So I successfully completed marathon #2 for the year with a 56 MINUTE PR!! Two years ago a marathon would not have even been on my radar and this year I have done 2!! Get ready for a long post here! So much to say.
Friday (2 days before race day)
As I mentioned in my last post, Power Bar has discontinued their Gel Blasts in Cola. Well, turns out there is another cola fanatic out there - Roadbunner!! She so graciously offered to feed my addiction by bringing some extra gel blasts she had when she came up to the expo on Friday. I can't thank her enough!!
Saturday (day before race day)
Kevin and I went to the expo on Saturday morning first thing. I was a little disappointed as I came armed and ready to buy stuff but sadly, there wasn't much there that sparked my interest. I was really hoping the expo was going to be like the one at the San Diego RnR, but it was much smaller. Since I came with money to spend though I couldn't walk away empty handed. While at the expo in San Diego, Kevin and I came across the Power Balance booth (http://www.powerbalance.net). I don't know if any of you have ever experienced one of their demonstrations but they are crazy! There are a lot of different "tests" they do to demonstrate how they work but my favorite is one where you stand on one leg with your arms straight out in a "T." Then they push on your arm, while you try to keep your balance but eventually you will lose it and fall over. Then, they have you do the same exercise with the Power Balance band on your arm and miraculously you don't lose your balance no matter how hard they push. It is crazy!! Kevin and I have been talking about them since SD. We had them do them demonstration again and well, this time we each bought one.
From their website:
What is Power Balance?
"Power Balance is performance technology that uses holograms embedded with frequencies that react positively with your body’s natural energy field to improve balance, strength, and flexibility."
How does it work?
"Most everything has a frequency inherent to it. Some frequencies react positively with your body and others negatively. When the hologram comes in contact with your body’s energy field, it allows your body to interact with the natural, beneficial frequency stored within the hologram. This results in improved energy flow throughout your body which helps with your balance, strength and flexability."
Anyway, we will see how they work in the long run. Maybe that is how I got my huge PR (read on!) :)
Other Saturday activities included getting and decorating our Christmas tree. Kevin's family has a wonderful tradition of going to Santa Cruz to cut it down. The place they go is awesome - a cute "tailgating" area, lots of kids activities, etc. However, the past two years we have been really short on time and unable to join them so we just drove down to our corner lot to get the tree. I am sure we will rejoin the tradition when we have kids.
One of my best friends from law school came out to spectate the race so she stayed with us Saturday night and made us these great signs:
We also had our good friends over for the "carbo load." These were the friends that had us over the night before Clarksburg and my friend's husband was running the next day as well.
I didn't get to bed as early as I hoped but I wasn't really tired. It was so weird because all day it didn't really feel like I was running a marathon the next day. I guess it hadn't sunk in yet. I did manage to get all my stuff laid out and ready though before I went to sleep - 4:00 AM was going to come sooner than I knew I would be ready for.
Sunday - Race Day
My alarm went off at 3:45 AM which allowed me one hit of the snooze button. At 4:00 I rolled out of bed, grabbed my foam roller and stumbled downstairs to stretch. I choked down a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter (I am not a fan of eating in the am) and finished getting ready. I decided to run in my capris, my favorite "Livestrong" tank, arm warmers and North Face ear warmer. I also had some throw away sweats to leave at the start.
My friend dropped us off in Folsom and we met up with my friend's husband and two of his friends to catch the shuttle to the start. After a quick porto stop we headed to the start line. It was freezing!! Although, I didn't want to complain as I knew once I got going I would be okay. We lined up at our respective start times. Our friends friends were shooting for a sub 3 finish so they went up ahead. I wasn't sure quite where to go. My goal was a sub 5, but my secret goal was a 4:30. I decided to join the 4:45 group and see what happened. About two minutes before the gun went off I took off my sweats and put them in the donation bin. Kevin also found a new, wrapped and sealed package of disposable hand warmers on the ground so we picked those up and each took one. To be honest though I wasn't really cold anymore at that point. I think the nerves finally got up to me and warmed me up. I wish I had video of this, but when the gun went off everyone started throwing their sweats to the side. It was like a sea of clothes flying through the air. Within 4 minutes we were across the start mat - 26.2 miles here we come!
One thing I was really looking forward to with this race was the amount of spectators who were coming out to see us. My friends, my parents, my aunt and my sister and mother in law. They had all given me their respective mile markers so I was looking forward to seeing them during the race to help keep me going. Like I mentioned, my ultimate goal was to end the run at a 10:30 avg pace but I knew as the run went on I would deviate from that - a little slower at times, a little faster at others. I also, had my 4:50 race pace band on just to make sure I would at least hit my goal of being under 5. I made a big mistake in San Diego of going out too fast. During the first mile, Kevin and I crept up to the 4:30 pace group and he asked if we were going too fast? I said no, our strategy should be to stay between the 4:30 and 4:45 groups. That would be a good pace to maintain. I really liked the 4:30 pace group leaders. They were very vocal and the whole group would cheer at every mile marker. I ran with my music and Kevin chatted it up with a lady next to us for about the first 6 miles:
Mile 1: 10:12
Mile 2: 10:18
Mile 3: 10:00
Mile 4: 9:58
Mile 5: 10:12 (saw my friend whose husband was running who took the picture below/took my first GU)
Mile 6: 10:17
When we went through the aid stations I always noticed a little table with a bunch of numbered water bottles on it separate from the main aid tables. I realized those were the elites fuel bottles that they got to mix before the race.
Right after mile 6 we lost the lady we were running with at an aide station. We also passed the 4:30 pace group. I debated with myself about what to do - should I drop back or keep running? I looked at my watch and realized I was still in my "10 - 11" min/mile zone so I decided to just keep going. It was still early - we had 20 miles to go and a lot could change. I figured I would be passed soon enough and I should just enjoy the idea for a minute of a sub 4:30 finish.
At mile 8 Kevin said he had to stop to use the porto and of course, the ones we come up on had a huge line. He told me to keep going and he would just catch up. I felt bad leaving him but I was still making good time and I didn't want to look back on my race and think, "well, if I didn't stop I would have gotten this time instead." A little ways up ahead I saw a guy, Mike, from my running group who had made friends with a group of women running together. Feeling like I might need a little extra support later on, I decided to join their group for the moment and just go with it until it wasn't working out. Mike is hilarious so it was fun to run with him and have the distraction. I was also looking forward to seeing my aunt and parents at mile 10.5 and 11.5.
Mile 7: 10:13
Mile 8: 10:16
Mile 9: 10:15
Mile 10: 10:08
Mile 11: 10:21 (took my second GU)
Mile 12: 10:24
By mile 12 our little group had dwindled to Mike and a lady named Barb who was running her first marathon. I crossed the half at 2:13 - right on pace!! I saw my friend and her great signs. I was scared I was going to miss her since there were so many people. We were also still ahead of the 4:30 group. I thought my mother and sister in law were going to be at the half too so when I didn't see them I was kinda bummed but I kept looking and actually ended up seeing them at 14.7. What was nice about that was since I was so busy looking for them I ran over 1.5 miles without even thinking about it and was very excited to look down and see I was almost to mile 15. The best part - I was still ahead of the 4:30 group and I felt good. No aches/pains or tiredness.
I had hoped Kevin would have caught up with me by this point but he hadn't. Mike dropped back around this time so it was just Barb and I. We talked about why we were doing this, races we had done and she told me that the farthest training run she had gone was 20 miles but she had taken many walk breaks but here she was at mile 15 and she still hadn't stopped. I told her the hardest miles of my training runs were miles 18-20 so we would get through them together without stopping.
Mile 13: 10:26
Mile 14: 10:19
Mile 15: 10:27
Mile 16: 10:31
Mile 17: 10:21 (took half my bag of gel blasts)
Mile 18: 10:312
Around mile 18, one of the two 4:30 pace group leaders passed me but it didn't seem like they had anyone with them. At that point I couldn't tell if we were being passed or not but I was making my goal time so I didn't stop to worry about it too much. At mile 20 I turned to Barb and said, "20 miles and no walking!!" I was so grateful to her for being there for miles 18-20. I was still feeling good and didn't want to stop but having someone there to push forward with pushed those ideas of stopping right out of my head. I saw my aunt at mile 18.5 and my parents and inlaws again at 19.5. Around mile 21 Barb decided she had to drop back. I wished her good luck and kept going. 21 miles and I hadn't stopped once to walk, nor did I feel like I had to! I had been running for 3:36 minutes with 5.2 miles to go. At that moment a 4:30 really looked attainable and I was going to do everything in my power to get it. Actually, at that point I really wanted a 4:27 so I could say I set a new PR by exactly an hour but I didn't want to get greedy. :)
Mile 19: 10:22
Mile 20: 10:35
Mile 21: 10:37
I think around mile 22 is when we entered downtown. I remember reading that you enter downtown at 56th street and have to make it all the way to 9th. They offered up two options - do a countdown or put your head down and ignore the numbers. I turned the music up, put my head down and just went for it. First, though, I called Alisa to get some words of encouragement for the last 3 miles. It was just what I needed to push me through to the end. Thanks A!! Right at mile 24 one of the fleet feet coaches, Terri, jumped in and ran a 1/4 of a mile with me. I told her I was on track to PR by 57 minutes and thanked her for all her help and coaching the last 18 weeks. If anyone ever wants a group to train with I HIGHLY recommend Fleet Feet. They are awesome!
At mile 26.1 I saw my mother and sister in law and about 100 yards later I saw my parents. This is where my eyes started to water. I had just ran, without stopping, 26.2 miles and was about to have a HUGE PR - one that while I hoped I could achieve did not really think possible. As I crossed the finish line I threw my hands up. Marathon #2 was in the books!
Mile 22: 10:34 (finshed my bag of gel blasts)
Mile 23: 10:33
Mile 24: 10:31
Mile 25: 10:27
Mile 26: 9:47 (I had my fastest lap at the end!!!)
Last .2: 9:36
THIS IS A PR OF 56 MINUTES FROM SAN DIEGO ROCK 'N ROLL!! I am still in shock that I did this! I not only made my sub 5 goal but my secret 4:30 goal as well. Kevin crossed roughly 10 minutes later and ended with a 13 minute PR as well. My friends husband crossed around 4:20 and his friends both got their sub 3s.
I am going to do a wrap up post with feelings/thoughts/pictures, etc tonight as I think this post has probably gotten too long as it is. I would just like to say a huge THANK YOU to all your support and encouragement throughout my training. It means a lot. I am still smiling when I think about this race! :)