I think it's safe to say that anyone who knows me knows of my goal to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials. To do this, I need to run a sub-2:46 marathon, or 26.2miles at a 6:20 pace. Up until Sunday, 10/2, my PR was a 2:56, which is a 6:45 pace. Yes, I realize I really have my work cut out for me, but I also know that Cari is THE most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to running, so for her to believe that I can do it really means a lot.
After seeing the 10-day forecast for Chicago (53 low/73high), Cari and I decided that Milwaukee (42low/63high) would be the best way to go. Milwaukee does have a few "hills" compared to Chicago, but generally those work in my favor anyway so we figured I'd be okay. Plus, with a slight hamstring issue, waiting a week could slightly elevate the problem and with my go-to masseuse in Ireland, I decided that running a week early might be my best bet.
Going to the start line, I felt awesome. I felt calm, cool and collected and just ready to bust out this huge PR. Granted, I truly didn't believe I'd qualify unless EVERYTHING went right, but I knew I'd bust out a 2:48 at least. Or that's what I thought until mile 10...
Mile 1- 6:24. Amber Druien ran with the pacer and I made it my goal to stay behind them, but within striking distance, for the first 3-4 miles as I like to start off slower and gradually pick things up. That felt easy. Bring it on.
Mile 2- 6:18. Oops. Little excited. Stay back, let the guys go ahead of you. You'll pick them off.
Mile 3- 6:32. Nice. Way to make up the average and keep the 6:25 pace going.
Mile 4- 6:18. Slight downhill, regroup and focus on staying around 6:19-6:21.
Mile 5-6:15. Holy cow. What is going on. Yeah this feels easy, but let's not get carried away. Took a gel here as well.
Mile 6- 6:28. A few rollers, but back on pace. Nice focus. I CAN do this.
Mile 7- 6:17. A total of 5 seconds off 6:20 pace, this is going well!
Mile 8- 6:20. PERFECT. Sweet.
Mile 9- 6:21. Dang. I should be a pacer.
Mile 10- 6:36. Holy hip lock up. I've never experienced this before. I called out to Mom and Nic, "My hips are locked, what do I do?!" Yeah, probably not the best idea (what were they really going to say in response?!), but I had no idea what was going on. Time for a gel.
Mile 11- 6:38. Your best time so far was run on negative splits--you CAN still do this. Hips are feeling a little better, right hamstring is KILLING, but you knew it had the possibility of limiting you in this race from the beginning.
Mile 12- 6:34. See, getting closer. 2:47 is the predicted finish time based on the split-caller-outer, so a 2:48 is still attainable.
Mile 13- 6:40. There were a few rollers in there. Compose yourself and focus on getting through these next 10 miles. Mile 23 is a huge downhill and can account for a drop of at least 30 seconds.
13.1-- 1:24:18. Again, Miss Negative Split, you CAN still run a 2:48. Stop focusing on the stupid hammy and start working!
Mile 14- 6:36. See?! Still doable. One more mile til you get to take a gel.
Mile 15- 6:44. This right hamstring seriously needs to just fall off. I don't need it. All it's doing is hurting me. Gel time. Ryan's here. Should I drop out? I'm too far off pace and am on pace for a 2:49 now. What do I do?!?!
Mile 16- 6:59. I seriously want to die. When did running a marathon become this hard? I only have single digits left (okay, 10.2 for all you technical people, but in my mind single digit mileage remaining is a lot easier to mentally handle). If I drop out now, I can maybe be okay in time for Monumental Marathon on November 5th. Ugh. What do I do?!
Mile 17- 6:50. Ryan, Dad, Mom and Nic all came here to watch me FINISH a marathon. I need to just suck it up and finish. If I maintain 6:50s, I'll still break 2:55 which is what is needed to gain free entry into most marathons as a female. Just stick it out.
Mile 18- 6:50. See, you can run 6:50s. Just stay focused. [Two guys passed me at this point saying that third place is 45-60 seconds back...ugh]
Mile 19- 6:46. And a downhill in 4 miles. Get through this. Almost left with a single 10k. Stop wimping out.
Mile 20- 6:49. Gel time. Thank God.
Mile 21- 6:45. Blazin'. 5miles to go. On pace for 2:53, I'll take that.
Mile 22- 7:09. Okay I seriously want to drop out now. For the past 12 miles, I haven't been able to get a full stride in and just feel like I'm shuffling (and yes, when I thought this, the LMFAO song came in my head). I literally wanted to call out to Ryan to help me...but somehow realized that there was no way he could help me.
Mile 23- 7:01. Some downhill that was. [looking back, it was a pretty nice downhill, but I just couldn't respond how I had wanted to] Time for another gel. Maybe that will get these legs up and running again.
Mile 24- 6:53. Maybe that was the effect of the 23rd mile downhill. All I have to do is run sub-7:10s for the last two miles and I'll be under 2:55. I honestly don't know if I can do this though.
Mile 25- 7:10. Okay, just one more of these. STOP WIMPING OUT.
Mile 26- 6:58. Woo hoo, finish is near!
.2- 1:20. THANK GOD. HOLY CRAP. I need medical attention. I'm numb in my hands and feet.
2:54:45. 2nd place female finisher. 2minute 12 second PR. Huge hug from the race director:)
I FINISHED! I hadn't finished a marathon since the 2010 Boston Marathon, so I didn't realize what a huge accomplishment this really was for me until I reflected on it today, the day after the race. Honestly, if my family and Ryan weren't there cheering for me, I would have dropped out. I don't like quitting things, but the amount of pain I was feeling in my hamstrings was unlike anything I've ever experienced, even running on stress fractures.
While I could reflect and ask myself why I went to Spain for 8 days acting like a tourist and walking around averaging 5+ miles a day 4 days before the marathon, or why I decided to run despite a slightly sore hamstring, I have just decided to leave it at the simple fact that everything happens for a reason. Milwaukee just wasn't the day for me. It doesn't mean I won't qualify, because I truly believe that I will. It just means that I need a little bit more time to train and really focus on my marathon.
I won't keep this one a secret: I'm signed up and ready to run a 2:45 at the California International Marathon on Saturday, December 5th. I already know a ton of fast females signed up, so I can't wait to get in on a sweaty "we qualified for the Trials" group hug!