First of all, let me explain how my running this race came about.
A group of women that I run with on a regular basis signed up for the Santa Clarita Marathon and Half Marathon a while back. At the time I did not plan on joining them because I had already put my name in the hat for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco.
Plus, I really didn’t think that my aging body could really handle two races within two weeks of each other, even if I hadn’t “put it all out there” in the first one, so to speak.
However, one of my friends who has been struggling with health problems, and was signed up to run the half, offered me her bib. Since, in the end, only one of them was actually going to be racing that day, I decided I would go with her to offer some support. I planned to run the last three miles of the full marathon with her. (Having someone who is still relatively fresh run the last few miles can be helpful in keeping the competitive fire burning when everything in you is pretty much wiped out. My Middle son ran me in during the Pasadena Marathon, and I drew some much-needed energy from him. Some races don’t allow this and will pull people off the course.)
Anyway, I didn’t have any particular goals for my 13.1 race, though I thought racing it would be a great opportunity to try some new things. For example, I always take my iPhone with me during races so that I can take pictures and listen to music. This time I did not. I did not wear my fanny pack, the one I can be seen adjusting throughout races. I hate that thing, but I’m too cheap to find a better-fitting one. This time I left it and instead pinned my GU to my shorts (I pinned two on and lost one during the first mile. Oops.) I did take along my iPod Nano, on which I had a planned playlist for the race, something I never got around to doing for the Nike Women’s Half.
I also ate a handful of Cytomax Energy chews about twenty minutes before the start. In the past, I have been nervous about eating any sugar before the race, since I am always afraid I will feel a crash coming on too soon.
And finally, I ran this race with a mantra in mind.
I had been texting with my friend earlier in the week about the pain she is enduring due to medical issues (I don’t feel comfortable sharing her personal struggle here). A few minutes later, as I was trying to digest what she is going through, I thought of this:
THIS is not pain. Meaning, running pain is not true pain, because we are in control of it. Pain due to things beyond one’s control is real pain.
So I planned to tell myself, when the race started to feel hard and uncomfortable, THIS is not pain. What my friend is going through is pain.
My splits were as follows:
.1 – 7:00
1:35:20, 1st place 40-44, 6th place female
I had a bit of trouble between miles 8 and 10, obviously. Luckily somewhere during the 9th mile a nice gentleman picked me and led me through the later miles. He wouldn’t let me fall back and kept pulling me along. There is a pretty good chance that without him I would have not been able to get back to the low 7’s, so I owe him a lot of credit for pacing me.
I let him go in the last mile because I sensed that he could really speed up, and I think he finished in around 1:34 something, so he obviously had a bit left in him.
As for the course, it was just plain perfect. I have been running the wrong races all these years, as I had no idea that a race course could be “fast.” With the exception of a few undulating hills, this was a full-on PR course.
I don’t know why, but most of my races have been hilly, hot or both. In fact, while I was running Boston I thought, “where are all those hills everyone talks about?”
Overall, I had an idea that I had a PR race in me. I just needed to find the right course on the right day. My tempo runs have felt much easier lately, so I knew my fitness was decent as well.
In addition, there is something about wearing someone else’s bib, someone who wasn’t able to run. I felt a certain responsibility to do well in a totally selfless sort of way. The one thing about running that can become tiresome is the fact that it can be a very, very selfish sport.
After I crossed the finish, I quickly went to my car, changed, ate a banana and drank some water. I then grabbed my phone and a Gatorade for my friend and ran about two miles out to the 23-mile mark.
Because the latter half of the race is a bit more exposed, and because the temperature had risen quickly, she was struggling a bit when I saw her at mile 20. I decided to jump in and run with her earlier than planned, to see if I could help by giving her the Gatorade and a little pep talk.
I ended up running with her until the end, save for the last .2. She finished with a very respectable time, but was way off of her PR. The marathon can be like that.
I will go into more detail over the next few days regarding the nitty gritty of training and what my race plans are for the rest of winter and into spring.
But I will tell you one thing: I am this close to convincing MFP to run a marathon this spring.