Timeline for the day
4 a.m.-I wake up(thankfully) and kind of lounge around. Races make me paranoid and I never get much sleep. My high school reunion had been the night before and some of my classmates were wondering why I had not been in bed. I knew my body and knew I would not be in bed before midnight regardless of what time I got to bed.
4:30 a.m.- I figured it would be ok to eat a Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. I also had a 12 oz. glass of water. It would not be fun if I had to end up in the bathroom for either reason, so I ate and drank lightly.
4:45 a.m.-Took a trip to the bathroom and showered. A shower always wakes me up a little, so I do it before every race.
5:20 ish a.m.-Finally headed out to join the masses. It is time to get pumped up!
6:30 a.m.- I finally arrived at Roosevelt College for the Chicago Endurance Sports (CES) Race Resort. It kind of felt a little overwhelming, so I made sure to use the bathroom and calm myself down a little. I got my warm-up in, chatted a little and checked my bags. Despite me saying it felt a little overwhelming, I highly recommend CES and the Race Resort. It felt awesome to not have to worry about using gear check at the marathon.
7 a.m.- I finally left the race resort to head to corral D. In retrospect, this should have happened probably 15 minutes earlier, but I wanted to be on my own scheduled and not feel pressured. Either way, I got to my corral around 7:15 after waiting in a couple of long lines. It seems like they heightened security a little this year and that is fine with me. During the week, I had thoughts about sneaking into corral B because that corral fit my goal time. I ended up in corral D because at the time, who knew how well training would go and my predicted finish time matched that corral. I made the executive decision to stay in D because with the strict corral checks, it probably would not have happened anyways.
7:20-I ran into a co-worker and we chatted about our goals. Being this far back worried me a little. I had questions like, Would I reach my goal? Should I try and catch the pace group in corral B? What if I get out too fast and kill chances of hitting my goal? Eventually, all those questions did not matter and I just had to do my best.
7:38-This is slightly earlier than I anticipated;here we go! We are not even a mile into it and I am thinking, "I am running to slow." Trust the plan, I told myself. 18 weeks of training should not go to waste because you did not race smart.
Somewhere between the start and 5k mark (8:02 a.m.)-The weaving in and around people drove me crazy. I hit the 5k mark with a time of 23:37 and trying to do the math in my head, I thought I had been around two minutes behind my goal pace. My split sheet says I had a pace of 7:36 at the time.
8:25 a.m.-This, the 10k mark, is where I finally started to settle in a little bit and gain some space around me. Things felt smooth and the first GU Roctane just got eaten. My pace also picked up a little (to 7:30) between the 5K and 10k marks. It had not been enough to scare me, so I tried to to stay there for the next few miles.
9:16 a.m.(13.1)-My second GU Roctane of the day just got eaten and I felt a little too good and my pace spiked up big time (7:29 to 7:07)!;oops. Time to slow it down and make sure my legs are good for the rest of this second half. I hit the halfway point at 1:37:59;perfect! The remainder of the race got spent trying to do math in my head.
Sometime after 25K-This is where things started to look like I could hit my goal. Now, I just had to mentally tell myself to race smart. I knew if I could make it to 18 and get my third GU in, I would start to feel even better about hitting my goal. Things were going well and that made me very happy.
20 mile mark- The cramps always came shortly after this mile marker and that definitely made me nervous. I told myself, "Get to mile marker 23, take your GU, and things will be just fine." I just had to take things one mile at a time and not get too anxious or down. They always say running is largely mental and I made sure to make sure that my brain stuck with me.
10:44 a.m.-10:53 a.m.(35K or 24.854 miles)-My final kick begin at 24 and gave it all I had on this stretch of 2.2 miles. I slowly started to gain speed and geared up to hit Roosevelt "hill". I put my head down and did not look up until got over it and turned on to the stretch run. It felt so good to see that finish line. At this point, my goal had been reached, but I had a chance to get it under 3:15 and I tried to pick it up a little;did not quite get there. It did not matter, because I felt great! My final time ended up being 3:15:12!
Looking back at this, it made realize that my hydrating plan is not mentioned. Going into things, I knew I would have a GU at miles 6, 12, 18 and one other time after that. The Hansons Marathon method plan emphasizes getting electrolytes and sugar in you when you are not taking GU and I did just that. While at each station (where I did not take a GU), I made sure to get one or two gatorade cups based on how filled they were. I had the same strategy when I took water and it seemed to work out really well.
What is next?
I do not really know! The Hansons maraton method program gave me a lot of confidence during this training cycle and I will definitely use it again while training for whatever race is next. Qualifying for Boston may be next on the list, but I need to build a base and do a little strength training first.
Hard work does pay off. If you want something, go out and get it. When I signed up for this in April, I did not know a 3:15 marathon would be possible, but I got there. It is possible to make time for a social life and training;a commitment just needs to made to both. Thanks for reading!