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.

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