It was windy, rainy, cold and miserable. I started off with a disposable rain poncho, but could not stay warm at the beginning of the race. I got rid of the poncho about mile 4. It rained harder and harder as the race went on and finally snowed. Luckily I was already showered, dry and back at the hotel by the time it started snowing.
I have to say that I had expected more from myself, and really thought I could do it. I was at about 1:45 at the halfway mark, I was doing great (I thought). I was still able to make it under 4 hours (3:57), and it was a struggle to get there. I could have easily quit at any point along the course I was doing that poorly. My desire had been crushed when I started walking at mile 17. The last 6 miles were hell. There was another runner and myself that kept giving words of encouragement as we struggled. "Under 4 hours" we kept saying to each other. All I can say about my performance is that I DID IT! I didn't qualify, but I finished a marathon in under 4 hours that 4 months prior I could NOT have done.
I think things went well with hydration and GU. I think for the time I was shooting for I still was a little fast out of the gate for the first half, and that was my downfall. The 3:20 Pace Group started off slow for the first mile, but then took off faster than the pace I wanted to go..... ...so note to myself on Pace Groups: They are going to go the speed from start to finish to complete the marathon in that given time. I was not prepared to go quite that fast. Which leads me to set realistic expectations for myself on future races and marathons.
I know in my heart I had set unrealistic expectations for myself. ...but it's what made me do what I did! Looking back at my training and talking with seasoned marathoners, I should have been shooting for MAYBE a 3:45 at most! I'll chalk this one up to experience. I would have enjoyed the marathon more if I had set realistic expectations... It's tough to set those when you don't know what to expect! I think if my coach Nate Jenkins hadn't blew me off I could have set more realistic goals towards the end. Now I have a Personal Record (PR) to beat! I can't wait to work on that as I set up my next training cycle.
This is really where I fell short... Having a 'coach' for a short amount of time kind of messed me up here to. I should have just stuck to my plan or got a coach from the start. My distance training was right on. I felt great on my long slow days. It was my favorite day of the week! I fell short on my speed training. Through the winter I'll continue my once a week LSD, and will start incorporating more speed work. It will be my main focus when I start my next marathon training cycle. I'll also work on dropping a few additional pounds and a stronger core.
I could not have done this with out the support of my friends and family. Becky and the girls were great and were very supportive throughout the whole experience. She understands that I've been bitten by the running bug and supports me in my efforts. Thank you sweet heart. I'm now starting a running streak at least through the middle of January. This is more due to the fact that I don't have a specific training plan or marathon in mind. It could be very easy to go through another winter saying "I'll get around to it". This way running will be part of my center until I come up with a full plan. If my miss my morning run, and don't do it during the day, Irun before I go to bed - No questions asked.
The Colonial Road Runners (CRR) have training days that I will probably participate in for next years race. They are a great group of people and I can't wait to do more runs and races with them! My goal next year is to be in the top 3 for the Grand Prix race schedule for 2010. More details on that later!