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.


6 thoughts on “That Time I Won a Marathon

  1. I know I already told you, but CONGRATULATIONS on your freaking AMAZING race, your HUGE PR, and WINNING! I am sorry I was such a creeper and had to ruin the surprise by looking, but I had a suspicion you were going to absolutely crush it and win overall.

    I love your recap because you didn’t do the mile by mile thing – it was refreshing to just here the good, the bad and the ugly. I think you did an excellent job assessing your performance and that is only going to help you moving forward. Despite you not having that “pop” that day, you achieved all kinds of awesome on that day. I really like your assessment of what you plan to do next. I need to really think about doing the same – take some time and focus on shorter distances. It’s tricky because I’m also trying to do the 50 states, so I like to have at least one marathon each season to knock off some states. I am considering a hiatus from marathons in the fall, though. Knowing me, I’d probably race shorter distances almost every weekend if I did that so who knows if that would be effective!

    Do you think you will run Boston in 2017? OR, did you know that your time qualified you for NYC? You needed sub 3:13 and you did it! Actually, that’s something you forgot to mention in your list – you qualified for all three of the domestic marathon majors with your 3:11 🙂 Maybe some international ones, too – I don’t know what the criteria is for those! Lol. Now I’m rambling. Anyway, I am so excited for you and I hope we get to catch up at a race soon. You busted your ass all summer and it showed in your race. You rock!

    • Thanks again! I think your Hansons plan for the spring would set you up for a fast shorter distance season over the summer and then maybe just knock out a random full in a state that wouldn’t be a PR anyway in the fall as a long run…or something like that. Plus, Hollie races a ton of short stuff and it seems to be working for her, so why not?!

      I honestly didn’t know about the NYC qualifying, but really the big races don’t interest me much. I’m too much of a country mouse and the idea of 30+ thousand runners on top of a bustling city makes my skin crawl, haha!

      But anyway, let me know when you sign up for Louisville; I will be in for the half! It’s after Boston, right? So you’ll have had plenty of time for that calf to heal and get in the Hansons training block? It’ll be a blast!

      • I hope it does! Even though Indy wasn’t what I wanted, I felt like it was a good season besides that. Hollie lives about an hour from me so I am excited for my calf to heal up so I can meet up with her for some races! I hung out with her when she was in town for Runner’s World and we had fun. If you are ever eyeing up a PA race, you have some buddies that would met up with you here… 🙂

        I totally agree with the larger races. I don’t prefer them. I do much better in smaller races that I can be more competitive in because I feel like I have a chance at winning. I tend to lay more on the line and hang on in the later miles when I know I have a shot! I have never run NYC even though I’ve qualified, but I do love Boston. I did Chicago but that was wayyy too big. I did enjoy the experience, but I’d much prefer a smaller field!

        I am going to try a test run next week and then sign up 🙂 I am registered for Boston but I want to make sure my calf isn’t giving me issues before I commit to another race. But I am dying to do that one and it almost always falls on the same weekend as Boston, and this year it doesn’t. I will be running that for fun and taking it easy but I need to knock Kentucky off my list! It’s like this hole in my map of completed states that I need to fix, haha!

  2. Wow. Just wow. How in the heck am I supposed to run Paris Mtn next weekend knowing YOUR there?! You are so speedy! Maybe you can give me some tips to smash my next marathon in April! 😉 Enjoyed the recap! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • You already have a cheerleader built in for next week so you’ll do awesome! I’m gonna be at the front gate taking parking money so I should be the first person you see on Saturday! And you were already totally ready to crush Savannah so we just need to do a weather dance so it isn’t craziness! Which one are you doing in spring?

      • Nashville RnR for the St.Jude hospital! I signed on as a hero so that way my focus isn’t solely a pr but also to help fundraise:-) I did PR by 18 minutes last year though after an almost two year hiatus from training lol so even though it’s a TOUGH course I ran it well somehow. :)) SO excited to meet you!!!

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