The Surf City Marathon was a month ago today. Thankfully I can say that I am recovered and began training again last week. I’ll do a few short races (half marathons) before running the Ventura Marathon again in September 11 this year. I can’t believe that I just referred to halfs as short races!
Lead up: in the days leading up to the race I was nervous. I had been looking forward to running in some cold (for California at least) winter weather. Starting at the beginning of January the weather forecast was for temps in the 70-80 range. I wanted 50! My previous two marathons were run in the heat and so I was afraid that I’d do poorly for the last 10k just like those other times (Sept 2014, 5:51 and Sept 2015, 5:04).
I finally realized that I did actually finish those races and I wasn’t going to do worse, I had trained well, I was ready, so quit worrying! The high on race day was somewhere around 80 but is was a nice cool 48 when the race started. One strategy was to not try and stay warm as I waited to start. I had read in the summer about pre-cooling and I decided that being cool before the race would help. Once we started I dumped water on my head at every aid station thinking it’d be better to stay cool rather than try and cool off when too hot. This strategy worked for me!
I have a new watch and was able to download a race predictor. It was real time so that when I walked (planned walks) it would recalculate as if I were waling the whole time. At about mile 12 I realized that I could walk the rest of the race and still finish in just under 5 hours (a personal record if I did). This really gave me a mental boost.
Miles 8-15 (more or less) were run with the half marathon runners. The marathon had started earlier and I was at mile 8-ish when they caught up. Of course they were all running faster than me so I had the feeling of water flowing past me. At one point I wondered if there were any other marathoners around.
Miles 16-21. Then we turned on to the bike path and left the half marathon crowd and just like that I was no longer being passed. Better, I found that I was slowly and steadily passing the runners in front of me. There was also a man running up and down the trail. He had a shirt on that said “Pace Leader” but he wasn’t pacing anyone. He was giving encouragement which was wonderful. He told me more than once that I looked great. That was nice!
The last miles. This was my third marathon. In the first two I had such a hard time finishing. It was an exercise in will power to keep going and in one of them I thought I was going to faint when I had a half mile to go. BUT I had also been practicing at finishing hard and my non-time goal was to finish strong. So these last miles were very important to me.
I was tired, but not too hot (soaked though). I started to slow down and my slowest splits were miles 24 & 25. I think that I was giving in to my fatigue. But then I began to remember the words of encouragement that I received every Wednesday at track workout (Ventura Running Tribe). Read this post: Voices
Then I heard the song “I’m Still Standing” and realized that I was not only standing but still running and I started to cry. I then composed myself, kicked it into gear and ran a 10:16 for mile 26 and a bit faster for the finish.
All of this for an official time of 4:33:59 (my watch was 4:34:06 so I’ll take the official time).
I am amazed to realize that I enjoy running marathons. Until next time.