My marathon training cycles/outcomes look a little like this:
1. Work, work, work.
2. Consistency, consistency, consistency.
3. Small breakthrough.
4. Repeat steps 1 & 2.
5. Disappointment, feeling of failure.
6. Repeat 1 & 2 but work harder and also do more little things (strength training, yoga, daily foam rolling/exercises, regular bodywork).
8. Small breakthrough ( I did have one big breakthrough when I went from 3:08 down to 2:59).
9. Repeat 1-7.
10. Disappointment, feeling of failure, learn from each race.
11. Repeat 1-10.
12. Add mental training, more attainable goals (at least mentally), enjoy the journey, run my own race.
13. Small breakthrough, etc, etc.
The Phoenix Marathon…small breakthrough; and I am pretty darn happy with my 2:56:48, a fifty second PR!!! This is kinda how it all went down:
My training was a bit different in the fact that I did most of it solo. This is good and bad because it makes me completely comfortable running by myself but I know that I do not push myself quite as hard during track workouts and tempo runs. My friends, Kara and Kerry joined me on some early morning runs and long runs and Pete joined me for quite a few long days as well. The two races I ran in January and early February indicated that I was fit and ready!
This time around, I also decided that it is best for me to chip away at my time minute or two by minute, rather than huge 5-7 minute jumps. I felt a sense of relief, increased confidence, and zero pressure. The calmness carried through taper week and all the way up to the starting line. Sure I experienced butterflies but I was ready to celebrate my weeks of training!
There is also something to be said for sleeping in your own bed, avoiding travel, eating your own food, that comes with a home-field race. But it was an early wake-up call to catch the bus for the 6:30 start. The weather was looking perfect, a tad cool, but sunny and calm. Pete dropped me off without incident and I spent the bus ride in my zone.
They allowed us to stay inside the bus as long as we wanted. I sat there until about 5:50am, then stepped out into the cold. The lines for the bathroom where horrendous but I found a shorter line. Literally had 7 minutes until the start once I quickly relieved myself, so I trotted to the gear check, then trotted to the starting line. Going into the race, I thought I had a chance at placing in the top 3-5, but when I lined up, it appeared some pros had shown up with the same idea. I threw that goal out the window as the fireworks went off and people took off as if we were racing a 5k! Yikes!
I let them go and stuck to my plan of running 6:40s. I knew the course started downhill and fast and the marathon is a looooong race so I wanted to run my own race and not get caught up in the excitement, plus I knew I would eventually pass a few that blew up later. We started just before sunrise and it was beautiful as the sky started to light up. I saw a few people I know and then just settled in. The first 2 miles ticked off at exactly 6:40! And it felt like a nice training run. There is a fairly long climb from around 4.5-6 so my splits were up and down accordingly. I chose not to check the course out prior to the race, I just like to see it during the actual race.
The miles continued to pass by and also continued to feel almost easy! I maintained control of the pace and put it on cruise control. Today was a PR day. Pete saw me at miles 8 and 11 and shouted that I was spot on, I smiled and got a little boost each time I saw him. Other friends were also spectating and cheering and giving me words of advice/encouragement. With most races, I stay in my zone, and couldn’t really tell you that much about the course or what was going on around me. However, I did happen upon a running buddy from the beginning. The halfway point clocked in at 1:27:xx (officially 1:27:18) and I could hardly believe it. This guy and I never exchanged a word but we were certainly helping each other. I saw Pete again at mile 15 and for the last time at 20.5.
I went through 20 still on pace, my plan was to then just a bit faster and negative split. Well…always easier said than done. My running buddy hit the wall and fell back, and then I came upon the tail-end of the half-marathoners who were walking and not exactly making it easy to pass so there was more zigzagging than necessary. I was thrown off a little and also thought I was running faster than actuality. Ultimately I slowed down miles 21-24, I passed a few marathoners (2 of them women) but it was difficult to tell at his point. Then I saw my friend Kerry. I am calling her my angel because she jumped in and ran with me. Immediately I sped up and she talked me through the little rough patch and took me to about a half mile or less to go. THANK YOU KERRY!
I had a big fan club the final tenth and literally felt like rock star. My pace increased a tad more and I could finally see the clock and hear Pete screaming. Emotions flooded me as they always do. 2:56:48 baby!
I wanted to vomit just a little and the volunteer walked with me until that passed. But other than that, I felt great! Post race included probably the best short massage I have ever had, seriously, getting some fluids (yay for NUUN (I had Pete bring me a bottle), and talking to about 30 of my friends who pretty much all PR’d. As I was waiting for my gear bag, lo and behold, my running buddy showed up and we exchanged names and chatted for a bit. He knew my name because it was being yelled every few miles of the course 🙂
What a great day, what a great community, what a great sport!
So sure I wish I had pushed just a little harder and held on to my pace, but now I know exactly what to work on for the next cycle.
After a little downtime and recovery, it will be back to work, work, work and doing all the little things and hopefully another small breakthrough! But mostly enjoying every step I take!
THANK YOU to all who make this possible!!!