That Time I Won a Marathon

So…my bad. I totally dropped the ball on updating this thing in the last few weeks leading into the marathon and I’m so sure the 4 of you that read this are on the edge of your seat waiting for my race recap. I did actually have a couple of folks check in to make sure I was just lazy about blogging and not injured or something…whoops! Anyway, the title of this post gives it all away: I won my hometown marathon! Results here.

This was somewhere around mile 11...happier, simpler times. Photo credit: Pace Running Magazine
This was somewhere around mile 11…happier, simpler times.
Photo credit: Pace Running Magazine

The Spinx Carolina Marathon took place waayyy back on October 31st– there were a lot of costumes, but I was just dressed as a very nervous runner. I don’t want to do a mile by mile recap because it’s pretty much just like everyone else’s recap: ran a mile, repeat until the finish line. Instead, here’s what went well, what went wrong, and what’s coming next.

First, the things I wish had gone better:

  •  Of all things, my right quad started to cramp up. I’ve never in all my miles even thought about my quads, but somewhere around mile 22 I was seriously worried about it seizing up on me totally.
  • Once the quad felt off I backed off my pace and lost contact with the few guys I’d been running with. This was hard mentally.
  • I don’t know if the taper was 100% right. I felt okay the week of, but I kept waiting for that magical *pop* feeling to happen and come race morning, I just felt mediocre. Not flat, and not tired, but certainly not as sprightly as I expected.
  • I didn’t hit my main goal of breaking 3:10.
I love finishing inside the Fluor Field baseball stadium...actually, I just love finishing at all! Photo Credit: Pace Running Magazine
I love finishing inside the Fluor Field baseball stadium…actually, I just love finishing at all!
Photo Credit: Pace Running Magazine

That’s about it. Honestly, it’s difficult to think of too many bad things about my race execution, but there are plenty of things that went well:

  • We had nearly perfect weather with slightly overcast skies, next to no wind, and 50ish degree temps. Some people prefer cooler for a marathon, but I’m so cold natured that I was happy!
  • My guts cooperated. I was able to go to the bathroom before and I used the same Salted Watermelon Gus and water strategy I’d practiced with throughout the whole training cycle.
  • I had company for a large chunk of the race with the other sub-3:10 chasers.
  • Hands down the coolest part about leading a marathon is that I got my very own bike escorts! One of the guys, John, would drop back and get splits back to the second, third, and fourth women and then ride back up to let me know. Eventually he stopped because the gap was big enough that he was having a hard time catching back up to me! The other guy, Steve, diligently stayed 50-100 meters in front of me and made sure I knew where to turn as well as warned the aid stations I was coming through. Plus, he sent updates to the finish line so the announcer could tell the people waiting in the stadium where I was on the course. Sure, Spinx is a fairly small marathon (about 400 finishers in the full, and about 3000 combined in the 4 races), but I’m a narcissist sucker for the limelight, so it was pretty awesome.
  • Even though I missed my sub-3:10 goal, it was close with 3:11:27! I went through the halfway mark in 1:34:44 (second half was 1:36:43). I’ve negative split my last two marathons, I’d done fast finish long runs, but I couldn’t quite pull it off that day. However, I know that I could have really blown up over the second half so I’m happy with a less than 2 minute positive split on a not-great-feeling day.
  • In addition to the win, I also ran a big PR. My previous PR was 3:18:31 (at Spinx last year) and I dropped over 7 minutes off of that. Can’t be sad about any of that!

So, what’s next?

  • Recover. I’m feeling pretty good overall, but I know that coming back too aggressively is a recipe for disaster. I want to take advantage of the post-marathon fitness and I want to do it a smartly as I can.
  • Get faster. I have gotten fast enough that my pipe dream goal of sub-3:00 someday is a little closer. However, that’s never ever gonna happen until I’m running much faster at the shorter stuff.
  • Get stronger. Let’s face it: I’m scrawny. And while it’s a definite plus to be fairly thin as a distance runner, it will be hugely helpful to have some functional strength to draw on. Not to mention, being stronger overall will help prevent injuries as I must push harder and harder to reach my goals.
  • Stick to the short stuff for awhile. My coach and I both agree that I should have a true track/road race season made up mostly of 5ks and 10ks.
  • Choose my next marathon…eventually. I love my hometown marathon, and I’ll be involved in it in some capacity for years to come, but realistically it’s not a super fast course. I know I know, I just ran a big PR on it, but that was down to my fitness and training. Chasing times at this point means I need to chase flatter courses with a slightly bigger field. I don’t care for really big races, but also I don’t want to find myself running alone again at mile 23.

So there you have it! I’m super pleased with how the race went and my progress over this year. But, it’s over and I’m ready to get after my next running goals.