Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Empire Marathon 2016 : Third Times The Charm!!!

Perhaps it only takes three months of race prep and a big ole PR or me to post.  And to pot a race report....gasp....three days post race!  Well, whatever.  I'll take it.  The last month has been sort of a mess - a fall down the stairs resulting in a concussion, massive amounts of work stress, sleep regressions and night terrors (and not just for Greg and I) etc etc.  Last week I turned the big 34 and so far it seems that perhaps this might be the turning point, as October has been snap happy so far.  but that's a post for another today.  Today, all me and my completely trashed legs want to talk about is my race report for the Empire Marathon - marathon #7 overall for me, #5 standalone, and the 3rd time since 2011 I have tried to break 4 hours (2011 DC hiatus....2014 OBX hiatus....and now!)  As the post indicates in a wonderful spoiler fashion, I frickin' did it!  But tough nuts, I'm still gonna wax poetic about it.  So, pick up your mug of coffee and settle in for my long winded verbal vomit.  Thanks, guys.  Love ya too.

Greg and I signed up for this race back in January - we figured Syracuse was reasonably close, course was pretty flat, and since I wasn't about to pay over $100 for Wineglass on my birthday, the discounted price of $65 for the full and $55 for the half sounded good.  Plus, it would serve to be a decent season wrap up and a good "A" race for both of us - Greg wanted to break 2 hours in the half, and I was itching for a sub 4.  
This season...I ran.  Alot.  I used the same FIRST training plan that I have for both prior attempts to break 4, but added in one easy run per week to add up to 35-40 mpw in 4 runs.  I did my ultra in May to get a good base, ran a few half marathons to train, and did Vegas Marathon because I am, in fact, a moron.  Post Vegas, I did this training plan for 14 weeks, missing only one week because I am an idiot and fell down the stairs (forced recovery??)  Other than that stupidity, I managed to remain uninjured, which, given my penchant for running when I am pissed off, is shocking.  However, that probably helped me with my speed - I felt strong and ready for this race!!  Oddly enough for me, I tapered well.  I cut down on runs, ate like it was my job, and gained 2 pounds pre race week, which is exactly what I wanted.  I got a pre race massage on Monday, which was a deep tissue massage hour of hell that left me in tears, but did the damn job.  All my shake out runs went well, which, of course, as a neurotic runner, left me worried.  The ole dress rehearsal mess syndrome.  

The night before the race, our awesome nanny came and spent the night.  I am debating stealing her from her husband (he is a runner and knows of my evil plans).  It made race morning super easy- even though Biz was up, oh, every hour (what in the hell would I do with a full ngihts sleep??) race morning, Greg and I got ourselves pulled together sans kiddo disruptions, smooched our lovies, and set out.  Race day temps were 45 at 6am, and 50-60 during the race, partly sunny.  In other words, perfect.  Pre race, I drank some strong coffee, ate peanut butter covered raisin toast and applesauce, downed two immodium (always good insurance) and chatted up a few Roc runner friends, two of which were trying to BQ (3:30 yikes!) and another friend running the half.
Race logistics were....interesting.  There were 1300 runners between the full and half, and they did a mass start, which, to be frank, was dumb.  But I'm not an RD, so I'll shush.  We did the anthem, lined up as best we could, and were off!!

Right away, the shit hit the fan.  I was running in a borrowed sparkle skirt (which my friend Amanda PRed in several times, hey, I'll give it a shot, and it was super comfy!).  I had stuffed all my crap in the pockets, and I forgot to grab gum.  Damn.  So I played around with the pockets and found it.  Good deal.  Then, my skirt started to slip.  WTF.  I looked like a total ass for 5 minutes, hitching it up every 30 seconds until it, like my legs, found its groove and settled in without a problem for 25.5 miles :-P, and felt fantastic.  Lookin good in 8:15 for mile 1....way too fast!!  I was aiming for a 9:05 for just under 4, and I can't negative split to save my soul, but was shooting for about 8:45.  Good deal.  About mile 1.5 I shucked my throw away top at the aid station...along with my headphones.  Shit.  I grabbed them super quick, adjusted, listened to Sophistifunk 3 times on repeat before fixing the damn settings, then settled in...again.  Bt wait, where was mile 2?  Looked down at my garmin and saw 1.75 22 minutes.  What???  I realized that perhaps I hit a button on the watch while disrobing and calmed somewhat.  Mile 3 in 24:50.  Garmin read - 2.32.  Shit.  This is gonna suck.  Here my garmin says mile 2 took 22 minutes (what was I napping??) and I am uber off the course.  Oh well.  I decided to go with it, and just said screw electronics, Ill use the watch time and look at mile splits.  Mental math keeps my brain busy and off my legs.
Which, by the way, they felt awesome.  Mile 4, 5, 6 and 7 ticked by (the last one at 58 minutes and change, still too fast) but I was super enjoying myself.  The full turned away from the half and we started to wind our way around the lake, which was frickin gorgeous.  I lost myself in the tunes and connected with a woman who was trying to BQ with a 3:45...way too fast, Rae!!  I slowed somewhat, and started wondering about mile 8.  And 9.  And 10????  Dammit.  This was OBX all over again, where I saw mile 24 3 times....except there were no mile markers!!!  This was why I bought the dam Garmin, who was happily humming away at 8.08 in 1:25 which was....not right.  At all.  Well, WTF.  I decided that I would rather the electronics failed me than my body, and sort of laughed.  Turned back to the half course to do our second lollipop and saw,,,,mile 11.  Thank you Jesus!  (1:36).  Mental math told me I was still a few minutes ahead of pace, which felt about right.  Keep on truckin.

Miles 13-15 were pretty uneventful except I still had no idea where I was on the course.  This was a half road half trail marathon so even if I wanted to drive it (I wouldn't have, admission) I couldn't.  I wasn't too concerned with life, though.  Mile 15, finally a mile marker, at 2:11.  I was starting to think big picture - If I could find mile 20 by 2:58, which seemed totally doable, I could rely on 10 minute miles to the finish.  Perfect.  I saw my speedy Boston chasers about 15.5, which put them at mile 18, and made me feel awesome.  What a great day for a run.  My legs had started to tighten up a bit, nothing crazy, so I stopped at the water stop at 16 for a quick walk break and real liquid.  I was downing gus about every half hour and they sat just fine, along with a quick swig of water or gatorade every water stop (15 mins).  At the 17 mile turnaround, I was at 2:32 - hmm.  A 10 minute mile already?  Weird.  I started checking my garmin every 2 minutes like an obsessive monkey and sure enough, I was at about a 9:45 pace.  Which felt weird.  My legs were in pain but nothing I haven't run through, I just seemed stuck at a pace.  Mile 18 - 2:42, Mile 19 - 2:53.  WTF.  At that point, I realized I went out too frickin fast and started to go, as Sabastian Kienle would say, into the shit.  My mind went to bad, bad places.  Could I really do this?  Perhaps not.  Mile 20 - 3:02.  Fuck.  I reminded myself that I could most certainly do a 57 minute 10k.  What the hell was wrong with me.  And I repeated the mantra that I woke up with "Today is the day I will break 4" over and over with each step.  It was GONNA happen.

With resolve, I chugged some gummy bears (keeping it classy) and took off at a slightly faster clip.   Mile 21, I grabbed some water, looked down, and saw 3:12.  WHAT THE FUCK.  I KNEW I couldn't run a 9 minute mile to the finish.  That was it.  I wasn't gonna do it.  I started to tear up, and slowed to a walk.  All this damn training.  Total crap.  As I saw my A goal evaporate, I remembered my second attempt to break 4 in OBX in 2014, when a misplaced mile 24 marker mentally screwed me up.  And I realized that perhaps this might be the same thing.  Why am I giving up with 5 miles left to go?  I thought.  This would really piss me off if I trained all damn year and because I threw a temper tantrum, I missed my goal.  Screw it.  I'll re assess at mile 23.  And I took off.  I don't remember mile 22, which was probably good.  There was a water stop where I accidentally dumped gatorade on my shoes, soaking them.  Since everything else hurt, who cared?

Mile 23:  3:29.  I so can do a 30 minute 5k.  Mile 21, you lied!!  I turned on some power tunes, and started to play some mental footstep games to ignore my legs.  Mile 24: 3:38.  I knew if I could get to mile 25 in 3:48, I had this.  So I put on some crazy trap music, and jammed out, determined to go.  I passed a guy and said, C'mon, let's do this!  He goes, "I can't do it.  You go.  This is not happening".  Eff that.  If I was going to end up unable to walk the next day, I better have a damn 3 in my race result in the first digit!!  Mile 25: 3:47.  YOU. GOT. THIS.  As I hammered out the final mile (in 8:40, thankyouverymuch!)I saw Greg by the turn toward the finish.  I got shivers. And a stupid goofy smile.  And knew, frickin finally, this was happening.  I crossed the finish in 3:58, with a giant smile on my face and on total dead legs.

Post race, I connected with my NYC bound new friend who leapfrogged with me, who said she ran a 26.6, which seemed about right with some of the wonky miles.  My ROC buddies BQed with 9 minutes to spare, Greg PRed in 1:58 (weird how that works!) and we all high fived each other on a great race day.

I still can't believe that this 5 year quest really happened.  Three days later, I still feel like crap, but have the biggest grin on my face.  2016 race year, perfect ending.  I am so flippin happy.  And stupidly proud for not letting technology, lack of mile markers, or worse - my own head- get in my way.  Take THAT, mental game!

What's next?  Who knows!  Right now I'm enjoying falls - a few bike rides to shake out the legs, a few house projects (kitchen reno) and playing with my kiddos.  Tomorrow we will go apple picking and enjoy a perfect fall weekend with a pumpkin walk, carnival, and football with our cousins.  And then, of course, the sickness will return with a few short runs and some solid GAME ON for 2017.

But right now I'm a happy girl.  And a sub 4 marathoner.  And that, my friends, is enough.  (Thanks for reading if you made it this far!!)