Sunday, November 27, 2011

Race Report: Space Coast Marathon

Well, today was not my day, and that is ok. I did not finish sub-5 hrs or even a PR, but I still found the strength to finish my 2nd marathon in one piece and smiling, so I call that success :) Lots of things went wrong today, most of which I could not control -- rain, wind, humidity, heat -- but the one thing I could control was knowing when to pull back when my knee (IT me thinks) started screaming. This race report is best told through the 5 stages of grief, all of which I experienced during this race.

Denial - It was already warm -- mid 60s -- in Orlando when I woke up at 3 am and the forecast said it was 10 degrees warmer at the race. If we are being honest, deep down I knew then that I would not meet my goal. I still thought I could pull it off somehow, so I tried to ignore it. When we got to the race, it was windy but still warm enough to wear a singlet with my running skirt, and I even considered not wearing my knee high compression socks. I was upset; I kept bitching to anyone that would listen that it was too hot, while at the same time convincing myself it would be fine. By the time we walked to the start, it was 73ยบ and I was sweating; but I chucked that up to nerves since everyone else was cold. Again, all the signs were there that I should adjust my plan then, but I ignored them. I almost immediately abandoned my 4:50 goal, but seemed to be running the pace I needed so kept at it. We finished the first half right on pace (2:35) and got our 2nd wind after seeing Jason, Omar and Laura. As soon as we turned the corner we were accosted with a serious 15 mph headwind with rain that knocked the wind out of my sails. I kept pushing but when my knee started to hurt, and I noticed our average pace had not changed in miles, I knew it wasn't going to happen.

Anger - I was angry that I had waited too long before listening to my body. The truth is that I was already sore and struggling a bit during the first half but that didn't seem out of the ordinary. I thought that was part of truly racing a marathon, but I didn't take my own advice and didn't focus on running the first half comfortably. If I had adjusted my pace and goal from the very beginning, run a steady easy pace, my knee may not have given out and I may have PRed. I'll never know that for sure, but you know I can't help but wonder it. Our pace had been increasing steadily through the first half, and then I took comfort when it was at least not decreasing. Once I realized that I was no longer even able to maintain the pace but it was in fact slipping, I was angry.

Bargaining - As my average pace slipped and slipped way past the point of no return to come anywhere near the 5 hour mark, I began calculating how low I could slip and still PR. I adjusted my intervals so I was running slower for longer, but that only helped for a bit. Then I began running slowly for however long I could, then taking a 1 minute walk break. I tried everything I could to at least hit that goal, but nothing worked.

Depression - I had hit the point of no return for even a PR and was in so much pain, that all I had left in me was tears. Every ounce of my body hurt like it had never hurt before. It even hurt to breath or hold myself upright. I started texting Jason and doubting if I could even finish. I was determined to try, but the walking became more frequent and I seriously thought of walking the rest of the race but 10K was a long way to go at a shuffle. My feet were screaming at me, so I ran when I could to help propel me forward a little bit faster. Then my knee would begin to protest and I'd walk again. This went on and on for I don't know how long and I was no longer trying to hold back tears and burst into sobs.

Acceptance - Kerrie caught up to me just before mile 20 as I hit this low point, and she stayed with me to the end. She was struggling too and we were giving the other strength to go on. This was her 7th marathon and she was just the ray of sunshine I needed at that moment. She always has a smile on her face, and her motto is "if we're not having fun, then why are we doing this?" She helped me remember what truly mattered today, pulled me out of my little pitty party, I accepted my situation confirming I made the right choice earlier, and helped me achieve the most important goal of all: finish with a smile! =) Then our other group leader Kirsty and Jason joined us just before mile 26 and now we were laughing. I had regained enough strength to running the entire length of the finishing shoot and finish running with a smile :) I was at peace when I crossed that finish line and proud that I had finished yet another marathon despite of the challenges I faced. 3 Years ago I didn't think running a marathon was something I could ever do and wasn't even sure I wanted to try, and now I've done it TWICE! (more if you count the training runs). And no, this will not be my last marathon; I'm still running BCM in February and others in the future, but the focus will be on enjoying the experience and running. I still prefer the half marathon distance and that will be my focus for speed next year.

Race Highlights: 
  • Because this is a local race, there were a LOT of runners doing the half and full that I knew, including a huge showing from our Orlando Galloway Program. Since this is a bow-tie course, with 2 out and back sections, it was great fun to spot them along the way and cheer for each other. I felt like a celebrity every time one of them spotted me and screamed my name. 
  • The course was gorgeous, and I'm so glad I had Dawn there with me to point it out during the first half. There were all these picturesque spots along the riverbed and some really pretty houses.
  • The course support for this race is like no other. I loved seeing the themed water stations, having a ton of water along the way (though they decreased on the 2nd half when we needed them most), they were well stocked with gels, and the volunteers were very helpful and encouraging. 
  • The medal is huge and even more impressive than last year's. I am glad I was able to be part of their 40th Anniversary. 
  • Sharing it with my Galloway Family and Jason. I'm so proud that they all did so well.
  • I wasn't last! =P
  • Finishing laughing with great running friends! =)
Congratulations to everyone who finished this race! And a huge thank you to everyone who supported me today, whether it was on Facebook, exchanging cheers on the course, or helping me finish strong. I could not do any of this without you!

  • AG 38/48 
  • Overall 748/906
  • clock 5:47:13
  • chip 5:43:16
  • pace 13:07
  • 10k 1:13:06
  • half 2:35:02
  • 20 miles 4:00:59 


Shannon said...

I think you are amazing. Despite your rough experiences this morning, you emerged strong. I'm happy to have been there to see you finish. You're a strong chick! Way to go! :)

Anonymous said...

I had a really rough race too and can completely relate to your five stages of grief. I too kept trying to convince myself that I could handle the warmer temps and also ignored my body in the beg. When it began to hurt. there's always the next race and it is still an accomplishment

George said...

Very well done. Could you have run a better race? Sure...I mean really, how seldom does anyone run a race so well that afterwards they can't think of three things they would change.

At the finish line you can look back on a race that went all pear-shaped and it turned out that the mental toughness was what mattered and you showed yours. I'm proud to call you a friend.

Kim said...

Aw, it sounds like the weather was a total bummer, but it also sounds like you did wonderfully given the conditions. Congratulations on finishing ! :)

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