If you would have asked me when I signed up for this race what my goals were, I would have told you with confidence that I could PR and possibly break 1:40:00. Although I was cutting speedwork out of my routine to give my body a break between big training cycles (B2B and Eugene), I knew my mileage would still be there and my base was strong.
Then came the debacle of last week. Combine that with a lack of confidence due to *slower* long runs over the last 2 months and I truly wasn’t sure what to expect going into this race. My goals didn’t change, but a massive PR and a sub-1:40:00 definitely didn’t seem as reachable as it once had. I tried to restore my confidence with reminders of recent 5k and 10k PR’s, but I just wasn’t sure how things would go.
I slept in, went for a quick 3 mile shake-out run and Brad, Heather and I were on the road a little before 10. After a ridiculous number of bathroom stops (we were definitely hydrating!), we made it to Charleston around 12:30. We said a quick hi to Elizabeth, then had lunch at T-Bonz (primarily because its location relative to the cake selection at Kamisky’s!).
After lunch we did a quick loop of the shops on King St. before heading down to Kiawah. We rolled into the house just in time for me to jump on to a conference call for work (so much for a vacation day?!).
After my call, I met the crew at the grocery store and then we finally made it over to the “expo” for “packet” pick-up. The expo was more like a running store set-up inside a hallway and the packet was a bib and long sleeve tee made from really thin, cheap tech material. I did this race in 2010 so I didn’t expect much more.
Back at the house, we did lots of chatting and had an amazing pasta dinner, courtesy of a little teamwork in the kitchen and highlighted by Elizabeth’s delicious homemade sauce. Eventually our friends, Char and Jesse, arrived after being stuck in traffic and we did more chatting, outfit planning, race strategy talking and were in bed by 10:30.
Being on the island made for a completely stress-free and easy morning. I woke up at 6:30 (late for race day!), got dressed, ate a banana and half a bagel with PB and did all the last minute preps before the on-island shuttle picked us up around 7:30. Within 5 minutes we were at the start and in line for the bathrooms one last time. I wasn’t nervous all week until we arrived on the shuttle and then the nerves hit me like a ton of bricks! (Probably why I NEEDED the bathroom again right away.)
With about 10 minutes left, we walked over to find the start corral, then did a little jogging to loosen up. I threw in a few pick-ups to see what my legs had in them, but it was hard to tell because I was still a little cold (Although it was about 55* and quickly climbing).
The four of us got in the corral right behind the 3:25 marathon pacer as the National Anthem played and soon, we were off.
The plan was to start around 7:40 and hang on (if I could) until the very end. I made a GROSS miscalculation on the pace I needed to break 1:40:00. Shocking as it is (even to me) this Type-A data freak never even double checked that the pace I needed was 7:37 and not 7:40. Fail!
Miles 1 – 5: 7:42, 7:40, 7:41, 7:41, 7:39
The start was crowded, but opened up in about 1/2 a mile. I was anxious to see how the pace would feel because I was certain I would know early in the race how it would go, just based on the comfort level at my target pace. I settled in pretty comfortably from the beginning. I checked my watch repeatedly, but never really had to adjust the pace much to stay consistent.
Just after mile 2, I heard a group of footsteps coming behind me. I thought it was weird because I hadn’t passed any faster pace groups, but sure enough, it was the 3:25 pacer. I commented aloud that the 7:49 min/mile pace group shouldn’t be passing someone who was running 7:40 min/mile, especially since they started in front of me. Several of the runners in the group agreed and many were complaining about the pacing strategy. The pacer proceeded to spend the next 2-3 miles speeding up and slowing down. It was irritating because I was stuck behind the group and kept getting caught up. Eventually at mile 5-6, I worked my way past them for good. (Note to self: DO NOT TRUST PACERS! Also – we saw the pacer finish at the end. Alone. Not one.single.runner. with him.)
Miles 6 – 10: 7:48, 7:40, 7:37, 7:40, 7:38
Mile 6 was the slowest mile of the day. I had a *moment* when I passed the 5-mile marker and thought it should have been the 6th. I felt low and thought I might be losing steam. I had taken a Gu at mile 5 and it appears I needed it, because by mile 7, I felt strong again.
Just past mile 7 was also the turnaround for the out-and-back portion of the race. Just knowing I was heading toward the finish gave me a boost. As we doubled back on the other runners, I spent the next mile+ looking for everyone on the course. It was a nice distraction and really fun to see friendly faces! I saw Elizabeth first and got the thumbs up that she was doing great and same for Char (who had Jesse pacing her at that point) and same for Heather! I was happy to know my friends were doing well! I also spent some time looking for Steph in her orange tank top, but never saw her in the crowd.
I know I looked at my watch a ton throughout this section of the race. I just kept expecting for the same effort to turn into slower miles. I told myself over and over that I “was not allowed to hurt until mile 10″. I don’t know if I would have started hurting anyway, but it seemed to work. I didn’t want to have to really work until the last 5k so I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to. It’s strange the things that work for your mental state during a race.
Miles 11 – 13.19: 7:41, 7:37, 7:33, 1:20 (7:03 pace)
I celebrated a little when I passed the 10-mile point feeling good. I knew then that I was beyond the point of “blowing up”. I wanted nothing to do with taking another Gu, but I knew if I could get it down, it would be helpful in the last 5k. Instead of sipping it slowly, I took it all down in one shot. It was sticky and awful, but I was coming up on a water station and since my handheld was low on Nuun, that was my only chance of getting enough liquid to wash it down. I took a cup of water and then another sip of Gatorade as I passed through and finally got it all washed down.
I was beyond ecstatic to get through 11 still maintaining pace without working too hard, but by the time I hit 11.5, I was really starting to hurt. I wasn’t quite dying yet, but I was working and there was definitely no dropping it into another gear. When I hit the 12-mile point, it hurt bad. I didn’t look at my watch because I knew no matter what it said, I was giving all I had. At mile 12.5, for the first time ever in this distance, I thought I might throw up. I was leaving everything I had out there.
Around 12.9ish I finally could hear the crowd and the announcers and feel that gravitational pull to the finish line. I didn’t have the brain power to calculate, so I still thought that I might go sub-1:40, but when I rounded the final corner and saw how far away the finish still was, I realized it wasn’t happening. I was a little confused (keep in mind I still didn’t know I miscalculated what the pace needed to be) and chalked it up to the extra .1 I had run due to all of the turns on the course. I sprinted into the finish, and doubled over with my hands on my knees after I crossed. So.happy.to.be.done.
Official Time: 1:41:00 (7:42 min/mile)
202/2544 Overall, 54/1711 Women, 23/582 AG (30 – 39)
Someone came up and wrapped me in a mylar blanket and eventually I stood up and walked through the chute. Both Char and Elizabeth came through very soon with BIG PR’s and we found Heather, who had a tough day, but completed her 3rd 1/2 marathon still in love with running.
I got to meet Allison after the race. I saw her fly by me during the race in her Oiselle singlet and cheered “Go Oiselle!”. Elizabeth knew she would be there and introduced us. She is super sweet and FAST. She finished in a speedy 1:26!!
We got food at the post-race party (there was a great selection, but all I could stomach was soup and oranges) then walked back to the house along the course while cheering on full marathoners.
We had a lovely afternoon with lunch at the local pizzeria, a little shopping and naps then followed that with a fantastic dinner with lots of laughs. We ended the evening with drinks at the beautiful Sanctuary, which was all decked out for Christmas.
And of course to cap off the weekend of eating and running, Char, Elizabeth and I did 3 easy miles Sunday morning before having brunch at the Ocean Course restaurant. Brad played the course the day before while we raced (a bucket list check for him!) and he heard the restaurant was fantastic. It was a beautiful (WARM!) morning and we ate on the porch with stunning views.
And finally we made a quick trip to the beach to stick our toes in the water!
It was an absolutely awesome weekend all around. Great running, friends, food and beautiful weather (albeit unseasonably warm). While I am disappointed that I didn’t break 1:40, I have to be happy with a 3+ min PR (formerly 1:44:22). And based on my effort level and how I felt at the finish, I am not sure 1:39:xx was in the cards for me anyway. I do know that I have a faster half in me, but I also know that I have a few opportunities to get it in the next few months!
I leave you with some fun statistics that the race provides through RunPix.