I just finished my first full marathon this morning, the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, Michigan. It was the most painful run/race I have ever had, but it was also the most awesome run/race I have ever had. I finished in 3:04:18. I just missed my goal of 3:03, but I'm still pretty excited about my time. While technically a BQ, I have a feeling BQ minus 42 seconds probably won't make the cut come Boston registration in September. That part is disappointing, but I'm still pretty proud of myself.
It was a 7:15 am race start time, and it was a crisp 44 degrees at the start, which left me shivering a bit in my short sleeve shirt and shorts, but once I got moving, it was the perfect temp.
Miles 1-3: 6:41, 6:42, 6:45. This was a little faster than I had wanted to start out with. My plan was to start around a 6:50 pace, but at the time, I felt like it wouldn't be too harmful to start out like this. It just felt good to be racing again after tapering since my 25K race 3 weeks ago.
Miles 4-6: 6:59, 6:50, 6:49. I'm really not sure what happened there in mile 4. I must have lost focus or something because I was definitely surprised to see that 6:59 split show up. This part included a loop through one of the residential neighborhoods. It was cool to see the guys front pack guys running past us, and it felt good running by the runners behind us since a lot of them threw out some encouraging words to us as we passed each other. I was still feeling pretty great at this point. Legs were moving well. Breathing was fine. Confidence was way high.
Miles 7-12: 6:57, 6:51, 6:49, 6:57, 6:51, 6:54. Still felling good at this point. Miles 7 and 10 were on the slower side because of slowing down at aid stations. I took at GU at the 10.5 mile aid station, which ended up being my only GU for the whole race. This ended up being a huge mistake. Mile 12 ended up being my last sub 7:00 mile.
Miles 13-16: 7:01, 7:00, 7:01, 7:07. I was obviously slowing down at this point, but I wasn't worried too much. My legs were still feeling pretty good. I decided not to push myself too hard to get back under a 7 minute pace. Given that this was my first marathon, I didn't want to increase my chances of hitting the dreaded wall at the end. I figure I could always try to make that time up at the end if possible. Somewhere along this stretch, two guys set up a cheering station with signs that said "Never trust a fart" and "You're NOT almost there," which I thought were both hilarious. My pre-race plan was to take a GU around the 15-16 mile mark, but stupid me decided not to for some reason. I mean, I freaking had two GU packets in my pockets the entire race. Again, this was a huge mistake that I will never make again. I thought gatorade would be enough, but it definitely wasn't.
Miles 17-21: 7:05, 7:07, 7:06, 7:08, 7:04. This was when i started to get worried. I knew I had banked some time early in the race to get my goal of 3:03, but I was definitely giving away a decent amount of time back here. It didn't help that the sun was out, and was probably 60-70 degrees. Even though, my legs were starting to tire out, I still refused to go with the GU. WHAT WAS I THINKING???
Miles 22-24: 7:13, 7:31, 7:33. THE WALL. This was it. This was what I was dreading. So close to the finish, and I had very little left. My calves were giving out short bursts of cramps that I had to get through. I stopped 3-4 times for maybe 5-7 seconds each time to massage out the problem areas. I was furiously doing the pace math in my head. Was I going to be able to still hit 3:03? Was I going to be able to get a BQ of 3:05? I drank a decent amount of gatorade at the aid stations to try to prevent my calves from completely dying on me. I knew at this point, it was too late for GU.
Miles 25-26.2 (26.3 by my Garmin): 7:06, 7:01, 2:01 (6:31 pace for the last 0.3 miles). This part of the race was all willpower. My legs were dead. My arms were tingling. My one thought was, "Dig in. You HAVE to go sub 3:05." Even though I knew getting less than BQ minus 1:30 probably wasn't going to cut to get into Boston 2015, I still wanted to say I had a BQ. I played the game of picking off one runner at a time. Luckily, the half marathoners had merged with us around mile 20 so there were a decent number of targets to go after. I even passed at least two of my fellow full marathoners. I was grimacing and gritting my teeth for much of this last stretch. As I hit the last straightaway, I could hear my sister and Mom cheering me on to the finish line. I finished with 3:04:18, BQ minus 42 seconds, 14th overall, 2nd in my age group of 25-29.
I basically couldn't move for a good 40 minutes after the race. My body was spent. Luckily, my mom, sister, brother-in-law, and nephews were there to help me out.
Post-race thoughts: I'm proud of my time, but I definitely want to hit sub-3:03 before Boston registration in September. I'm signed up for another marathon in 4 weeks. Even though, much of the time between then and now will be recovery and taper, I feel pretty confident that I can get a better time with proper race fueling. I don't want to run that race, though, unless I feel like I can reach my goal, so depending on how recovery goes, I may or may not run that race. If I don't, or if I run it and don't get sub-3:03, I'm looking at a pre-Boston registration marathon in August-early September. For now, I'll just focus on recovering and hopefully get back on the road in a few days with some short recovery runs.