Or….. The bittersweet PR
Or….. Venturing into The Great Country of Texas
Or….. 12 F&@*ing seconds!!!!!!!!!
I’ll come back and write about our entire weekend in The Great Country of Texas but for now I’m just going to focus on the main event; The Woodlands Marathon.
First off, I just want to thank everyone for all of their support and encouragement along the way. My phone was blowing up with emails, tweets, texts, and Facebook messages (the only thing missing was smoke signals) before the race wishing us good luck. It seriously meant the world to me. You guys all rock!
If you just want the quick recap, I finished in 3:05:12 missing out on my Boston Qualifying time of 3:05:00 by a measly 12 seconds. This earned me 4th (out of 40) in my age group and 29th (out of 999) overall. While I missed qualifying for Boston, I still scored a solid 15 minute PR over my last marathon in October. I was also the fastest Michigander at the race as well (there was a second person from Michigan). This was by far the most painful race I have ever experienced – easily 10 times harder than finishing IMWI.
The goal for this race was to qualify for Boston. Both Jeff and I were attempting this for the first time. This meant running a sub 3:05:00 for me and a sub 3:10:00 for Jeff. Had we been doing this same race last year, we would have each had an extra 5:59 to qualify but this is the first year of Boston’s new tighter standards. It sucks, but it is what it is.
We were up at 4:00 and out the door not too long after that. It was a quick drive to The Woodlands and we got great parking close to the race start.
We had a whole crew for this race. A bunch of Jeff and Annie’s friends were also running the full/half marathon. Not only that, but Jason came up from Dallas to spectate and cheer. It was great to finally meet him as well.
The weather for the race was amazing! I was a little worried because on Thursday and Friday the temps had been in the 70’s with sludge like humidity. I knew that if that weather carried over into race day that I was going to be in trouble because I was training in 30-40 weather if not cooler. Thankfully, a cold front swept through and brought with it weather in the mid-40’s. It was perfect for a Midwestern like me. And it was comical to see all the Texans huddled around shivering. There was a little bit of wind, but thankfully it was coming out of the direction that we would be running the least.
Jeff and I lined up at the start with the 3:00 pace group. This meant we were right behind the elite runners and basically toeing the starting line. I was a bit nervous at this point because my hamstrings had tightened up on me the previous night and were still giving me some trouble. I knew that absolutely everything would have to go right to hit my goal.
The elites started at 6:45AM. There seemed to be a lot of people in the elite group but we realized that most of them were doing the half marathon. It turns out there were 14 elite marathoners and 29 elite half marathoners.
Right after the elites took off, it was our turn. With a simple “Go!” yelled by the race director, we were off.
Our goal for the race was to stick with the 3:00 pace group as long as possible and eventually drop back and just work to keep them in sight.
The First Half
Right out of the gate, we were cruising. It took a couple miles to get comfortable, but once I settled in I was feeling great. My hamstrings eventually loosened up on me and my stride was comfortable. I carried a 10oz Fuel Belt handheld for fluids and 4 Gu for nutrition. This allowed me to skip most of the aid stations. Instead, every 6 miles or so, I would pop off the top, slow down at the aid station, and refill it quickly. This actually worked out great and I’ll be using this strategy again.
We really rocked the first half of the race clipping off the miles at a 6:52 pace. We stuck together all the way through the halfway mark hitting 13.1 miles at almost 1:30 exactly.
And basically were matching stride for stride – quite literally actually.
Shortly after the halfway point, we fell back from the the 3:00 pace group a bit. We kept them right in our sights though.
It was at mile 17 when the wheels started to fall off. We had our first 7:00+ split (7:08) and I knew it was going to be a struggle to keep going. Jeff was still looking strong so I told him to go ahead. I eased up a bit, but got a second wind and caught back up to him. We went on like this for the next few miles; leap frogging as each of surged and the other worked to hang on. It was really just the two of us out there at this point and I honestly don’t remember seeing any other racers out there. I know we picked off a couple people that had fallen back from the 3:00 pace group, but I don’t remember getting passed by anyone.
Mile 23 is where my downfall was. My right quad was really tight and started to cramp up on me. I succumbed to walking the entire length of the aid station and generally feeling sorry for myself. I mentally yelled at myself to HTFU and made myself start running again. This mini pity party resulted in my slowest split of the day (8:04) and basically resulted in missing my BQ time. I did snap myself out of it though and made a valiant final attempt.
By that point, I knew I was going to be cutting it really close to 3:05. I didn’t even want to look at my watch because I knew that doing the math would just reaffirm what I already knew. My only chance was to bust ass and go as hard as I could. Around mile 22, we had caught up to some of the half marathoners. This added a little congestion, but it was actually beneficial because it gave us people to work at picking off. I sucked it up and charged to 7:14 and 7:03 final splits with the final .2 miles at 6:11 pace.
I charged across the finish line knowing that I had fallen just short of my goal: 3:05:12. I was a bit devastated to say the least.
Looking back at the clock wanting to scream and yell.
I shook it off though and turned around to watch for Jeff. It didn’t take long. He showed up just over a minute after I crossed which qualified him for Boston by 3 and a half minutes (full report here). Jeff was struggling a bit so I helped him over to a golf cart to take him to the medical tent. (Don’t worry, he is fine now)
As always, Jennie was waiting for me at this finish line. This time, however, she wasn’t simply waiting around as a spectator. She was waiting around a first time half marathoner! I’ll let her tell her own story, but I am so freaking proud of her!
We both headed over to collect our finisher’s shirt.
We eventually found the food tent, but it left a lot to be desired. They had oranges, rice?!??!, and pop. All I wanted was a pop for the caffeine, but had to wait in a long line of half marathoners just to get to it. Jennie was bold enough to get a bowl of the rice (which was mixed with ground turkey), but I passed. This has to be the weirdest post race food ever.
I believe the reason it looks like Jeff is talking is because he is calling me an ass. haha
We hung around a bit, but we all got cold quickly. The wind was starting to pick up and it was chilling us to the bone. Thankfully Annie saved us a half mile walk and pulled the car up for us. Now that we had tightened up, that half mile walk could have taken us a full hour.
Overall, this was an amazing race. It was an inaugural event, but by the way it was run, you’d never know it. My biggest complaint was the post race food, but other than that, I was really impressed. They had a great flat course, plenty of volunteers, and really thought of everything. One thing that impressed me the most was how well they managed the multiple events. There was the marathon and half marathon along with a 5k and 2k fun run. Each even got their own special finisher shirt and medal which was really a nice touch.
Disappointment aside, this was an amazing race. I am super happy with my PR and how I finished. Even though I got mentally down, I managed to pick myself up and make a strong final attempt. I couldn’t have done it without the loving support from Jennie. And a huge “Thanks!” goes out to Jeff for giving me the support and encouragement along the way to get me to the finish line. This doesn’t go just for race day but for the 12 weeks of training leading up to race day. I’m going to post about The Plan later this week and go into more detail, but having someone working towards the same goal was one of the biggest helps I have ever had in a race.
I’m sure I’ll reattempt a BQ marathon, but not sure when. Maybe this fall at the Grand Rapids Marathon, but that all depends on how IMMT training goes. Speaking of which, IMMT training started today. Whoops. Looks like I am taking an off day on my first day!
Stay tuned for a post later this week about the whole Texas experience!!!
|Age Group Place:||4/40|
|Run Pace:||7:04 min/mile|