Wow! This is the first marathon course I have done more than once! In 2011 and last Sunday! Are you a specific marathon repeat offender?
I started out 2014 like every other year – telling myself I wasn’t going to do any marathons. In fact, Milwaukee 2011 was supposed to be my last marathon for awhile! I love love love the training, but always bonk the race HARD. But then, so many friends were signed up for this race, a good friend was an official pacer of a goal time I had last year (4:10), and yeah, I love this course. So just like every other year since 2011 when I said that was my last marathon… I signed up for it.
Here is your TL; DR, cause as little as I thought I had to say right after the race, the thoughts all came flooding back in (I suppose, once the brain started working again post-race): I did not join my friend’s pace team. I didn’t train for that. I didn’t PR this race. It was my fourth fastest (out of seven marathons, which makes it right in the middle, finish time wise). BUT! This was my best race, strategy-wise. I typically physically and mentally bonk at mile 16 of the marathon. That didn’t happen here. I hit 16, and kept going strong. Only the last 5 miles were a struggle. My goal was to average an 11:00 minute mile pace. I averaged 10:53s, and as I mentioned, my half splits were only 25 seconds apart. I am very proud of my 4:44:59 finish time, and encouraged to see how much more I can improve before the Dallas Marathon on December 14th!
Okay, now you’re in for the long haul…
Quite a few Efiters (from my strength studio – Essential Fitness) were doing this race! Yvonne was going for a PR. Ed was the 4:10 pacer I mentioned. Bobbi and I were going to stick together, and Dawn was running her first (!!!) full. Dawn wanted to hang with us, and Kelly jumped in for the last half to pace her.
It was so great to be around my close friends the morning of the race. I road the free shuttle to race start (it’s a point to point – my preferred course type) with Yvonne and Ed, and found Bobbi and Dawn right before race start. I think I was the least nervous of all of us. I felt confident and excited, and ready to work hard. And I was really happy with the weather – started at 36° (“feels like” 29°). Those are my temps! Even with the silly wind.
Yvonne, Bobbi and me
Bobbi, me and Dawn
The race started at 7:30 am, just after the sun came up. I ate a Clif shot energy gel right before we took off. My goal was to eat A LOT and often to keep my energy up. Right away, I remember why I love this course so much – it’s just so darn beautiful. You are running through the country and past nice neighborhoods (it’s right by Lake Michigan) until you hit the lakefront bike path in Milwaukee. The old, tall trees are beautiful, and the lake was stunning that morning:
There are a good amount of spectators too, for so much of it being country/residential. People playing instruments or recorded music, a kid ringing a huge bell… this course has just the right amount of spectators! You’re not always on show, but someone is almost always nearby.
So I felt jazzed from the start. I was talking A LOT to Bobbi and Dawn. Just blabbing away (probably annoyingly). I tried to keep us in check to stay close to our 11:00 minute mile goal. I did not want to go out too hard. But man, this course has a few short rolling hills, and we kept speeding up on the downs! Oops!
And from the beginning, I stuck to my annoying race strategy of eating something (gels, soft pretzels or fig newtons) every 30 minutes, as well as taking an electrolyte pills. Why annoying? It was hard to carry all of that food without my backpack. I am lucky Bobbi and Dawn would hold things for me while I fished my pills out of my HipS-sister. And that Steven (and Bobbi’s family) was (were) on the course at mile 7.5 and mile 20 to give me Vitamin water and “real” food. I tend to get sick of eating (I know, ME?! Makes no sense) at the end of races, but I still forced myself to eat something every 30 minutes until the end. I think that helped me not bonk so early. And I filled up my water bottle at every single stop. I drink a lot when I run.
The miles were ticking by and when we got to 9 or 10 and couldn’t believe how quickly the race was going! We were getting a lot of fun comments on our matching Efit shirts! A lot of instructions to “stay together.”
Which is exactly what I did not do. Sigh.
A little bit before mile 13, we saw Kelly! I was so excited for her to join our crew! She said she had been saving up things to talk about all week! Hee hee! I said hi… then ran past her, and looked back and Bobbi and Dawn were behind me. I kept running as I had earlier when they took walk breaks (I’d slow down, they’d catch up). I kept looking back and eventually I couldn’t see them anymore.
I felt really bad. I didn’t want to be that friend that takes off. Bobbi had the same goal as me. I texted her and asked if she wanted me to stop and wait (I would have!) and she had a “no, go ahead silly, but I love you for asking!” response. And that was the last I saw them. Bobbi and I texted throughout the race, but I was on my own then. Just me, and songs from Grease stuck in my head (do NOT watch a musical right before running a race!!!!).
So I kept my sub 11:00 pace, focused on my form (gosh, I tried so hard with it) and attempted not to bonk at 16 like I typically do. 16 came and went and what… I still felt good! No way! I was ecstatic! The only issue was that I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom, and told myself once I saw a porta pottie without any line, I would go.
That was at mile 18. I hadn’t walked or stopped yet in the race and was a bit bummed to stop, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Well, TMI ALERT, I was in such a hurry that I wanted to make things go as quickly as possible so I pushed really hard and strained my abdomen. It felt… weird. I felt stupid, for hurting myself going poo. (<—– NURSE KELLY, this is the part I wanted you to read!)
But of course, after, a load was lifted (ha ha ha) and I was feeling good.
A bit lonely though. I talked to as many people as possible. I kept trying to find someone to pace with, but I was passing everyone. So many were walking or struggling, and I felt like an ass, passing by and asking if they were okay. A lot of people were running this as their first marathon, which was fun! I met a guy from Dallas. I met a guy (Brian) from a local suburb who is also running Chicago this Sunday. Brian and I ran together for quite a bit, and I cheered him in at the finish!
Brian and Kim and RBF
I saw Steven again at mile 20. I was started to feel it, and was looking forward to my Vitamin water (which of course, I had to force myself to drink). Then I saw quite a few running club friends a bit after that and was starting to get out of it and have death face!!! NOOOOO!!!
But I made it to 21 before it felt like a super struggle. And I just kept with the plan. I really, really wanted that sub 11:00 average, and not many miles over 11:00! Mile 23 was, as it was the only time I stopped to walk – the last time I filled up my bottle.
Mile “27″ was 10:21 pace
I kept thinking, “where is the damn downhill?” There is a quad-killer downhill just before mile 23ish. I talked it up to people on the course who seemed to be struggling – cause when you are hating your run, you can always look forward to a downhill. Unless like me, you’ve run this race before it know it’s gonna hurt. And apparently, I forgot how much this course kills my IT band and hips with the rolling hills and camber of the road (for much of the end, you are on streets still open to a lane of traffic). I started fantasizing about getting a post race massage, even though I knew I wouldn’t want to make Steven wait around!
The last three miles took forever, as they do. My watch was off by .1 mile the whole time, and every time I hit a mile marker early on my watch, it messed with me. I kept telling myself things like “3 miles! You ran that yesterday to prep!’ “Two miles! That’s four laps at the park” and so on. It doesn’t work, ha ha. The downhill helped my pace, but then running along the open lake did not for the last two miles. It’s flat, yes, but with a 13mph wind pushing in to my face, I just couldn’t keep the pace down (and it warmed up to 50°, “feels like” 45° – and was sunny, gah). I tried so hard.
I really wanted to look good when I came in to the finish line. I thought about my Slouchy McSloucherson issue and didn’t want to see pictures like that. I wanted Steven to see me with good form. Ha ha, that is why I started talking to Brian at mile 20. I asked Steven how my form was and he said “sloppy” and I said to that guy “he was supposed to lie and say ‘good’!” Hee hee. Brian said “you look great!” which did encourage me. (And Steve was being honest!)
He wasn’t lying. Ha ha.
So I pushed as hard as I could, really focusing on my form, scanning all over for Steven… I finished without seeing him. I immediately starting crying. I knew I had made my goal (I had no idea until later in the day how even my half splits were) and was just spent. I really gave it everything.
A medic was worried about me and followed me for a bit, which was really sweet. Then I got my bag and hobbled around, looking for Steven and Bobbi’s family. I got a text from Steven that he got there one minute after I finished. I didn’t know where Bobbi, Dawn and Kelly were. I actually kept asking Dawn’s boyfriend how Dawn was doing (he was riding by the course on his bike) and he kept saying they were right behind me. They weren’t though. So Steven stayed back to get their pics at mile 20 and just missed me at the finish. Which is totally fine, but I was overly emotional about it when I finished. When I finally saw Steven he asked what was wrong and I cried and said “I tried to finish really strong for you so you’d be proud of me!” And of course, he told me he was proud of me. Gosh, I am still emotional just typing about it! Lameness alert!
All that being said, I am so happy I got see Dawn finish her FIRST MARATHON ever! I kept thinking about her buddy, Zach, during the race, and how proud he was of her and the special relationship they have. That really kept me going.
And I loved seeing Bobbi finish, and getting to watch her husband and three of her kids watch! They were so excited for her!!!
Speaking of her kids, I was hanging with her youngest daughter, and a random spectator asked if she was my daughter. I said no, but the spectator was so sweet, she said to Bobbi’s daughter “Your friend did an amazing thing today! You should be inspired by her!” What a way to end the race. There were so many supportive random strangers! I love that!
I ran in to quite a few friends before I left and was so happy I did!
Everyone was beaming at the finish, whether they had the race they wanted, or not. We wore our schweet medals proudly! (I love the shirt (definitely a keeper!) and medal this year!):
I love the medals we got this year. And the race organization was top notch! I am not sure if they had this before, but it was the first time I have used it post race – the changing tent! How nice to get in to something clean after the race. And realize that the throwaway gloves I stuffed in my bra chafed the hell out of me. Kim. Just. Throw. Them. Away. Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
After saying goodbye to everyone and changing, I remembered to ask a stranger to take a picture of me and Steven.
That brown bag he is holding was the bag they gave us at the finish – it had two pieces of fruit, chocolate milk, crackers, nuts and a Fiber One bar in it.
He does so much to support me at races, and really, in my weekly training, and not very often do I get a photo token of that. I am very happy I did!
We hobbled back to the car. Wait, I hobbled, ha ha, not him. Then we stopped in Kenosha for some groceries. It was too odd of an hour to eat a sit down meal so we ate our leftover pizza in the car! My appetite did not kick in until 2:00 am – when I woke up early Monday morning, to a grumbly stomach.
Post race, I feel good! My quads are sore, my face is wind burned (forgot to put vaseline on my nose, but kept applying chapstick to my lips) and I only chafed in that one spot, and it healed pretty quick. Win win! Now it’s time to keep training for the Dallas Marathon! I feel very encouraged by this race. My strategy seemed to mostly work, and I think it helped that I ate healthy for the three weeks leading up and lost a bit of weight. We will see what December brings!
A few other random thoughts (I know, this is so hella long – I warned you, right?!):
- I am so happy I am missing the toenails on my Morton’s toes. That has helped so much with training and with this race. No blisters on those toes (or any others).
- I wore shoes that had about 80+ miles on them. Not really ideal – I like brand new or barely worn, but it worked well. They only felt “unsupportive” (flat under the ball of my foot) a few times in the middle and never bothered me again.
- I did see someone wearing a backpack even though they weren’t allowed. I saw it in the last two miles when I was in a bad mental state and it really bugged me. Ha ha.
- The same spectator who told me and the Efit gals to stay together asked me where they all were when he saw me solo.
- I tried to read spectator signs for distraction. I really liked an ermagherd one.
- Before this race, I remembered signing up for Athena division for a race, but couldn’t remember which race it was! It was this one, ha ha. I placed 13 out of 44 in that division.
- I made sure to buy new shorts for the race, so Bobbi wouldn’t have to smell my old ones. I should have done this for my bra, too (duh).
- I saw someone doing the race in a RAGBRAI jersey. Meant to talk to him and never did. Darn!
- I thought about bringing the GoPro and decided not to.
- I like that they put our names on our bibs so people can cheer us on by name! It means a lot when you are struggling.
- I bought a pin at the expo. I like to put them on my water vest. You know, the one I wasn’t allowed to use. Ha ha.