Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rock 'N'Roll Marathon Race Report

***warning: this post may not be as upbeat and inspiring as I'd like it. It may even contain some whining. After I am done, however, I'll shake it off and move on. Oh... and in true Lisa fashion, it's a long one***

It was hard. It was painful. It was a true test of my determination.

After all the dust has settled, I am much happier with my time. A 4:16 is a pretty good time. I am proud of that. I think what has had me down today is not missing my time goal, but missing much of my other goals. I didn't sing and dance. I barely noticed anything in the second half of the race. I really didn't have all that much fun. After looking forward to it for so long, it was really quite a letdown.

I started out the morning in a fabulous mood. I was probably annoying Heather and Laura with my bubblyness (I'm pretty sure that is not a word). We avoided a minor catastrophe. Heather, our angel of the morning, got up bright and early to bring Laura and I to the starting line. This is something that saves, literally, hours of stress. She dropped us off in record time using the southern route that had NO traffic and headed down to the airport authority to park and catch the trolley to her relay leg a couple of hours later. A few minutes later I realized that I had left my iPod in her car!!! My heart stopped. Could I survive without music for four hours? I didn't want to find out. I called her and she turned around and drove up Laurel which was bumper-to-bumper and straight up hill in a stick shift. She saved me!!!! It really added time to her trip and I felt bad. She is a true friend!

I was really excited. I felt great. I felt well-prepared. I was
ready to go. Luckily, I got some pre-race woo hoo's in. However, Alice, I didn't get to moo. Being in corral 4 is different than last year's corral 10. Not as many moo'ers. I sure did think about it though (although we were really only in the corral for a minute or two). In retrospect, maybe I should have just moo'd and taken advantage of my good mood.

We started out and felt really relaxed. We had a great pace (so I thought). We were a little faster than we had planned, but it really felt good. Our first three miles were: 8:51, 8:53, and 8:51*. We both discussed that we felt comfortable--a very conversational pace.

As the road started going downhill, we sped up a bit. I got a little worried, but still felt good. It was around this time that Paul (I think that's his name... Irene, Alice?), from San Diego Track club was yelling some great words of wisdom through his bull horn (I love that guy).** One of the things he said really hits home to me now. He said, "while tempted to go faster down this hill, hold back; there's a lot of race ahead of you." Hmmm.... that mile was 8:29. Oops.

We hit the 10k mark averaging under 9 minutes per mile and I felt we had a nice little "bank" of time and we could slow down a bit as we headed up hill a bit and then onto the freeway. After mile 7, I decided to slow a bit. Laura kept going. I thought I might catch her after the 163, but I think I knew at that point that I wouldn't see her again until the finish.

Between miles 7 and 8, my legs started feeling pretty heavy. The mist had cleared up and there wasn't much of a breeze downtown and I realized that I was sweating more than I thought I would. I thought that my sluggish legs would bounce back and I would hit my second wind (as I often did on long runs). I even mentally composed wording for this blog about how I had a couple of slower miles and then came back strong. I slowed to 9:01 and 9:17 for the seventh and eighth miles.

As I was running on the 163 freeway, I experienced the first of many side stitches. I was really having a hard time breathing. I tried to put my arm on my head, breathe deeply through my nose etc. My legs started to hurt and show some early signs of cramping. I had been drinking sports drink and taking Gu every four miles, but I was already starting to feel some pretty major muscle fatigue. I also really noticed the slant of the freeway (I didn't notice it so much last year), by the time I got to Friars, my IT band was starting to bug me.

I don't do a lot of stopping when I run. I like to take small sips from my hydration belt as I go and run right through the water stops. About midway through the freeway section, I decided to stop and take a couple of Tylenol before my legs started hurting more. I also felt like I needed to catch my breath. I had never felt like this before.

The freeway is a pretty long uphill section. I slowed it down and took my time. I knew I still had banked time. I think I stopped somewhere again around mile 10. I was telling myself to rest a few seconds, shake it off and mentally imagine myself starting a brand new sixteen mile run. I can do a sixteen mile run on any given day easy. Ok. New run. New start. Miles 9 and 10 were: 9:26 and 9:55. I thought those miles would be my slowest. I knew then, however, that sub-four was going to be very hard.

Mile 11 is mostly downhill. I wanted to make up a little time, but I really couldn't. I got a pretty bad stitch and the faster I ran downhill, the more it hurt. I kept it pretty easy. 8:59. By the time I hit the half marathon mark, I was still within my goal (1:58). But could I keep up that pace for that long again? I was beginning to doubt it. A time of 4:05 or so was starting to sound pretty good. I was ok with it, wasn't I? I needed to take the pressure off. There was a small hill after the half marathon. It was here that I realized that I was really starting to hurt. Everywhere.***

I ran by the second relay transition point (mile 13.4) and saw my friend Heather. She was all smiles and was cheering for me. By this time, my bubblyness had worn off and I was feeling pretty drained. I knew that the rest of the race was going to be a struggle. I should have just waved to Heather and smiled. But I wanted someone to know how I was feeling (doesn't misery love company?). I was a little lonely out there. I gave her the thumbs down sign and indicated that I wasn't having a great run. I feel bad. She was so happy to see me and excited for her relay leg and I am afraid that I brought her down a bit. I know that she was worried about me.

Then I saw my family. It was great. My dad and husband were riding bikes and towing the kids in a trailer. I tried to put on a brave face, but I ended up telling them that I was struggling. They told me later that I looked tired. My wonderful husband put on his coach's hat. He said, "Lisa, the 4 hour pace group is right there [I hadn't realized that they had passed me]. Keep him in sight and you'll be fine. You'll be able to catch him at the end." I didn't tell my biggest cheerleaders that there was a small part of me that was wondering if I would even make it to the end. They rode along side of me for a while. The kids honked a horn and rang a cow bell.**** After a while they turned and rode toward Friars to go find a second spot to see me in the latter miles. As soon as they were out of sight, I stopped and walked for a bit.
They took some pictures of me around mile 14.

The next miles are a bit of a blur. I would run a while and then walk a few feet. The fun had stopped. I would smile meekly at people as they yelled my name. I thanked everyone who cheered for me. I would find some energy and push it for a mile and then shuffle or walk. I was really hoping to average ten minute miles, but I don't think I did. It was during these miles that quitting actually crossed my mind. But it never really was an option. It was only a momentary flicker. My splits were all over the place:

mile 15- 9:52
mile 16- 10:33
mile 17- 9:28
mile 18- 11:08
mile 19- 10:49

I saw my former running partner, Jen, with her kids. I hugged her and started to cry (although I don't think I had any tears). I told her that I
was really struggling. She ran next to me for a bit while her son (my son's best friend) rode his bike by me. I told her that she saved me. She was so supportive and told me how awesome I was doing. In a painful twist of irony... in my excitement at seeing Jen and the kids, I may have missed my own family. It turns out that My dad, Kenny and the kids were looking for me very near that spot, on the other side of Ingraham. Honestly, I don't know how they missed Jen screaming my name as she saw me. At least my kids were having fun!

mile 20- 10:05
mile 21- 11:07

mile 22- 10:28
mile 23- 10:33
mile 24- 11:04

While I was feeling sorry for myself, I was resigned to the fact that the wheels fell off the bus. I was doing some math and decided I wanted to try for 4:15. I passed a couple of guys who were wearing tags from earlier pacing groups. One had a 3:30 sign on his back. I knew he was feeling worse than I was. As I passed him, I said, "we're almost there... we'll make it." He nodded. I sometimes wonder if I sound condescending when I say something like that. I suppose that I take that chance. I also take the chance of giving him just the boost he needs. Right? Right around mile 21, Coach Paul was there again thanking us for making his day. I love that guy.

I pushed pretty hard the last couple of miles. I wanted to walk more than anything. But I knew that I would be done soon and could rest then.

mile 25-9:30
mile 26-9:26

As I turned into MCRD, I had forgotten how far it is from the entrance to the actual finish line. I expected to see the finish line around every corner. I really tried to push. At the actual final stretch, I really didn't have much of anything left. When I crossed the finish line, the only thing I felt was relief. I wasn't happy. I wasn't sad. I was just glad to be done.

Laura soon found me. It turns out that she didn't have such a good race either. She finished in 4:07:57. Apparently, she was
still on pace to break four hours up through mile 20 where she hit a serious wall. She and I hobbled through the finish area, grabbed our drop bags and sat down on the pavement in pain. Before she took off we congratulated each other, even though we were both feeling a little down.

Laura was feeling pretty bad physically and didn't want to hang out, so she took off to meet her hubby. I went to find my friends who ran the relay and my family. I went and drank my free beer and relaxed.

What went wrong? Well, that is probably the subject of another post. I have my suspicions, but I also think that sometimes it just isn't your day. I am sure I will ramble a bit more before the week is done. I do feel pretty good with my overall time, especially considering how difficult it was to come by. I am torn between never subjecting myself to that misery again and signing up for another right away so I can try to finish one of these things on my terms. Vegas anyone?

*miles according to my Garmin. We were running the course miles a bit slower than this, since it was nearly impossible to run the tangents well. According to Garmin, I ran 26.61 miles total. Yikes.
**I have been considering joining the SDTC for a while now. Between fun runners like the Heffer crew, organized runs and an inspiring coach like Paul I think it might be something I have to do.
***except my shins, of course. The part of my body that kept me from several runs during the week felt fabulous the entire race. Every other part of my body seemed to hurt. My shins still feel fine. Strange.
****I had no idea about this skit before this weekend. As the kids rang the cowbell, I heard people say "more cowbell." Kenny said that everyone said it as they ran by. Even Alice mentioned it on her blog. Finally, my brother said it the other night and we asked him about it. LOL. I wish I had seen this skit before so I could have laughed then...


Heather said...

Wow Lisa, I remember 18 months ago you said you were going to train for a Marathon and now you have run 2!! You have accomplished great things. I vote sign up for another one, remember your goals to have fun and don't leave your Ipod in the CAR!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm 90% sure I'm going to run Las Vegas this December. But even if I don't run it, I'll be here so if you're in for that one... I want to meet up!

You're truly inspirational to me. You've done so well, even if the races were hard you motivate me and give me hope that perhaps I can be as fast as you are some day!

That was a great race report and I'm glad you are feeling more at peace with your race results... at least now you have room to PR again. If you just shot out the gates on your first marathon and cranked out a great time, where do you go from there? ;-)

Irish Cream said...

Lisa, from the sounds of it, you REALLY fought hard last weekend despite not feeling well and just not having a very good running day. That is SO incredibly admirable--most would say a lot more admirable than accomplishing your top goal with ease.

You see, that is the harsh thing about marathons . . . you train so hard and put in so much time and effort, and when it comes time for the race, there's always a chance it just won't be your day and you'll feel like crap no matter how hard you trained. I'm so sad for you that Sunday turned out to be that kind of day.

But seriously, you have SO MUCH to be proud of, and you have to keep in mind that were it a good day for you, you definitely would have run a sub-4. You proved you have it in you time and time again throughout your training. I say give yourself some time to rest and recover--mentally, physically, emotionally--then get back at it. And use your disappointment at how this race turned out to fuel your training. You CAN do it. If you managed such a great time while feeling awful, imagine what you could accomplish on a good day!

You are seriously a rock star. I pray that come June 27, I can show half the guts and strength you showed last weekend!

Thanks so much for sharing your amazing story with us all! :)

Irene said...

You weren't the only one who had a hard run that day. One of my track club friends who was training really well for a 4:45 marathon finished in 5:30. She was OK with it, in that she finished. My husband got sick and had to stop several times. I guess some days are just like that, no matter how much training you put in.

The track club has been my saving grace, so to speak. I doubt I could have run this marathon as well as I did without them, considering I was coming back from a broken hip. There is so much support from everyone. Coach Paul is definitely the driving force behind the club. I've also made many great friends, and some are friends I will have for a lifetime. I'm not sure if I'll do the marathon training next year, but if I don't I'll be volunteering for the 2010 track club SDRNR marathon season.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, you trained so hard. And through such painful shin splints and the IT Band issue. do you realize how amazing it is that you can write "i can run 16 miles easy any day." Not everyone can say that. You should be very proud of yourself. I know you wanted to do it in 4. Since you already PR'd yourself by 40 minutes (!!) 15 minutes should be easy to cut down the next time.

I'd just advise giving yourself some time to think about it before you sign up for another one. And know that you have a free place to stay in Boston, where I know you will inevitably be running, and I'll be cheering you on!

And you're right, you do have WONDERFUL friends! Your kids sound too cute for words. Glad to hear you have a husband for a coach too!

Aka Alice said...

Hey Lisa...Marathons are an enigma, that's for sure. Irene's right, in the end things happen that you can't forsee. IMHO you ran a great race. You toughed it out and you finished strong (even if it wasn't your "gold). I've read several reports from runners about the humidity (and it was humid. I noticed even from the bike).

Here's the funny part...I know I saw your husband and kids (I remember the balloons and the stroller!) around Friars and Napa as we were riding back and forth. I can't believe I somehow missed you :-(.

Paul is a great coach to all the runners, whether they're trying to qualify for Boston, or (like me) at the back of the pack. The SDTC is just a great group of supportive people. Even if I don't ever run another full marathon, I'd do the program again, just to keep in shape for the 1/2s.

Marathonman101108 said...

Lisa! GREAT job!! Seriously, I wish I could run a marathon, feel like crap, and still finish in 4:16!! Take some time to clear your head, reflect some more, and then go sign up for another marathon. A sun 4 hour marathon is out there waiting for you. You WILL do it, there's no doubt in my mind. It's great you had support from your family too.

Janet B. said...

Lisa... You are truly amazing! I am WAY more proud of you for pushing through a hard race than I would be if you had a great race and a faster time. This is even more inspiring to me! What is your motto??? Pain is temporary but pride is forever? I hope that you grasp what an accomplishment this really is! Also... Kelly HATED the LV half... Not sure it's a good one to run... If you pick one far enough away (in time) maybe I'll do a half while you do a full. ;)

Aron said...

congrats lisa, i know you may not feel that way now but i hope you are starting to feel better. i know these races when its not your day and they are SO HARD, harder than any great race to make it to the finish. you showed a lot of strength out there pushing your way to the finish and you still had a great time. marathons are crazy, they are long, and they are hard but thats what keeps us coming back right?!? be proud of yourself and your race!!

ps CIM in sacramento is dec 6th also... a lot of us will be there :)

Tara said...

all i can say is that your post brought me to tears and i am very proud of you. proud of all runners.

i am interested in vegas - 100%


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