Virginia Beach, VA
March 22, 2015
Time: 4:12:42 Pace: 9:39
Age Group: F30-34, 76/165
Half Splits: 1:57:44/2:14:58
Well marathon #4 is complete. I’m indifferent regarding my race performance. I had my doubts going into this race. For one, my training was up and down. I wasn’t consistent. I had a few great weeks in a row with milage in the low to mid thirties and then followed it up with a few weeks of low mileage in the teens or lower. I only have myself to blame….okay I’ll blame a small percentage on the weather, but only 5%.
When I trained for the Carmel Marathon a year ago, 99% of my training was on the treadmill. And for me, that did not translate to running outside. It works for some, but not for me. Since my training started in December for Shamrock, I knew the treadmill couldn’t be avoided. So I vowed to do half of my training outside and half on the dread mill. I came off of two great races, Monumental Marathon and Santa Hustle Half with two PR’s, so I had high hopes for Shamrock. But right from the beginning my training was off.
I was in the busiest time of year for my work, and with the holidays I was already skipping workouts the first few weeks of training. This was not how I wanted to start. Once the holidays were over, I thought I could turn over a new leaf and pick up the mileage. Well, work never slowed down and the lack of sunshine and vitamin D really got me down. I’m one of those SAD people affected by the cold and gloomy weather. So my motivation was just lacking. The last thing I wanted to do was after a long day at work was to wait for a treadmill at the gym or run outside in the dark in 15 degree temps. Since I started off my training skipping workouts, it was that much easier to continue to skip them. I kept thinking I would get it together. I did have a solid few weeks but not enough runs or mileage to sustain my aggressive goal.
However, before you go thinking I’m having a woe is me moment, I believe there are still a few positives to my ‘failure’. I still ran half of my runs outside! Adopting our new pup Kona helped tremendously. After being pent up all day, she was ready to get outside and run when I would get home from work. So I would layer up and take her with me for a good portion of my runs. It was nice to have someone to run with and get me out the door. I didn’t mind the tug-o-war pulling as much. It definitely made it more difficult at times to get in a groove but as least I had a running buddy and someone to protect me in the dark. I used to be terrified of running at night. But running with Kona, I learned to embrace it. I found it almost calming, like some sort of meditation or release after a crazy day. So thank you Kona for getting me out the door. If it wasn’t for you, I either would not have ran or have been stuck on a treadmill. She taught me to not fear running at night and she taught me how to run in the cold. She made me a stronger runner. Love my lil Kona Boo.
As for my training, you get out what you put in. Since I only put in 60%, I ran my marathon at 60%. I almost feel as if I peaked during my training one month prior and if I would have ran my marathon then I would have had a better result. By the time I got to my marathon, I was mentally already over it. I was tired of thinking about it. Tired of worrying about it. Just tired altogether. I mentally was already looking forward to triathlon training and even more excited to run my upcoming half marathons.
I knew the course was flat and fast and I was prepared for some wind, but I was not mentally and physically prepared for the amount of wind for my goal pace. With advice from a friend who ran it before, I should have adjusted my pace and ran on feel. But when questioning my Marine husband and his Marine bff who we stayed with in Virginia Beach, they told me to still go for my goal pace despite my inconsistent training and the wind. So I decided to go for it knowing I would probably blow up. But I might as well try right?
We arrived in VA Beach that Thursday afternoon and I immediately took a nap and settled in with some great seafood. That Friday we went to the expo and picked up my bib. Being surrounded by other runners at the expo pumped me up a little for my race. I started to think I could pull this off. After the expo, I ran 3 miles at race pace on the board walk to get a feel for the wind. The first mile was easy. Second mile not bad. Third mile still held my pace but I definitely had to focus with the wind. Saturday we toured the USS Wisconsin and I was supposed to run 2 easy miles. But for some reason with all the extra sleep I was getting and all the delicious seafood, I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was go home and sleep, so that’s what I did. Of course I had my usual night before dinner of quinoa/brown rice pasta w/ sauce and a salad. I stretched and used the stick on my legs before getting to bed early. I was surprisingly calm. No point in worrying. What’s done is done.
With the race not starting until 8:30, I could sleep in a bit. I woke up at 6:00am and started my usual routine of getting dressed. My magic pre-race breakfast is Nuun Hydrate Electrolit in water and uncrustables. Well, I forgot to bring my Nuun with me and it didn’t even phase me to purchase any at the expo. Mistake #1. Second, I didn’t have any uncrustables. We had gone to Trader Joes and Whole Foods on Friday to get some food and snacks but they didn’t have any and I didn’t want to bother my friends to search for a grocery store that carried them. So I settled for sprouted grain toast, applesauce, lara bar and banana. Oh and coffee and water. Let the dry heaving begin. I choked down the lara bar, but I could not eat my favorite toast for the life of me. I eat it almost every morning for breakfast before work, but when I really need it for a race, I can’t get it down. So I had a half cup of applesauce and one or two bites of banana. This is not enough food. Ahhhhhhhh. Mistake #2.
Bryan and I took an Uber to the race. I had a moment of panic when the Uber driver asked us how to get to our destination. Ummmm, we’re not from here, that’s why we got an Uber. Crisis averted, she used her GPS. We were there with plenty of time for me to stretch and try to eat a few bites of my picky bar. It felt colder that 45 degrees, especially in the wind. I immediately began to doubt if I wore enough. After a last minute bathroom break and stretching, I gear checked my stuff and went to my corral. I only had to wait for about 5 minutes before I was off.
Start to 10K (54:42.2) – Just like that I was off. Stay. At. My. Pace. I needed to stay between 8:40-8:46 for my goal time. I wore my sweet throw away ‘jacket’ for the first mile to get warmed up, then it was off. I was a little chilly, but the wind had not fully hit me yet. After the first few miles, my watch was already starting to hit the miles before I crossed the mile markers, therefore my chip pace would be a few seconds slower than my actual time on my watch since the course was already running longer. Something to keep in mind. Mile 6 is where I felt absolutely blasted by the wind. The field was already spread out. I didn’t have a pack to run with to block part of the wind. People were either faster than me and passing or they were slower than me. So I just stayed with my goal pace, but my 8:40 pace felt more like an 8:20 pace effort in the wind. My 10K time was 54:42 which was 8:48 per mile according to my official results. However according to my GPS watch, it was an 8:42 pace. This is a decent discrepancy, 6 second average. But I told myself not to worry about it now and to hold my pace. 8:42 is exactly where I needed to be.
10K to Half Split (1:57:44) – The wind just kept coming. Now I was actually cold since the sweat was cooling my body as well. My fingers were numb. I could barely open my gels. At around mile 8 or 9, there was a hill while running over an overpass. I’m okay with hills now, but running a hill while being blasted with wind…I was not okay with this. I was not expecting to see Bryan yet but he surprised me at the top of the overpass. When I saw him, I was shaking my head. It’s like I was subconsciously letting him know that I knew this wouldn’t end well.
Hold myself together Melissa. The wind will pass…I hope. At around mile 10-ish my pace started to slow. I was already having doubts this early during the race. Not a good sign. I allowed myself to slow down a few miles just to recoup. Run on feel I told myself. I thought to myself even if I don’t break 3:50, I can still get close and PR, just hold it together. I was hoping to feel a second wind around this point like I do in my training runs, but I think I worked so hard to hold my pace against the wind instead of running on effort that I would be on fumes shortly. I crossed the half at 1:57:44 (8:59 pace). This is the time I crossed at Monumental in November and I ran a 3:56 and change during that race. Whoa, I’m way off, well by about 2 to 3 minutes. I really slowed those last few miles trying to recover. I had a conversation with myself. Okay Melissa, sub 3:50 is looking out of the picture, but hold tight here and then pick it up the last 10K. I can still PR with plan B.
Half Split to 19.3M (3:00:36) – As the course started to leave the cheering fans in downtown VA Beach, we started heading north on a secluded wooded road. This is really where I needed help. Very few spectators. No pack to stay with. I was running by my lonesome. I really needed to see Bryan at this point to push me. He was running 20 miles for his Ironman training. I told him to find me at mile 20 because that is where I thought I would need him to push/pace me. Well turns out I needed him a lot sooner. I was feeling depleted from not eating enough, my gels were not cutting it and I was exhausted from battling the wind in the previous half of the marathon. I was still getting small blasts every so often. I was starting to dwindle. Once I realized that even a PR was out of grasp I really started to fade. Okay Melissa, time for plan C – just break 4hrs. When I crossed the third time marker at mile 19.3 my pace had slowed to a 9:21 ave. Whoops! At this point, I mentally shut down. The 4 hour pace group passed me at 19.5M and so I decided to walk through my first water station. Efff that.
19.3M to Finish (4:12:42) – After my first walking break through the water station, it was that much easier to walk through a few more water stations. At this point all my plans were out the window, so no point in getting worked up over it or injuring myself hobbling along. There was my hubs waiting for me around mile 21ish. He had been waiting awhile for me, so he knew I blew up. He jogged next to me while I did my marathon shuffle. He was like ummm can you not pick it up any faster, no babe I can’t. I didn’t have any turnover. It was like I couldn’t pick my legs up higher. He ran with me for maybe 2 miles and then left to finish his run since he knew he wouldn’t be pacing me. So from about miles 21-24, I just kinda shuffled along and completely shut down. At least I was getting a sun tan.
Then at mile 24 I snapped out of it. What are you doing Melissa?!?!? Two miles left, pull yourself together. It didn’t take much and I was back in action. Apparently my slow few miles actually let me recover enough to pick the pace back up for the final two miles. I was passing everyone, weaving in and out. Seriously why couldn’t I do this the entire time? The final mile was on the boardwalk so I picked up my pace back to my goal speed and you know what happened? I finally started to smile. Just in time to see Bryan, DJ, and Megan before the finish. I crossed at 4:12:42 – at least it wasn’t my slowest marathon is what I first thought. It was my third best marathon out of four. Even though my time wasn’t what I had hoped for, I was relieved it was over. I had a feeling that it would turn out this way. Self fulfilling prophecy or something. I was happy to be done training in the cold, dark winter. Happy to be finished running in a wind tunnel. And happy to have a few weeks off to mentally and physically escape from Shamrock. Now I could finally relax during our last two days of our trip and look forward to what would be next.
Comparing my four marathons, I see an obvious pattern. I’m a fall marathon girl. My training starts during the summer, so it’s warm out and also stays light longer. So even if I have a long day of work and get home late, I still have enough time for a run and or mini break before my workout. When I trained for Monumental in November the only workouts I missed were when we were on vacation. I was on point in my training and I had a perfect marathon. I had hoped that I could take this momentum with me through the winter for Shamrock training but it was just too damn cold. My marathons in order from best to worst performance are as follows:
1. Monumental Marathon 3:56:47 (Nov 2014, 3rd Marathon) FALL
2. Chicago Marathon 4:09:55 (Oct 2013, 1st Marathon) FALL
3. Shamrock Marathon 4:12:42 (Mar 2015, 4th Marathon) SPRING
4. Carmel Marathon 4:20:55 (Apr 2014, 2nd Marathon) SPRING
Therefore according to my pattern, I’m due for a big PR this fall! Woohoo! I discussed with Bryan about scratching spring marathons all together because I’m just not consistent enough in my training during the winter months. He told me to keep running a spring marathon and use it more to keep a base fitness to build off of for when I really race in the fall. Sounds like a plan to me. So Indianapolis Marathon @ Ft. Ben in October….I’m coming for ya!