I went into today's race knowing it wouldn't be great. My training wasn't great to begin with, I had some burnout after my half ironman, caught a cold the week before then rolled my ankle last Wednesday.
I managed my expectations and set a reasonable goal and race strategy. Then, when the race strategy wasn't working out, I took a break, reassessed, and changed my plan to something that did work.
The goal was to beat my Flying Pig time of 5:21, and I ran the Wineglass Marathon today in 5:11:08. The race started in Bath and went to Corning. I'm proud, not because it was a PR (4:13) or anything close, but because I was realistic, resisted the temptation to try to do something I was once capable of, and ran smart.
I also found myself running side-by-side, and then getting career advice from none other than Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer of Runner's World magazine.
|Me and Bart after the race.|
|The medal needs two hooks|
My saving grace for this race was the local Fleet Feet Facebook page and a group of four girls also training for fall races. We've chatted online and supported each other. Tara did the Wineglass with me, and crushed her first marathon in 4:26. This girl was my rock. She was my long run buddy, and she always arrived prepared with routes and places we could stop for fuel.
I was more prepared for Sunday because, when we went to pick up our packets Saturday, she arrived with a map of the course which we drove in her minivan. My race day checklist was crudely handwritten the night before, she arrived with one printed out complete with checkboxes.
So proud of this girl!!
|Me and Tara, post race.|
The Wineglass Marathon had impeccable organization. We arrived, parked easily, the lines for the bathroom were not ridiculous, and the start line wasn't a zoo. Granted, it was a smaller crowd, 2,500 in the full, and the halves had a different starting line.
They bused us a quarter mile from the parking lot to the start. I started at the back, and stayed there.
My initial plan was to stay in Zone 1 (the second zone, up from Zone R) for the first half. Then I'd allow myself into Zone 2 (not mandatory, just allowable) until Mile 18, then turn the heart rate alerts off and run by feel until the end. My goal was to run the whole thing, with brief walk breaks at each water stop then a longer break every hour to change the soundtrack and fuel (more on my brilliant music strategy in another post. It was brilliant, a different soundtrack for each hour.)
This worked well for about the first 10 miles. Zone 1 kept me in the 11-11:30 pace range, which would put me at my goal. The first 10 splits were: 11:10, 11:29, 11:30, 11:04, 11:17, 11:30, 11:48, 15:53 (bathroom/gu/music change/etc), 11:06 and 11:09.
Overall, it wasn't hard to maintain Zone 1. My Garmin beeped at me on the moderate uphills, but I spent a lot of time worrying about what zone I was in, my pace, whether I was going too fast or too slow. I did not spend enough time enjoying the race, the crowd or the course.
Around Mile 7 I realized I was going too fast on a hill and slowed. An older man and woman approached from behind. I took a quick glance back... wait... is that...?
I knew Bart Yasso would be there, and wearing #1. He was the keynote speaker at the pasta dinner the night before, which I couldn't make it to, but I saw him speak before in Ohio and I've read his book.
"How am I faster than Bart Yasso?" I asked as he caught up to me.
"Oh, you are definitely faster than me," he said. I then solicited some career advice from him, then he pulled ahead and disappeared as I took a break at Mile 8.
At Mile 11, I started to fall apart. My heart rate was going up, it became impossible to stay in Zone 1 and keep even a 12 minute pace. My legs wanted to go faster, and my watch was beeping constantly and driving me insane. I stopped to walk during that mile, and I felt dizzy. My stomach was upset, the Gatorade was really concentrated. Once I stopped drinking it the stomach problems eased. I continued on like this, stopping and starting, through Mile 12. Those two splits were 13:31 and 11:57.
My strategy wasn't working. I wanted to run faster, but that brought my heart rate up and it led to walk breaks. So I adjusted.
I averaged a 12:01 pace for the first 12 miles.
The new game would be to run five minutes, walk one. Lots of people around me were walking, or run-walking.
Changing the setting on my watch reset the day's activity. A blessing in disguise, this made it impossible for my tired brain to figure out how long it would take me to finish (at one point my tired brain couldn't even come up with the shape of something! The correct answer was: Diamond.) The only screen on my watch I looked at from that point forward were the intervals. Every time it was time to run, I would find a landmark -- a sign, a lamppost, a mile marker -- in the distance and I couldn't look at my watch until I reached it.
Not only did this strategy work for me and how I was feeling at the moment, it helped me relax. I wasn't enslaved to a pace or heart rate zone. I just waited for the beeps. I wouldn't worry about pace unless I got to the point where one minute wasn't enough recovery time.
It helped break the race up, and the miles went by faster.
Some five minute intervals were faster. Some were slower. I took longer breaks at some water stops. Others I zoomed through. My Garmin splits are confusing, and I don't think they're right, I'll download the data and look at it more closely tomorrow. But I averaged an 11:26 pace from Miles 13 to 26.2, so doing run/walk helped me get faster overall!
This worked and I felt fabulous through Mile 17. Then I started to fatigue, the minute breaks started to get shorter and I felt slower on the runs. But I was passing people left and right. From what I can discern from my Garmin I actually sped up, but it's hard to tell.
My legs were feeling fatigued at Mile 20. But they're supposed to be tired then. It's supposed to hurt. If you're at this point and not hurting either A) you've been slacking or B) you're super human.
Or at least that's what crazy people tell each other in the thick of their craziness, anyway.
At Mile 21, we went around a school, through a park and onto a trail. Then I saw Bart up in the distance. I chatted with him briefly, then he stopped and I went ahead.
The next few miles hurt and I found myself counting down the seconds to each walk break. But, around Mile 24, the Fun. song "Some Nights" came on. Then my watch beeped to walk. I couldn't walk during this song! This is a running song! So I kept going, and took a delayed walk break. I was tired but mentally felt good, high fiving kids and chatting with the other runners.
I kept up with the run/walk until about Mile 25.5. A girl passed me on my walk break, and encouraged me. I saw her slowing down, so I asked her if she wanted to push it in together. It was her first marathon.
I crossed the finish line with this total stranger, cheering back at the phenomenal crowd that had gathered to bring us in.
AFTER THE RACE
I met up with Tara, ate a little bit of food but alternated back and forth chugging chocolate milk and Coke (normally I don't like it, but it tasted good, I think I wanted the sugar.)
Walking hurt. Sitting hurt. Everything hurt. The sign that you ran a good marathon. (Or, that's what I like to tell myself.)
Then we picked up the greatest SWAG ever.
|Hours later, I still don't have the stomach for it. But I will!|
Tara suggested we stop a few times in the hour and a half car trip back to stretch the legs. We hobbled out of the car to get her coffee. This drew weird looks for both of us from the clerks at the Prattsburgh gas station, who asked us if she won. She should have said yes. We got spaghetti squash from a road side stand, grapes from another roadside stand (which brought us sympathetic looks from the woman selling them, as I didn't even bother to put on shoes as I got out of the car.) I got a mini grape pie, and Tara got a big one.
As we drove home along Canandaigua Lake on Route 21, the view was phenomenal. Once I recover, I'll take a bike ride around the lake and get some more photos.
We parted ways in Victor, and my final stop was the wine store to get something to put in the glass I earned.
Time to fill that glass up :)