Sorry for leaving you all in the dark, I was hard at work (but actually) trying to get homework for this weekend (including a take home exam…yikes!) finished up so that I could enjoy today and then come home and crash…that’s right, today was Maine Marathon Day! And for the first time in (I think) three years, it did not rain!! I ran this race two years ago in downpours the entire time…so much so that my watch died and by the time I got to the car I saw water droplets inside of it. But today, well the rain has started now, but it was just over 50 and overcast, not too much of a wind, basically pretty great running weather! My last long run was last Friday before Acadia, and that felt really good, so I kept trying to push aside thoughts of not being able to train like I wanted to as well as thoughts that I had strongly considered running the full, but time/shoe constraints put me to the half. A half is still legit, I had to remind myself.
Yesterday I made the trek to Portland with a friend from the triathlon club at school who was running the full (he KILLED it, btw). On our way down, we saw the LL Bean Bootmobile
(or whatever they call it – basically the big bean boot as a car, it was awesome!) Packet pickup as always went so smoothly, I got to chat with people at the Girls on the Run table (which I was running with), pick up some free samples, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten (or will again) baked beans, mouthwash, aleve, and “nutrient-rich” candy all together before, but I’ll take what I can get!
Saturday night was full of biochem (such an exciting night), laying out all my stuff, deliberating on what to wear (I’m that sort of person who will through on whatever during the week but when it comes to running, well let’s say I put the amount of thought into my running clothes that society stereotypes women put into choosing clothes. Same thing comes with shopping. I am a self-proclaimed stingy person, but when it comes to running shoes…let’s just say I’d rather prevent injury). But I digress.
Wake up call was 5 am this morning, which I’m sad to say was close to some of the alarms I was setting last week. Nutritious meal of cinnamon raisin bread with strawberry preserves (yes I like my bits of real strawberry!) and I tad of peanut butter. A few swigs of coffee, too, and some swedish fish in the car. I got a clutch parking spot in Portland, and hung out there for a while, ate 1/4-1/2 of a stinger waffle and then played the whole let’s find a bathroom without a long line game. Good thing I had over an hour to kill. It was a tough decision to leave the long sleeve shirt in the car, and just run with capris and my beautiful pink short sleeved GOTR tee shirt, but it was the right choice, once we got moving.
At the starting line, I actually ran into quite a few people I knew, which was a lot of fun. Also chatted with a man who ran the NH full yesterday and was toeing the line for the full again today…wow. Maybe he’s training for an ultra? In any case, we listened to the anthem and then were off.
The first few miles are along the Back Cove, which is gorgeous. All I could think of was how happy I was to not be stepping in puddles (like two years ago) that left me running in puddles for the rest of the race. All in all, the race went by really quickly. It was a different rout this year, as there is bridge construction on the normal route, but I liked it. There were some rolling hills, which we got to take down on the way out, and I kept thinking that the way back would be dreadful because it would be uphill so much of the way, but it really wasn’t. I’m not going to give a mile by mile recap, because quite honestly the miles all blended together, for the most part. There was an uphill I’d been warned about right at mile 3 ( and then again at 10) but that was the most noticeable. The water stations and bands(!) were awesome and kept me so entertained – no music today! At the top of the hill at 3 they were playing Wagon Wheel and I actually started singing along, it was great! Other groups were on guitar, ukulele, steel drums, and more. I cannot say enough about the enthusiasm of ALL the volunteers, and especially the GOTR water station (exciting because I knew some of them) and the Deering field hockey team at the very start/end of the course – they had a mascot dressed and everything and were so enthusiastic!
At the turn around I was feeling good, and that’s when I ran into the moose.
Yes, this man wore a full moose costume the entire time and I had the pleasure? curse? opportunity? to be running essentially with Mr. Moose from miles 7-10, when I finally was able to lose him on that hill I mentioned before. On the one hand, it was fun because we got a lot of cheering, yelling of “MOOOOOOSE,” etc, because who wouldn’t cheer for a moose? I liked to pretend they were cheering for me :) But on the other hand there was that little part of me (and everyone else around) that was like seriously? I cannot get ahead of this guy dressed as a moose? It made for good conversation and we schemed about who would grab which leg to take the moose down (totally kidding by the way, I give this guy HUGE cred for dressing up and running, but you know how the mind wanders while running).
With three miles to go we were at the top of the hill and it was actually all downhill or flat til the end. I was feeling good and with 2.5 started to kick in. All of a sudden I dropped (with the help of the downhill) to 7:30 miles and was feeling great, passing people left and right. I looked down at my hand, where I had written mantras this morning, and while I couldn’t actually read them anymore, it reminded me of a few. I love “up and over” for hills, but this was flat, so I chose “can’t’s into cans, dreams into plans” as a shortened version of this quote.
I also dabbled with the “run with your heart” and this amazing Nike Ad, and tried to NOT think about what I was actually doing and feeling.
I should mention that you can see around the cove to the finish for the last 2.5 miles or so, which is a bit elusive as you feel so close but have so far to go. The last mile was really rough for me, actually the last 0.75. I just held fast to that mantra and tried not to think. My brain was telling me to slow or stop but my heart knew I’d regret it so I pushed through. I can only imagine the look on my face when race pictures come out…it’s not going to be pretty. By 0.2 to go (26 mile marker for the marathoners) I told myself I could do anything for 2 minutes. I was cramping badly in the stomach but held on and made it across. Not the prettiest finish, but I made the decision on the course to just go for it pretty early on. Retrospectively, I probably “kicked” a bit too early/too fast, but I preferred to be dead at the end then thinking I could have given more. I gave it my all today, and it felt great. According to my watch, I averaged 8:12 minute miles, which puts me at a new PR! Official time was 1:47:55 I believe, which while technically slower than my race in August, the race in August was short by 0.2 miles…so that would make this a PR :)
Things to work on for next time are – fueling – I guess this is something you get better with practice, which I haven’t done much of. I took a Mandarin Orange Gu (yes I’d tried this in training runs) – part at 7 and the other half right before the hill at 10. Both times I tried to get water in my system afterwards, but honestly running and drinking from cups is harder than it sounds. I know walking the water stations is often a good tactic, but today I wanted to make a plan to NOT walk and that I did.
This race also made me realize how ready I am to make the jump to 26.2. I’ve though about it a lot, but now feel that I have the confidence and somewhat experience in running that I know what I’m getting in to. Plus the fact that I’ve been considering it for so long makes me really excited about the opportunity to finally go for it.
Spring 2014 here I come.