Badum ching! D’ya like that? You can already guess what happened, huh?
Well, first of all, it isn’t exactly true that there was so little that was positive about the race. I mean, I was on vacation, the weather was beautiful, (albeit hot, but we’ll get to that) and I was running a marathon — one of my favorite activities in the world. A year ago, I was laid up with plantar fasciitis and hating life. Things could have been worse. They also could have been better.
But, I’ll start at the beginning.
T and I boarded our flight to Miami on Friday night and I already had butterflies in my stomach (<-awful cliched writing, sorry) as I observed all the other passengers who were clearly running the race, as well. A dude in an Ironman shirt. A girl in a Chicago Marathon jacket. It was starting to sink in that it was almost Race Day.
We arrived, checked into our hotel, ordered an indulgent dinner via room service, and crashed. Saturday morning we had a delightful breakfast (also courtesy of room service) and watched a dolphin frolic in the water out our window. YES. IT WAS AWESOME. I was squealing with joy.
room service FTW!
We just barely caught him on camera
I went for a quick 3-mile run around the hotel, we hit up the Expo, we hung out on the beach, we got dinner at the hotel, we crashed.
I slept OK, but was wide awake as soon as my alarm went off at 4:25 AM. I stepped out onto our balcony into air that was a bit balmier than I would have liked for that hour. But I was excited and didn’t care.
I guzzled my pre-race juice as I have in all 12 marathons in the past:
I knew I should eat something, but I just couldn’t summon up an appetite. This was probably a mistake, but oh well…
We hopped in the car and parked in a lot that was about a 10 minute walk from the start. As we approached the start, I got my first wave of unease. I knew I would have to use the bathrooms one more time before the race, but the bathroom situation was… a logistical sh*t show. (Yes, pun intended.) The port-o-potties were crammed right up against the fences barring off the corrals (which were not open yet) — so the lines looped crazily off to each side and stretched for what seemed like miles. They also seemed to not be moving. At all. T and I hopped in line and waited… and as sweat began to form on my forehead and it became increasingly clear that I was not going to get to go before the race started, I started getting some serious doubts about the race. T urged me to head for my corral — corral D– which was on the other side of an enormous mass of people. He was right. I had to push my way through the thick crowd and began feeling something close to panic. The NYC b*tch in me had to come out as I shoved my way through people milling around.
But I made it to corral D just in time and spotted the 3:30 pacer. Excellent. I positioned myself a tiny bit in front of him… and then noticed the 2 hour half-marathon pace group in front of me, in corral C. What the? I think a 2 hour half-marathon is about a 9:10 pace, and a 3:30 marathon is an 8:00 pace.
This was taken by the kind guy from Marathon Fotos just as everything began to sink in and I realized it was very possible I was not going to get my goal.
The gun went off and off we went. Immediately, I was weaving around people and trying not to get too pissy. It certainly wasn’t any one of the runners’ faults that we had been corralled in such a bizarre fashion. But irritation and frustration were there off the bat. First mile clocked in at 8:07 and I was PISSED.
I gunned it in mile 2 in a desperate attempt to make up those measly 7 seconds (like a crazy person.) I had been so intent on even 8 minute splits for the whole race that being off in the very first mile had messed with me. Being a marathon veteran, you would think I would have realized I had more than enough time to make it up. Second mile was 7:46. PSYCHO.
And so the miles went by. My head was not where it needed to be at all. I clearly remember thinking at mile 3 (7:59) that I should NOT feel so discouraged and just generally “off” at mile freaking 3 in a marathon. I remember at mile 5 (8:02) thinking, “holy crap, I’ve ONLY RUN 5 MILES?!”
You get the idea. Miles 6-10 slogged by and while I attempted to take in the scenery and enjoy myself, I could not get into a good head space. 8:03, 8:06, 8:03, 8:03, 8:00. Around mile 6, I took my first non-coffee-drink calories of the day, a Honey Stinger, in the hopes that it would give me a mental and physical boost.
At mile 10, I heard 2 guys next to me discussing their pace and strategies. When I asked them what their goal was, they said “3:30 or under.” When I said it was mine, too, they said I was looking good so far, to which I responded, “Only 10 miles in!” They encouraged me by saying it was a 10 mile warm-up and I was on pace so far, which was nice to hear. As we chatted a bit more, I learned that they were from Miami and they sympathized when I told them I was from NYC. They said they’d had a hot winter and were used to it, having been training in it. One of them told me, “My most important advice for this race is to drink water and Gatorade at every single stop. Do not skip any.” We approached a fuel station and I bid them adieu as I did just that.
I was feeling very slightly stronger and most positive at this point. The Honey Stinger and Gatorade probably helped. I looked at my watch as I came through the half and it was right under 1:45, miraculously. Right on pace! What??!
But. Something happened almost exactly at the half. My body was just done. DUNZO. Mile 14 clocked in at 8:22. I tried to care. I tried to push. I couldn’t. It was hot. I felt crappy. The 3:30 pace group passed me. And I knew they had started slightly behind me. I tried to catch them. I kept them in my sight for a little while. Then, I lost them.
8:10, 8:38. At mile 16, it crossed my mind that I kinda wanted to just quit. What was the point? My A-goal was long gone. I had a feeling my B-goal was about to pass me up. (I was right. The 3:35 group passed me and then some around mile 20.) But I knew that I am not someone who quits marathons. And there was no reason I SHOULD quit. I could finish the race, of course. I just didn’t feel like it.
So I pushed on. Mile 17 was 8:54, mile 18 was 8:48. Blah blah. I just kind of stopped trying. And it felt kind of awesome. I walked, slowly, through every water stop. I let go of the goal I had worked so hard for with surprising ease. Mile 19 commenced the 9:xx min miles with a 9:02. Mile 20 was 8:30. I heard the 3:35 pacer say to his group as they passed me, “You’ve done 20 miles and now is where you dig deep.” I wished I could get on board, but ugh. I sucked. I just… couldn’t.
Mile 21 was 9:30. Ho hum. Sometime after this, I stopped at a fuel station and just kept on walking past it. La-di-da. Mile 22 clocked in at an impressive 9:58. I made myself start running again.
I call this one “poor form; way too hot; make it end”
9:15, 9:37, 9:44. More walking and lazily slurping down Gatorade.
The 25 mile marker came and I decided not to be a total piece of sh*t and attempt at least a sub-9 minute mile. 8:50. I picked it up as I cruised through the chute. I easily spotted T, who had somehow found a spot right at the front. I grinned ruefully and flashed him a thumbs-down, then I was done. 3:43:39. F me.
I ambled around the finish, got some water, got my medal, chatted with a dude who was stretching next to me, and then went to the “K” to meet up with T, as planned. I found him easily, and told him I would probably cry eventually, but was feeling pretty “whatever” at that point. We went off in search of our car, but first I called my mom with T’s IPhone and snuck into a restaurant to use their bathrooms (I couldn’t bear the thought of using the pots at the finish area, and I never did stop during the race.) At some point, I slid T’s IPhone into my bag, which held my water bottle and a few other things. The phone barely got wet, but completely stopped functioning. Then, the tears came.
They didn’t last. What did last was our search for the car. We wandered around for about 45 minutes before we located it. You can imagine how fun this was, after a disappointing marathon and just after realizing I had broken T’s phone. By the way, the thumbs-down photo was on the phone, so sadly it may never see the light of day.
In all honesty, I got over the disappointment fairly quickly. How could I not? I was on vacation and the weather was picture perfect. T and I got cleaned up, packed up, and headed out of Miami proper to South Beach. Ahhhh… the perfect place to lick one’s wounds.
We spent the next few days doing the following:
I ate my weight in filet and truffle mac and cheese at Prime Italian. DELICIOUS!
We even made it to Flywheel just before leaving town, where I was able to take a class with my favorite instructor who moved from NYC to Miami, Aleah!
Now that I’m a few days removed from the race, I’m feeling a bit disappointed again. Listen, I just asked a friend who tracked me to send me my splits (the marathon site doesn’t offer any splits and my Garmin was a bit off.)
According to these splits, I came through the half at 1:45:30. I came through the 30K at 2:33:01, with an average pace of 8:13. 8:13s! I still could have had a BQ! My foggy brain had thrown in the towel long ago, thinking my B-goal was way out of reach. I’m sad. And mad at myself for my mental weakness.
I’m also determined. It was a hot day for me. Did I mention that? I suck at warm weather running in any instance, but particularly when I’ve been training in winter in NYC.
I’m going to find that spring marathon and nail my goal. I WILL DO IT. Now, I’m asking for thoughts and advice. Does anyone have any spring races they recommend? Any good training plans for marathon-to-marathon? Any ideas for what the golden amount of time should be in order to benefit from a solid base of marathon training and build on that? I would appreciate any thoughts you all have to offer!
And finally, here are the results. Read ‘em and weep. I’ll be back and better than ever!