terribly disappointed. I am bummed to not get that High from a job well done, but I know hard days are part of the process. Any day spent running is a good day no matter how long it takes :)