Going into this year's Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, I felt a bit like a marathon newbie. And in a way, I really was. Last year was my first marathon, but I ran it with a badly injured left hamstring. It was far from a best-case scenario but at the time I was just happy to complete the race without having to DNS or DNF. That year, any time that allowed me to cross the finish line was okay with me.
A pic from last year's race. Hobbling throughout!
During the two weeks leading up to this year's race, I was buzzing with nervous anticipation. Since I didn't go through a taper period last year due to my injury, this was a whole new experience. I probably drove certain friends - you know who you are - nuts with all my silly questions!
After spending a good portion of this summer doubting myself and even wondering if I could get to the starting line of this race (winter, spring and early summer injuries), things started coming together late summer and I could feel myself hitting a training peak right in time for the race. It was a race that I felt anything could happen and it was exciting knowing that I just might surprise myself.
Race day finally arrived and I woke up ready to run! As usual, I ended up lining up a bit late - this is something I really need to work on - and ended up back with the 4:30 pace group. This was not where I wanted to be, but told myself to relax and use the first mile as a nice, slow warm-up just like I practiced nearly every Saturday morning this summer.
As the race got going, I was just so happy to be running without all the fear that I had last year. I settled into a nice, easy pace and the first few miles passed by so quickly, especially since I ran into a few friends along the way. Before I knew it, I had worked my way up to the 3:50 pace group and the miles were just flying by. I couldn't believe it when we hit the mile 9 marker and even more so couldn't believe how easy the race felt.
The next several miles were pretty uneventful except for the fact that I was extremely giddy. A little voice inside my head kept me going by chanting "believe, believe, BELIEVE" and reminding me of everything I had to believe in - Believe in your training, Believe in the possibility of today, etc.
Around mile 17.5 - still feeling fantastic!
I stuck with the 3:50 pace group until we hit mile 20 and at that point I knew I had to say goodbye and strike out on my own. I was feeling way too good to not try to push the pace a bit and wanted to see how close to 3:45 I could run. I kept waiting to hit the wall, but it never happened.
As I ran down the little hill from Lake Drive to Lincoln Memorial Drive, I knew I was practically done with the race. I knew I could not only get close to 3:45, but I could actually go sub-3:45 if I pushed the last bit of the race. That voice inside my head started screaming a little line from my Oiselle Team friends, "Go Fast, Take Chances." I ran that final mile in 7:50, the entire time loving the race.
Only another quarter or so to go!
All focus on the finish line ahead
Here are my results:
Pace: 8:33 min/mile
Age Group Place: 26/216
Gender Place: 145/1,499
Overall Place: 542/2,158
A 38 minute marathon PR!! I was definitely thrilled with this result and never in my wildest dreams could have imagined this outcome. All I can say is that if you truly believe, anything can happen :)
Rehydrating after the race!
Although I am very pleased with this race, if I had to change one thing it would be to push a bit harder during the middle miles. Because it was in a way my first marathon, I didn't want to end up running out of steam before the end so played it a bit safe. I know I could have run a bit faster because I recovered way too fast from the marathon effort - I even wore heels the day after the race! Next time, I'll have the confidence to go a bit harder.
This year's finisher's medal
Up until this race, I had been considering not doing a marathon in 2014 and instead, focusing bringing down my time in shorter distance races. But now . . . I feel it would be foolish to not do another marathon next year and try to get a BQ time. All I want to do is get back out there and start training.
So that's my extremely long story from last weekend. Here are a few questions for you:
- Did you race over the weekend? If so, how was your race?
- Have you ever experienced a perfect race? Do you think such a thing even exists?
- If you don't run, what was the most interesting thing you did over the weekend?
Thanks for sticking with me :)