So it happened. The race that is. All 26.2 miles through Washington, DC on 3/16. I learned a lot about my running style and made sure to note some things that didn’t go so well during the run but enough about that for the moment….it’s time to brag a little. I qualified for Boston in 3:34! So I qualified in my old age group and my new one! My goal that day wasn’t to qualify for Boston. My plan was to run DC as a practice to find where I was weak and then spend the next few weeks working on improving. Then make the NJ marathon my qualifier. But as I neared the halfway point at 13 miles, I realized I was way under qualifying pace. So I went for it.
Here’s the details on what went right and what went wrong:
- The course: the course was hillier than I expected. Pretty sure the elevation map online was incorrect. I was anticipating agradual hill around mile 7 and was mentally prepared for it. But that was actually a really steep hill and then there were like 14 more throughout the race. In fact, the end ofthe race ended uphill. Lesson here – run more hills and stop whining.
- Hydration and fueling: I did a really bad job at this in DC. I brought withme 2 clif shot blocks and never took themout of my pocket. Instead, I took GU gels and ate 1/2 a packet twice. I trained prior with the gels for other races, but only with the shot blocks for this one. So basically, I ran around carrying extra weight in my back pocket for no reason (and yes, by extra weight I mean like a half an ounce). As for water, I was a mess in this area too. I didn’t hydrate properly the first 13 miles which left me in a bind the second half of the race. I actually had to stop and walk the water stops after mile 18. I would grab 2-3 cups at a time and chug them. I need to really learn how to drink while running. A talent I’m so jealous others can do.
- Weather: turned out way better than expected. Just light rain and clouds, perfect 43 degree temps at the start. Couldn’t have asked for better conditions.
- Pacing: I was all over the place with my pace after mile 12. I attribute this to my lack of distance runs towards the end of training. I really wasn’t ready to run this marathon. I had only two 20 plus mile runs and had skipped the initial buildup in miles. A no-no for all you first time marathoners. Do as I say, not as I do. Physically, I don’t think I was in the best condition to be running my best but it was good enough. I kept calculating time and how much time I could slow down for so I could still BQ. And I took full advantage of those minutes in the last few miles as I shuffled through to thefinish.
- Tapering: I actually did this really well for once. I kept telling myself to trust the taper. I did. And thus, on race morning I felt relaxed, my legs felt energized, and no injuries on race day. A few days prior to race day, my tendonitis flared up, but I took the time and rested and iced and was ready to go after that.
- Mental mind game: Here’s where I did everything terribly wrong. While I’m so happy I had a BQ and PR; I am not happy with my race physically and mentally. I kept trying to quite the entire race. I told myself to make it to the half marathon finish and get a medal at least. I could count that as a training run then. Then I told myself to make it to the next mile, and then if I made it to the next water stop I could stop, etc. It was a mental nightmare. I didn’t feel strong. I felt defeated at mile 12. There came a point where I had to decide if I was going to miss the chance for a BQ when I was halfway there already. I pushed through. I wish I could say I found my strong and overcame hitting the wall. But I was weak the entire end of the race. The last 6 miles felt like torture.
Overall, this was a great course and I’m so happy to have run it (except you Mr. Steepie Steep Hill). The race organizers did a great job and I want to give big thanks to the volunteers and supporters who came out that day. Without you guys, I wouldn’t have made it through.