It’s been awhile since I got to write about a race that went exactly the way I hoped but this was that race.
From the daily emails that Steamtown sent with runner info (and humor) to the weather, things were organized and looking good for race day.
So settle in for a full recap, for those of you that want the details.
I took the taper and carb loading seriously. I was going crazy last week with only a few short runs and was doubting myself but on Saturday all of my worrying switched to excitement.
My parents came to watch the girls so we left Saturday afternoon for the expo, dinner (sushi), dessert (Krispy Kreme!) and an early bedtime.
I woke up Sunday early and ate a bagel with a little peanut butter and half a banana and drank Performance (electrolytes) two hours before the race, plus probably 16 ounces of water. I feel like I nailed fueling in this race- I felt good from start to finish.
Runners loaded buses in downtown Scranton for the 45 minute drive to the start, at Forest City High School. The race is small enough that the school allows us to come inside to stay warm. It was freezing at the top of the hill with the wind, but otherwise perfect temperatures for running.
I checked out the pacers- there was a 3:15 and a 3:25, but no 3:20 pacer. The 3:15 pacer told me he planned to go out a little fast to bank time in order to make it up the hills at the end, and I knew that probably wasn’t a good strategy for me. I really wanted to run this smart!
So I ran my own race. We were off with a cannon!
The first five miles felt awesome: 7:24, 7:30, 7:42, 7:37, 7:29 – I couldn’t believe how good I felt! I focused on keeping it easy and relaxed, and then started looking for hubs who was going to be at mile 8.
7:30, 7:49, 7:44
I knew at this point that it was going to be a good day. Miles 9 and 10: 7:42, 7:35
We passed a ten mile clock (1:16) and I was on track for a big pr. I kept telling myself to hold back and see how I felt at mile 18.
Miles 11-13: 7:44, 7:39, 7:52- In retrospect, I kept it a little too easy here and could have done a better job sticking to my 7:39’s but I was mostly running by feel.
The first half has a lot of net downhill which eventually becomes really tough on the quads. I was happy when it started to even out around mile 12-13. The flat roads felt good, although I had to kick it up a gear in order to stay consistent. I started counting down to mile 17, where I would see my husband again.
We ran two miles through a gorgeous trail and the fall colors were so brilliant!
7:35, 7:34, 7:33, 7:45
I woke up early- Making signs is hard!
Mile 17 was a nice mental boost! I loved hearing the personal cheers and seeing hubs with his sign. And I was still feeling so good! Mile 18- 7:28
We entered another gravel trail and I focused on breaking the race into two mile chunks. I knew there were some decent hills coming soon. Miles 19-20: 7:41, 7:37
At mile 20, I was amazed there were only six miles to go but I was kind of clueless where I was at – my watch died half a mile into the race and I had to restart it and was off the whole race.. I think that was a blessing- I wasn’t stressing at all about not breaking 3:20, I was just so thrilled that my race was going so well!
More than any other marathon I’ve run, I was really in the moment, soaking up the views, the people and enjoying myself. It flew by!! Except for the final 5 miles, of course.
I held on to pace for 21 and 22 (7:45, 7:34) and then hit some tough hills. Mile 23 had some tough uphill and mile 24 had over a half mile that was pretty relentless. I didn’t look at my watch at all, but focused on getting up it as strong as I could- 7:50, 8:35
That split likely would have discouraged me so I’m glad I missed it! With just two miles to go, I repeated all of the words of encouragement you all have left me over the last few days – I imagined Allie running alongside me keeping me moving, I remembered Tina’s words to believe in YOU, I remembered that I can do hard things and two miles is nothing!
Although in a marathon, those last two miles take for.ev.er! Mile 25- 7:48
As we came into the final mile, we could see one last hill looming ahead. Once I started climbing, it didn’t feel too bad, but as we peaked it, instead of going down it continued to have a slight incline to the end of the mile, brutal! – 8:02
Once over the hill, I tried to push my legs down the final .2 as quickly as I could. At this point, they were definitely screaming from the downhill at the beginning of the race, but overall, it really wasn’t until the last mile that my body told me it was done running a marathon.
Final push- 7:27 pace
I knew I was not going to break 3:20 but didn’t know how much of a pr I had (previous pr was 3:32:58)… as I got close, I was so thrilled! Final time is 3:23:23- a ten minute pr!
I am really proud of myself for running a smart race and really enjoying it! I wasn’t nearly as focused on my watch as I usually am- I missed half my splits and didn’t care. I was just so excited to be cruising along at a pace 30 seconds faster than my fastest marathon and feeling so good!
As I met up with family afterwards, I told hubs if this is the last marathon I race for time I will be happy with that. I know how many things can go wrong (stomach issues, heat, fueling, sluggish legs) and I feel lucky that everything went so smoothly. Of course, my he wanted to record me saying that because who knows how long that feeling will stick… 🙂
Thank you all so much for the supportive comments on Instagram and Facebook! I was really encouraged by them and really feel that it helped me run well.
And now to ride this marathon pr high as long as it will let me…while not running this week as I recover. We’ll see if that works!
Have you had a race where everything clicked and you felt better than expected?
Have you raced more by feel than by your watch?