It’s been just over two years since I’ve ran my first marathon. Since then I’ve done a few triathlons and quite a few half marathons. This fall, my plan is to finish my first Full Ironman distance triathlon. Leading up to that, I wanted to run another marathon, sometime in the spring, to build up my running mileage first.
Let me preface this race by saying the marathon build up was flawless. Seriously. I’ve never felt better, fitter, and faster. Everything clicked these last 16 or so weeks. Speed workouts. Long runs. Even cross training. Perfect. Everything was pointing at a 3:20-3:25 marathon. Easy BQ. Then the race happened. Crash, bang, BOOM. I blew up.
The morning of the race we had received an email and text alert saying the race was yellow flagged. Pretty much, this just means that the conditions aren’t ideal and to start adjusting your goals a little bit. I looked at the weather… 75 degrees at 6 am. 90+% humidity. 70+ dew point. And this was 90 minutes before race start. Oof. Nothing I can do about it, but run and do my best and see what happens today.
I couldn’t get breakfast down. I had my usual (bagel, banana, orange juice, water) with me but I think I took about 2 bites of my bagel and forced the banana down. My body was clearly a nervous wreck.
I donned my race outfit (Team Martilee, for the win!!) and we were out the door by about 6:45. This would give me plenty of time to use the bathroom, take my gel and mentally prep for the upcoming 26.2. Hubby had his bike and was planning to follow around the course as much as he could!
I still hadn’t eaten much, and water wasn’t going down easy either… again, not a super great sign for things to come.
I put on my tunes, and once the race started I tried my best to keep the negative thoughts about the weather out of my mind. I was running what felt easy, but looked down in my first mile and saw a 7:30. WHOA. Slow it down. This is much too fast! I kept pulling myself back and tried to run closer to 8 minute pace. This course was really flat, but I knew I was running too fast. Every time I looked down at my watch I had crept back into the 7:40s.
Around mile 5 I took my first gel, and again I had issues swallowing it. I had used Huma gels throughout my training, along with both water and Skratch Labs. I had to count down from 3 to swallow my gel… again, not a great sign.
Some of the spectators had their sprinklers or hoses on and the amount of people running slightly off the course onto the sidewalk or yard to run in the cold water was alarming. It had to be creeping towards 80 degrees at this point, but the flags were still yellow on the course. The miles kept ticking by and I somehow kept running in the 7:40s-7:50s. Maybe I could do this? Maybe I can run a 3:2X:XX.
At mile 10, I started to get chills. I know my electrolytes were off. I tried taking a few cups of Gatorade at every aid station coming up, but in the back of my mind I knew it was too late. By mile 12 I wanted to walk. My pace had slowed to 8:30s. I took out my phone and texted my husband one word, that rhymes with duck. In all caps. He immediately replied and asked where I was. I was almost to him and he said to just keep moving forward.
I saw him right at the half way mark and started crying. I knew my “race” was over, but it was only half over. I have never wanted to quit something so badly as I wanted to quit that race. I stopped. He gave me a hug and then said “keep moving. There’s a lot of race left. You can get this back.” But mentally, I was done. In my mind I had failed. I walked. I wouldn’t run near what I was capable of. I knew I had a ton of friends and family following my race, all believe I’d crush it and BQ. I let them down. I let myself down. I just failed…
To be honest, the rest of the race is a bit of a blur between walking and running and thinking “Don’t let the 3:30 pacer pass you.” Then they do. “Okay, but you can at least beat the 3:50’s and come away with a big pr.” Then they pass you too. “Just break 4. You can do that.” Nope… there they go. So effortless. “Fine. Just PR. That’s all. Under 4:10. Come on.” Not even that.
I cried a lot. I walked a lot. I cursed. I threw a pity party. I stopped to stretch. I told myself to just run this block. I bargained with God. I did everything… except quit. I forced myself to run the entire last mile. Just look down and keep running.
I had to fight myself a lot in this race. I finished. My second marathon was slower than my first. I never even looked up my official time, but my watch had 4:16 something, 9:40 or so pace. I have never felt so defeated, finishing close to an hour after I thought I would. But, lessons have been learned. Give the weather the credit it’s due. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. LISTEN to your body. Adjust your goals. There are more races to come.
To go back to the race report archives, click here.