I’ve been thinking about starting my blog for months, just haven’t had the time to get around to it. Well, the time is NOW! Just ran the Hartford Marathon yesterday and this was my Goal Race for the season, so I thought it’d be fun to blog about it. If you’ve ever run a marathon you know it’s a HUGE mental challenge. If you haven’t, that’s cool too, just trust me on this – mental challenge! Physical, too, but mental even more, in my opinion. I ran it last year, with my brother Dave. We started running together in the fall of 2011. I had just finished dealing with a hellish summer involving a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. I had been training for my second Half Ironman when the diagnosis came and tossed my training and racing plans right out the window, I had a bigger object to focus on – racing could wait. I still worked out and stayed fit, but I wasn’t stressing about getting my workouts in – it was different, it was an ‘I CAN DO THIS and ENJOY IT’ attitude toward my workouts.
Anyways….I’m good now, I’m clean, cancer-free and ENLIGHTENED beyond belief. I was pretty fit, pretty healthy, but my nutrition wasn’t fabulous. I took vitamins, good, expensive vitamins and totally believed this was my ‘make it all better’ piece of my nutrition puzzle. I could eat candy and sugar and fast food and take my vitamins and be healthy! Ha! Wrong. Anyways, I’m supposed to blog about Hartford, not all this vitamin stuff. So…anyways…Dave and I started signing up for Half Marathons in September 2011. Our first Half Marathon was Surftown at Misquamicut Beach in RI. I was 2 weeks post radiation – knew I could run 13.1 miles, but did I officially TRAIN for it, not really…but good enough. We did it, he stayed with me the whole time. We talked, joked, laughed and even cried a little at the end. It was great….huge brother/sister bonding. We found our ‘thing together’. So we did many in the last 3 years….it’s awesome.
We ran Hartford 26.2 last year…I was well-trained, he was coming off a horrible summer of ‘Shingles’ and pain and not much running. We ran together, like always….and again, we had a blast.
This year we were going to beat our time, which was slow…and again, he fell ill and couldn’t train. So he decided to NOT run just 2 days prior to race day. I was bummed, but I knew it was the right thing for him to do. Why get hurt doing something that is supposed to be fun. I mean, it’s not like we win money or anything! Ha ha! The forecast was for rain and I thought, Dave isn’t running, I could bag it and not feel guilty. This was a lie. I knew this was a lie. I had trained, although admittedly, not a LOT of running – but quality runs, for the most part and LOTS of cross-training. P90X3 and pilates are my GOTTA DO workouts. P90X3 has increased my strength in ways I didn’t expect and Pilates keeps me injury-free…I swear by both! I knew I could run 26.2miles…could I run them fast? I wasn’t quite sure.
So, Saturday comes and I’m on the road by 5:45am. On my way down the highway I drank my breakfast shake – Greenberry Shakeology, about 8 ounces of water, a small banana and a teaspoon of almond butter. This concoction has worked for me last weekend at a 10K, ran my fastest race with negative splits! And also at the last half marathon I ran a few weeks back. Felt good and had energy. So, now this is my Race Morning requirement. Don’t let me down today.
Got to Hartford and parked by 6:45 am, race starts at 8am. So, I walk down to the park and get in line for the porta-potties then walk back to my car to put my sneakers and number on and get ready to run. Decided on long-sleeves, shorts and compression socks. Walk back out of the parking garage and it’s raining pretty good shape , cold and raw maybe 48 degrees, which is not really cold, but cold enough when it’s raw and wet. I asked a spectator walking down the sidewalk with an umbrella…is this going to last all morning, she assured me it was! So I go back to my car and throw on a water-proof (I am hoping it is anyways) vest. If I keep my core warm, I should be good.
On my way to the start, I find a friend of mine who is running with a team – it’s always good to see that one person you know, it reassures me that I can’t really be out of my mind, she’s doing it too! Then I dive back into the porta-potties, just to be safe…and there’s only 10 minutes til the start….these people better pee fast or I’m going to be late….well, I made it to the start with about 90 seconds to go. I tried to squeeze my way up to the 4 hour pace sign, which I couldn’t even see. But only got up to the 5:15 pacer. I made a comment (out loud of course)about, well, I’ll start here since I can’t move anymore. The guy next to me looked at me and I asked him what is your goal time? He said 3:59:59. Really? Do you mind if I stick with you? So we did, we stuck together for the first 12 miles and chatted about everything. He’s doing this as a training run because he’s running Ironman Arizona in a few weeks. He’s from Boston, has a wife and a couple kids and he has done a few Ironmans and is friendly with people who actually WIN Ironman races! Really? Bought his bike from the winner of Eagleman, knows the woman who WON Ironman Boulder….wow! Me…I run with my brother and workout solo most of the time. I did tell him about the races I direct….maybe he’ll run Mother’s Day Half….never know!
The whole time, I never told him my fastest full marathon was 4:23:and change. I was hoping to beat 4:10..but thought I’d stick with him for as long as I could, I needed that push and motivation to keep going. Well, it worked! He had some GI issues so had to make a porta-potty pitstop after mile 12, but he caught back up to me around mile 17, unfortunately his issues weren’t over and he stopped again around 19. I couldn’t believe MY stomach was holding out so well! I always have to make a pitstop!
I did start to feel a cramp in my foot coming on around mile 15 so I sucked on a honey stinger…then my stomach flipped for a second and I thought I was in trouble, but it passed. Thank you! I kept sipping on my fuel bottle…I had a grape NUUN tab and a scoop of Energy & Endurance (it’s a Beachbody product) in my bottle….that is ALL I sipped on the whole race. And 2 honey stingers. I don’t have a happy stomach when I run and I can’t eat much, it’s almost like my throat closes, but I know I need calories – today, this totally worked for me. I must say, today was the BEST marathon I have run because I felt better than any other race! I finished in 4:04:12….I beat the 4:10 of my original goal but missed the 4 hours of my new goal. OH SO CLOSE though! YAY!
My new friend, he had a tough race with his GI issues and the last 2 miles beat him up. He only finished 4 minutes after me, which I think is pretty amazing! But, it just goes to show you that no matter how hard you train, you never REALLY know how your race is going to go until you are actually doing it. Rain, cold, stomach issues, ankle issues, mental issues….it’s all a factor. So go out there with an open mind and take what you get and be proud that you did it!
Just to give you an idea of what went through my head when running by myself…it is completely a mental game and sounds like this:
‘Wow! That girl in front of me is still wearing a garbage bag to run in, I’m glad I’m not, that would freak me out. I’d overheat and start to freak. Wait, why isn’t she overheating? Why is she running faster than me in a garbage bag? God, I am so slow. Knock it off, you’re doing fine. Stop comparing to other people. It’s so awesome so many people run and do stuff like this! Maybe we’re all crazy, my friends call me crazy, my family too actually, maybe they are crazy for not doing it. Or, maybe they are right. Well, if I am crazy, this is the kind of crazy I want to be.’
‘Look at this guy passing me, I bet he’s 70 or almost 70! Good job mister! How come he is passing me, he’s got to have 20 years on me! I should be able to keep up to him. No, Sue, stay your pace, run your race, not his. I hope I’m still running when I’m 70.’
‘It’s not raining too hard, maybe I shouldn’t have worn this vest.’
‘It’s raining harder, thank goodness I wore this vest.’
‘I feel you little cramp in my foot, go away. I should fuel better, I must not fuel right. Suck on this stinger, do NOT bite or chew, just let it melt in my cheek. Don’t chew, don’t chew. You’re kind of chewing, no, I’m denting it with my teeth. Stop chewing! Ok, suck, whew, that was close! I think it’s working, my foot feels fine. Stomach, do not start flipping, do not slosh…ok, good, wait oh no…nope, I’m ok. Keep going, think of something else.’
‘How can these people walk every water stop and still finish ahead of me without losing their pace? I can’t walk and then get back on my pace, don’t even try it today.’ ‘I think I’ll walk a few steps, no, don’t. Just a few. You know you can’t get back on pace, cut it out, don’t do it.’
‘I love you spectators…love that music you are blasting. Wonder if they know how much people appreciate them being out here in the rain.’ ‘If I lived on the course I’d have a big party on race day, a cook out, with blaring music, and beer.’ ‘ I could go for a beer. What? Who are you kidding, if you took a sip of beer right now, you’d puke, you know it.! Then you might never like beer again, that’d be not so good!’ ‘where the hell is the turnaround for this out and back, it seems a lot farther than last year!’ ‘yay, the turnaround!’ ‘I don’t really like turnarounds, I slow down and lose my pace…I wonder what my pace is..I feel my watch buzzing but it is nicely put under my sleeve…don’t look. Oh, just peek. No, don’t look, you’ll freak out and start to panic if you can’t make your goal’ ‘ I feel great today’ ‘I love running in the rain, this weather is perfect’ ‘wow is my shirt wet! My fingers are numb, where are my fingers, what if I get frostbite? ‘’what if I don’t make it to the finish, what if they need to call the ER contact on my bib, what if my ER people don’t answer their phones, who will come claim me, do you think they’d still give me a medal’ ‘ I feel the water bubbling in my toes, my shoes are soaked, I’m going to have blisters like crazy…ow, I feel you blister.’ ‘ that looks like just another wet spot, crap, that wet spot was a 2 inch puddle….sure fooled me. Now my feet are really really soaked, and I thought they were wet before.’ ‘mile 20, this is where it gets weird.’ ‘5 miles left, I feel surprisingly good – not weirded out too bad or dizzy. Keep going’ ‘4 miles left, piece of cake’ ‘3 miles left, wait, is it really 3 left, I think it might be 4, I missed a mile I think’ ‘ there’s the sign, thank God, it really is 3 miles left.’ I wonder if I’ll beat 4 hours’ ‘3:55qualifies for Boston, maybe I can BQ’ ‘ don’t get all crazy like that’ ‘why not? Boston Qualified, what’d Dave say 3% or 8% of all runners ever qualify for Boston I could be a little teeny percentage’ ‘ you don’t want to run Boston anyways, but qualify for it, yea that’s a good goal’ ‘that means you need to run another full marathon, thought this was it.’ ‘I’ll volunteer at Boston, that’ll be fun. Then you know you’ll need to run it, no I won’t. yes, you’re right, probably will’ ‘Am I on rt 84 yet, that’s my favorite part. It’s near the end, and I’m running on the highway.’ ‘hello 84! I am running on the highway, this is so cool’’I want to ride my snowmobile down the highway’’yea, I’ll get arrested, dumb idea’…..’but I’m running on the highway..it’s possible, still going for the snowmobile ride-it’s on my bucket list.’ ‘uh-oh, my ankles are freezing up.’ ‘Am I still moving” I must be running backwards’ I don’t’ think my legs are moving anymore. Hey, there’s the park….see this guy in front of me, pass him.Sprint! I AM sprinting! Got that guy…get the next guy, come on beat that guy..go! YES! Got that guy too!’ ‘Wow, good sprint at the end, I think that means I didn’t push hard enough out there, I could have gone faster, dummy. Why didn’t you push harder? Wait, ouch. My ankles hurt. Keep moving. No, stop. No, go.’ ‘I’m done! YAY!’ ‘that was actually fun. Was it? Yes. Until next time. What? You said this was your last full. Well, so what? Maybe I lied. Oh no, oh yes.’ ‘Cold, I’m cold, freezing actually….home, get me home.’
And lastly, I hobbled my way to my car after having a sip of tomato soup – wow, was that welcome!! And trying not to drop anything on the plate of food that I took…most of which I knew I wouldn’t touch, but took anyways. Got to my car and changed into dry clothes and shoes (NO Blisters either!!) then headed home. Although, in pure ‘Sue Form’ thought about how I would be passing Costco and I should stop on the way by because ‘I’m RIGHT HERE’…and I did! I put my hat back on to cover up my wet, knotted, messy hair and grabbed a cart – using it like a walker – and picked up a few things before heading home. I was waiting for someone to say, wow you look like hell and why are you limping and laying over that cart?…I was all ready with my reply – I just ran 26.2 miles, I SHOULD look like hell. But no one did! I’m glad too, that would just make one more person think I am nuts, not that THAT Matters!