This past weekend I completed my 12th marathon – and set a 3:11 min PR with a time of 3:12:04. I have an entire post that I will share when I get a chance to edit it – it highlights the last few months of training that got me to Wineglass in the best shape of my life. I wrote it during taper as a way for me to look back on training as Coach and I were going over race plans and time goals. But, I decided to hold off on sharing it until post-marathon.
I am thrilled with another PR – my 2nd big PR in as many attempts this year. Six months ago, my PR was 3:21:32. It is now 3:12:04. I have taken more than 9 minutes off in just over 5 months after years of fighting to break 3:21…and I am now knocking on the sub-3:10 door.
There is a small part of me that is a bit disappointed that I didn’t walk away with a faster finish time. I had a pretty amazing training cycle this summer – the best training cycle of my life – and the numbers definitely pointed to a sub-3:10.
However, looking at the big picture, the training and work were done – and now I can continue to build upon it. I have this amazing sense of momentum, confidence and excitement – things that I didn’t have for a long time. And, my mental and physical strength are continuing to grow with each training cycle. So although I missed my goal time on Sunday and didn’t have a textbook perfect race, it was a successful race. And it makes me pretty giddy to continue chipping away at my time.
Similar to Boston, my coach and I came up with pace goals that were to be used as a ballpark of how to run. The most important thing was effort, not pace, and so I changed the view on my Garmin so I could only see total time – but was able to still see my mile splits. Blissful ignorance during the mile with the ability to see how I was doing every 7 or so minutes.
I shared my nutrition plan in my Boston recap and actually went back last week and printed it out – I felt so great during Boston that I wanted to replicate what I did. So it’s pretty close to my nutrition plan for the Boston Marathon.
- Breakfast: egg omelette
- Lunch: BBQ chicken with roasted sweet potatoes (leftover from night before)
- Dinner: Whole wheat pasta with coconut oil
- Breakfast: egg omelette
- Lunch: bagel, banana (on the road), cliff bar
- Dinner: Pasta with vegetables and grilled chicken
- Breakfast: eggs with potatoes
- Lunch: grilled chicken with mashed potatoes
- Dinner: spaghetti with grilled chicken and few pieces of bread
- Snacked on bagel throughout day
- Powerade Zero in afternoon/evening (I never drink sports drinks b/c I find them too sugary but I drink one the day before a marathon – the extra sugar and electrolytes seem to help!)
- Race Morning
- Plain bagel – 3 hours before
- 2 packets of Gen Ucan in 1 shaker bottle of water – 45-90 min before
- 3x chomps – 10 minutes before
- Gels at miles 6, 12, 17, 22
- Alternated water + gatorade from mile 2-22
Race Day Weather
It was nearly perfect – sunny and low 40s at the start and upper 50s by the time I finished. Cool, crisp air – ideal marathon weather. The only negative aspect of the weather was the wind. It wasn’t incredibly windy or gusty – but it was a SE wind and we were running in a SE direction for about 95% of the race – which meant a direct headwind. The forecast was calling for winds under 10 mph but based on how it felt to me and from other runners who raced, I think it was maybe a bit higher.
Wineglass is a point to point marathon with easy-to-access shuttles to take you from the finish area in Corning to the start line in Bath. We stayed at the Radisson (definitely recommend this hotel – after the race, it was an easy 5 min walk to our room!) and the shuttle pickup was right outside the rear of the hotel. The shuttles ran continuously from 5:30-7am for the 8:15am marathon start. I met up with Fernanda – a first time marathoner who I had been in contact with in the weeks leading up to the race and one of her friends, another first time marathoner – and we took the ~30 min shuttle ride together. It was so nice to have some company to help pass the time and keep the nerves at bay. (Fernanda rocked the race BTW!)
After the drop-off, we spent a bit of time in a warehouse to stay warm and stay off our feet before making our way to the port-o-potties and start line. No lines at all at the bathrooms with 45 min to go until start time – kind of amazingl!
While I was stretching, I ran into Amanda, who was also racing Sunday. It was fun to catch up in person – I haven’t seen her since last spring!
The start area was a breeze. About 15-20 minutes before the race start, the announcer called the runners to the start area and asked that we line up according to the pace group leaders (already in place behind the start line). I put myself in between the 3:05 and 3:15 groups and got ready to race.
I started off behind the 3:15 group (7:27 pace) and gradually passed them by the 1st mile mark. Mile 1: 7:16
Sometime during that next mile, I felt the wind for the first time. I’m not trying to over-dramatize the wind. It wasn’t 20mph or gusting like I felt at NYC last year, but it was enough where you felt it – and wanted to find big guys to hide behind. The forecast had called for ~8-10 mph winds but I think it was a touch stronger along the course. It was around this time that a pretty big group passed me. They were running a bit faster than I wanted at this point in the race, so I let them go. But I couldn’t help feel that it was one of those instances where you ditch the race plan and adjust based on conditions. I’m not a proponent of banking time, but I knew running faster and with the group would save me more energy than running slower and solo into the wind. I also knew that it could result in some really tough later miles (which it did). But sometimes you have to take a chance. So I caught back up and tucked myself into a group of almost 15 runners and stayed with them until mile 16. Mile 2: 7:08
The first 16 miles went by fast. I didn’t worry about pace – just focused on staying behind the guys in front of me. There were two guys (one of whom I have now connected with via twitter) pacing a friend for a BQ (sub-3:10) and they were running consistent miles within the range I was aiming for (albeit at the very, very far end of a perfect day of running for me). There were a few periods where I had low points or felt like I was working just a touch more than I wanted at that point, but I wanted to stay with the group as long as I could.
When I did allow myself to look up, I found myself surrounded by mountains, trees with a mix of green, red and orange leaves, farms and open fields. We ran through some local neighborhoods but most of the first 18-19 miles were nothing but serene, peaceful views of the great outdoors in upstate NY. There were a few more hills than I was expecting – especially one long, gradual hill (that lasted for a mile) around mile 6/7. But, I welcomed the hill – it gave me something to focus on and push towards while also changing up the muscles I was using.
Sometime around mile 14/15, my garmin stopped beeping at the mile markers, so for the next 8-9 miles (I started getting splits again at mile 23), I didn’t have a good idea of how fast or slow I was running (I usually can do math while I am racing but my mind was not working on Sunday).
Miles 3-16: 7:17, 7:10, 7:13, 7:18, 7:02, 7:14, 7:03, 7:04, 7:13, 7:06, 7:08, 7:04, 7:09, 7:03
Just before mile 16, I felt like I was working too hard to stay with the pack and didn’t want to go all out just to stay with them, so I decided to pull back. Not going to lie, watching them pull away was a huge kick in the pants. Because my garmin wasn’t giving me mile splits, I had no idea how fast or slow they or I were running – all I knew was that the group kept going and I was left behind with the wind. My mind started a downward spiral. These are the thoughts that entered my mind:
You hit the wall.
You started too fast.
You are slowing down so much already and still have 10 miles left.
If you quit, you can recover and go for it at the NYC Marathon.
But, I remembered some of the mantras that got me through Boston and started repeating them to myself. These are my favorite:
You cannot control the weather. You cannot control the course. But you CAN control how you talk to yourself for the next few hours. Be your best friend. –Judith
You also know what it feels like to hurt and you EXPECT that. Say hello to the pain and keep going. Smile at it and move along – Judith
You can give up or you can give more – Meg
And I also remembered a section from Mind Gym, the mental training book I had before Boston (and parts before Wineglass):
The mind can concentrate on only one thing at a time. Rather than suppress what you don’t want to happen, you must focus on what you do want to happen.
It worked. I didn’t quit or walk or give up because I was slowing down – I kept pushing. It sounds so cliché but I focused on one step at a time, telling myself that running 8 min/miles would still get me a PR. I could run 7, 6, 5 miles at that pace, right? Miles 17-20: 7:07, 7:19, 7:19, 7:27
Miles 21-23 were nothing more than willing myself to the next tree, turn, water point – whatever was up ahead. Everything was hurting and I couldn’t will myself to move any faster. Miles 21-23: 7:39, 7:33, 7:45
And then, my saving grace appeared. Laura had seen me around mile 16-17 – the route is right next to a main highway and she saw that I had fallen off the pack – so she drove to the finish, ran back onto the course to find me and run me home. She was this bubbly, bright star that lit the dark pain tunnel I had entered. She offered support, comfort and the push I needed at that point to not let up and to run the hardest I could. Mile 24 hurt. Mile 25 was even worse. But I picked up the pace. We made the left turn onto Market Street and I knew I was going to PR. I also saw how close I was to breaking 3:12 so I ran with every ounce of energy I had left and finished those last .36 miles at a 6:23 pace. Miles 24-26.2: 8:02, 7:23, 7:44, 6:23 (.36)
Finish Time: 3:12:04
Pace: 7:20 (7:18 on Garmin)
11th female (out of 828)
Some of the lessons learned/takeaways:
- I’ve nailed down fueling – during training, taper and the race. I printed out my nutrition plan for race week from Boston and tried to mimic it the best I could. No stomach cramping with enough energy to keep me going to the finish
- I prefer large races. I feed off the crowds and find it helps distract and push me in the later miles. Of course there are pros and cons to big and small races, but for me, the pros of a large race outweigh the cons. I’ll take the hours of waiting at the start of a big race like NYC or Boston in exchange for the thousands of spectators screaming my name!
- I prefer races with hills. This is not the first time I’ve reached this conclusion. I’ve learned that my fastest and strongest tempos and long runs are on rolling hills. My mind and body like the change that rolling hills provide. There’s something comforting in knowing that I need to push up the hill and then I get a little break on the downhill. It also helps break up the race – coach and I broke Boston into 4 parts. There was just 26.2 miles on Sunday which was harder for me mentally.
- Miles 6-17 (12 miles) were at a 7:06 pace. I think given the conditions and how I felt, it was a touch too fast and ended up slowing me down and making the last few miles painful.
- I’m ready for a big half marathon PR (given that 12 miles were just 6 seconds slower than my half PR pace!)
Wineglass is one of the best organized races I’ve run. The marathon had less than 2,000 runners but the support before, during and after was in line with what you expect and see at the larger races. Here are some of the highlights
- Great gear – both at the expo and the finish line. I loved that they were at the end of the finish chute – I didn’t want to get a wine glass or coffee mug with “Wineglass” on it unless it was a good race – nothing like starting your morning off with a cup of coffee in a mug from a crappy race! =)
- Beautiful medal
- Race swag included long sleeve tech shirt, wine glass and small bottle of wine
- Well marked course with volunteers or police officers at intersections
- 17 water points along course with plenty of volunteers to hand out cups – water and Gatorade at each
- Gus at 3 points along course (8, 13, 21)
- Lots of email and communication in weeks leading up to race with all info you need (also responded quickly to questions on social media)
I also just wanted to publicly thank my support team who allow me to train and race the way my heart desires. My husband was my support, photographer and cheerleader all weekend – and really, every day. My dad watched the boys all afternoon on Friday (they went bowling, had lunch and dessert and watched a movie!), my mom watched the boys Friday night and all day Saturday (baths, hours of playtime, meals, baked brownies!) and my sister Danielle (who is almost 6 months pregnant with her first) and her husband Todd watched the boys Saturday evening and most of Sunday (baths, video games and a full bed since the boys wanted to sleep in her bed!). And my youngest sister, Nicole and her husband babysat Willow for us! Lots of moving pieces but it was a seamless weekend.
After the marathon, my husband and I drove the 4.5 hours back to the island and met up with my ENTIRE family at my oldest sister’s (who was celebrating her birthday)! It was the perfect way to end a great weekend!
And thank you for the comments and messages pre and post Wineglass – it really means so much to me! Hope you have a great weekend!