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Friday, April 26, 2013

The One About The Garmin Marathon {In The Land Of Oz}

Ok, so I have to preface this recap by saying that, Yes, I am quite disappointed that I didn’t come in sub-5 like I had wanted to. And, Yes, this was a hard race but in a very good way. However, I do fully believe that I can be disappointed in not meeting my overall goal but still be very pleased with the marathon as a whole and that is exactly how I feel. I’ve been training for sub-5 and running with that exact intent but the course was unexpectedly difficult, and so with that in mind I fully believe I ran an awesome race. This race proved to me just how much this distance intrigues me. This race gave me a sense of clarity as a runner and mostly this race just gave me PROOF that I am in fact getting stronger as a runner. I went into this race with having some of the best training I have ever had and I felt stronger than I ever have and that showed on race day. If you compare this marathon to Dallas you will see that I dropped 24 seconds per mile on this race which equates to an 11 minute PR, sub-5 or not that’s solid! In just 5 short months I have grown a lot and Saturday I was able to see that. But enough of all that, let’s talk race!

The race was held at the Garmin headquarters in Olathe, Kansas and this past Saturday could not have been a more perfect day to run a marathon. The weather was a chilly 38(ish) degrees, sunny and only a slight breeze, beyond perfect for me. I got up early did my normal thing, had a banana and tortilla (love my tortillas!) and mom, Rachel and I made the 4 mile drive to the hotel. Parking was not a problem and we got there right around 6 am for the 7 am start time. My stomach was a little on edge and I’m not sure if it was something I had eaten or nerves or just what, I didn’t really feel nervous but either way I visited the port-o-potties a couple of times and finally decided to just take an Imodium just in case. About 6:30 I made my way over towards the crowds to meet up with Elizabeth {Curly Pink Runner}, we had found out a while back that we were both running this marathon and this was her first! We emailed back and forth and agreed to meet up and run some of the race together. We easily found each other and took a few pictures and then made our way to the starting line. It was nice to have someone to talk to and not be alone at the start of the race.

After the national anthem there was a moment of silence in honor of the Boston Marathon and I used that time to just pray for a great day. I knew mom and Rachel were on the other side of the starting line waiting for me to pass by and then the gun went off and we were on our way. I easily spotted them and waved as, I was on my way to another marathon!! 

The first few miles were cold, it was shady and the sun wasn’t quite up yet and I had tossed my jacket to Rachel. I did have my gloves but I remember my hands being so cold they hurt for the first 2 miles. There was a sea of people but I honestly never felt crowded at all. The week before the marathon I had spent lots of time studying my two 20 miler runs because those went so well pace-wise and over all so I really wanted to try and mimic those as much as I could. I knew my first mile would probably be a little bit faster than I wanted it due to so many people and trying to settle in so I planned to make that up in the second mile. The first 2 miles we did really well keeping pace. Elizabeth and I just talked, got to know each other and talked about running and racing. She wanted to speed up and I kept telling her we needed to slow down, it made me laugh.

At mile 3 we actually split from the half marathoners and went on our way, it was weird that it was so early in the race because I really wasn’t ready to process the fact that I was running a full marathon. I remember being surprised at how many people actually took the marathon turn versus the half because usually the half marathoners are the bigger crowd. The third mile was a little faster than I had wanted but not by much. The fourth mile was back on track.

Usually about mile 4 is where I start settling in and by the time mile 5 hit I was feeling pretty good. About this time the 5 hour pace group came upon us and stuck with us for a bit. I knew several people that were in the 5 hour group so I said hi to them and chatted for a bit. Lisa was in the group as well as Lucy, she’s the one who actually told me about this race about a year ago and she’s the reason I signed up. There were also some people from where I live in that group that I had met the night before. I didn’t really want to join the pace group because I had looked at their pacing chart the night before and I really didn’t like the way they had it paced out, they had planned to have a really fast mile and then a really slow mile and back and forth like that for the whole marathon, that makes me tired just thinking about it! I work hard for consistency and didn’t really want to mess with what I had been working on. But when the group came to us I knew mentally that was going to mess with me. I wanted to keep them in my sight but not actually join them and I most certainly preferred to stay in front of them if I could help it. Elizabeth and I wound up playing leap frog with that group for pretty much the entire race. In some ways it was good because it kept me on track and kept me motivated but in other ways I think it wore me out more than I expected early on.

About mile 5.5 I saw my mom and Rachel and Rachel ran a couple of tenths with me asking how the course was and how I was feeling. So far the course had been pretty flat and through some older neighborhoods, little did I know I was in for a treat over the next 9 miles! I said bye to her and she told me she would see me at mile 15. And then, the course got crazy on us!

The course was advertised as a “flat and fast course” so obviously that’s what I expected. Lucy, who had run this race last year said it was pretty flat but apparently they changed the course this year and let me tell you it was not flat at all! From about mile 5 until mile 14 there were hills, lots of hill! It was a constant up and down, up and down along the major roads. I know that this is exactly where I ruined myself for that sub-5 hours. Hills don’t bother me and I’m actually a pretty decent hill runner but the part that got me was not knowing just how many hills there were. Every hill I would think, “this has got to be the last one” and so I would speed up just to get over it and then there would be another one, and I’d say the same thing, “this has got to be the last one” and speed up some more. If you look at my pace from miles 5-11 you will see I did indeed speed up quite a bit through here. Had I known the hills wouldn’t stop until mile 13.5 I probably would have slowed down just a bit. But it is what it is. Despite the hills these miles actually really flew by. I remember with each mile the beeped Elizabeth and I would be say, “seriously, we are already at mile 7!” “Are we really already at mile 8?” “How did we get to mile 10 already??” It was crazy how fast it flew by!

At mile 8 I took half a vanilla GU and then at mile 11 I took a few sips of Gatorade. At mile 12 I was really starting to feel the hills so I took the rest of the GU packet that I had. By the time we hit the half way point we were climbing another hill to go over a bridge, at mile 11 I had mentioned to Elizabeth that my right IT band was starting to hurt and I just really felt defeated at yet another hill by the time I got half way. I didn’t want to but I had to talk a small walk break. I took about 30 seconds and let Elizabeth go on and I gave myself a mental pep talk. Thankfully that was the last hill and I knew I would see mom and Rachel at mile 15 so I told myself to get over myself and get moving. One thing Rachel and I always do on our runs is sing Bon Jovi’s Half Way There song any time we reach the half way point in our runs so I sang my song and picked it back up again.  On the other side of the bridge there was a race volunteer with his car parked keeping traffic from coming through and he had a radio sitting on the hood of his car blaring songs and he was dancing. This guy was exactly what I needed at this point and it made me smile as he cheered me on and kept dancing.

Finally by the time I reached mile 14 I had calmed myself back down and refocused myself and I was feeling good again. We were running through neighborhoods now and we were off the hilly roads and I knew we were headed to the out and back portion of the race that was along a paved pathway. One of my main goals in this race was to run a solid race from miles 14-20, this was where I really struggled at the Dallas marathon and I knew I could do better on this portion. This is one of the reasons why I am so proud of this race; if you look at my splits throughout those 6 miles those are some of my best miles of the day. I was running alone now because Elizabeth had gone on at mile 13 and while I really did enjoy her company I am a solo runner so I think this time was good for me to allow myself to be in my mind and let myself be quite. I needed that at this portion of the race for sure.

I got to mile 15 and didn’t see my mom and sister anywhere, I was getting a little upset over this because I had really been looking forward to seeing them, mentally I needed to see them! I also thought Rachel was going to run a little bit with me on this portion. I was a bit nervous about the out and back portion because sometimes those can get monotonous. But I have always said I find it very motivating to see all the fast runners come by me on their way back so I was in some ways looking forward to this. Finally about mile 15.5 I finally saw them at a water stop and I was relieved to see them there. I didn’t think it would matter so much to me to have them out on the course but it really did and I am so incredibly thankful that they would come out there and cheer me on. I thought Rachel was going to jump on the trail but she didn’t and I was kind of disappointed but I know the trail was kind of narrow so she didn’t want to take up space that runners could be on.

At this point I was in front of the 5 hour pace group, which had kind of broke up to only about 4 runners and I made up some distance between us. As much as I was glad to be off the hills and as glad as I was for change of scenery this wasn’t my favorite portion of the race. Thankfully it flew by just about as quickly as the first several miles did. I took another half of a GU packet about mile 17 and kept plugging along. I was feeling really good through this portion but my Garmin would beep every now and then that my battery was low. I was hoping it would hang on!!

I reached the turnaround point at mile 19.5 and then made my way back out. At this point I thought I had a pretty sizeable lead on the 5 hour pacers but when I turned around I saw they were only about a quarter mile behind me, which is still good but I thought I had a lot more than that made up. My goal was to keep running until mile 22 when I could see mom and Rachel again, they would be at the spot where we entered the trail. I was starting to get tired and noticed a bruise on the top of my left foot, it wasn’t horrible, just a tad bothersome. I now had Elizabeth in my sights again and saw that she was slowing down a bit. I finally reached her again about mile 21 and we took a quick walk break. It actually hurt more to walk than to keep running so we didn’t stop for too long. She said her shins were bothering her but ultimately she felt ok. You can see mile 21 I slowed down a bit but then picked it back up because I knew I could see mom and Rachel.

I got up to mile 22 and took the second half of my second GU and grabbed a Gatorade, at this point I was taking water and Gatorade from every other station roughly and drinking a few drinks, I didn’t want any dehydration issues like on my last 22 mile training run. I told Rachel to run with me some because I really needed to talk to her and have her encouragement for a bit. Mentally I was hitting a wall but I knew I was so close to being done. My mom actually captured an awesome picture of me right in front of the 5 hour pace group, I only wish I had finished like that! 

I told Rachel how hard the first part of the course was and how that really took a lot out of me. I told her I was still holding a strong pace and still hopeful I could pull off a sub-5. I also told her that I had found out from the pacer that at noon there would be 3 people from Kansas City that had been at the Boston Marathon getting to finish the race and receive their medals so they needed to be there to take pictures just in case I wasn’t there. I saw the 5 hour pacer go ahead of me and so I told Rachel she could go back to mom and I needed to keep up with them.
From mile 22-23 I hung on to that 5 hour pacer like it was my lifeline. I was starting to tire out but needed that pull to get me through. At mile 23 I just had to walk and she went on. I tried to keep her in my sights but I just couldn’t. I started to feel really worn out and defeated. I was so close by my average pace was slipping closer and closer to being over the 5 hour time limit. I kept moving though. Then on another walk break a second 5 hour pacer came up on me. What?! There were 2? I had no idea so I hung onto her for a bit. She talked to me a lot and she was just awesome. I could not have made it to mile 24 without her. She kept a steady pace and was very friendly and encouraging but ultimately I had to walk and she went on.

Miles 24-26 were the roughest miles; at this point I saw my sub-5 slip away and I just didn’t care. I was mad at myself that I didn’t care more but I was just so tired from all those hills. I tried to run as much as I could but I walked a lot from mile 25-26. There was one last water stop through just past mile 25 and I walked through that. Then we made a right turn to head through a school parking lot and across that to the finish line. I could see the finish line and I really wanted to run the rest of the way but my body just wouldn’t let me. Right about the time I hit the 26 mile marker my Garmin said 5:02 and change and then I hear Lucy behind me telling me that she better not catch me walking anymore. I was so glad she came up then because she was just the push I needed to get me to the end. We chatted for a bit and then I took off, I wanted to finish strong. Apparently that was the motivation she needed too because we wound up racing it out to the finish line. It was fun and I was glad for the motivation to push at the end. We got some great pictures too!

Over all I was pleased with how well I ran this race. Aside from the last 3 miles I ran a really strong marathon especially given the unexpected hills on the course. I walked away disappointed at being so close but over all very satisfied. The course was tough, and it took a lot out of me. 

My legs were very tired and sore that day and I actually remember telling mom and Rachel that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to run a marathon again, and that’s not like me at all. Obviously after a few days to let that digest I feel totally differently, in fact my recovery time for this marathon was much quicker than the last. 

It feels good to walk away with an 11 minute PR and knowing that I ran a solid race. It feels good to know that out of 26 miles there are only 3 final miles that I really want to work on for the future, to me that’s the confidence I need looking forward to the next one (and there will be a next one!)

I’m not sure I would run this course again, it was tough, but Garmin did a FANTASTIC job with the marathon. I mean they really did a great job. The theme was awesome, the weather just absolutely perfect (although I know they can’t control that, but the timing seems right) the course support, the volunteers, water stops, all were amazing. The finish area was well done, the course marked well, they even had elite runners, and hands down Garmin put on a great race. I may not run the full again but I would definitely consider running the half for sure. Overall this was a pretty perfect marathon experience for me and it’s weird that it’s finally over.

It was an absolute pleasure to meet Elizabeth from Curly Pink Runner, she was just as sweet as could be and totally blew me out of the water with how well she did on her first marathon. I am so very glad we were able to run together for so much of it! You can read her recap here.


PollyAnna said...

You ran such a strong race! Congrats! I'm impressed with the even splits, even if you struggled on a few miles. That is the hardest part for me! I'm doing a full this year (maybe Houston) and this really got me excited and made me feel more confident. Congrats on a great race! I love the pics of you two at the end.

M.Love said...

Nice work!! Congrats on the PR!!

Leigh said...

Congratulations again on your PR! Sorry that you didn't make your time goal, but you ran a strong race and got an awesome PR. I had to laugh that you wore a tank top and gloves the entire race. Just makes me laugh coming from a cold climate!

Amy @ A Glimpse of the Gouglers said...

Loved reading your recap and congrats on marathon#2! I know what you mean about just barely missing your goal, but this is definitely something to be proud of! Keep up the good work!

Kim Turner said...

I always enjoy your race recaps!! Sorry you didn't break 5 but you still had a huge PR!!!
And, I love your orange skirt with the ruffles in the back!!!

Emily said...

Congrats girl! Great job!!

Ima Mosier said...

Love the skirt!

Curly Pink Runner said...

Loved reading your recap!! You remembered things that I had forgotten.
I am so, so, so glad you were there to slow me down! I would have crashed and BURNED if you were not there! Thank you a million times over!!
You ran a fantastic race- those hills just sucked!
I'm going to take you up on your invite and come run in TX sometime- would love to run another race with you!!

armyamy said...

First of all: congratulations! You completed another marathon, you PRed, you rang strong in the middle miles, you sprinted at the end, you took some crazy hills - that's a lot to be proud of!

Next: I love love love your ability to approach running analytically. Running is so personal and can be very emotional, but you do a great job of acknowledging where you can improve, just how great you did, and your disappointments without that taking away from your accomplishment. I need to be more like that!

Congrats again! So are you gonna take it easy with the running stuff until the wedding or you are going to keep racing full force right up until the big day?

Tyly said...

Fantastic job!!! I know you're slightly disappointed, but you ran an amazing race that would deserve to be very proud of! You'll sub 5 next time FOR SURE! :)

Steph @ Steph Runs On said...

Congratulations on your PR. I do understand your disappointment though, but you've had such a huge increase in your pace that it's super impressive.

Not only that, but you ran for 5 hours. Do you know how awesome that is? VERY!

Suz and Allan said...

Congrats on a great race and a new PR! I'm sure you'll have a sub-5 marathon in no time.