Monday, October 29, 2012

Race Report: Lazarus Marathon

Today was  marathon #5, 8 months after my 4th one. I've now run 39.3 miles in the past 2 days, and I'm exhausted. But I also feel amazing. I finished today's marathon in 5:28, totally unexpected after running a 2:36 half yesterday. It's amazing what a difference it makes having support from running friends, both on the course and online.

Before the race, in costumes - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
I was a little nervous going into this race because it's been so long since I've run a marathon, the most I've run in the past 8 months was 20 miles (after running 8 the previous day), and I ran a half marathon yesterday. Initially, I was just going to run the marathon yesterday instead of my 23 mile long run next weekend, but I hated not running the 10 miles for Goofy training the previous day. As luck would have it, due to a series of fortunate events, I ended up running the half yesterday and thought I'd attempt the full today, specially after hearing who else was running it.

I knew last night that I was going to run the marathon today, but not knowing how I would feel this morning, I didn't broadcast it. I had the option of starting the full and stopping at the half, which would have been a great accomplishment too as my first back-to-back half marathons, but once Runmeter posted to Facebook that I was running a Marathon, there was simply no going back knowing everyone was "watching."
Everyone has their own unique starting position - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Starting positions

My legs felt fine when I woke up with only some minor sore spots here and there, but that did not last. Never having done this before, my plan was to start slow and go with the flow with the goal of just finishing. Well, I blew that when I got caught up running faster than intended while chatting with Tony and finished mile 1 in 12:11; I intended to start closer to 13-13:30. Oops! But I corrected that quickly and slowed down settling into a comfortable pace for the next few miles.

Unlike yesterday's perfectly executed negative mile splits, today was all about survival, strategy, and making it to that finish line any way possible. I started with 60s/30s intervals, but adjusted as needed to take advantage of running the down hills and walking the steeper up hills to conserve energy. I was surprised at how quickly I started to feel tired and sore, and that started messing with my head -- "how can I possibly make it to 26.2 miles if I'm already sore in less than 10?" So surprisingly, the first half was way harder than the 2nd half as I battled my own head and came to terms with running on tired and sore legs.

Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Making it happen
Throughout all of this, I was texting Jason and reading your Facebook comments and that really kept me going. I couldn't fail all these people, so I just had to suck it up. Tracy also rallied the rest of the runners to keep an eye on me and give me a nudge should I need it. Seeing their smiling faces and hearing their words of encouragement lap after lap made a huge difference. When you hear "You look strong" enough times when you don't feel it, you eventually start to believe it and your body acts accordingly. Eating shot blocks with caffeine during the 2nd half didn't hurt either.

Once I realized the dull ache wasn't getting any worse and I was clearly not hurt, the pain became background noise and I let myself go. It became a mental game to push through it, and every mile I finished only motivated me to push harder and finish faster. I wanted to finish to end the pain, but it also became clear that my secret goal of finishing in under 5:30 was within my grasp and I was willing to work for it.

Yippee! I'm done! No idea where I got the energy to pull this off - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon
Finish line leap!
Once I finished the last of the 4 4.5-mile loops, I dug deep to bring it home strong and ran the last 2 4-mile loops with laser focus to make the most of every elevation change. Those were my fastest 8 miles at an average sub-12 pace, with mile 26 being the fastest overall in 11:18. I kicked it into high gear as I came around the bend and ran the last .2 at a 9:45 pace. (See all the data on Dailymile.) I even had enough energy to leap over the finish line. Other than some soreness all over, my legs felt pretty good.

Because this was such a small race, with only 7 starters and 4 finishers, I finished 2nd overall and 1st female. That cracks me up. We hung out for a bit and took silly finisher photos, then Tony drove us home. I immediately sat in the tub filled with cold water for 15 minutes, took some Aleve, then put on my compression gear. I feel pretty good; let's see how I feel tomorrow :) All I know is that I am totally hooked and I am now officially training for a few ultras by year's end.

Here's a silly photos we took after the race. View the rest on Flickr.

Marathon Finishers are a little silly - Tracy's Lazarus Marathon

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