Monday, 22 October 2012

I still suck at marathons

Mistake #1 - went shopping the day before the race. I didn't feel fatigued but 4-5 hours of walking must've had some effect. 

Mistake #2 - Hubby and I were away 2 nights. Friday night, we went to this lovely old fashioned Italian restaurant for dinner. I had a small glass of wine, a giant green salad and spaghetti with seafood and marinara sauce. Saturday night (the night before the race) we went to Margaritaville, where I had a really strong mixed drink, ate some of hubby's nachos and a plate of soft fish tacos with rice. Followed by several more glasses of wine. Flip the 2 night's dinners and I probably would have been much better off. 

Things that I couldn't control but probably were a factor: 

1) race started at 10 am, but we were required to take a bus to the start, across the border in the US at 7:30 am. We got to the start line (Albright-Knox Art Gallery) around 8. 2 hours of sitting around doing nothing. Those who know me well know that I am completely useless between 1-3 pm, but the late start meant that I would be finishing up around 2-3 pm, while still having to get up pretty early (5:30) to catch the bus. 

2) Woke up today with a snotty nose, congestion and a wicked headache. I probably wasn't 100% yesterday, even though physically I felt ok. 

Drank a bit of Gatorade and ate some candy before the start and peed in a bush 10 minutes beforehand but spent the first 10K thinking about the bathroom, but finally found a tree and stopped to go. I was on pace for a 4:15...didn't feel great but not awful either. Started feeling tired but crossed halfway in 2:07, I thought, hey if I can negative split, I'm good to go! 

Except that I wasn't. I was really really tired. I can't look at my splits for the 2nd half, I don't think there was a single km where I didn't walk. I walked through every water station and then more and more. At times I was over 1:30 slower than my planned marathon pace. At times there was a headwind, and it was annoying, but my fatigue was much worse. The course was beautiful, very scenic along the Niagara River, but pretty much zero people cheering except at the water stations. I wasn't ever alone on the course, and I was running amidst people who looked to be in as much pain as I was but still walking less. 

In the week leading up to the race, I read as much as I could on sports psychology, more specifically about staying mentally tough in the late stages of a race. Pretty much every article talked about visualization. I couldn't do it. I couldn't think about anything except how much I hurt, how tired I was..I was completely off my time goal and I thought about DNF but at least I still remembered that only serious injury or death would be good reasons to DNF. I also thought about a dear friend, who has been recovering from alcoholism for the past 10 months and if he is strong enough to deal with that, then I could suck it up and run a @#$#@ marathon. But no, km after km, I'd run a bit and then stop to walk. Sniffled throughout, whether it was tears or wind or the start of the cold, it's hard to tell. 

Finally, at 40K, someone said "downhill to the finish!" and it WAS. Just a LITTLE too late, but I found my legs and ran those last 2 kms as strong as the start. As I passed by the Horseshoe Falls, there was a giant rainbow in the mist and it was beautiful, a rare moment of beauty in what was a really ugly race. 

Official chip time: 4:28:19 
Field Placement: 558 / 1058 (52.7%) 
Age group: 30 – 34 
Group Placement: 39 / 87 (44.8%) 
Gender Placement: 210 / 476 (44.1%)