Monday, February 27, 2017

Phoenix Marathon 2017 Race Recap

Although I've run 4 marathons, this was the first time I was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  I knew I would have to beat my previous PR of 3:54 by over 14 minutes.  Right away I decided to use Hansons Marathon Method for my training.  I had read about it a few years ago and fell in love with it, but I wasn't quite ready to try the high mileage weeks it demanded with my young family.  Now that my kids were older, this was the perfect time to try it.

Even though the 18 week training plan officially started on October 26th, I really started building a good base in August.  I wanted to get my body used to running 6 days a week.

I was laser focused and disciplined all through training.  I literally followed the training plan to a tee, including both distance and pace.  I only missed 3 runs (all easy recovery runs) due to strep throat in January.

The week before the marathon was rough.  I was so excited, but also nervous and began to let doubts creep in.  I could hardly run even a few miles cause I felt so sluggish.  I kept giving myself pep talks and read every motivational thing I could.  I even listened to the audio book Elite Minds on my drive to Phoenix and got some good advice.

I met Moni, Larissa, and Christie at Olive Garden for our pre race dinner.  FYI my pesto is waaaay better than Olive Garden's.

After dinner I went straight to the hotel, made sure my race stuff was ready, and watched netflix.  Lights out around 9:30, but to be honest I don't think I slept much.  I woke up around 2:30 and couldn't fall back asleep so I finally got out of bed at 3:05 and drank some warm lemon water (my morning ritual).  Then I slowly got dressed, ate my banana nut loaf, and drank a water bottle full of nuun.  I finally left the hotel around 3:50, which I'm glad I did because the freeway on ramp was closed so I had to drive through main streets all the way to the race.

On the bus ride to the start line I ate half of my banana.  I got to the start area at Usery Mountain around 5:15 and went straight for the porta potties since there was no line.  Then I huddled around a fire pit with some random people and talked about running (what else?!) and finished my banana.  After one last stop at the porta potties, I dropped off my gear bag and headed to the start line.  Right away I found the 3:35 pacer and stood a little ways back from that pack.  I didn't want to run with a big group of people, but knew I needed to keep the pacer in my sight at all times.  I also did something I had never done before...I ate one of my gels right before the race started.  I was feeling hungry and it had been awhile since my breakfast so I figured, why not?

The first few miles are downhill so I wanted my pace to be effortless.  I started my audio book (Elite Minds) and just tried to think that this was no big deal, just another long run.  I stayed right behind the 3:35 pace group and didn't even check my mile splits.  After 1 mile I threw my long sleeve shirt off and dropped my gloves.  Things were starting to heat up!

Miles 5 and 6 are a pretty significant hill, more so than I remember from last time.  I definitely felt like I was working harder now, but I knew it wouldn't last long so I didn't let myself get psyched out.  Although the 3:35 pace group had gotten a ways ahead of me, I could still clearly see them.  Right on track.  I had my second gel at the top of this hill, around 45 minutes in.

Finally the course started going downhill again and I got back into my groove.  I was pretty close to the pace group at this point and just litening to my audiobook.  I wasn't checking my watch at all yet. I was focusing on taking in a gel every 30 minutes, so I took a third one around mile 10/11.

When I got to the half marathon start, I rewarded myself with music and another gel.  I also checked my watch and saw that I was at 1:47.  A little faster than I had thought I could do, but nothing to worry about.  I still felt really good at this point.

I don't remember much along the next few miles, except that I was happy.  I kept smiling and picturing myself crossing the finish line with a BQ.  At mile 16 I started the countdown for how many miles left.  I thought about all the training runs I had done around 10 miles and knew that I could do this.

I continued to take a gel every 30 minutes, and also got water at every aid station (every odd mile).  I think I took Gatorade a few times, but mostly stuck with water.

Miles 21, 22, and 23 were my hardest.  I could feel myself starting to slow down, and usually I would just give in at this point and let myself.  However, this time I kept talking to myself and refused to give in.  I saw a lady run past me who had good running form.  I told myself I was going to stay right with her, and I did.  I talked to her a little and we kept encouraging each other.  I used the beat from the music and the thought of crossing the finish line keep pushing me forward.  Surprisingly, I wasn't in any pain (besides the usual fatigue/discomfort from running 26 miles) and felt pretty good.

At mile 24 I started to pick up the pace because I knew I was going to meet my goal, possibly even better than I imagined.  I couldn't believe it, but in the last mile I passed so many people I had seen at the beginning of the race who I thought I could never catch up to.  When I turned the corner and started coming down the last stretch, I saw my sisters waving and jumping up and down.  I yelled to them, "I'm going to do it!" and got a little teary eyed.  I ran as fast as I could until the finish line and threw my arms into the air.  I was smiling and sobbing at the same time.  I did it.  I freaking did it.

3:34:59.  A 20 minute PR, and qualified for Boston!!!!!!!!

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