Confidence was solid. I actually struggle to remember the last time I felt so “ready” for a race. Training runs were solid. I was nailing my long runs with the faster miles coming at the end. Speed work felt good. In my middle distance runs, I often drifted to sub-marathon pace and felt reasonably comfortable. Everything was posed to go right.
Until it didn’t.
Rain was forecasted for the race. I brought a poncho and planned accordingly allowing myself to shed clothing along the way if needed. I stayed off my feet most of the day before and even at the start of the race, stayed on the bus until about 30 minutes to the start. Used the bathroom one last time, chatted with friends, and tucked in with the 3:30 pace group. Felt ready to go. Felt good.
Mile 1: 8:05
Mile 2: 7:56
Mile 3: 7:45
Mile 4: 8:01
Mile 5: 7:50
Had the poncho on as it was sprinkling on and off. I decided not to look at my watch the entire race and keep with the 3:30 pacer. He jumped a little in front of me after mile 3, but I kept them in sight and stayed with in range, knowing I didn’t want to push it in the early miles.
Mile 6: 8:02
Mile 7: 7:56
Mile 8: 8:04
Mile 9: 8:07
Why do these miles feel so hard. I thought my legs may have still been heavy from the first few miles. At this point, I should feel nice and loose and my stride should be opening up nicely. It’s early for me to have the “Mile 18” feeling. As you can see, these miles are on the wrong side of 8 and feeling tired, fatigued with 17 miles to go is NOT something I should be feeling.
Mile 10: 7:59
Mile 11: 8:04
Mile 12: 8:19
Mile 13: 8:19
That is perfect. Look at that. Exactly on pace. But those numbers are lying. As you can see, I’m toast after mile 11. Think about that. Mile 11? How are my legs calling it quits at mile 11? I’ve had better training runs that have gone longer!
Mile 14: 9:30
Mile 15: 8:30
Mile 16: 8:38
Mile 17: 9:25
Mile 18: 10:12
Mile 19: 10:09
Mile 20: 10:05
Mile 21: 9:46
I basically wanted to quit. I walked at mile 14 of a freaking marathon. If wifey had been on the course cheering (as early as 14), I would have walked off and said “let’s go home.” No joke. Every Starbucks I passed, or shopping center, I considered going inside, asking to use someone’s phone or taking an Uber back to the hotel.
Someone along the course asked the runners “are you guys having fun?” And I blurted out NO, without even a hesitation. I was upset. I was disappointed. I was confused. I didn’t say it in a mean way, everyone laughed, but I was kind of serious. But we’ll get to that later.
Mile 22: 11:10
Mile 23: 10:59
Mile 24: 10:26
Mile 25: 9:10
Mile 26: 7:37
I stopped at Mile 22 and chatted with @FueledByFrosting. We had never met in person, so it was nice to see a smiling face and chat for a bit. She knew it wasn’t the race I was hoping for and it was likely written all over my face, but her energy made me feel better. I have no idea how I made it from wanting to quit at mile 11 to mile 22. It really is a blur, but I knew I only had a few miles to go.
On the last two miles, my legs finally started to open up a bit and I decided to run the last mile — it actually felt really good. I felt energetic. Maybe it took me 25 miles to FINALLY warm up, but that 7:37 felt reasonably easy and pretty good. Actually, after mile 22, I got faster each mile (hey, just like I did in training — go figure).
In all honesty, I’m trying to wrap my head around what happened. At Santa Rosa, I wasn’t trained for the distance, and the first 15-16 miles felt good. After that, I bonked because my legs weren’t ready for 16+ miles at an 8 minute pace.
This time? You bet they were. I nailed a 23 mile run at just barely over an 8 minute pace in training. I even hit an 18 miler at an 8:09 pace as well, and felt pretty solid afterwards. I tapered well, my legs shouldn’t have been over-trained. If I had run 20 miles at an 8-minute pace and bonked, THAT I would be able to grasp. If I had got a cramp at mile 23, I would have understood that. But bonking at mile 10? At pace, not going out too fast, at pace? C’mon! The first half has some rolling hills, but not enough for me to crash in the first quarter of the course.
The only thing I can think may have happened was my legs never warmed up and my stride was too constricted because of the rain/cold — possible. But it really wasn’t “THAT” cold. I was layered up well, but not overheating. I peeled off the layers as the time went on and think I was down to my tank top by mile 14-15. I should have been able to loosen up once the rain stopped before the half way mark.
That’s what I have. That’s what I got. I know I’m stronger than that race. I was damn near tempted to bust out a 26.2 run around my house and prove it. That still might happen. I know my legs have it. I know my mind has it. I know my heart has it. I just didn’t have it on December 6, 2015.
Thank you to everyone that offered well wishes before and kind words afterwards. I read every single one and it meant a lot.