This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity and emotions. I could hardly believe the big weekend had finally arrived. It started Friday night with a special reception for Olympian Nick Symmonds, who was a featured guest at this year's race. I went to the event with a few of my running friends and after we went out for frozen yogurt. Yum and yum!
Sheila, I hope you don't mind I borrowed this FB pic :)
The next morning I went to check out the expo and pick up my race packet. The expo was buzzing with excited runners and there were plenty of booths to visit, all featuring running shoes, clothes, gear, nutrition, etc. But my main excitement was seeing Mr. Symmonds again and getting my picture taken with him. I'm such a run nerd :)
My morning swoon moment
The morning of the race, I fueled as planned with one unfrosted PopTart and a small banana. My mom drove me to the race start and on the way there I could feel the pre-race nerves kicking in. As we drove along the freeway to Grafton High School, I couldn't believe I would have to run the distance we were driving in just a short while.
As much as I trained and practiced this summer and fall, nothing quite prepared me for the feeling I got as I stood at the start line waiting for the gun to go off. I started to tear up a bit as I thought about the race to come, the training that went into it and also a bit of fear that I my hamstring injury might not let me complete the distance. I knew a DNF was a possibility but I tried to push the thought out of my mind and focus on the race ahead.
Because I lined up a tad late, I ended up starting with the 4:40 pace group. It was a very slow first mile for me because I had to stop twice. Once to fix my iPod (this is why I don't race with music) and once to fix my compression tights. But for once I didn't care - I knew I wasn't racing for a particular time so I figured a slow start was fine!
I was able to up the pace after the first mile. My legs felt fine so I decided to go with it for awhile and soon found myself passing the 9:10 pace group and trying to catch the 9:05 pace group. But a twinge in my hamstring made me realize that even though I wanted to run faster, I needed to slow down or risk not being able to finish the race.
The first half went by in a blink of an eye and soon after that, I was running the Lake Drive portion of the course - an area I'm quite familiar with as I've run it countless times during the past two years. With each passing mile, I felt more relieved knowing that if my hamstring injury should flare up, I could likely walk the remaining distance to the finish.
In the zone, around mile 17.5
By the time mile 20 rolled around, I was both tired and sore. My quads and calves were aching and I stopped for a few stretch and walk breaks. However, stopping for these breaks was actually more painful than just keeping at it and shuffling forward at a slow pace. I couldn't figure out why I was so sore when I'd run this far before without as much pain. I realized later it felt a lot different because I had been on my feet longer (slower pace than during my training runs) and I wasn't wearing my compression socks. Since I was wearing tights I thought I wouldn't need my socks but I ended up turning my tights into capris early in the race, which meant I didn't have any calf support.
I was so relieved when I saw the 25 mile marker and gathered my remaining energy stores to pick up the pace through the finish line. I crossed at 4:21:28 and was so happy to have made it through the race!
Kicking it in at sub-8 minute pace!
My mother, brothers and niece were waiting for me at the finish line. After receiving my finisher's medal and getting wrapped in a space blanket, they helped me start the walk back to my apartment - a little less than a mile away although it seemed a lot further that day!
After the race with my brothers Andy and Joe
It's definitely a race I'll always remember. Overall, a fantastic day and . . . call me crazy, but I'm already excited to start planning my next marathon. The Wisconsin Marathon in May, perhaps?
My new favorite medal :)
In the meantime, I'm taking two weeks off from running and then will begin training for my upcoming winter 5ks and marathon relay race. I adore short, speedy races so I consider this one of the best times of the year!
On that note, did anyone else run Lakefront Marathon over the weekend? Also, what do you do during breaks from training?
I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and sleeping in!