I was seeded in the open corral because I hadn't run a qualifying marathon in 4 years. This was a bit chaotic because most of the 21,000+ runners are seeded in this corral. Faster runners should be in the front and slower runners in the back. As any experienced racer can tell you, this doesn't work. Because of the crowds and the self-placement mess, I was hoping the crowd would help me pace myself. I'm usually "RACE!!!" right from the start.
One week earlier, I ran a 5K race using Lauren Fleshman's How to Run the Perfect 5K advice. Not only did I PR, I felt awesome and not tortured like I usually do for 5Ks. My plan was to do something similar for the marathon, but longer. I would run the first 8-10 miles at a comfortable pace, a pace that felt like something I could maintain. The next 8-10 miles I was going to focus on form: my stride, posture, etc. The final 6 miles; Go for it--with a kick at the last mile. Not only would I finish in sub 4:00, I would finish close to my BQ time of 3:45. Ha ha ha ha! ROTFL.
Mistakes I made:
- Weather--I thought I was stronger than the weather or that I do okay in heat. Maybe I do, but I didn't on that Sunday. Even though I felt like I was running at a comfortable pace at the start of the marathon, I
probablyknow I should have deliberately run much slower.
- Taper--I tapered like I do for half-marathons. It works for halfs, maybe not for fulls. If I'm running a marathon, I need to taper marathon-style.
- Training--I've been following a training plan to run a half-marathon in sub 1:45. That's been my primary focus. Of course I also completed my long marathon training runs, but all my speed & track work outs were geared to the half-marathon. I don't know if this made a difference or not. The next time I'm running a marathon, I'm specifically training for a marathon.
- Sleep--I did not sleep at all the night before. Not a toss & turn all night kinda sleep. It was I'm-so-amped-up-I-finished-my-two-books no sleep. We stayed in Downtown LA--at the Millennium Biltmore--and it was noisy. Plus my brother (who I was rooming with) snores. The combo of heat + no sleep did me in.
- Nutrition--My nutrition was spot-on. I can tell at the start of a race or a run if my nutrition is off. If I didn't eat enough the day before or if I timed my pre-race meal too late/early. My go-to meal for long runs or races is a whole-wheat bagel (only ones from Stater Bros) with nut butter (peanut, almond or cashew) & a banana (sometimes an apple). When I'm racing, it's always a banana. Also, sometime in the middle of the night (see no sleep, above) I ate a Picky Bar & an apple. I planned on consuming 4 gels during the race. I used five.
- Perseverance/determination--I'm very goal-oriented and perseverance is one of my strengths. I was tested. This race tested me. It tested my determination as I've never been tested. I had to dig deep. I cried. I struggled. I finished.
- Spectators/Support--The spectators were awesome. The signs, the snacks (hot dogs at Mile 4!), the hoses & water. Especially poignant was the support from fellow members of the Oiselle Flock--Laura at Mile 18 (& photag of the picture above) and Kimberly at Mile 23.
- The Last Mile--Oh, man. I kicked it for the last mile. My music ran out on my playlist(!)(I made the playlist longer than I thought it would take me to finish) and I saw that if I pushed it, I could make it to the finish faster than my previous PR. I ran hard. It was a 9:30+ min/mile pace, but I kicked and it worked and I ran across the finish line.
As I was finishing the race, my thoughts went like this--Why the hell am I doing this? People aren't meant to run marathons. I'm never running a marathon again. Half-marathons are my go-to distance. Why don't I just stick to halfs? Never again. This sucks, etc.
By the time I was on the shuttle from the finish line back to the hotel, I was already planning my next marathon and starting to incorporate lessons learned from this marathon. My plan is to train for and run the California International Marathon in Sacramento, CA on December 6th of this year. I will run a stronger and more strategic race. See you at the finish line!