Dec 3, 2013

Space Coast Marathon Race Recap

Sit down, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and get comfy:  this may take awhile.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you know how the marathon went.  But before I get into the results, let me back up a bit.

It's been three years since I ran a marathon (Disney, which I finished in 4:29).  At that time, J and I were trying to have a baby and it wasn't going very well.  Longtime readers know that my fertility doctor eventually ruled out long-distance running.  Between trying to get pregnant and actually being pregnant, I basically didn't run for two years.  You can imagine how eager I was to get back into it after having C.  I practically sprinted (OK, crawled) out the door the second my OB cleared me for exercise.

2013 has been my comeback year, but it didn't really feel complete until I finished the marathon Sunday.  Oh, the marathon: the thought of it ate at me for months.  It loomed over me.  It made appearances in my dreams.  It's what propelled me out the door at 4:00 every Saturday morning and some occasional Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I dutifully logged my miles.  I ran when I was sick, stressed out, and overtaxed.  Yes, I am stubborn.  Yes, I probably bit off more than I could chew.

Space Coast has both a half and a full marathon.  The full marathon began at 6:30 a.m., thirty minutes after the half start.  Since the race was about an hour from my house, I was out the door by 4:30 a.m.  I ate my usual peanut butter on toast on the way to the race and tried to stay awake by singing very loudly and very off-key.  Be glad you weren't in my car.

I met up with my running buddy Kat and we proceeded to make our respective deposits at the bank de toilet.  After that, there was nothing to do but wait.  So, wait we did.  Around 6:15, we got in the "corrals" and I found the 4:00 pacer.  The National Anthem was sung, and it was finally time to run.

The course is two out and backs, a figure eight of sorts.  We began by running in the opposite direction of the half marathoners.   I recall the first three or four miles being very crowded.  The four hour pacer was quite popular and there were probably two dozen or so people following her.

Right away, I could tell my head wasn't quite in the game.  What should have been an easy pace to me felt uncomfortable.  There were some rolling hills, which surprised me because all I'd ever heard about Space Coast was how flat it was.  I tried to concentrate and relax.

Miles 1-6:   9:26, 9:05, 9:04, 8:51, 9:04, 8:53

We hit a turnaround at mile 6.5 and I finally started to feel better.  Carissa and most of my running group were just a couple of minutes behind me and I spotted them on the other side of the road.  My spirits lifted, and I began to ease into the pace.

Miles 7-13: 9:00, 8:58, 9:10, 9:03, 8:43, 9:01, 8:59.

I had been warned by my running group that the course was long, so I wasn't too surprised when we got to 13.1 and were nowhere near the half spilt.  Officially, I hit the half at 1:59:18, but in reality, it was closer to 1:57.   My old group leader, Kimber, was spectating and high-fived me at the half split.  I started to feel even better.

My nutrition strategy was to take in water every two miles and take a shot blok every three.  Well, it was quite a bit warmer and substantially more humid than expected, so I decided to stop for water at every single stop.  But it wasn't enough. By mile 14, I was parched.  The wind was pelting me in the face.  I started to feel tired.  A little warning bell went off in my head.

Miles 14-19: 9:00, 9:11, 9:11, 9:05, 9:23, 8:52

Somewhere along the way during mile 19, I lost the pace group.  My stomach locked up on me.  I tried to eat another shot blok, but had to spit it out because I suddenly felt very nauseous.  A group of volunteers passed out iced towels at the 20 mile marker.  That was the BEST gift I've ever received during a race.  As soon as that chilly goodness hit my face, I realized I was overheating.  Oh boy.

Mile 20: 9:39

I hit the 20 mile split at 3:03, still barely on pace for a sub-four hour finish. But my body was rapidly breaking down.  I stopped for an extended walk break, pushing mile 21 up to a 10:00 mile.  Mile 22 was even worse: 11:06.  I passed my friend's extremely fast boyfriend.  He was walking due to severe cramps and informed me that my friend was forced to bow out at mile 16 because of nausea.  We were dropping like flies.

At mile 23, I called J crying.  My back was burning, my stomach hurt, and my spirits were disheveled.  I just wanted to hear his voice.  He told me that he and C were waiting at the finish for me.  That was all I needed to hear.  Time to finish this puppy.  Mile 23: 9:44.

Miles 24 -26 were painful and slow, but I was determined to finish.  I knew my goal was long gone but thought I could still finish under 4:10.  My watch hit 26.2 at 4:05.   I was still three tenths away from the finish line.  Depressing.  At least my headband matched my shirt?

There was a long chute to the finish.  Sure enough, J and C were waiting for me.  Cue the ugly cry.  I plastered a smile on my face crossing the finish line, though!

My official time: 4:08:41, a far cry from my sub-four hour goal.  So close, yet so very far away.  26.49 miles on the Garmin.  9:23 overall pace.

My lips were faintly blue and my nausea continued well past the race.  C and I split a pancake and I drank a Coke Fatty, which helped. But I still puked two hours after the race, and I didn't get any real food in me until dinner.  I honestly have no idea what was wrong with me.  The weather was not ideal, but I've run in worse conditions.  I didn't change any of my nutrition, but it was not good that I ran the last seven miles on no fuel.

I have a few theories on what I could have done better, but they'll be addressed in a separate post.  For now, I'll enjoy a 21 minute PR and try to appreciate it.