So, I ran a marathon on Sunday.
smiling around mile 26
I started thinking about maybe running the Buffalo Marathon in the beginning of May, right after the New Jersey Marathon (the one I had been training for) happened. My runs were feeling good and I really wanted to have something to show for training through this horrific winter. So I found a cheap plane ticket (my family lives there, so staying and food = free), told myself that I’d run either the half or the full marathon depending on how long runs went the next couple weeks and how the knee felt. I did 16.5 miles ~3 weeks out and a 20 miler 16 days out and felt good, so decided to go for the full and see what happened.
Since this plan came together rather quickly (and spontaneously), I didn’t really mention it to many people partly for fear of jinxing how good I was feeling and partly because not talking about it seemed to bring a lot less pressure, and I put enough pressure on myself as it is. Plus, I told myself that if the knee started hurting for some reason, I’d pull out and it wouldn’t be a big deal. So it kind of became my Secret This-Might-Be-Crazy Marathon Plan.
I got to Buffalo on Friday and basically spent the next two days relaxing, eating and visiting the race expo. My sister and I went out on a three mile shake-out run on Saturday morning (she’s running her first 5K next week!) and I felt pretty good. The weather was great and promised to be decent for race day, and this was a relief since you never know what will happen in Buffalo when it comes to weather. My dad made spaghetti with venison meat sauce (it would be pretty hard to go veg there…) for dinner with a side of crusty, delicious bread and ice cream cake for dessert (birthdays…). #carbs
The race started at 7:00 a.m., so I woke up at 4:30 to have some (decaf) coffee and eat a little breakfast before heading to the start with my dad and sister, who, bless them, woke up just as early as I did and hung around for the whole race.
bright shirts = easy spotting
This was a small race compared to even the standard NYRR race, and leading up to the start I was astonished at how easy it was. We got there around 5:50 a.m., hung out in the Buffalo Convention Center with plentiful bathrooms and I didn’t mosey on over to the start until around 6:45 a.m. where the marathon and half marathon started together. Easy peasy, and before I knew it we were off. Shit, I’m running a marathon.
Miles 1-5: 8:15, 7:59, 8:08, 8:14, 8:19
Obviously BQ-ing is always my A goal, but since I’ve had such weird training cycle and the injury, I thought shooting for sub-3:40 was more realistic. The weather was great – about 50 and sunny – but I knew it would get warmer and sunnier later on. Felt really good during these miles and they flew by – we mainly ran through some neighborhoods and back down towards the Buffalo waterfront. I don’t remember a whole lot else.
Miles 6-10: 8:04, 7:59, 8:14, 8:18, 8:09
Here I started thinking that maybe I could do it – go sub-3:40 and possibly even BQ if I just kept it up. I tried to remind myself that the race had barely even started, but probably got a little too over-excited. Took my first gel at mile 6 because I really wanted to be one step ahead of my nutrition and avoid any sort of bonking.
Miles 11-15: 8:12, 8:17, 8:20, 8:28, 8:32
My sister and dad were going to be cheering at about the halfway point, and I was looking forward to that as we got closer. Miles 9-12 ish were along the waterfront, which was pretty but super sunny and I was getting pretty hot. I also reminded myself that soon, the half marathoners would finish and the number of runners would thin out (A LOT) for the rest of the race. Saw my dad, tossed my gloves to my sister and hit the half in about 1:48 – right on target. Took my second gel and it didn’t go down easy – my stomach cramped for a good mile or two and I just kept telling myself it would go away eventually and to calm down. My pace was slowing a bit here and I was vaguely aware of it.
Miles 16-20: 8:18, 8:20, 8:43, 8:38, 8:50
This part of the course was the hardest, and it’s funny because it was what I was looking forward to the most because it went through Delaware Park, which I’ve never run through. It’s quite pretty, but the sun was blaring down without any shade, it was getting warmer and there were only a handful of other runners around me so it seemed to go on forever. Took my third gel around mile 19. My pace also slowed dramatically pretty suddenly. It was weird, like I was giving the same effort but the wheels were just not turning. Different from hitting The Wall because I didn’t necessary feel glycogen depleted, just tired. My mom and aunt were going to be cheering around mile 19.5, so I looked forward to that and got a little boost after seeing them and pushed on. 10K left, it’s only a loop around Central Park. Keep moving.
Miles 21-26.2: 8:47, 8:25, 9:07, 9:19, 9:06, 8:50
I hate miles 21-23 of a marathon. So close, yet so far away. I really, really wanted to stop here and throw in the towel. The 3:40 pace group caught up to me around mile 21, and I was like shit, ok. Just keep up with them. Do not let them out of your sight. That lasted for 1 mile (22, see above), and I just didn’t have it. I walked through a few aid stations and took some water and Gatorade because the thought of taking another gel was nauseating. I tried not to get down on myself and thought maybe I could eek out a PR if I kept moving. After mile 24 I felt a little better and knew the last few miles were on a nice downhill, so just kept pushing and telling myself things like, ok, only 15 more minutes of running. You can do anything for 15 minutes. 10 more minutes of running… and so on. Saw my dad and sister again around mile 26 which was awesome – my dad yelled “come on, push it!!” which definitely helped me keep moving. At this point there were crowds again so that always helps distract from the pain. I looked at my watch which seemed to be moving a whole lot faster that it should have. Dude, if you want to PR you need to haul ass to the finish. So that’s what I (tried) to do, and as always, crossing that line was oh so sweet.
Official time: 3:42:48 (8:29/mile) – 10 second PR, 15th AG, 69th female (small races FTW!)
Hobbled over to my mom, aunt, dad and sister for some post-race refreshments. It was so cool to find them quickly and to have such a great support crew! They hugged me, held my bags and didn’t tell me how badly I probably smelled. The race put on a great spread of pizza and beer in the convention center, and even though I felt super nauseous choked down half a slice of pizza because I know all too well how important it is to get some carbs and protein in soon after the race. The thought of beer wasn’t too appealing at the time, but I made up for it later.
veggie burger, sweet potato fries, blue moon <3
I wore my “Boston Strong” shirt for this race partly because I like it, and partly because I wanted to channel how inspired I was from this year’s Boston into my race. My mantra was from the phrase I saw in the Boston Bombing Memorial Exhibit – Lace up your shoes and run for those who can’t. I think that says it all right there. Throughout the second half of the race, I kept thinking about The Goal (BQ) and whether I’d be disappointed if it didn’t happen yet again. Obviously, I would have been ecstatic if it had been my day. But really, that’s not what this race was all about anyways – it was about running because I could, in my hometown with support from family, two of whom (my dad and aunt) have never seen me run or watched a marathon.
I honestly do feel pretty lucky to be able to lace up my shoes every day, run a few miles or a marathon, and that so many people rearranged their whole weekend around me and my (arguably) crazy running habit [end cheesiness].
Now on to the next!