|Ready to run the Bass Pro Marathon on Sunday|
After thinking through the pros and cons about a million times I decided quickly that Indy was out - even though it would be a flat course it would be an 8 hour drive and another long race weekend and I just didn't want that. It really came down to Bass Pro (which was only about 2 1/2 hours away) or Richmond...where we were already going. I decided on Richmond because I would have 5 weeks between it and Chicago and thought I might have a better chance at a PR. I decided to sign up for the Bass Pro half and would add about 7 miles to it for a training run...and Jim decided he wanted to go give the 5K a whirl...so decisions done and made. For a short time.....
So as Bass Pro got closer I kept thinking about it. It was a really small race - only 500 marathoners and it was hilly, but they had pace groups that were doing the run/walk method, and there was a group that was estimated to finish around 5:40 to 5:45. I kept thinking about it, but kept telling myself Richmond was the way to go. Finally last week I really compared the elevations of each race, and while they were both fairly hilly, Richmond was much hillier and I was just kind of wanting to be done with the whole marathon thing. The idea of even just one more 20 mile training run was exhausting.
So on Tuesday of last week, I made the decision to switch races. It was the last day you could officially change races so I just did it. I didn't tell anybody, that way I had an "out" in case I just wasn't feeling it, I would just run the half - unofficially and stick the prior plan.
|Jim & I pre-race|
|I didn't really like the shirt...too flowery for me|
Jim and I drove to Springfield on Saturday morning and arrived at the expo around lunch time. We wandered around the booths and picked up our packets where I got - what I think is one of the ugliest race shirts ever. I'm all about girl power, but this one was just a little too girly for me. The men's shirts were made from words and circles and I thought they were much cooler than the women's shirts made all out of flowers....Oh well, I will still wear it, and I found a cute zip up fleece that I liked that just had "marathon weekend" on it so I'll wear that more anyway.
After picking up our packets we wandered around the always entertaining Bass Pro store. Bass Pro originated in Springfield, MO and this is the original store. All of their retail stores are pretty cool, but this was is just awesome...if you don't mind a few "stuffed" animals. So in traditional Jim and Michael fashion we wandered around and took ridiculous pictures with the wildlife and other stuff...good times :)
|Just a sampling of our ridiculous pictures|
After waiting in the bathroom lines, we literally didn't head to the race start until about 1 minute til the start time. I was feeling a littler flustered as we tried to push our way out of the store...I've never seen anything like it. The race wasn't that big, with only about 2200 people in the marathon and half marathon, but it seemed like there were a million people. The race had literally started and we were still standing inside Bass Pro trying to push our way out.
|Hopefully I run fast enough to outrun the bears!|
We finally got outside and the race was already underway. I looked for Jim (who wasn't starting for 30 more minutes) and waved and then off we went. Almost immediately I had a side cramp. Crap I thought, this was exactly what happened at Chicago. I started out with a side cramp and kept them for much of the race. Luckily it subsided in just a few minutes and never bothered me again.
When we first started I was running with Tricia - who was doing her first half, Amy and Elaina who were both doing their first marathons, and Katie - the "leader" for this run walk group. We only ran with Tricia for a mile before the half marathoners turned off. Yes, that's right, there were only 500 people in the marathon and we only ran with the half marathoners for 1 mile, so the race spread out very quickly.
|My initial running group...I'm trailing in the back|
Within another mile or so Amy decided she could go faster, and ran on ahead. Then there were just the three of us - me, Katie, and Elaina. We talked and got to know each other and it was cool. Katie was awesome and really encouraging. Before I knew it we had hit the half marathon mark and it seemed like it has just flown by. We were averaging a 12:20 pace at the half...yikes, that seemed really fast and I had a feeling I was going to pay for this speedy pace at some point. That point came sooner rather than later. At about mile 15, I was starting to feel that heaviness in my legs, and the 30 second recoveries were starting to feel like 5 seconds. The 1:30 run still didn't feel too bad, but I just wasn't ready to run again after 30 seconds. But I kept up, and kept telling myself to just make it to mile 16 with them and then I could fall back if needed. It was around mile 15 (I think) that we also passed the 2:30/1 group...that I thought would be too fast for me...now I really knew I was going to fast. I made it to 16, and was definitely starting to trail them some. I was close and could usually catch back up during the walk break, but I was definitely running behind them. But after 16, I thought, ok you can at least make it to 18 with them.
|The Fall colors were amazing, it was hard not to take pictures along the course|
|A couple of pics Jim took of me on the lonely course|
|I might be power walking here|
I was still feeling pretty good, but I knew I needed more recovery to get to the end. At this point I was still at about a 12:25 or 12:30 pace overall, so I knew that even with slower miles coming up, if I didn't totally crash I might PR after all. I reset my watch to a 1:30/1 pace. I was hopeful that if I kept this pace for a few miles I would feel recovered and could go back to the 1:30/30 pace for the last 2 or 3 miles of the race.
Miles 19-20 were hard. I was tired, and I was alone and I felt like I still had a long way to go. The rolling hills along the course were also starting to tire me for sure and going out a bit too fast was definitely taking it's toll. But I hung in there and just tried to press along, knowing that a PR was possible if I just kept going.
Once you hit mile 20 in a marathon, they say that's where the real race starts and that is so true. If the marathon were 20 miles, I'd be a much better marathoner. That's when the pain really starts to settle in. Your legs start aching and burning. You can feel every muscle in your lower legs just burning with pain. Your feet start to ache, but at the same time you know you are now on the downward slide and instead of counting the miles you've done, you can start counting the miles you have left. At 20 miles....only a 10K left.
Around mile 22, I start doing the math in my head and what it will take to finish the race with a 5:30 something. I still think it's possible for me to finish around maybe 5:38 or 5:39. I want to give it all I've got, but my legs don't agree with me. I tell myself just make it to mile 23 and then I will switch back to the faster pace and try to push it to the end to get in under 5:40. But I just don't have much push, the hills just keep coming. They aren't large hills, but enough that I can't run up them, no mater what my run/walk pace says...so while my watch is beeping to run or walk, I'm just pretty much doing whatever I want to.
|Hugging mile 23|
Finally I reach mile 24 - only 2.2 miles to go. I look at my watch, it will be close, but maybe there is still a possibility, but I really don't think so. I know I will get a PR, but the likelihood of a 5:30 something finish is starting to diminish. But I tell myself to push and just try. I decide to start running more and walking less....and that goes well for a half mile, until I reach what seems like a huge hill at mile 24.5. What the heck??? A hill at the end of a race?? I decide I don't care, I will run up the hill and I did...and then immediately I felt my stomach get really uneasy. I felt like I needed to go the bathroom, right now. I knew I was pushing a little too hard this late in the race and my body wasn't going to have it. So I knew I wouldn't be able to have that strong push to the end - it just wasn't going to be worth it. I backed off a bit and powered through. Which was good, because you basically climb from mile 24.5 to mile 26....no fun, though a nice downhill to the finish.
|Continuous rolling hills, with a nice uphill at the end....over 1200 feet of elevation gain|
My Garmin finally hits 26.2 miles and I was at 5:39....if only the race was over, I'd have my under 5:40 finish, but as with most races, the distance isn't exact for whatever reason so I had to keep on going. In the end I would finish with 26.52 miles (a 1/3 mile over) with a 5:43:32 officially. I was still ecstatic when I crossed the finish line. Just 3 weeks after Chicago on a much hillier course I had just taken 10 1/2 minutes off my PR! Jim was waiting there to take my picture all smiles, because he knew I had PR'd. It was pretty awesome.
|Super Happy new PR by 10 1/2 minutes!|
I am still *a little* disappointed that I didn't get the finish time I had really hoped for and was really disappointed to learn my official pace was 13:06....when my Garmin pace was 12:57 - I really just wanted a marathon time in the 12s....but really, it's not a big deal and I'm SUPER happy.
I crossed the finish line and got my AWESOME medal. I then found Jim and headed inside to warm-up and get a post race massage. I found out that he had gotten 1st Place in his AG and he got a super cool plaque! I was so proud of him. He was a little disappointed because he had been 7 seconds on his 5K PR...but really can either of us complain? We then enjoyed some delicious Olive Garden and made our way back home. All in all, another great race weekend!!!
|Finish Line with medal in hand!|