Sunday, April 29, 2012

Illinois Marathon 2012 Race Recap

Yesterday I ran my second marathon.

The day started just before 5am when I woke up to pouring rain and thunderstorms outside. Great. I knew that rain was in the forecast, but hoped and prayed that there wouldn't be any.

I got my stuff all ready and ate my Clif bar and we got on the road. By the time we left the hotel, it was only sprinkling outside. 

I met up with my BFF Talen before the start and we were able to do a nice little 6 minute jog warm-up together. It was so much better to have someone to stand around and be nervous with. Also - the rain had completely stopped, which was so so awesome!

Trying to stay warm before the start.
Pretty soon it was time to start, so we bid farewell and I lined up with the 3:15 pace group (7:27 pace) and she lined up with the 3:25 pace group. 

And then the gun went off and we started running! The start of a marathon or half-marathon always seems so anti-climactic to me. So much excitement, and then all of a sudden you are walking, then jogging across the start line. Just felt like we were going out for an easy run.

The first couple miles were a bit crowded, and I tripped a couple times over people's feet. No big deal though. By about mile 4 it had thinned out a bit and our 3:15 pace group had a pretty big group. (At least 30 people. Mostly men.) I just tried to get in the zone and make a little conversation with those around me. I met a super nice fellow runner named Jill, and we talked for a bit which was great.

Before we knew it, we were to miles 8-9 which wound through a beautiful park, and I was expecting to see my Business Man and my mom there. And there they were! I felt super strong here, and gave them a big smile, although you can't really tell from the picture.

That's me!
The miles kept truckin' along, and I was just in the zone with the pace group. It felt a little fast, but I wasn't keeping track of the splits exactly. I guess a couple of our miles ended up being in the 7:0x range, which is quite a bit faster than 7:27! I'm a firm believer in even splits, not going out too fast to "bank" time. But... at this point I would have rather been running with the pace group than to slow down by myself. So I stuck with them.

We went through the Half in 1:36:49, which is a 7:23 average. So a little fast. I still felt really good at this point. The half-marathoners broke off from the full course at mile 12.5 so our group had thinned down a bit. 

Somewhere around mile 17, I was just running along... and a runner came up behind me yelling "Sara!" It turned out to be another college teammate, John! I couldn't even believe it. I didn't even know he was running the marathon! So we chatted for a few minutes, but I was starting to get tired from talking, so he ended up going on his merry way. (He finished in a 3:12! Go John!)

At mile 18, I saw my Business Man and my mom again. I still felt pretty good here, but I was getting tired. I was having difficulty eating my sports beans, because my fingers were so numb that I couldn't get the bag open or get them into my mouth. 

I continued on, staying in the nice little pace group bubble, until mile 20. We went through the 20-mile mark in 2:27:24, which is a 7:22 average. So we were still quite ahead of pace. I was starting to hurt though. Before I knew it, the pace group (still about 15 strong) was about 50 meters ahead of me. "How did that happen?" I thought to myself.

Instead of trying to sprint to catch up, I just concentrated on moving forward. By mile 21, my legs had gotten that dead feeling where they just did NOT want to go anymore. Also, the wind had picked up and was pretty brutal. At this point, I busted out my iPod that I had in my pocket, just in case. And I'm so glad I had it. Although it was quite the feat to get it out of the pocket and playing and the headphones into my ears, because of how numb my fingers were. (Why didn't I just put my gloves back on?! They were tucked into the front of my capris. Who knows.) 

I walked through the last couple water stops, and once I hit mile 23, I stopped for a one-minute walk break. I ended up stopping for a total of three one-minute walk breaks. Yes, I wish I would have continued running, but those walk breaks might have saved me. It definitely helped knowing that I had less than half an hour left.

Once I hit mile 25, I told myself that I had to run the rest of the way. It took me about 11 minutes to run the last 1.2 miles, but I was NOT going to walk! I knew I had fallen way off pace, but was still hoping to finish in the 3:20-3:25 range. 

I'm the person in black about to cross the line.
Finally, we were nearing the stadium, and I knew we were close! Once we turned into the stadium, I tried my hardest to sprint across the 50-yard line, but I'm sure it was a slow jog. But I finished! 3:22:15.

Pretty far off my lofty 3:15 goal, but I was still SO ecstatic! A 20-minute PR! A Boston-qualifying time! I was all smiles. Except for the intense pain all over my body, hehe. 

I turned around to wait for Talen to come in, and she came flying in with the 3:25 pacer in a lightning 3:24:18! I am so proud of her. She had a great race. 

So happy to be done!
We got our medals and met up with our families & friends. And started to talk about Boston. (Girls' trip next April?!)

Race bling.
All in all, it was a great day. No rain, and the course was great. Super flat, and there were spectators EVERYWHERE! All the neighborhood streets had people out, the college students were all out, and everyone was super supportive. Lots of funny signs too.

For myself, I am still definitely learning the marathon. It is a tough race. Once I get tired, it is so hard for me to keep pushing. I've also noticed that once I get really tired I completely stop taking in any fuel because I don't feel like messing with it. From mile 21 on, I had no beans, no gels, no gatorade. I'm sure that would have helped! 

Last year, at Flying Pig, I had a miserable last 10 miles. This year, it was only the last 5 miles that were miserable. Hopefully, I can continue to learn to push past those feelings of exhaustion and figure this race out. Because I will get that 3:15, someday! I'm not giving up. 

Just one more thing to share - last night my mom & I went to my favorite ice cream place in my hometown for one of the best ice cream creations in the world. Puppy Chow Wizard. Yes... a knock-off blizzard with chunks of peanut butter chocolate puppy chow. Holy moly, it was so delicious. 

Mmmmmm, so good.

Look at that smile. I was exuding so much happiness that the camera couldn't even focus.

As for today? I am definitely feeling like I ran a marathon yesterday. I hope to get out for a short walk at some point to loosen up the muscles. I've got my cousin's bridal shower to attend this afternoon here in our hometown, but then we will be traveling back to the Bean Town this afternoon! I'm looking forward to taking a week easy to rest my legs and get geared up for some speedy short summer races!

Thanks again for all your support during this training cycle! It means so much to know that I've got so many people behind me. :-D


Have Your Way said...

Congrats girl!!! You are a BEAST!!!

Katie Petravick said...

Sara! You have always been such an inspiration! I know the trials of a slow marathon, I couldn't even imagine the pace you kept! You rocked it. Boston, next year? Can't wait to hear about it. Keep up the good work!

Liz A said...

Congratulations, Sara!! You ran so well and I'm so proud of you and Talen! It was fun seeing the pictures before and after. Hope you recover quickly, take it easy!

Running Girl said...

Congratulations on your Boston qualifying time! You are amazing!!!!

Running Girl said...

Congratulations on your Boston qualifying time! You are amazing!!!!

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