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November 3, 2010

I'm late.

No, not in that way. I meant with this long overdue blog post about the Des Moines Marathon that I ran on October 17, 2010.

My tardiness in posting speaks to my level of exhaustedness and evidence that I ran my ass off, resulting in a thirteen minute PR.


Pre-race, chilly and nervous

It was pretty cold that morning and when I got to the starting corral, they were all but empty. I went to stretch and warm up inside a nearby building where other runners were waiting, thinking that I could just hop into the corral right before the start. I ended up waiting a bit too long and the corrals were packed by the time I got out there. I actually ended up standing outside of the corral and had to make my way up to the 3:30 group over the first two miles.

The half marathoners started with us so it was pretty crowded until mile 3 where they split off from us. The course for us heading straight up a long, gradual hill where I just concentrated on maintaining an even effort and didn't worry so much about pace.

In my original race plan, I had wanted to stay with the 3:30 group until 13.1, then pick it up for a negative split. However, the pacer for that group had never led a pace group before so my confidence in him was pretty low and I decided to forge ahead on my own.

I knew that there were going to be rolling hills and they appeared in miles 4-8. I actually like hills but when I say that, I mean running up them. I'm not a big fan of down hills, if you'll recall from this post. Long story short, I trashed my quads pretty early and could feel them tightening up.

Splits first half according to Garm:
1- 7:48
2- 7:33
3- 7:42
4- 7:56
5- 7:56
6- 7:51
7- 7:56
8- 8:00
9- 7:52
10- 7:54
11- 7:45
12-7:45
13- 7:57
Half: 1:42:49

In my original race plan, I wanted to pick up my pace but with how crappy my legs were feeling, I thought it would be better to just maintain and go for my "B" goal of 3:30 (my "A" was 3:25). Around mile 14, I started chatting with a guy who was running his first marathon and trying to BQ. He needed a 3:45 but was shooting for a 3:35 and asked if he could run with me. For the next 5 or so miles, we chatted about running and small life details. We had been talking for a while when we finally introduced ourselves. His name: Joel.

See? Told you it was lonely.

14- 8:00
15- 7:55
16- 7:45
17- 7:49
18- 7:54
19- 7:47
20- 7:47

Around Mile 20, Joel and I had tucked in with pack of runners. He slowed at a water stop and I didn't see him again.  I'm not going to sugar coat it- I was hurting big time. I was alone on the course except for half marathon walkers (seriously, people? Isn't there a 5K some where? Sorry, that was mean.)  and a few runners that I would occasionally pass.  It was also pretty windy and I was praying that I would catch someone that I could draft behind. No such luck.

My goals at that point became about not walking (Note: I've never not walked in a race, or even a long training run, for that matter) and not running anything over an 8:30 pace.

21- 8:00
22- 8:03

23- 8:14
24- 8:17
25- 8:22


Some side-boob, courtesy of photographer mom
The last miles were brutal. With no one with me, it was a total mind game. I was grateful for even the smallest distraction, like the guy standing near mile 22 with a sign that read "High five if you still like running." If I had the energy to lift my arm, I totally would have. My mom was there at a few points on the course but could never get a shot of me coming, just passing or leaving. After reviewing the professional race pictures, I'm still a total failure when it comes to taking a cute one.


Finally, I could see the 26 mile marker (8:18) and found one more gear to push to the finish (last .2, 7:16 pace). All I could think was "You can do anything for one minute" despite the fact that I had been repeating this phrase over the last 45 minutes. But finally I was done.

3:27:25. Not my A goal but not quite B either.

Some things to ponder:
1. My slowest mile in this race (8:22) was faster than my average pace (8:25) at Grandma's Marathon roughly three months ago.
2. No miles over 8:30
3. Didn't walk!
4. Kept a fairly consistent pace, except for those last few miles...
5. Finished 8th in my division (out of 121) and was the 28th woman overall! Out of 675! Not too bad, for me, any way.

So there it is. Now I am taking a few weeks off of running to fully recover and then will get back on a training plan. I want to see how low I can go...

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