I’ve waited a few days to recap my 2015 Lakefront Marathon experience because, well, it did not go as planned. In fact, it was so far off from what I had planned and trained for that I kind of wanted to just forget the whole thing ever happened.
My friend Cindy took this photo and it was the only one in which I somehow did not look like I was dying a slow death out there.
So let’s back up to the beginning. When I first started working with my coach this year, my ultimate goal was to run a 3:20 marathon. My back up goal was to run a PR (sub 3:29). Never once did I thing I would not accomplish a PR. I trained my butt off all summer. I had a couple sketchy long runs in there, but for the most part training went really well. I hit my paces in my speed workouts, remained healthy, and put in the miles. I was ready.
The only limiter I really had throughout this training was my GI system. For some reason, my stomach does not love it when I run fast or long. It was a problem on and off during my workouts, and I knew that it was the only thing that might prevent me from having an awesome race. I never really know when it’s going to feel good or bad, and I make sure not to eat anything different or weird in the days leading up to a long run or race. In the two days before the race, I started limiting my fiber intake in hopes it would help.
Race morning, I could tell my stomach felt a little off before the race even started. I just hoped against all hope that it would hold up for 26.2 miles. The race started at 7:30am, and I went off at a nice comfortable pace. It was pretty crowded which prevented me from starting out too fast. My plan was to ease into the first 4-5 miles at slightly slower than goal pace (7:37 pace is a 3:20 marathon). Then I would pick it up a little, and around mile 10 I would decide if I felt good enough to start hammering a bit faster or hold steady. I hit the first five miles in 7:57, 7:43, 7:32, 7:38, 7:40. Around mile 5.5 I saw some friends cheering that gave me a big boost, and I hit the next five in 7:24, 7:36, 7:37, 7:33, 7:32. Perfect. My stomach had been holding out until this point, but I could tell I would never make it the whole race. During mile 11 I had to stop at a porta pottie. That mile was 8:57 and I was pretty pleased with myself for still running a sub-9 min mile with a bathroom break.
I felt a little better after the stop and I knocked out a couple more sub-8’s in 7:46, 7:53 but my stomach wasn’t having any of it. My pace slowed to the 8:30’s and I hit the halfway mark around 1:42:45. It was all downhill from there. I couldn’t keep any nutrition in me, and started to feel sick and depleted. I ended up making 3 more bathroom stops along the way and almost quit the race multiple times. In fact, I had completely decided that the next time I saw my friends or a race official or anyone that could give me a ride to the finish, I would be done. Problem was, I never saw anyone to give me a ride. I just kept slogging along, jogging when I could and doing a lot of walking along the way. Once there were less than three miles to go I knew that I would just finish the race on my own two feet.
I ended up crossing the finish line in 4:07:21, a mere 47 minutes off of my goal. Ouch. I felt pissed off, disappointed, defeated, you name it. I felt like all of my training went to waste. I quit marathon running in my head and possibly out loud. I picked up my gear bag and put on warm clothes, and soon after I saw Steve. Turns out he didn’t have a great race either. When I started to tell him how horribly wrong things went, I lost it. He tried to comfort me and make me smile, reminding me that it’s just running and it’s just one race. Of course this is true, but I just needed to be sad about it for a little while.
That’s the thing about the marathon. You can train your butt off, show up to race in perfect conditions (seriously, it was in the 50’s with a tailwind), and things can go awry. Things that are out of your control. What could I have done differently to prevent this from happening? I don’t know. I ate the things I normally eat, I took in the same nutrition on race day as I did in training, so who knows why my body picked this day to revolt.
I do know that I am signed up for another marathon on November 1st. I was not planning to run this marathon. I was planning for Lakefront to go well and I was going to drop to the half marathon distance in this other race. Now I have a decision to make. Do I try again? After I finished on Sunday I thought there was no way I wanted to run another marathon. Maybe ever. But of course three days later I have already forgotten some of the hurt, and I am feeling like I may go for it. I am not going to do any more structured “training,” but I may go out there and see what happens. To be continued I suppose…