Welp…yesterday hurt. Real bad. Let me start with the stats then I’ll explain how it all went down, but first a huge thank you to so many who sent texts, messages, tweets, etc. I have gotten over 100 tweets alone and when I was feeling a bit down about the whole fiasco, those Facebook messages, texts, and all put a smile on my face. A friend mentioned to me that maybe I shouldn’t be so open online about my goals but yesterday as I was suffering bad during that last 10K, when other runners were running nearby I received quite a few “I love your blog, go K-Law!” comments. Thank you for those, whoever you are, I needed that. I did my best to reciprocate the love but my emotions were super fragile at that point…embarasingly fragile, but that’s just me. I don’t know how to do stoic. Can someone teach me that stuff?
I finished yesterdays marathon in 3:04. The Olympic Trials qualifying B standard is 2:43, so clearly I was far off. I knew going into the race that it was going to hurt. I knew I wasn’t quite 2:43 shape but I felt confident that I was mentally prepared and physically ready to put up a good fight for it. It was a gamble but I do not regret that decision even as the results are now clear as day. The ups & downs are part of the game and the truth is whining about a 3:04 is ridiculous and borderline childish. Since I’m not above ridiculous and childish but only by a slight margin, I’ll try to stick to keeping that ridiculousness on the blog….and to my close friends who have listened.
My roommate, Megan (more on her soon), and I woke up at 4:30. I started hydrating with a little bit of gatorade and also Tailwind nutrition (separately) and ate my normal soft pretzel. I also had a huge coffee. This is my standard pre-marathon breakfast. People think the soft pretzel is odd but its basically simple carbs with salt…nothing fancy, normally a perfect choice for me. I was born and raised in a Philly suburb and I simply love soft pretzels. The coffee though is another story. I had gotten sick about 12 days ago and stopped coffee during that time. I decided to continue with a coffee fast because, what could it hurt? I had heard great stories of people restricting their caffeine intake prior to race day and then feel an extra helpful jolt on race day mornings. I did have a two small cups during those 12 days but now I question that decision.
The race had a late start but I had no trouble at all finding the 2:43 pacers and was thrilled to see there was a huge pack of us women going for it. It was exactly how I wanted it. The first two miles felt fast. I wasn’t out of breath or hurting but usually a brisk pace this early on is not my norm. I wasn’t wearing a watch. I felt strong though and told myself to relax. We passed the 10K mark at 6:10 pace (2:41 predicted finish- I did not know this at the time) and while I still felt great I was keenly aware that sustaining this another 20 miles was eye raising because it was harder than it should have been at that point in the race. We started to hit the hills a mile or so later and I started sipping on my first gel. I like to take them slowly but about ten minutes there after I started to feel an upset stomach. I spent miles looking for a close bathroom, one that wasn’t on the opposing road side. I thought I could jump in, be done in no time, and work my way up but my pace suffered a bit in my searching. I was confident I could close that time gap. There was still many a miles to run. As quickly as I left the bathroom, I started to…well…warning..throw up. My stomach felt better for about 800 meters and started rumbling again. So I avoided fluids for a long while but my body was achey and my stomach required more attention.
At the half way mark, when the half runners went towards their finish line, I contemplated finishing with them but brushed the idea away, thinking I would feel better. I never felt improvement after that. My stomach was doing that squeeze thing when you think you’ll be sick and you brace yourself for the worst. I felt defeated. At mile 15 I honestly questioned if I could finish the race. My pace was terrible at this point and my body was achey. I had training runs further and faster. To be cautious here, I have no issue with people dropping out of races. It’s a hobby, do what you have to do. There are elites whose finances count on a race pay day and the marathon is not a weekly event, so by all means, I get that. For me though I have never dropped out of a race and I would have felt like a quitter. I was not injured. My body hurt bad but there was no part of me that was breaking. The 5 hour pace group on the other side of the road were kind enough to offer me mental support and none of them were quitting. It would have felt prideful to stop on my part.
So I trudged on. I popped out of a restroom at one point and my eyes lit up when I saw Santa. Who better to try to run with? I joined Marathon Santa for a bit and burst out laughing when someone yelled at him, “You smell like beef and cheese!” Then Marathon Santa sped up or I slowed down. I couldn’t keep up with his huge bright red outfit while silently thinking “I just got beat by Santa”. Marathon Santa went on to run a 2:54. Maybe he should be named Speedy Santa? Congrats on breaking the Santa suit wearing marathon Guiness World Record Speedy! During the rest of the run I very briefly ran with two friends, one having a great day and one having a terrible day. I did stop at aid stations twice in the last 10K to try to get some water in me. I held it down but I regretted it later as it jumbled around. I left my unused gels on the side of a road barrier in case someone needed them because I knew I couldn’t dare try them.
I crossed the finish line, shocked to see a 3:05 on the clock time (my 3:04 was high and was gun time). I was glad I hadn’t worn a watch because I felt like my last 6 miles was a walking pace. I was handed my medal and I skipped the food line to find my awesome Father-in-Law who spectated. Thanks to ALL the spectators. It was a cold, windy day and standing around watching people run is not the most exciting way to spend your Sunday morning. Seeing family and knowing my shot was gone turned me into a blubbering mess for about 45 seconds. I gathered my bruised ego while we gathered my things in the elite tent where I chatted with friends and was disheartened to hear that out of our entire 10+ pack of females, not a single American woman ran under the Olympic Trials qualifying time in the marathon. The temperature was wonderful but the wind was rough.
I don’t know why I felt like I did. I thought I had done everything right. In all honesty though, while I prepped with the race day fuel, Gatorade Endurance, I rarely used gels. My stomach has always been tough though so I didn’t think much of it. In fact the only other time I have ever had stomach issues was the Eugene Marathon where I also went out at a pace faster than I was probably capable of holding at that time. I remember Kara Goucher mentioning awhile ago that her stomach can handle things at one pace and not at a faster one. Maybe that was it for me? I don’t know. Maybe it was my dinner the day before. Maybe it was the huge coffee. Had my body forgotten about caffeine in that short fasting period? Maybe it was all of those things combined with a bit of nerves. Your guess is as good as mine.
We walked back to my hotel where I found my roommate Megan. She had the most incredible race and PRed by 12 minutes finishing in 3:12! How?!?! Hard work & talent. She didn’t even mention it to me. Not a peep until I called her out on it. I knew because I had her tracking info sent to my phone via text. She was genuinely only concerned about my rough day. So she is not only full of hard work and talent but incredible kindness as well. I shook off my bad day and reveled in her good one while she was incredibly humble about her steller performance. We showered, packed up, and got out of the city quickly to return to Virginia Beach for a fun Friendsgiving with great people. I drank champagne and stuffed my face with turkey and later that night when I felt a bit sorry for myself as I got the kiddos ready for bed, they made me laugh about something and I thought..I’m pretty darn lucky to have run in my home city race today, celebrated with friends and Mr. Law, and tuck my kiddos in at night. It really was a great day, not the one I hoped for, but in the grand scheme of life…a wonderful one. One I can be proud of and one of which I’ll likely mock myself for in the future. Remember that time I got beat in the marathon by Santa?!?
So again, thank you all! Big thanks to Running, Etc. for their support and a huge thanks to my coach, Jerry Frostick, who I know prepared me well. I’m
a bit sad a bunch sad I couldn’t show that preparation off on this day for his sake but I have had a great season to be proud of and after a good recovery period, feel like I can pick myself up and show off all that hard work. Thanks to the countless friends who’ve offered me kind words and especially to Tina Muir who let me vent away on the phone this morning. I will not be taking another shot at the marathon before the Olympic Trials window shuts as a few friends have suggested. That decision was made before I ran yesterday, that whatever would be would be. Thank all for reading and congrats to all that had a wonderful race day yesterday!