Tunnel Marathon 2017- BQ Or Bust

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.

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SGLRG at the Start

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.

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Mile 16

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Coming to the Finish

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.

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Hurray for friends

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Boston Bound Runners

Light At The End of The Tunnel 2016

My training went pretty well. I took a friends advice and focused on plenty of miles at marathon pace and didn’t focus as much on track workouts. Looking back, I wish I had done more long speed (mile repeats, 2 mile repeats, etc) throughout.

Was feeling okay the week of the race, the stress of the car accident the previous Saturday wasn’t ideal but I did my best to not let it bother me. I focused on obsessing about the weather and finding the perfect pace band.
Race morning I woke nervous. I think I uttered the phrase “I’m going to throw up” about 15 times. Stefanie and Danielle met up at my house and our wonderful chauffer, Adam drove us up to Hyak.

I placed myself just behind the 3:30 pacer and just ahead of the 3:40 pacer. I planned on running slower through the tunnel but was hoping to keep 3:30 in my sights once we exited. The first couple miles in the tunnel were exciting, we created an informal pace group of Charlie, Izi, Brook and Nellie. I wasn’t too worried about my pace in the tunnel, I could tell my feel that I was within the range I wanted to be in. Garmin clocked miles 1 and 2 at 8:16 and 8:34, when we came out of the tunnel I lapped my watch at the race’s 3 mile marker to get back in sync (Gamin registered a 7:21 for my “mile 3”).
I could tell something wasn’t clicking the way it had on some of the training runs on the course, the legs couldn’t find the right rhythm even though my paces were dead on (if not a tiny bit fast at first). Charlie, Izi and Brook pulled ahead but I knew better then to try and follow- I had my own race to run.

The miles continued to tick by marked by the beep of my watch and a sip from my water bottle. Miles 4-7 were: 7:53, 7:55, 7:52, 8:06. Although I was on pace I knew if I was going to run a 3:30 marathon it was going to be a battle. I pushed any negative thoughts out of my head and tried to focus on the trail and my breathing. Luckily I had Nellie running with me, although I wasn’t much of a conversation partner (sorry Nellie). Took my first Gu at mile 7. Miles 8-13 continued to be on pace, but still no rhythm to my legs.
Second Gu at mile 14 and that’s when I knew something was starting to feel wrong, I shouldn’t be this tired and worn out after 14 miles. I came through mile 16-ish where Loka and his kids and Erin were cheering, I knew I should be more excited but it was taking all my focus. My pace began to slow, but I knew that I still had a few minutes of wiggle room to BQ. Suddenly right around mile 17 I knew something was really wrong, I was dizzy and the trail in front of me was blurry, I pulled back my pace slightly, took some more water, but my vision wasn’t improving. I finally stopped and walked (based on my watch it was just after mile 18). It was a miracle I didn’t fall off the trail, I zig-zagged and tried to blink away the dizziness. Ken and Katia passed me and asked if I was okay, I nodded yes as I watched them pass looking strong. I started jogging again and managed a 9:16 mile 18, but the dizziness came back with a vengeance and I was forced to walk, again. I stumbled into the aid station and drank the Gatorade the volunteer offered like I had been in the desert for weeks. By that point I knew my shot at a BQ was gone, but I was determined to finish strong. I logged an 8:18 and 8:23 for mile 21 and 22.

I knew Nicola was waiting at Rattlesnake to pace me into the finish so I focused on making it to Rattlesnake. I came around the corner to the now very familiar Cedar Falls sign and saw Julie, Nicola, Adam and some other SGLRGers I’m forgetting. I grabbed two more cups of Gatorade from the aid station and gave Adam my fuel belt. Many thanks to Maya for sharing some of her Gatorage with me before we took off. Mile 22 was another slow mile with some walking thrown in. Stefanie caught up to us around 22 and offered a little more much appreciated motivation. I believe her quote was “come on, we just did this 2 weeks ago.” With Nicola and Stefanie around the dizziness gone, I gritted my teeth and pushed to the finish. Those last 4 miles were tough but I knew they would have been tougher had I been alone and not surrounded by my training buddies. I knew I was going to PR based on the fact that the 3:40 pacer was just ahead of me, but all I cared about was it all being over. I collapsed, literally, once I crossed the finish line but I had done it. I have given everything I had to a marathon I spent months training for. Yes, it wasn’t the ideal result but I overcame struggles during the race and managed a 12 minute PR.

It was an amazing day for personal achievements all around. I am so proud of all my training buddies and runners who PR’d and/or BQ’d that day. I’m humbled I was able to take part in it.