Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Angry Gopher Marathon Recap

April 14, 2017

I was toeing the line at 7 am as a minority in my tank top, arm warmers and shorts.  Most people were wearing long sleeve shirts, pants, capris, jackets in some combination but a few others in shorts.  It was +8 with a cool, strong wind and a possibility of rain.  I know my run performance is hindered by my overdressing so I chose to try and dress appropriately for when I was warmed up running.  Yes that meant I would be rather cold for the first couple miles.

I was a bit concerned about the head cold I was getting and my leg had been acting up for a couple weeks, but I had mapped out a race plan for myself and was trying to think as proactively as possible.  I knew I could hold the paces I wanted.  It would come down to how things played out as the miles progressed.

I waved to my cheering husband as I crossed the start line and was off for the first out and back of 5 miles.  Not even a mile in I realized my hand held bottle of UCAN was still in his jacket pocket.  I was wearing his coat to stay warm until the start and forgot to take it with me.  Obviously, this was gong to mess up my (very professional) race plan but I figured out plan B and went with it.  I didn't need fuel until mile 6 anyway.  

My professional race plan showing directions to race start, morning breakfast, time schedule, nutrition plan and pace plan.  

Relax, stand straight, run, check my pace.  Over and over.  It is hard to get into your groove in the beginning because everyone wants to really giver.  Full and half marathoners started at the same time so a lot of different paces represented in the couple hundred participants.  

Just over 140 half runners, just over 40 full runners.

The Course:
The course started on the north side of Wascana park.  The first out and back was 5 miles in length and returned to the starting point to continue on to the second 8 mile out and back. Repeat. 


The Game Plan:
My goal was to keep my pace at 9 min miles for miles 1-3.  I was under my goal pace at each mile but not by a lot so I was happy with that.  The turn around for first out and back was 2.5 miles in.  There was an aid station w water and Gatorade.  I didn't stop. This out and back was toward and around the university of Regina.  Quiet streets, quite a few turns to keep things interesting.

From mile 3-18 I planned to pace at 8:45-8:50 min miles.  This was closer to what I seemed to be running anyway so I just kept it up.  Surprisingly as I turned the corner to run past the start/finish to start the second out and back, I saw Terry.  He ran with me a bit asking how things felt.  I told him I needed the bottle in his pocket and was glad he stuck around.  He brought his bike and was planning to ride around a bit and plan to meet me back at the start/finish when I started the last out and back at mile 18.

I was fueled up ready to tackle the next out and back of 8 miles.  There was a ton of corners in this part, some without volunteers so I tried hard to remember where I was going as I knew this loop included all the half runners so there would always be someone to follow but next loop would be very quiet.

I was feeling good at the turn around, 4 miles into this out and back.  It had been lightly raining since quite soon after starting and though I wasn't cold (though I was asked that numerous times) I was decently damp.  Thank goodness for the blister protect on the feet and body glide on the body.  
Terry then appeared on his bike, offered his encouragement and Nuun water or UCAN.  I finished my hand held bottle of UCAN and gave it to him to carry. 

 I carried on alone on the second lap of first 5 mile out and back with plans still to meet up for the last 8.  I continued to feel pretty good, held pace consistently and generally have no troubles.

And the wheels fell off:
I know any endurance activity will have ups and downs. It is to be expected to be riding waves one moment and sometimes in the next to be dragged down by the undertow.  And so it happened just like that.  Mile 16 was great, 17 was tough.  Just all of a sudden it felt like I couldn't breath, my chest was in a vise being squeezed.  I met up with Terry a mile later and was still really struggling to breath.  We kept going, hoping the rough patch would pass.  Mile 20, I stopped briefly at the bushes thinking I was going to vomit and by mile 22, I was weaving and unsteady.  I downed 2 cups of Gatorade at the mile 22 aid station, still hoping I would snap out of this mean streak.  There was emotion tucked just beneath the surface once I realized I was not going to make my goal time but now a finish was the goal, and I continued to run.

The last 1/2 mile stretch before the finish was a welcomed sight but the disappointment so strong, I could taste it.
Line crossed 4:07.
  Lap 1 time 1:55
  Lap 2 time 2:12.
Goal time under 3:55.
18 great miles pace 8:40-9:00 min mile
8 tough miles pace 9:00-11:00 min mile

A medal placed around my neck and we headed in to grab a drink.  I drank 3 glasses of Gatorade and 2 water immediately then had 2 cups of chicken noodle soup.  We sat for about 10 min then headed to the vehicle as I was now getting cold and I certainly didn't want to get chilled.  I changed shirts in the car, put on the seat heater and covered with a blanket.

Back at the apartment, I slept off and on for the next hour before showering and going out with the kids.

So what went wrong?  I have had a few days to consider this and my conclusion is 2 things.

1.  My cold was worse than I thought.  I have suffered the past couple days with a very tight chest, constant running nose, congestion, sneezing and a horrible cough.  My hope it doesn't get worse.  Running 26 miles didn't  help but considering NOTHING got me out of the rough patch leads me to believe it was something I could not control.  I wasn't mental, it was physical.

2.  From the little I have peed throughout Friday- Sunday, it appears I was dehydrated.  I thought I was well-hydrated going into it but the evidence points shows otherwise.

My husband asked what would have happened if he wasn't there for the final 8 miles?  I think he thinks I fell apart a bit because he was there and maybe if he wasn't I would have done better.  

I don't know.  

 I know my mental tenacity can improve but I also know I was very confident I could accomplish this goal and though I don't usually count seconds and minutes in my endurance events, I had a plan and was very determined. I was expecting to dig deep and I knew how I was going to handle it.  I was expecting a sore leg, blister, etc. not this kind is head swimming, chest squeezing stuff.

So all in all, I am proud of myself.  This wasn't my race to meet my goal but I did my best and being a person of faith means I know when the time is right, it will happen.  It feels to me like the things that caused the bus to lose its wheels were kinda out of my control.  Everything is a learning experience.  I yearn for adventure and I had one that morning.  

For the final few miles my husband kept repeating that the day couldn't be any better for him; a great run in a beautiful city with nice people with his woman on Good Friday.

We don't always reach our goals in our first attempt and I will be considering if I have the time, venue and physical capability to try again.  My first thoughts are to try in September (got venue and it's a good time) but I will see how the next few months go with my other events.  

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