Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Kalamazoo Marathon 2015

So... last weekend I ran a marathon. It was hot and hilly. Should I end there?! Haha.

I mentioned back in February that I was toying with the idea of a spring marathon... but wanted to wait and see how things shook out before I really committed. After a couple good weeks of training, I decided to just go for it and signed up for the Kalamazoo Marathon in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

All smiles before the start.
I've actually been working with a coach for a few months now. One of my Business Man's friend's wife's brother (got that?!) is a supah-fast triathlete and has been dabbling in the coaching realm... so I decided to give it a go! Let me say, it has been SO nice to not think about what I'm going to run, how far I'm going to run, how fast I'm going to run. We kept my mileage pretty reasonable, and I'm only running 4-5 days a week. (Which is all I can handle schedule-wise right now... long gone are the days of running 6-7 days a week!)

My training was pretty consistent, minus a few blah weeks with sickness, sleepless babies, and crazy cupcake baking schedules. I only did a few really long runs - a 16, 17, 19, and 20-miler, but they all had some element of speed mixed in. 

I was feeling pretty good and feeling like I could come close to a PR (3:20), but my main goal was to run a BQ (3:35). I figured I could run a qualifying time this spring, and then hopefully run a PR in the fall at Columbus. I also have a tendency to blow up in the last 6-8 miles of a marathon and I was afraid to go out at a 3:20 pace only to blow up in the last stretch and not even get the BQ.

So, the marathon. It was on a Sunday and I had to work Saturday... so I closed up the cupcake counter early at 2pm and we hit the road up to Kalamazoo so I could pick up my packet. It's a smaller hometown event, so that was a breeze. (They even offered packet pick-up on race day morning, but I didn't want that added stress!)

My parents met us up in Kalamazoo for the weekend, and it was SO nice to have them there to help out with James and to cheer! We rented a house through AirBNB and it was a great experience. We had a 2-story 3-bedroom house to spread out and settle in for the long weekend.

Anyways, back to the marathon. My race plan was to start with the 3:30 pace group and then pick it up throughout the race if I felt good. The weather forecast predicted heat and sun, and I knew that would probably affect me a bit, especially since I haven't been training in the heat at all yet this year.

Action shot taken by my Business Man. Those compression sleeves were a bad choice... SO HOT!

I started with the 3:30 group and things were super easy and fun. The pacers started talking about all the hills to come, especially on the back half of the course. Hmmm. I hadn't thought to check the elevation. I mean, I looked at it, but it didn't look too bad! (Guess I should actually look at the numbers, not just the squiggly lines...)

My boys having fun during the race.

We hit a lot of too fast miles the first half of the race... they wanted to 'bank time' for the second half of hills and heat. (Which I sort of understand. But if you're pacing, shouldn't you pace evenly?!) We hit the half around 1:42.

I saw my family right around mile 14. (Right after the BACON STATION! Sadly, I did not partake.) The house we stayed at was actually just half a block from the route, so they just walked over to spectate! How cool.

Seeing the family was a good boost about halfway through the race. I felt ok, but was drinking a TON of water. It was warm, and the course was pretty much full sun. Around mile 15-16 I started to drift ahead from the group, and just went with it. In hindsight, I should have stayed back. Turns out there was a big gradual downhill at this point, which would explain the cruisin'.

Awesome part of this race = free race pics!
Somewhere around mile 18, my left quad started to feel pretty much dead. (You know the feeling? Super heavy with every step.) That's when things started to go downhill. I started to get super hot, and every step was a struggle. I convinced myself to get to mile 20 and then see how I felt. 

You can see mile 20 is where things went downhill... or I guess it was uphill... bwa ha ha.

And then I walked. Haha. I just felt so hot and my quads hurt so bad. I didn't have it in me mentally that day. (And I was so far off from a PR that I kinda figured, 'what's the point?' That's not the best attitude to have.)

I allowed myself to walk from 0.0-0.1 and 0.5-0.6 of each mile remaining. It was the only way I could mentally get through the race. I think my run portions were still pretty consistent around 8-8:30ish pace but those walk breaks gave my quads a break. Especially since we climbed about a billion hills in the last 6 miles. 

This was me every 30 seconds during the last 6 miles. Are we there yet? NO! Are we there yet? NO! Haha. 

The 3:30 pacers passed me around mile 21.5, so that was pretty depressing. The group had been about 20-25 people when I left, and at that point they had ZERO so that made me feel a little better.

I did run the tangents really well! Only ran about 0.1 extra throughout the whole course.

I did make myself run the entire last mile. I finished in 3:32:54, which at least got me my BQ. I was also 5th female overall which was a nice surprise. (Small race... winning female ran a 3:19. And just a note - all the women ahead of me had a nice positive split as well, haha.)

"Why are you hobbling like an old woman, mom?!"

I was so glad to be done! Lol. I enjoyed the race experience and am glad I ran it... just wish I would have been more prepared for the hills and the heat.

After the race, it was time for FUN! My Business Man and I absolutely love the area of Michigan near Kalamazoo, so we had a blast the rest of the weekend with James and my parents.

I can't get over the baby shades.

On Sunday, we headed to Holland for the Tulip Time Festival. Supposedly, there were over 6 million (!!) tulips in bloom. We started counting, but gave up around 2.2 million. ;)

We spent a lot of time walking around town, shopping, gazing at tulips, and eating delicious food.

We even got to introduce my parents to my favorite restaurant in the whole wide world - Salt of the Earth! I had a wood-fired pizza with bleu cheese, buttermilk sauce, onion jam, and honey. Alongside a glass of SOTE punch. Totally hit the spot after a long day. We also took home a loaf of fresh-baked bacon bread, which made killer BLAT's the next night.

I've already re-created this at home and it's officially my new favorite pizza.

The highlight of the weekend had to be the gorgeous weather. While 75*F and sunny is NOT great marathon running weather, it is awesome weather to be outside! We just enjoyed soaking up James time outside... and he enjoyed soaking up his Grammy & Grampy time.

Such a fun weekend... can't wait for Door County vacation later this summer!

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