|Pretty, pretty yellow rose!|
Bottom line, I finished. 5:37:53 was my official time, a far cry from the 5:00 I was shooting for, but still better than my last three finishes. And I have a bee-yooo-tee-ful yellow gold medal, as well as a loverly miniature yellow rose plant on my desk to show for my efforts. I got to meet up with several Twitter friends at the start, and I got to run through some fairly scenic sections of Tyler, Texas. I had a chance to test my NYCM higher-mileage training thus far (FOUR weeks to go!! EEP!!) and I finished, upright & smiling. So it was a good day overall.
|Squeeee! My favorite baby roses!|
So, let's do this, shall we?
- I met my primary goal (Goal A) of finishing strong and smiling. I got my roses (they're SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE!!) and my medal (among my top two favorite pieces of hardware ever).
- I got to meet Greg (BQer Greg, BTW!!WOOT!) and Julie, and chat with Jeremy and his RP Josh, and see Sergio on the course. I LOVE meeting my Twitter running friends at races!
- Temps were not bad. The course was mostly shaded. There were some long stretches without cover but the temps were fairly low and humidity non-existent during those times that I don't feel the heat was a factor at all.
- Nutrition was spot-on. I did my usual PB, banana & honey, starting at 6:00 AM while I was still on the road to Tyler, then supplemented starting 50 minutes in with bites of Clif Bar (chocolate brownie) and PowerBar energy blasts (raspberry & strawberry! yummy) every 25 minutes afterward. Never felt tired, never hit the wall in terms of running out of energy.
- Hydration likewise was good. I had my double-belt pack with two 20-oz bottles of half-powerade, half water with a sprinkle of salt in each. I sipped at every mile until about 6, then switched to drinking from water stations when I saw them (~4 oz of each at each station). I supplemented with my bottle when I needed it along the way between stations, usually at the mile markers. Had two 20-oz waters immediately afterward and another 40 oz on the drive home.
- Pacing. My pacing, for all my worries about it earlier in the week, when I couldn't run an 11:00 mile to save my life (I was bringing 10:00s with no effort whatsoever), I did a decent job of holding the pace I was looking for. The hills helped with that for sure. There were a couple of really fast miles in there, even as late as Mile 10, but considering that I had some serious elevation to contend with, I really did end up right where I wanted to be for the first 2/3 of this race.
- Shoes, clothes, equipment. Despite the new kicks having only about 20 miles on them prior to race day, I had no issues with hot spots, blisters or rubbing on them. I wore my NYCM training shirt to remind me of the grand prize I'm chasing and to make me easier to spot at the start, and long black shorts to minimize ride-up & chafing issues, and all that worked fine. I used the double-belt pack and while I did have to spin it to the back for the middle miles when my bib was rubbing against it and making me crazy for a bit, it didn't feel heavy or in the way at all. I've used it enough over the summer out of sheer necessity that it felt natural to have it.
- Course support/water stations. The water stations were mostly well-spaced - toward the end we went a bit longer than I would have preferred between them - and very well-manned. Mostly volunteer groups, as far as I could tell, but the water, gatorade (proper dilution ratio, thank goodness) and cups were all in plentiful supply. This was a huge relief after the last race I ran by this same company. May have restored my faith in them...
- The shower truck. I always bring a change of clothes with me on a long run so I can get out of wet stinky running clothes. Especially with a two-hour drive in front of me afterward, i wanted to be sure I'd have a chance to change and get out of my race clothes. Luckily, the organizers and a local church had provided a shower truck for us to use afterward. They even had big fluffy white towels and shampoo/soap in there. Three minutes in the shower made a world of difference, washing all the salt and grime off me and really getting me refreshed before I drove back to FW-D. It was doubly great when I realized I'd have to go straight to hockey from the road, too!! I'm sure the other hockey parents on the team appreciated the shower truck as much as I did!!
- Virtual support. Tweeting and FBing my decision to walk it in at 18 gave me a chance to let people know how I was doing, but it also gave me a huge perk to get all the encouraging messages from everyone at that time. Jennifer said that she kept going during an awful hot run in Chicago yesterday because she didn't want to have Tweet that she'd quit. I got the reverse of that - I got an outpouring of encouragement and virtual hugs and high-fives that I really can't express my gratitude for enough. It was awesome, and it did indeed keep me moving (running, walking, crawling) toward the finish. And of course, I have to give a shout to all my CM10 & Portland friends running yesterday, too. Their updates and thinking of them running it out at the same time as me helped keep me motivated, too!
- The hills. Did we mention there were hills on this coures? Race director and website promised "rolling hills." Rolling hills, my sore ass! Do these look like rollers to you?
|Rolling hills? Pffft!|
- Yeah, I didn't think so. Bastards. And, yes, I realize that this elevation may not be that bad for other states, but this is Texas - and I trained in "Prairies and Lakes" FW-D. Where the only elevation we usually get is going up the freeway overpasses. So this was a surprise to me. I didn't have any trouble on the uphill, though, but the downhills, well... let's wait on that, shall we?
- The turns. OMG, could we have a few twists and turns on this route? it was crazy-go-nuts how many times we turned, especially toward the end as we intersected and met up with the half-marathon route. There weren't volunteers at every corner, so luckily there were mostly enough signs, but there were some stretches there toward the end where I wasn't absolutely sure that I was still going the right direction.
- The crowds. I hesitate to put this in the Bad category. It's not that the crowds that were out there were bad... it's just that except for the start, finish, and at one church along the airport road, I didn't really see a lot of them. Yes, there were small cluster of folks cheering on their families along the water stops here and there, but in terms of what I'm used to at White Rock, where people set up their morning brunches on their front lawns and gather in big crowds on the corners, this just wasn't there. And that's OK. I knew it wouldn't be terribly crowd-heavy, so I decided to run with my iPod for this one. It was a good decision because otherwise, there were long stretches where we didn't see a soul clapping for us and it was kinda-sorta depressing...
- My knee. No, not the bad one. Not the one that always creaks and croaks when I stand up, the one that aches whenever the barometric pressure rises or drops. That one was a champ. My LEFT knee. WTF?! I think a couple of things happened to make this tweaky enough by mile 17.5 that I made the decision to walk it it in. First, I tripped and nearly fell at about mile 15.5-16. I caught my right foot on something and started careening forward, but was able to catch myself (thank you, trail running!!) but not before landing somewhat awkwardly on the left foot. Then, when you add in the constant descents on this route and the fact that I ran in the curb with some pretty serious canting for much of miles 8-14 to avoid the big-ass gravel on the road, you get a tight IT band on the left side and associated knee pain there. Just out of nowhere, with the leg muscles still feeling strong, Tom Petty cranking on the playlist and me set to just groove for the next four miles, my knee twinged. Then with the next step it went from twinge to ouch. Then from ouch to HELL! I slowed to walk and it felt fine. Started to run again - no go. Crap. I tried to run the flats as I could, but realized that there weren't many flats by this point. And I really, really, really wanted to run. I felt like I could have gone on for another three hours, except for that knee. So I called it a day. I knew this was not my "A" race - this was a supported training run, to give me a preview of what I might be able to do in NYC. And I'd gotten a glimpse of that. And I like it. No use giving it up when I knew I would be able to finish by walking the last eight miles.
- Medical support. Never saw a medical tent or any kind of medical support on the course. At about mile 22, I asked a cop what I should do if I needed medical help. He said he could call the EMS. I didn't need EMS, I just wanted some tape for my knee. At OKC, the medical tents were every few miles - not at every water stop, but close enough together that you could get some basic care and feeding for things like blisters, taping, etc. Here, nothing. And while the heat didn't bother me, it could have been a factor for some people. It just seems irresponsible that medical help is not more clearly visible and available, or that your choices are suck it up and deal or call EMS. There are plenty of situations during a marathon where a well-placed, well-staffed and well-supplied medical tent can make a difference in a runner's day and overall health. The cop ended up opening up the back of his SUV, digging around and handing me a roll of clear packing tape. Odd, but it did the trick for and gave me some much-needed stability until it got sweaty and fell off around mile 25. But I wonder if I could have run a little more than I did if I'd had a proper tape job from a qualified trainer like I had in OKC.
- Being passed. Being passed sucked. Especially since I knew I had miles left in my legs, that my feet felt great, that my breathing and my nutrition and hydration and the temps and everything else were great. But I had to keep reminding myself that the people passing me (probably) do not have tickets and hotel reservations for New York City in 28 days. I had to remember that i wasn't going to win any AG awards anyway, so just smile when they pass and remember the bigger prize in store. Mentally, that was tougher on me than the physical breakdown of the knee.
- The walking. Did you know that walking 9 miles is a hella lot harder than running 18? I felt every rock and cobblestone (OMG - the FREAKIN' BRICKS!!) on this course when I was walking the last part of this, much more than when I was running it. It hurt to walk and I kept trying to do little pickups just because I knew I could finish and have it done with if I could just freaking run already. But I knew better so I held back, even as I watched the 5:00 goal tick slowly away. The walking sucked. Big time. But, whatchyagonnado? If nothing else, it reinforced to me that I can do this. I knew that, I KNOW that in my head, but that self-doubt just always creeps in, doesn't it? And even with the walking yesterday, I still finished and I did OK. But, still? It sucked. Especially since until the knee gave out on me, I hadn't walked a step, hadn't walked a hill, nothing. I ran solid for 18 miles, so to have to walk the last nine? It sucked. Just so we're clear: Walking sucked.
|Sergio took this about mile 2. I was still smiling!!|
So, there is tale of Marathon #9. Step one toward Gold level of Marathon Maniacs. I iced the knee & put my electrodes on it last night (was kinda groovy to see the muscles twitching on their own) and it feels 100% better today. Will rest it tonight and take a test run tomorrow to see how it feels. If it's still tweaky, I'll go in to see my PT doc and get treatment and recommendations. I would love to do a final 22-mile run on Sunday, just to make sure it's good before the taper, but I am totally willing to play it by ear right now. I'm not going to do anything stupid that is going to jeopardize what I've been waiting for so long.
Final splits are below a few pics from the course.
|The finish line. Nothing too spectacular, although food & water was plentiful even for slow-pokes like me...|
|Great little road around mile 6. Cool shade & no traffic. Very tranquil & more uphill than it looks.|
|Cool horse farm over near the airport. Just struck me as very Texas!|
|Nearly there. You can see the downhill slope ahead of us, along with the cobblestones. Goodbye, toenails!|
Half split = 2:20:59, Half pace = 10:46
Final time = 5:37:53, Overall pace = 12:54
Splits by mile (where I could - I missed a couple of mile markers in there):
Mile 1 - 10:16
Mile 2 - 10:46
Mile 3 - 10:53
Mile 4 - 10:31
Mile 5 - 10:52
Mile 6 - missed this marker
Mile 7 - 22:06 - close to 11:00 average for both very hilly miles
Mile 8 - 10:59
Mile 9 - 10:40
Mile 10 - missed this marker - took a pic but forgot to hit watch!!
Mile 11 - 20:46 - average of 10:XX on flat & downhills
**1:57 after 11 miles and feeling STRONG! Stupidly started doing math in my head...***
Mile 12 - 11:00
Mile 13 - 10:55
Mile 14 - 10:30
Mile 15 - missed it again
Mile 16 - 23:50 - included near-trip that may have aggravated knee, also, LOTS of climbing
Mile 17 - 12:34 - starting to feel discomfort on downhill here
**3:08 cumulative time at this point. Sub-5:00 was very much still in reach**
Mile 18 - 15:04 - we're walking, we're walking
Mile 19 - 13:07 - tried to run some on flats & uphill
Mile 20 - 14:35
** 3:52 with 6 miles to go... bye-bye 5:00 finish**
Mile 21 - 15:26
Mile 22 - 17:07 -stopped to tape up knee
Mile 23 - 15:14
Mile 24 - 19:15 - I may or may not have sat on the curb to rest... I didn't cry, though! promise!!
Mile 25 - missed it - again took a pic but didn't hit watch!
Mile 26 - 35:14 - was chatting with first-timer who was having stomach issues for a bit here
Last .2 - 3:20 - WTH?! we could see finish line but they routed us around the block first - TEASES!!