I think Vince summed up our 14 weeks of training pretty well, so I won't go over that again. But I do want to add how I was feeling the last couple weeks coming up to the race. Looking back at weeks 11-12 of my training schedule, I made a lot of notes about how great my runs were, and how good I was feeling. I had my longest run of 20 miles during week 11, which actually went better than I expected. Then I rolled right into a great training week for week 12. I had a great experience on two of my runs that week, where my pace was right at or faster than race pace. I felt really strong and positive, which I knew I would need going into my last 2 weeks of tapering. Vince warned me that the last 2 weeks sometimes plays games with a runner's mind. You feel like you're not doing enough, like you're losing your endurance, etc. But instead, that I needed to trust is what I had done all the other weeks of training. That was going to be enough to get me through the marathon, or else it wouldn't be set up that way.
At about this same time, during the last 2 taper weeks, I started to get sick. My stomach started really bothering me, as it usually does. Many people know that I have an extremely sensitive stomach, which many times takes me out of the running game for a couple days at a time. I also started to get hives on my arms and legs, something I've never had before I decided it would be a good time to get to the doctor and find out exactly what was wrong with my stomach, and what was causing the hives. After a couple doctor visits, blood tests, and some new allergy medications, all I was left with were a bunch of medical bills and no answers. The medication even made me feel worse unfortunately. I skipped a bunch of trainings over the last couple of weeks, which just deteriorated my positivity. I wasn't sure how I was going to do on race day. At this point, all I wanted was to finish. I was pretty sure hitting my 4:09 goal was out the window. My new goal was under 4:30.
I kept checking the weather all week for LA, and it consistently showed rain. I was terrified of this. Running 26.2 miles is hard enough in itself, but then you add in the elements, and I'm freaked. I don't like being wet (I moved FROM Seattle to San Diego for a reason). Running in the rain is not how I envisioned this race. I honestly wasn't sure what I was going to do. If it was raining as hard as it did the year before (I had talked to people that ran the race in 2011 and said it was the worst experience), I had a feeling I might drop out. I was trying to block that thought out of my mind, but I knew it was a strong possibility. Luckily, a day or two before the race the weather reports started to show no rain for Sunday. I was more than ecstatic for the change. However, driving from San Diego to LA on Sat, it was in fact raining horribly. The wind was also a huge factor. This started to make me nervous again. It was the last thing I wanted to think about the day before the race. I tried to block it out of my mind and hope for the best.
The morning of the race I felt positive, excited, and ready to go. Something had clicked, and I was just ready to do it! Vince and I had set everything out the night before, so all we had to do was wake up and throw everything on. Luckily we got a good amount of sleep as well, so I felt refreshed and ready to go. My belly was full of pasta from the night before, and we stuffed a bagel and banana down before we left the hotel. However, I did of course still have many doubts racing through my head. As Vince had warned me previously, I started to doubt my training for the last 14 weeks. Had I done enough in the last 2 weeks to maintain my endurance. I was starting to wonder how I was going to get through the race. I knew I was going to have to rely on Vince much more than I originally anticipated.
We got to the race about 2 hours before the start. We cuddled in a tent, wrapping ourselves in garbage bags to stay warm. With about 30 minutes left before the race, we headed for one last restroom break, then to the start line. My addrenaline started kicking in, and I was once again excited about the race. I think I started forgetting all my doubts, and was ready to take on the endeavor in front of me.
Everything started out great. The first mile was much slower than my 9:30 pace, but that's to be expected at the start of any race. The next 4 miles flew by. I don't remember any thoughts, landmarks, feelings, etc. Our pace was right on track, even going slightly faster on some splits. Then we got to the crazy hill around mile 5-6, and our pace slowed a little. But I still felt pretty good in my legs and my mind. I almost started to think that maybe this wasn't going to be as hard as I originally thought. Then I hit about the half marathon mark, and my right leg (which had bothered me the most during the 14 weeks of training) started to feel a little bit of pain. Vince asked me how I was doing, and I finally told him that I was feeling pain but it was tolerable, and I'd be fine. I knew it was going to get worse, but I didn't want to say anything yet because I didn't want him to worry and keep asking me how I was doing. I kind of wanted it "out of site, out of mind." I also kept hearing you and Vince's voices in my head telling me that I need to learn to run through the pain. That its ok to feel uncomfortable. This is a new ideal for me, but what a better time to test my pain threshhold than a marathon? For miles 1-16 we managed about a 9:20-9:40 pace, with some exceptions at miles with hills. I was pretty happy considering I was definitely starting to feel the discomfort in that right leg.
At mile 16, while running up a hill, it hit me (not my wall), but the pain in my right leg. It hurt extremely bad with every step. I felt like we were just barely treking up that hill, which also seemed to last FOREVER. I didn't stop or walk, I just fought through it- with a lot of complaining I might add :) But I was still determined to get Vince his PR. Luckily we hit a lot of downhills the next couple miles which made things much more manageable. We were hitting around a 9:50-10:20 min pace, which I was really happy with at this point in the race.
My goal was to get to at least 22 miles before I walked, but I think I may have found that wall (that everyone talks about) around mile 21. We walked for only a minute or two, because it was actually more painful to walk than run at that point. We ran again until about the VA hospital where I saw a small hill coming. We walked up the hill, then started running (pretty slowly) again. I think it was at this point that I cried for the first time. I had so much doubt in my mind. I wasn't to the point where I thought I wouldn't finish, but I was pretty sure Vince wasn't getting his PR. I was also extremely mad at myself for ever wanting to do this, and wondered what ever made me think I could do it in the first place. I hurt, and I just wanted to be done. I didn't care what time I finished anymore. I started to get super grouchy with Vince, which he expected. He knew not to take it personally. He kept asking if I was mad at him (which he would say with a smirk), and I would yell back (literally yelling at him), "NO I'm mad at me! I don't want to do this anymore!" Then he would just motivate me, somehow, but I don't remember what he said though. I was totally out of it. He kept trying to get me to drink water or eat something, but I felt like if I ate or drank anything else I was going to throw up. My stomach was pretty upset from mile 22 on. I managed to get fluids in every couple water stations. Vince did an amazing job at keeping me motivated and going at a decent pace. He did everything he could to keep me around 9:30. At mile 20 he told me I was still under a 10 min pace, which really surprised me. I owe all of that to him. I'm pretty sure it would not have been the same story if I had been running by myself.
I think it was mile 22-23 when we saw June and Lev. They ran with us for about 2 miles. It was a nice change of pace, different conversation, something else to concentrate on, and it probably was a nice break for Vince from attempting to motivate me, and from me yelling at him. I tried to be a little more lady like when others were around :) However, I was a little exasperated at this point as I just wanted to focus and finish. Vince also wanted to speed things up a little so I could finish under 4:30. He knew that I was going to have to run faster in order to make that goal. He asked if I could do the next mile at an 11 min pace, and I told him he was crazy. My legs were going as fast as they were gonna go. But then we hit the downhill, and I guess I found some momentum and speed left in the legs. I managed around a 10:30 pace for mile 24, then 9:50 for mile 25. I had no idea I could do that at that moment of the race. Vince asked June and Lev to leave around mile 25 I guess, so I could focus. I had about one mile left to go, and that moment was just for Vince and me. He told me I could finish under 4:30 if I really took off for the last mile. So I did, as much as I could. I was going around a 9:20 pace when we finally saw the finish line. I looked at Vince and said "let's go." He got a big smile and asked if I was sure. I didn't answer, I just sped up. For about the last half mile we ran around a 8:40 pace, which felt like the fastest I had ever ran my entire life. I couldn't have done any more. I knew I had to put everything I had left out there, or I wouldn't forgive myself. I felt elated when we crossed the finish line. I couldn't believe what I had just done. Vince looked at me with the biggest smile and told me how proud he was of me, and of course I started to cry again. He told me later that he got chills when I looked at told him, let's go. He was so proud of everything I did during the race, and especially during the last half mile or so.
I still can't believe that I actually finished the race, and at a pretty decent time/pace. All the doubt is gone, and I truly believe that I can do anything now with running... well almost anything. I'll never question "why am I doing this" again, because this race helped me realize the answer to that question- because I can. I never thought I could do a full marathon, it wasn't even on my radar, until I met both of you- Dave and Vince. I couldn't have done this without you, so thank you so much for putting such confidence in me and my running. I have so much to look forward to, I just can't wait :)
Seattle rock and roll half PR goal- 1:50:00. I'm sayin it, now hold me to it guys :)