A few things I learned today:
-Pre-race day nutrition is important.
-I like mud.
-I will never, ever beat my husband no matter how hard I train.
This was my final "all out" effort before the marathon... tapering for real starts right now. I didn't prepare very well though. My dad was in town for the weekend and we decided to have a late lunch at Ray's Hellburger. They are arguably the best burgers in the world -- a picture of President Obama chowing down hangs their front door to prove it. My pre-race day rules -- no dairy, lots of carbs, not too much protein. What I ate -- a 1/3 lb hellburger with roasted garlic, grilled mushrooms, and hecksauce, an order of french fries, and a butterscotch milkshake. This was at 4pm. I was too full to eat any dinner. I had a couple of seltzer waters around 10 pm and a nutrigrain bar. Then I went to bed.
My pre-race routine -- coffee and a Clif Bar. Got up and looked in the cupboard. Clif Bars gone. Apparently the darling husband had eaten them all week for breakfast. He had some toast and peanut butter but I wasn't sure I could handle the protein before running so I had a couple of nutrigrain bars and a coffee with soy milk. We said goodbye to the kiddos, wished my dad luck with babysitting and headed off. Weather was right on the border of "do I wear tights or shorts." I think it was 37 degrees when we arrived to the packet pickup at 9:30 but by the time the race started it had warmed up a little. I opted for shorts and a running jacket.
I hit the bathrooms right before the race start and got to the starting line late as usual so I missed whatever the race director was telling people. I arrived and heard "GO!" So I went. The first half mile was on a paved road and then we hit the trail. The trail had huge puddles of mud since it had downpoured on Friday and most people were trying to carefully avoid getting their shoes soaked. I followed them at first but then realized how much this was slowing me down so I started to just run right through the puddles. After a few of these and realizing how fun this was, I decided I need to sign up for one of those "Tough Mudders" one of these days.
At the first mile my GPS said I was going at a 7:58 pace. I hoped to do under 8 minute miles for the race, but I could tell that the rolling terrain and puddles were going to slow me down a little bit. It made for great scenery though -- right along a lake on a clear sunny day. At 2 miles though I started to feel like I was running out of steam. How could I do 22 miles at under a 9 minute pace last weekend feeling fantastic, and feel like I was going to keep over and collapse? Perhaps it was the lack of carbs yesterday. I took my lone Clif Shot -- chock full of as much caffeine as a cup of coffee -- out of my pocket and sucked it down. A little early in the race but I figured adrenaline would carry me through at the end. Cause I was running on empty.
About a mile later I started seeing runners coming the other way on the out and back course. I was starting to get a little boost from the sugar/ caffeine mix when I saw my husband come around the bend. Seriously? AURGH! I don't think the guy has run more than five miles at a time since the marathon in October. Where he got a 3:45 with his longest training run being one 19 miler and no real training plan. He lapped me at the Turkey Trot with two kids in the jogging stroller. He chugged beers with my father last night and signed up for this race as an afterthought at about 8 p.m. last night. I'm not sure if seeing him made me move faster or slower. I hit the turnaround/ water stop soon after that and gained a little more confidence - I was pretty sure I had enough energy to keep this pace up til the end.
Mostly though what was going through my head was "I will never ever beat my husband. And I will never ever ever qualify for Boston." Well, not qualifying this year is a given. I need a 3:35 and that's an 8:10 pace -- which was about what I was running for this race. No way I could keep that up for an additional 19 miles. Next year I need 3:40. I'm pretty sure I couldn't run only 10 seconds slower for that many miles. I feel like I've kind of hit a plateau in my running after having so much improvements this year, and I'm not sure if more training could get me to 3:40 in 6-12 months.
In fact, I started to worry that even breaking four hours is a lofty goal. It might not happen, especially since the course is pretty hilly. I know breaking 4 is something I am capable of, but I think it will all depend on the day, the weather, and other variables I can't really control.
Today's race course was on a public trail that gets a lot of foot traffic from joggers, dog walkers, and families. I ran straight through a puddle and another racer turned around and yelled (nicely) "Remember what the race director said? Be careful not to splash non-racers so we don't lose our race permit." Oops. So that's what he was talking about. Ergh. Guilty as charged.
I tried to get my last three miles under an 8 minute pace but I couldn't do it. Again, I don't know how I pulled out a 7:36 for the 22nd mile last weekend. The fastest I could get today was 8:03, which I did for mile 6 and 7.
Now I'm pretty sure a 12K is supposed to be 7.46 miles. My plan was to all out sprint when the GPS said 7. However before I even got to 7 my husband popped out to the sidelines and yelled "There's the finish line. GO!" Like 150 yards ahead of me. So I sprinted. And I finished. But it was not a 12K. My GPS said "7.12 miles." Other people's GPSs said 7.3 but I'm guessing they were puddle avoiders and thus added some extra terrain. No one's said 7.46. So I think I could have hit a faster pace at the end had the course been more accurate.
Next race -- the big one. St. Patty's Day -- ROCK AND ROLL USA MARATHON HERE WE COME!