Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday Flashback: 2010 Portland Marathon

Oh it's Sunday again?  Time sure flies.  So where we last left off, I'd just run my PR race at the 2010 Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon.  I kept on running all summer, suffering a few more mini-injuries (more shin issues), ran Hood to Coast, and trained for the 2010 Portland Marathon, which was held on the highly coveted date of 10-10-10.  And here we are, October, 2010!  Spoiler alert: This one's a long one.

Short version:
It was WET.  Wet wet wet.  Not sure it could have been much wetter.  And it was painful.  Very very painful.  But I beat my goal of sub-4 hours with a 3:55:08! Yippee!

See?  It was wet.  That's the St. John's Bridge, when things went baaaad. 

Long version:
First off, let me say how incredibly thankful I am about 2010 and its year of great races.  Although I was plagued with a string of mini-injuries (no doubt remnants of the original huge injury), none-sidelined me and I had a great year of races, complete with a a 5K, a 10K, 3 half marathons, Hood to Coast, and now a full marathon.  Not only this, but shockingly enough, I PRed in the 5K, 10K, half and full marathon this year.  Which is saying a lot after coming off of 6+ months of immobilization/walking cast/rest.  Just so everyone knows I’m very thankful before I begin my normal complaining tirades.  :-)  I was also incredibly inspired by this marathon and all it entailed! The anthem and the walk to the starting line with all those people was just magical, and I shed a tear or two in happiness that I was able to participate.  Seeing Anya at mile 7 was such an uplifter (her family was late so we didn’t get to run the first part of the marathon together as planned, and I felt SO happy when I saw her in the distance and the whole half mile or so it took to catch up to her), and seeing all of the people in the hand-crank division – so inspiring!  

Second, I am very very happy with my time.  None of the negative thoughts below have anything to do with my time, just with the effort that was required to get this time.  Although McMillan says I can do a 3:40 (yeah right), I think the best I could have hoped for today was a 3:50, and at times a sub-4 seemed very questionable (aka miles 18-26.2 but especially 18-23).  So I am extremely pleased with a 3:55. 

Now on to the good stuff.  It rained.  It poured.  It was beyond wet.  I suppose I should just be thankful to make out with rain instead of the heat the St. Georgers got.  Because the air temp was fairly warm (62 or so), it was difficult to know what to wear. Before the marathon I was shivering majorly in my garbage bag, tank top, and shorts, especially when the wind was whipping rain right in my face.  But I was warm/hot most of the race.  This is in spite of the fact that my clothes were DRENCHED, and my body temperature was probably pretty low considering after I finished I started shivering uncontrollably even with a space blanket and extra clothes.  I would say it drizzled for about 4.8% of the time, POURED for about 5% of the time, and straight up RAINED for 90% of the time.  Oh yeah, and I remember it was dry for 1 minute (the .2%!).  Of course OF COURSE it stopped raining about 30 minutes after I finished and it was dry with even some blue sky the rest of the day. 

Next, this was hard.  So painful and I just wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out.  I felt great the first half of the marathon.  And maybe I went too hard in some of those miles – but the splits really aren’t that different from my 23-miler a few weeks ago.  So that is confusing.  But I started to feel it at halfway, and I knew I was in trouble.  Miles 13-17 were just okay (no longer great), and I knew the feeling forming in my legs so early was a really terrible sign of what was to come.  Then mile 17 came – the HUGE LONG hill up to St. John’s bridge.  I had to talk to myself the whole way to convince myself not to walk.  I didn’t, which made me happy, and even passed a few people even though I was going like a 12 minute mile.  But by the time I made it to the top of the hill I felt done.  Thinking I had 9 miles left to go made me feel really really discouraged.  And then the death march began.

Miles 18-23 were the worst.  This was an extremely dark time in my life!  I stopped caring about sub-4 about here, which was good because I watched my times get progressively slower and slower.  But I didn’t care.  The desire to walk and just stop the pain was so incredibly powerful.  And at this point the finish seemed impossibly far away.  I also took anything they would hand me in hopes of improving my condition.  I took Ultima at every station except the first, water as well at some, gummi bears 3 times, part of 1 of their Liquid Gold gel cups (gross), and the 4 GUs I brought.  Great aid stations, my only complaint was there wasn’t one right after the huge hill, when I desperately needed one.

You can tell I'm suffering.

I saw 3+ people being taken away by ambulances in this part of the marathon.  I finally succumbed to walking for 1 minute or so coming up a tiny hill approaching the 23-mile marker.  Running again was so hard, but I didn’t let myself stop again (even to actually get the water down instead of all over my face at the water stations) because I knew I wouldn’t start running again. At this point finishing felt more doable, and I just kept saying to myself, “I can do this for 30 more minutes,” “I can do this for 20 more minutes”, “I can do this for 10 more minutes”, and even “I can do this for 5 more minutes” (this 5 minutes seemed to last an eternity).  Even here, as I slowed more and more, I didn’t get passed that much, so that at least made me feel like everyone else was suffering too (misery loves company!).  I was very surprised people weren’t flying by me here.  I didn’t have anything else to give at the end though, so I did get passed a lot in the last .2 or so, which was sad because I love to sprint in.

Then I finished!  And I immediately felt HORRIBLE.  My legs felt shaky, like I might fall over, so incredibly tight, and I didn’t know what to do.  I wanted to lie down on the grass and stay there forever, but I knew laying down was a terrible idea.  I have seriously never felt so terrible these next 30 minutes or so.  I ate a bagel, part of a muscle milk (just can’t stand those), and 2 mini almond joys.  The food spread was great though, too bad I didn’t feel up to enjoying it.  Inside the chute was well-organized but outside of the finish chute was horrible.  I couldn’t find JMan and I didn’t have a phone and I just felt so terrible and lost and shivering and I was pretty much crying by the time he found me.  We waited around for Anya to come in and then decided to go home instead of brunch as planned.  All I wanted was a hot shower.  After about a 30 minute shower and a good meal, I felt 1,000 times better. I am sore, but not as bad as I would think.  It will probably come tomorrow.  Walking up stairs is difficult.

So why was this race so hard for me?  Yes, I knew running a marathon would be horribly hard and painful.  I was just really prepared for it to start at 20 or even 23, since I had done a 23 mile long run pretty successfully.  I have a bunch of theories but honestly don’t know:
  1. The rain.  I don’t really know why.  Perhaps because my shoes weighed 3 times more than normal?  Or because my body temperature was probably pretty low?  Thank goodness for Body Glide, I think I saved some major chafing issues, as my clothes were literally stuck to me they were so wet.
  2. I ran my 23 mile training run too fast and I wasn’t recovered from it?
  3. Taking some time off in the past 2 weeks because of the ankle tendonitis was a bad idea?
  4. Running my last long run 4 weeks out instead of 3 weeks out did affect me?
  5. I need to figure out how to monitor my pace better.  The garmin fluctuates SO much in the 'Pace' category (one second it will say 9 and the next 8) and although I've added and love 'Average Pace', in such a long run this doesn't fluctuate much.  Maybe I need alerts or something to make sure I don't go too fast too early. 
  6. My running isn’t consistent enough.  I get hurt too often and take days off because I’m a hypochondriac.  I need to work on strengthening my left leg over the winter so this isn’t an issue in 2011 and I can train more consistently.
Anya and her Dad finished the race too!  We all had our struggles though.

JMan unfortunately has it recorded on a video when, after finishing, I say, “I am never going to do a marathon again!” However, that BQ time obviously still looms above me as something I’d like to tackle.  I do not want to run another marathon where I feel like this, however.  I suppose it is inevitable, but the pain was just too great.  However, I do think I am capable of this time in a marathon with much less (not none!) pain.  So I’m not sure I should write off the marathon just from this, though I certainly seem to love the pain of a half much more than the pain of a full.  Last lessons learned include that I should eat, hydrate, and sleep like I did this week, all the time.  I am looking forward to taking a break from running, and especially from taking a break from my runs being dicated by a calendar.

Finally, thank you to everyone who supports me and makes this happen!  JMan, for being the best support crew ever and making me a killer mix (despite ipod difficulties and possibly breaking it from being too wet).  My aunt and uncle, who came and cheered too.  Anya for training with me and kicking butt today!  Way to finish your first marathon!  And Lisa - you were here in spirit!  Next year!  And my parents (and allie, rattletrap, my friend Laura, etc.) who tracked me online and are so supportive.  It made me smile when I crossed the halfway in 1:53 imagining my parents seeing that online.  Then it kind of made me feel bad everytime I crossed another mat after that knowing they were watching and I kept getting slower and slower.  :-)

(The Garmin shows I ran 26.6 so the splits don't really line up.)
Total Time: 3:55:08   Average Pace: 8:50 (for 26.6) / 8:59 (for 26.2)

Splits: 9:05, 9:01, 8:53, 8:15, 8:22, 8:33, 8:26, 8:36, 8:30, 8:26, 8:38, 8:39, 8:26, 8:41, 8:38, 8:51, 9:29 (the hill, and now the downward spiral begins), 8:48, 9:02, 9:12, 9:29, 9:09, 9:14, 9:59 (walked a minute), 8:58, 9:25

10K: 54:23    Half: 1:53:42   2nd Half: 2:01:26 (ouch!)
It was really fascinating to read this again now, about 1.5 years later, and gearing up to run marathon #3!  I truly hope this marathon doesn't feel like that day did. 
Have you ever ran a marathon in 100% rain?  What is the worst you've ever felt in a marathon or race?