Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Jersey Marathon race report: Part 2.

If you didn't catch Part 1, you can pop over here and read away. 

So, where was I?

Oh, yes. I'd gone through the half marathon in 1:51:39 (8:31 pace) and the 3:45 pace group had gone through in 1:51:02 (8:28 pace). I was trying to catch the group in mile 14. Doing my best, trying to make up ground.

Mile 14: 8:22

The effort wasn't so much taxing on my body as it was on my mind. I knew that at the half marathon mark, I was ahead of my pace (which was supposed to be 8:35 per mile) -- and yet the pace group was well ahead of me. That was not the plan. I felt myself starting to slow and, as I did, I was beating myself up. You're losing the group. You're going to miss your goal. Don't you want to run a 3:45 marathon? You have it in you, why aren't you pushing?

And so on.

My internal banter was, as my friend Bridget would say, ludicrous. Fortunately, I realized the ludicrous nature of what was going on and began to think, instead, about this:

In trying to run with the 3:45 pace group I was not running my own race. I was running at someone else's pace, someone else's racing plan. Not mine. Somewhere around mile 15, I decided to give up on the pace group and run my own race.

It was not easy. No, not at all. I could see the pace group ahead of me for quite a while and I fully admit that there were moments when I wanted to try to get back to where they were. But as the distance between us grew, there was no catching up and that was a bit defeating. The next few miles were mentally challenging, but I got through them.

Mile 15: 9:19
Mile 16: 9:24
Mile 17: 8:55
Mile 18: 9:22

And then there was the turn-around at mile 19, waaaaaaay down there in Ocean Grove:

For some reason, this whole turn-around situation made me really angry. Angry? Yes, angry. Well, at first I was happy because getting to mile 19 meant there were only 7.2 miles left. And then I was angry. Surely I was being irrational but the idea that I was excited to only have 7.2 miles left made me so mad. Only 7.2 miles? Only? Do you know how long it is going to take you to run 7.2 miles? FOREVER. Seriously. If I could do the math right now, I would tell you but, believe me, you are going to be running far longer than you would like. 7.2 miles is far. This sucks. Why, oh WHY did you start out so fast? That wasn't the plan! This SUCKS.

So I walked. I needed a drink, I think I probably took a gel and I was just so angry that I had to stop and walk.

Mile 19: 9:53

But then the anger was out of my system and I caught a bit of a second wind.  One mile at a time. You're doing great. You're running a sub-4 hour marathon. That'll be a huge PR. I turned my outlook around and was totally, 100% happy with going after my B goal. The time is now. Go get it.

Mile 20: 9:18
Mile 21: 9:30
Mile 22: 9:16

At some point during these miles (I think, maybe it was earlier?) I saw Tami, Melissa, Elisa and Bridget going the other way. That was great. Every time I saw a friend, I felt a little lift. Unfortunately, I had to stop to walk during the next two water stops; once because I accidentally took Gatorade when I wanted water and it was so thick it made me gag so I had to stop and deal with that whole situation, and once because, well, because my body just wanted to walk.

Mile 23: 9:40
Mile 24: 9:44

With two miles left, I started to feel confident that I was actually going to get the sub-4 hour marathon. I kept running and tried my best not to shuffle.

Mile 25: 9:31
Mile 26: 9:29
last bit: 9:15 pace

When I saw the finish line and that big ol' 3 at the beginning of my time, I was thrilled. And, yeah, I was pretty happy to be done.

26.2 miles is no joke. No joke at all.

Bottom line? I didn't reach my A goal of running a 3:45 marathon. "But, Happy Runner," you may ask, "why did you start yesterday's post by saying the marathon was great?"

Because it was. It was great. The race, the weekend, the build-up, the whole thing was just plain great. I ran strong. Sure, I ran too fast in the first half and, sure, I had to give up my A goal. But did I give up completely? No, I did not. I ran on. I ran my own race, at least for half of that marathon.

Best of all is that I felt pretty good afterward, even better one day later and then, yesterday, I had a nice recovery run that felt fine. I hardly have any soreness and, honestly, barely feel like I ran a marathon. To some, that may mean that I didn't push hard enough during the race. To me, that means I was well-trained to run the marathon I ran.

And the marathon I ran is not too shabby:

Official time: 3:56:37
Overall place: 846 out of 2307
Female place: 211 out of 900
Age group (40-44) place: 29 out of 143
Overall pace: 9:02

That's a huge 16 minute PR for me. It's also 11 minutes slower than my A goal and there are many things that I can point to for that, but those I'll cover in another post. Lessons learned and all that.

Right now, let me share with you how the other runners in my little gang did -- because I was far from the only one with goals last weekend. Melissa, Tami and Karen all ran really well and set new PRs! Elisa didn't get a racing PR, but she did get a coaching PR because she ran the whole race with Bridget, as a superstar supporter. Bridget and Janis finished their first marathons, and Janis even came in under 5 hours! Gail and Ginny ran the half marathon, Gail finishing in just over 2 hours and Ginny finishing a strong 2:27 just 4 months after having knee surgery.

Rock on, ladies! Rock, ON!

And now, I'll leave you with a few more photos from the weekend:

The group! (from top, l-r) Elisa and Ginny; Karen, Gail and Janis; Me, Bridget and Melissa
Yes, we all had our medals on. Why not?

Relaxing with some champagne after the race!
So, that was the marathon. I enjoyed my training and I'm glad that it paid off in the end. Will I run another? Do I want try again for a 3:45? I'm not sure. Those are questions I'll be thinking about this week. Right now, though, I'm enjoying having a new marathon PR -- and trying to catch up on laundry, house cleaning, and other work!

Thanks for coming along on this marathon journey of mine. Have a great day!

~ Felice


Marlene said...

Great big congratulations to you! So things didn't go exactly according to plan, but you held on and made the most of it. AND you still ran a seriously respectable time and killed your PR! So very happy for you!!!

Bill Fine said...

Great job!!!

And thanks for not keeping us in suspense for any longer!

You ran a great race.....and particularly making the decision to run your own race, rather than sticking with the pace group. Well done, Felice!!!!


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on running your own race!
It's hard not to get ourselves tangled up in something else, someone else's race. And what an amazing improvement on your PR!
Enjoy the leg rest and the runner's high :)

missris said...

29th in your age group?! Holy cow that's awesome! Congrats on an amazing race!!

macnic said...

What a great recap and run! Well done and great PR!

NY Wolve said...

That is awesome! I can sympathize on the internal debate, dialogue and pace group dilemmas. But a sub 4 marathon is something to cherish for a long, long time.

Julie D said...

Congrats on the sub-4... it takes a lot more than people would think!

Katherine said...


RunningJunkie said...

That's an awesome race! Congrats! I just ran my first marathon. I did the same thing with the 4 hr pace group. I got 4:01:57. My next one is November 10. I just started a blog as well:-)

Jill said...

That's an awesome PR!! I know you wanted the 3:45, but enjoy the PR victory and down the road if you want the 3:45, you know where to find it. Congratulations!!

Kenley said...

a great congratulations to you for that marathon. this is by far was the best race recap that I have ever read. I love how you put it in story format. thank you very much for sharing.

Felice Devine said...

Thanks so much!!

Chic Runner said...

Hold your head high because you still went sub 4 which is awesome! Great job out there and so happy you had such a good experience with the race :)

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

Congrats on the huge PR and sub-4 finish!

Michael said...

A delayed comment, but Congratulations on an amazing race Felice ! A sub-4 hour marathon, and a 16 minute PR is nothing short of amazing. I can't believe you could hold those sub-8:30 paces for as long as you did...absolutely Incredible.

Well done !

Suzy said...

Congratulations again!! I'm glad you got a huge PR.

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