This part of my running journey was perfectly written by the Lord for I don't know what reason. I'm hoping that reason is revealed to me. To inspire someone, maybe? To show that hard work and dedication can equal success? My last hurrah before getting pregnant? I've never had what I would consider a perfect training season or a perfect race. The past 4 1/2 months, on the other hand, have been as close to perfect as possible.
Now that we're all sick of reading the word "perfect," we can move on...
The week leading up to a race, I tend to do my carbs the first half of the week then focus on protein the last part of the week. Carbs like pasta and bread tend to upset my belly if I eat too much so I try to avoid it starting 3 days before a race. The day before the race, I had a big fat burger for lunch knowing I could get it out of my body before the next morning. That evening, I opted for grilled chicken and half of a "Big @ss Mug" of beer...seriously, that's what the menu called it ;)
I didn't sleep well the night before the race. Not because of nerves, but because I started my freaking period that afternoon. SURPRISE! Fortunately, they were giving away feminine products at the expo. I was having major crampage all night long and into the morning. Have I mentioned that I make up words?
Jackie and I planned to wake up at 4 a.m. (start time was 6:30), so that we could drink coffee to help us poop! LOL. I would highly suggest this method. With the coffee brewing, I ate my first egg (I brought hard boiled eggs to get some good protein in my system). I have a hard time eating in the morning on normal day. On a race day, even harder to make myself eat. This was the first race I tried the egg method and it worked out well. I ended up eating one more egg and some strawberries. I felt so much better than past races when I would force a Kind bar down my throat.
We left just before 6 a.m. to head to the starting line. I ate my first gel as we were walking to our corral. This was my first race in which I followed a fuel plan (I did a lot of research to determine what I wanted to do).
We found our corral and pace group, stripped our clothes, and waited...5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BOOM!
My plan going into the race was to stick with the 3:40 pace group for the first few miles to see how I felt...especially through the hilly section. Every time I mentioned that I was running Flying Pig, people made it a point to tell me how hilly it is. I will admit, I was a little nervous during training about the hills. I'm not sure if it's because I expected the worst but I didn't think it was bad at all! Some people may want to throat punch me for saying that but I felt very relaxed on the hills. Because of my comfort level with the hills, I'm not an accurate resource for a recap on which miles have hills. I can tell you that the biggest incline is around miles 6-9 as you can see on the websites elevation map.
I took my first gel at 4 miles hoping it would help me through the big incline. Kudos to the race director for putting 25 drink stations on the course!! I knew that, whenever I decided to eat a gel, I could count on a water station to help get it down and get the taste out of my mouth. I took water from every station and never had to stop and walk (except on mile 24 when my pacer made me drink two cups! A girl can't run and drink two cups at the same time.). I made it to the top of the incline and my reward was a view of the city. It was glorious. I took my next gel at 9 then again at 14.
At that point, I was still feeling relaxed with the 3:40 group. It wasn't until 15-16 miles that I started "feeling it." I will say that I had some weird knee thing around mile 10 that stuck around for a few but it wasn't painful...more like pressure that just needed to pop (kind of like when you pop your fingers...I have that bad habit).
I only brought three gels with me knowing they were giving them to us at 18 and 22 miles. I took the one at 18. I was still feeling relaxed but I was getting tight. One of my pacers, Dave, gave me one of his electrolyte pills. He told me that, if I began to cramp, he'd give me another one. Things remained all good until my mental started getting me around 21-22. I didn't want to give up yet but I was ready for it to be over with! My right hammy started cramping at this point, too. It wasn't severe cramping but it was certainly there. I took another electrolyte pill and kept drinking water at every station. I chose, unintentionally, not to take a gel at mile 22. I remember passing the station but also remember not wanting to deal with opening it...because it's so difficult, right?! And then there was mile 23...
This was where it started...my mental breakdown. I was still with the pace group. I was told I still looked relaxed (although I didn't feel that way). I was one of only two other people that was left in the pace group and I felt like I was slipping. Fortunately, the group stayed 20-50 seconds ahead the entire time so I had some cushion. As we approached 24, that's when Dave made me drink two waters. I was so thirsty. That was the one and only time I stopped to walk for about 5-10 seconds to drink my water. I almost wish I hadn't stopped because I was cramping more after that (I took my third electrolyte pill at this time).
I slipped away from pacer, Kyle, but Dave stayed with me. I told him in the middle of the race that I needed a drill sergeant, not a motivator, when the going got tough. He lived up to it:
Dave: "Lisa, how many people know you are running right now?"
Me: "Like, my entire family and everyone on Facebook."
Dave: "Did you tell them you wanted a 3:40?"
Me: "Some of them. But I know a lot of them have a certain expectation for me."
Dave: "Do you want them to see a 4 in your final time?"
Dave: "Then get your ass up there!" (and then he left me and caught up to Kyle)
Thank you, Dave! Although the next to last mile was my slowest, I managed to kick out a faster final mile. I was cramping like crazy the last mile...my calves, my hamstrings. EVERY step I took, I felt my legs cramp. Then there was the finish line.
I never looked at my watch throughout the race. I just trusted my pacers. When I saw the finish line, I thought for sure I had dropped to a 3:41 or 3:42. I was happy with that...but it wasn't gonna stop me from that classic finishing "sprint!" I stopped my watch just after crossing the finish line. I was SO scared to look. I wasn't sure if I'd feel excitement, disappointment. I was just glad to be finished! Dave found me and asked me how I did. We looked at my watch:
(official time 3:39:55)
I freakin' cried like a baby. I couldn't believe it!!! I did it. I had no words.
Of course, Garmin said I ran 0.25 miles more putting me at an 8:19 pace (Amanda's predicted pace for me was 8:20! She's so smart.).
I HIGHLY suggest running this race. Amazing crowd support, awesome post race swag/food. The people were amazing. I heard friends and family throughout the race (Jackie's mom, Suzy, Tamara). I REALLY appreciate all of the support from friends and family who weren't there. I thought about y'all every time I passed one of the time update areas. I knew that when I crossed the line, you guys would be getting an update. I did not want to disappoint you!
This race meant more to me than I could have ever imagined. I didn't realize going into it that I was capable of accomplishing what felt to be a lofty goal. Many of you heard me say that this race would determine if I ever want to run a full again. My answer: I guess I'm gonna have to! Ha! I really did enjoy it a lot more than my previous marathons. It showed me I could be mentally and physically stronger than I thought possible. I can honestly say it was fun!
Thanks, again, for everyone's support and wonderful messages (shout out to the sweet, Felicia, for giving me a call).