On Sunday, I ran the Maine Coast Marathon! Woot Woot! It was my 11th marathon…and yes, after running 10 prior and thinking I knew what I was doing, I completely f*@!ed it up! Well, maybe not completely….but I did make some mistakes, faced circumstances out of my control, somehow finished the race, learned A LOT and also found new inspiration 🙂
Bottom line: I took the marathon distance for granted. I didn’t respect it the way I once had. I was too confident thinking my experience and mental toughness were enough. I did not respect the physical aspect…the running and the nutrition.
Training: All of my mistakes were things I know better than to do. I’m a coach and would never have coached my runners to train the way I did this time. I came off a year of lower than usual mileage. I had not run a marathon in over a year. I did not have the base I’m used to having when I start marathon training. Yet, I started training as if I had a higher and more solid base. I increased my mileage too quickly which led to me having to drop a 10-mile race due to IT Band issues. Once I backed off and got my IT Band under control, I was able to get the needed miles in without any problems (other than terrible weather).
With my mileage and training back on track, I encountered higher than usual fatigue. I didn’t look forward to running. I had no motivation and wanted to nap a lot. I originally thought I was in a depression, which I probably was to an extent. But, within a couple weeks, I realized I was over-training on top of not getting enough iron. I had not been giving myself enough rest. I was only running 3 days/week, but I was also swimming, spinning and strength training an additional 3. Some of those cross-training days had double workouts. My fitness level could not handle the sudden increase in everything with only one day of rest. I also did not adjust my diet at all. Something I know from the past is that I need to increase carbs and iron when training for marathons and oops…I forgot this time around (or should I say….I took the marathon for granted). I eventually got on track by giving myself more rest, backing off the cross-training and getting back to eating burgers 🙂
Race Day: I had no plan. Well….”I have done plenty of these before, it’s like old hat” is what I subconsciously told myself. My plan was to run “eeeh…9:20-9:30 pace…maybe finish around 4:05-4:10”. I did know enough to say this race would not bring any PRs. And the 9:20-9:30 pace was very realistic. In fact, those were the paces I trained my longs runs at, so they were “easy’ goals. But…even with that…I didn’t respect it.
The weather was brutal that day. A Nor’easter bringing heavy wind, rain and temps in the 40s made the race extremely challenging. I knew it was going to suck, but one thing I did have going for me was mental toughness. I knew I would not give up.
The gun went off and I went out way too fast. Again, something I absolutely know better than to do. My best marathons have always been the ones I run at an even pace. I have never done well with negative splits and I don’t know anyone who does well with “banking” time…it doesn’t work. I did eventually settle into about a 9:15 pace…still a little too fast, but not completely out of line.
Then just before the 12 mile mark, we were directed to run down a dead end road and back. I could see the 12 mile marker across the dead end road entrance and looked at my watch. I thought, this dead end must be pretty short based on my time (I don’t race with my GPS watch), but it wasn’t. By the time I got to the 12 mile marker, my time for that mile was about 14 minutes! “What!? No way! I did not just run a 14 minute mile….did I? I did go out too fast…so….maybe I did!!?? I’ll never be able to make up that time. There is no way I’ll finish under 4:10″…so, I readjusted my goal to simply finish the race. I let go of a pace. Little did I know, that was a course error and I had been right on pace up until that point. Ugh! Those of us who were led off course (about 2/3 of the runners) ended up running 26.7 instead of 26.2! Yikes…that’s a big course error!
The weather was TOUGH! I was frozen, soaked through every layer of clothing. My hands and feet were numb. The wind was head on with gusts up to 40mph. The wind and rain were the heaviest during the last 4 miles. This is where the marathon is 100% mental…and that is what got me through. I finished! I did not give up. I also did not meet my goal time. Who knows if I would have if that course error had not occurred. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. That was not what this race ended up being about.
Sole Sisters: I have an amazing group of sole sisters 🙂 They were out there on that course enduring the conditions, changing my gloves for me, replenishing my energy gels, giving me swigs of warm water and lifting my spirits. They also helped me through my long runs in the freezing temps, snow and rain. Our breakfasts together after were always heart-warming and uplifting 🙂 I am so grateful for such wonderful, supportive, positive, like-minded women in my life 🙂
New Friend: I love how the Universe works. On the shuttle ride to the start line, I randomly sat down next to a woman. We got chatting about races. It turns out, we are both 42, this was marathon #11 for both us and we both ran the San Diego Rock n’ Roll Marathon in 2007 as our first marathon….what are the odds!? We had also run a couple other same marathons. I don’t think us sitting next to each other was random 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing where this new friendship leads 🙂
Find The Good: I was very humbled by this marathon. I have taken away so many insights and lessons. I am also feeling very inspired to do the next one with the respect a marathon deserves, with the respect I deserve for myself and my body and with a renewed inspiration and passion 🙂
The Universe, God…or whatever you call it….has a plan. Things always work out how they are supposed to. I have no doubt that I was supposed to go through this entire process the way I did. Without these types of events, growth does not happen. I had not grown with my running in years. It was time and I am so very grateful for all it 🙂
Next stop….NYC, Baby! Oh hell yeah!