So, they always tell you that sometimes things don't go as planned. Well, yesterday it was my turn to find that out. For one, the weather definitely was not cooperating. The average temperature for the Steamtown Marathon HAD been high of 65 and low of 42. This meant ideal running conditions. However, mother nature decided to make sure everyone knew she was boss! The low was around 65!
So the race. I met up with runlikeagrrl and her friends at 6am to head up to Forrest City, the start of the marathon. We took the big, yellow limosine - otherwise known as a school bus. This is when the nerves started to unleash as it was "oh my gosh, this is it." We arrived around 6:45 to an elementary school. There were cheerleaders in training screaming out "Go Runners" and local volunteers handing out ribbons/water. It was pretty awesome. The most awesome thing of the pre-start? They had separate women's and men's port-a-potty's! This meant there was no line for me (amongst other things!)! I ran into a teammate from my running club, whom I didn't know was running. She was looking to run sub 3:30. She ended up with a 3:40.
Anyway, around 7:45 we headed to the start and it was no problem getting into corral. The humidity was extreme as there was fog (aka that means 100% humidity). After a high schooler wailed off the national anthem, the starting gun went off for the wheelchair athletes. Then, for the regular start it was a cannon. I'm telling you, you haven't experienced a start til a cannon is used:-D runlikeagrrl mentioned the time she did it two years ago it was late to go off so it scared the %$%$ out of people as they had started their run.
Immediately at the start I could start running. The start immediately began downhill as I had astutely noticed on the map the night before. I knew I had to be careful to not go crazy especially since the weather was definitely going to be a factor. Mile 1 and 2 came to 16:42. Perfect. Mile 3 had a hill or 2 and came in at 8:27 but that was OK because I knew mile 4 was where a lot of time gets made up. It is an extremely steep downhill. I knew it would be faster and the plan was it should be no faster than 7:45. I came in at 7:53. Nice. I made sure to stop at the water stops if not to just pour a cup of water on my head. I knew the water factor needed to be attended to early and often.
At the 10k mark, I chuckled to myself and said "ah, just a 20 mile run and you're done." As I passed mile 7 I knew my support crew was coming up! Sure enough, and not a moment too soon, there was Pink Monkey, Liz, and my dad cheering and screaming my name. It definitely pumped me up and got me excited to keep on the journey. I also ran into someone along the course that asked "Are you Uptown Girl?" LOL. Yep, I guess I'm a running blog celebrity of some sort;-)
The parts I remember are going through the small towns and people out on their porches cheering for us. There were people along the side handing out oranges, water, gatorade, brownies, and even beer! It definitely was a different experience from the big marathons that I had done prior: NYCM and MCM. The trail running was awesome too! I ran alongside a stream and got to see some spectacular scenery (leaves are midway to peak).
As I reached my support crew around mile 17 I started to get the feeling that it wasn't my day. I had spoken with my dad before the race about strategy. I had chosen Steamtown with the idea of not throwing everything into one race. I had a safety net if I so chose - Philly. Well, at that point I realized maintaining this pace was going to be very tough - if not impossible - for another 9 miles. Rather than totally expense myself and run a 3:42 I chose to slow it down. When I made the decision, I definitely felt disappointed. I knew it was for the best but it's still disappointing to know you did everything right but mother nature decided to do you in!
The rest of the race reminded me more of a funeral procession. There were a lot of people walking, ambulances, etc. :-/ I found out later one of the guys Paul (met through runlikeagrrl) had rolled his ankle at mile 10, Helen had to walk the last 10k, and Doug came in at 4 hours (far cry from his 3:30 pace to start out). I definitely shut it down and ran it out at 9:30ish pace. I stopped at the water stations and made sure to keep myself well hydrated.
As I passed my crew around mile 21 I shouted out to them "I've got this." I wanted to make sure they knew I was strong and health was not a concern.
Mile 25.5 brought a lovely hill which was kind of the cherry on top to a tough morning. I knew I wasn't going to break 3:50 - and honestly didn't care since it wasn't breaking the elusive number I want anyway. As I headed down the hill to the finish line I mustered what I could and passed a few people along the way. Finished officially in 3:50:47. All things considered, I was able to salvage a decent marathon and was only 5 minutes off my PR in extremely horrendous conditions: heat and humidity! By the time I finished it was 77 degrees in Scranton. Eek!
Found runlikeagrrl and she had finished in 3:37 which again - about 10 minutes off of what she wanted! She was waiting for her friends so I headed to the food station which was full of goodies: pasta, bagels, bananas, oranges, pizza, cookies! Small races rock! Next, I found my support crew and thanked them 10x over for helping me through a grueling day.
I called my mom (she was finishing her 60 mile walk) to tell her everything was OK and that the BQ wasn't today. The picture to the left is of me talking to my mom and my dad telling Liz and Pink Monkey it was "mom." However, I told her to make sure the support crew is ready for November 18. I'm seriously considering another go at it. If it's 75 and humid in mid-late November, then the world has bigger worries!
This was part of the email from the race director this morning:
Turns out the winner missed qualifying for the Olympic trials. Guess that makes missing a BQ time small potatoes...LOL!Heat - Sorry about the heat. Yesterday was by far the hottest Steamtown on record. To give you an idea of the impact heat can have, our median finish time yesterday was a full 10 minutes slower than the average for our first 11 years. We also treated more runners in our medical area than ever before. We hope that all of you enjoy a complete recovery. Note: be advised that we have informed our Weather Committee Chairman (we'll call him Bob) that his services are no longer required.
The damage after the marathon? A black toenail and a huge blister on the side of my big toe. Eek! Food of choice yesterday? Bison burger and fries with a coke! Yum!
Yesterday's experience did teach me a little more about the world of running. I was able to identify before the carnage to quit while ahead. While some people may say that I didn't give "everything" I didn't want to if I couldn't achieve my goal. I know Philly is 6 weeks away and I could take a 26.2 training run away from it. 2 marathons in 6 weeks? Doable. Will I do it? We'll see. I've come a long way since the beginning of the year when I couldn't run a step. There's big days ahead of me. Not this time, though. Next time...