I’m sure plenty of you heard me say I was done running marathons after the 2016 Tunnel race, clearly that was incorrect. I tried to keep it on the DL that I was going for one more BQ attempt at Tunnel 2017, didn’t last long. I learned a lot from the 2016 training cycle and had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do to reach 3:30 this time around. Having the Big Sur marathon at the 1.5 month to go mark was fun. It helped break up the 18 weeks of training. I focused on reaching Big Sur and then the remaining weeks till Tunnel didn’t seem so daunting. Training was not without some bumps. I totaled my car during week 7 of training, luckily I have an amazing chiropractor who told me to keep running as long as nothing was painful. This training cycle I averaged about 55 miles a week, peaking at 64 mpw. My tempos were faster and so were my long runs. I was also much better about strength training this cycle, two days a week I was going to TRX in addition to 6 days a week of running. I had so many great training partners; Jessica was an awesome long run partner (and such a sport for running my long run workouts with me when it was faster than she needed to go), Lisa Marie and I got our WUW on and I could always count on Eddie for the early lap, my tempo partners, Tina, Laura and Pam who pushed me faster even when I felt like I couldn’t. I ran every long run out on the Tunnel course the month before the race. I came into race day more feeling as prepared as I possibly could. If I didn’t BQ on this cycle, I wasn’t sure what else I could do to get there.
Stating that you have one goal and one goal only is scary. I have a tendency to give myself multiple goals so if I have a bad I can say “well its ok, I still accomplished x.” There was none of that this time around. I wanted to qualify by enough to get me into Boston and nothing less than that was going to be considered a success in my book.
Race morning came, I forced myself to eat (I’m always so nervous on race morning that eating is hard) and had some Gatorade and water. I double checked my fuel belt, threw a couple things in my bag and we headed off to Hyak. It was cold at the start, but I still ditched the arm warmers and opted for shorts and a tank. We found the SGLRG Tunnel crew and huddled around and chatted, took photos, I forced a little more food down about 45 minutes before the start. Turns out there was no 3:30 pacer, but I had my pace band I made from findmymarathon.com that allowed for a slower start and one Eddie gave me that was across the board even splits. Nancy, Lisa Marie, Dan Bunker and I stood together at the start, other people around us asked us our time goal and we formed a small 3:30 goal time group. Then we were off! I tried to focus on not going out too fast and I settled into my rhythm right as we hit the tunnel. It’s much more exciting running through the Tunnel with several hundred other runners.
Once we got out of the Tunnel I hit the lap on my watch at the first mile marker I saw and then proceeded to get yelled at by Nancy and Lisa Marie for running too fast. The miles ticked by, I sipped Gatorade every mile and took my Gu at 7, 14 and 21 miles, I was feeling great. I took on the role of the unofficial 3:30 pacer, calling out where we should be with overall time as we neared each mile marker. It helped take my mind off the miles ahead and gave me a “job” to do. I came through the halfway point about a minute ahead of pace and was feeling good. Nancy was still with me, I knew Lisa Marie was close too and we had Dan Bunker with us. Having people around me who I knew helped me relax. We hit 16 miles where Adam, Eddie, Danielle, Kirstin and Murphy were waiting. Seeing them all gave me another burst of energy. As we neared the 20 mile mark, where I knew Nellie would be, I could tell things weren’t feeling quite as easy as they had been. We hit 20 miles and Nellie eased in next to me. I told her just to hold me at 8 pace. I knew that was all I needed to reach my goal, I was now just over a minute ahead of my 3:30 goal.
We came through Rattlesnake and saw all our SGLRG buddies, I smiled and waved but the earlier miles were beginning to wear on me. As we hit the flat coming out of Rattlesnake I had to stop and walk for a brief period. Nellie pulled me back to race pace and we were off. The next 5 miles were really really hard. I saw Nancy looking strong and she pulled ahead of us. I tried to stay focused and just put one foot in front of the other. Walk breaks continued at each mile marker. I was starting to get discouraged. I felt as if my BQ was slipping away. Nellie told me to shut up and get out of my head (thanks girl!). She was a godsend those last few miles. I don’t remember exactly what she said but having her there helped. We passed Rich and Izi with about 5k left. Izi reminded us we just had one lap around Green Lake to go. When we rounded the final corner and saw the finish, which felt like the longest .2 miles of my life. I had no idea what my pace was, what my projected finish time was. I just pushed as hard as I could. Just as I hit the line I saw 3:30:25 on the race clock and knew I was safe. Once I was over that line my legs stopped working. Thank you to Danielle, Nellie and Kirstin who helped me to a chair and got me water. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, vomit or pass out. I had qualified for Boston. Official time 3:30:22
I am so thankful for every person I ran with this training cycle. There are too many to list individually, but you know who you are. I worked my butt off, but I also had a blast! So many laughs and good memories were made this time around. The BQ was just a very large cherry on a fantastic 18 weeks. Now I get to spend the next 3 months obsessing over the Boston cutoff time-although a 4:38 cushion should be ok.