Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adapt and Overcome Part 1

In the interest of time and my apparent long-windedness, I'm turning my race report into 2 parts. Also, I'm waiting for the race photos because I have nothing of visual interest to add! I was solo at this race. So here goes...

What's that saying?

I think the same applies to running/racing. You never know what's going to happen on race day, even with the best laid plans.

You can do everything right and sometimes things go wrong.

Knowing that I would need to get up at 4 am on race day (6 am start), I went to bed at 8 pm on Saturday night. I assumed that I wouldn't sleep particularly well, seeing as how most people don't the night before a big race. What I didn't know is that I wouldn't sleep AT ALL.

I tossed and turned for EIGHT. STRAIGHT. HOURS. 8:30 pm turned into 9:45 pm turned into 11:15 pm turned into 12:50 am turned into 2:15 am turned into 3:00 am. At no point do I remember dozing off. I just laid there, helpless and desperate. Tired but unable to sleep.

I have no idea why. This had never happened to me before. Was it the ONE glass of wine I had at dinner (at 5:30 pm)? Was it nerves? (I really wasn't that nervous.) Was I (deathly) afraid of oversleeping since I was all alone? (Even though I had 3 different alarms set.) Could I simply not get over the fact that I forgot my PJs and had to sleep in my underwear only in a hotel bed? (ugh-gross) Who knows? Perhaps  I sleep best with my mouth-breathing husband on one side of the bed and my 3-year old smashed up against me (our usual bedtime set-up these days). All I know is that I finally got out of bed at 3:45 am, tired and fairly deflated.

Let me back up a bit... this was after I got up at 3:30 am to poop, no less. What the hell? Who has to poop in the middle of the night? RIDICULOUS! Everything about my body was a mess.

After a warm 4 am shower, I choked down my breakfast (Bruegger's cranberry bagel) and 12 oz. of water (so not hungry or thirsty). Around 5:15 am, I packed up my coconut water /PreRace mix (4 oz of GAG!) and banana and drove to the mall (1 mile away) where the race start was. I finished the drink in my car after I parked and choked down 3/4th of the banana on the way to the porta-potties.

I got to the starting line around 5:50 am. I immediately sought out the 3:40 pace group. I had absolutely zero energy to do any sort of self-pacing/mental math. Just wasn't going to happen. The thought of obsessing over my splits made me even more tired than I already was. Even though I have heard mixed reviews of pacing groups, I took a leap of faith and just prayed that this particular pace leader wasn't a complete bozo.

SIDE NOTE: The 3:35 and 3:45 pacers were total BOZOS. We caught up to the 3:45 pace group around MILE 7 (WTH?) and the 3:35 pacer was nowhere to be found. Another runner around Mile 14 approached our group looking for the 3:35 group. Our pacer told him that his sign had apparently broken and he might have aborted the whole thing. Nice.

Gun goes off at 6 am. We take off into the dark. I didn't like it. 1st mile is hilly. I liked this even less. What I like the least, however, was the fact that running didn't feel great. In fact, the first 4 miles SUCKED. It felt like work. I wasn't supposed to feel like this in the first 4 miles of a marathon! These miles are supposed to feel fantastic... like I could do this forever. Instead, I felt like, "How am I going to do this for 26.2 miles? F!" 

Shit. The voices were already there 4 miles in:

"Maybe this just isn't my day."
"I'm thinking this pace is going to be too fast for me."
"If I don't have any energy now, how am I going to have energy at Mile 20?"
"Well, this wasn't my BQ race anyway, really. I had planned to BQ at Pasadena."
"Everyone else in this group seems faster than me. Like the chick talking to the pacer guy. She's so energetic and fit."

I was also stressed because 4 miles in, my fueling plans were already not working out as planned.

The course website said that there would be water at odd miles, Ultima at even miles. My plan was to drink water/Ultima at each interval and suck down my GUs starting at 6.5-7.5 (water at 7), then again at 12.5-13.5 (water at 13), 18.5-19.5 (water at 19) and then probably one more at the end if I felt like I needed it. (It works best for me if I take my GUs over the span of a mile rather than sucking the packet all down at once. That method = instant cramps/diarrhea for me.)

There was no Ultima the first 4 miles. Now what? When was it going to appear already? I was factoring in the carbs from sports drink in addition to my GUs for my fuel planning. This was throwing everything off. DAMNIT.

Around Mile 4, I decided it was time to

I needed to truly embrace the t-shirt I was wearing from the funniest running blog out there : Shut Up + Run.

I needed some energy ASAP. How could I get it? I know. I can draw on someone else's energy. Fake it till you make it, right?

So I started talking to Tina, the cute chick with lots of energy right next to me and Jim the pace leader. And wouldn't you know it... IT WORKED! Jim talked me off the ledge and told me to just take my GUs every 5 miles with water (so I started at 5.5 so I could get water at 6... I assumed they'd have water at 6 + I'll figure out the sports drink later.). Tina was like my instant BFF. We talked about our kids, our husbands, our training, our previous marathons, how we were feeling, etc. We helped each other through the hills and asked each other every so often how the other was doing/feeling.

Jim, the pace leader, was AWESOME. Lady Luck was on my side at least with this pacing group thing. Turns out Jim was pacing us slightly below 3:40. He knew that Tina and I were hoping for a BQ time, and he didn't think that getting us right under 3:40 was going to cut it. He had been pacing us at an average 8:20 pace (I wasn't paying attention, TBH. I had looked down at my Garmin only a handful of times.). Sweet! Exactly what I wanted!!

Things were looking up as we approached the halfway point, right around 1:48!!!


  1. Gosh, leave us hanging why don't you! Lol. Great race so far. I've definitely had those rough starts, too. My first BQ race was so rough I almost dropped out at 6 miles; then I planned to drop out at the half but didn't know my way back to the start so I stuck with it! Sometimes those bad days just give us more of a challenge. I think having a distracter does help; nice that you found a bff ;-)

  2. Can't wait to read the rest of this. You definitely have resiliency on your side - I probably would have just given up and gone back to bed. ;) Glad that you made friends though - that helps for sure!

  3. this is so exciting! i can't believe you had such a rough start - and am amazed and inspired by how you moved passed that and overcame it to kick some marathon booty! love that you made friends too. oh my gosh, i can't wait to read part 2!!!
    still smiling ear-to-ear thinking about how awesome you are :o)

  4. Argh! I hate cliffhangers! :)

    I'm so sorry you slept like poo (and had to get up to poo) the night before your race. That you kicked this marathon's ass after a night like that makes your accomplishment all the more inspiring!

  5. Love it...can't wait to read the second half

  6. 1:48 for a half is great! Good for you for regaining your motivation/focus despite not feeling it the first four miles. Once the negative thoughts creep, it is really hard for me to get rid of them but running with a group and having others to support (distract you from the pain) helps!

  7. I hate those restless nights, especially before a race! Glad that you started chatting with other runners and de-stressing. Awesome first half--I look forward to reading the rest!

  8. Ha! What a start! Snuggling with a three year old doesn't give a good nights sleep?? LOL. :)
    Glad you found someone who was positive to run with. I am curious - was it clif team pacing?

  9. heck ya!! loving it... ok, i think the sleeping in underwear thing would have done it to me too! ;) ha. so sorry!! that is just mentally the worst!!! Second, I would be completely PISSED if I was with the 3:35 or 3:45 pace group. Seriously, that marathon better do triple checks on their pacers next time. Makes me mad for those who were depending on them. I'm with you...I think it is way easier to depend on a pace group leader than adding the stress of dealing with mental math the whole way. So glad you lucked out with a STAR pacer and buddy!!! On to the rest... :)