I am still on cloud nine after yesterday’s win at the Moose’s Tooth Marathon here in Anchorage. I have to say it was incredibly exhilarating running down the street with everyone cheering and clapping for me as I broke the finish line banner. (I’ve never gotten to do that before!)
And what a day it was. . . .a mistake in the placement of a turn-around on the course left almost everyone running a mile short on the marathon course. At first it appeared I had run a sub-3 hour marathon and set the course record, but I knew as I crossed the finish line that that wasn’t correct.
Let’s start at the beginning because I’m type-A like that. . . . .
That’s me in the hot pink top.
I spent the week prior preparing for the marathon. It was my ‘A’ race of the summer, and all my training thus far was helping me prepare for this marathon. I laid low at home nearly every day, trying to stay off my feet as much as possible, foam rolling and stretching while I played with Cullen, eating clean, listing to a pod cast to help me visualize a strong performance, and think of positive mantras or lines I was going to say when the negative thoughts crept in.
My secret time goal my coach and I discussed before the day was a sub-3:05. She said she thought I was capable of finishing somewhere between 3:04 – 3:07, and she said why not go for sub-3:05. Prior to talking to her, I was thinking a sub-3:10 was a good goal, but that’s me being a safe better. This is what I love about having a coach–she pushes the boundary and sets the bar high!
The morning of the race I woke up, got ready, ate breakfast #1 and #2, and made sure Cullen was ready to go by 8 a.m. Craig drove me downtown to the start and took Cullen in the backpack for the morning. I did a short warm-up and some stretching before getting to the start line. When the gun went off, I was ready! I felt energized and ready to tackle 26.2 miles.
So with the time goal of sub-3:05, that put me at an average pace of 7:03 minutes per mile. My goal was to start 10 – 15 seconds slower than my goal pace and then work into my goal pace by mile 3.
Well, I’m blaming the downhills at the beginning for my mile being 6:53. Oops! I swear it felt easy-peasy. I tried not to look at my watch and just go by feel, but it was hard though because I didn’t want to go too slow. I tried to focus on running the tangents, my legs feeling like a well-oiled machine, and giving myself landmarks to focus on getting to: Craig waiting and cheering for me, the turn-around, downhill portions, etc.
I felt strong during the first quarter of the marathon. I took my first energy gel at 45 minutes and continued to tick off the miles.
Even before we got to the incorrectly placed turn-around, the mile markers were quite off. Some were too early, others too late. I know my GPS doesn’t always pick up a great signal on the trails because they are shaded with trees, but they seemed more off than usual. When I got to the turn-around, I didn’t realized it was too soon. I had looked at the course map, but I didn’t remember specifically what the mileage was supposed to be at the turn-around. However, within a few miles I knew something wasn’t right.
You can see how my splits drastically changed signifying something was off.
As the race progressed, the mile markers still confused me, and I kept looking at my watch trying to figure out what was going on. I don’t think it affected my performance, but it sure was confusing.
I have to admit that my legs started hurting even before half way. I tried to tell myself that this is a good sign as I was working hard, but I also knew I still had a long way to go. I kept trying to tell myself that I can deal with 3 hours of discomfort after enduring 42 hours of labor! (Seriously, I don’t think I’ll ever forget how much those contractions hurt!)
I was able to pick up a pace during the last 6 miles a little more, but those last two miles were rough! I was so ready to be done. There was one last hill about 0.5 mile toward the end that I was dreading, but I managed to pick up my feet the best I could and make it to the top. Once I was at the top of that hill, I knew I didn’t have much farther to go. As I turned onto the home stretch, past all the crowds of people, they announced that I was the first women’s marathoner and everyone started clapping and cheering. Oh wow, was that exhilarating!! I gave it my all and broke the finish line, which was pretty cool I have to say.
I immediately looked for Craig, who I knew thought I was actually sub-3 hours. “The course was a mile short,” I told him. I talked to a couple of other guys who finished in front of me, and they too confirmed that the course was short.
I did a quick interview with the local news station (That was something new for me too!) before congratulating the second place women and talking to friends who had come to cheer for me.
I also talked to a news reporter from Alaska Dispatch News for her write-up. And then the life of a mom called as Cullen realized he was hungry when he saw me. I snuck away to a place inside since I was shivering by now so I could feed him. That’s one job that doesn’t stop.
I know people are livid about the course being the incorrect distance, but I feel awful for the race director (who I’ve interacted with in the past and have nothing but positive things to say about) and the course officials. I hope people realize it was an honest mistake and it has happened at other races as well. It sounds like people will still be able to qualify for Boston, and I most likely will not hold the course record, which I am definitely okay with because I honestly don’t feel I deserve it. All in all, I am still so happy to have run so well, and I know (KNOW) I will be able to cinch that sub-3:00 marathon next summer!