When I woke up Sunday morning, normally rainy Seattle was clear. Foggy, but clear.
The race began at 8:15 which was really late for me - I normally run at 5 a.m. – but I was still feeling pretty good Sunday morning – albeit a little tired from the walking I did the day before and a restless night of sleep. I walked from the Westin to the start of the race (around a mile) and waited a bit before the race commenced, enjoying the pre-marathon atmosphere.
The start was fast. And I was fast too. My pace was on point (8:10), and I felt really good.
Because it was not raining, I wore a vest over a long-sleeved Lulu running shirt – instead of a rain jacket – with a pair of leggings and throwaway gloves. Inside the city, I was perfectly warm – but as the race went around the Bay, I was freezing all race long – and the mist from the Bay meant that I was wet even without rain. I definitely should have kept the rain jacket on, if only just to cut the biting wind.
Miles one through 16, I felt great – strong even. My splits were pretty good excepting some of the hills – but averaging around 8:20 minute miles. I knew from the first hill that I was not going to qualify for Boston, but I still wanted to pull in a good time.
If you look at my split for the first half (1:53), it averages around 8:34 mile splits, which was good for the training (only 10 weeks) and temperature (I like to run in the heat, crazy, right?). The course had some hills, but also some gradual downhills, so it was a pretty solid course.
Until mile 13. After that, the course was uphill. Sometimes gradual, sometimes super steep. At mile 16, someone turned to me, and said “Only ten miles left!” and I wanted to cry. My quads were shredded (and I think the cold wind made them worse) and I had no idea how I was going to be able to finish.
That was mile 16. At mile 20, there was a hill so steep that when you looked up, no one was running. Only walking. I did a strange shuffle/hop up that hill to survive. And the next one. For two miles after 20, I averaged 11 minute miles. I literally felt like every mile was the last one I’d be able to do. So hard. I even decided at one point that I’d probably never run a marathon again…
But somehow, I finished. My last splits were good for how I was feeling (10 minute miles) and I finished strong. My second half was 30 minutes longer than my first.
That’s a tough second half of a marathon. But while I did not qualify for Boston, I still felt (and feel) really good about the race. it was a super tough course and I had a really short training season – but I did it. And after the race, I walked the mile back to the hotel.
By the time I reached my room, I was already thinking about how I’d train differently for my next marathon (planned to be Windermere in Spokane, WA):
- Train for longer than 10 weeks. Ideal for me is probably 16 weeks, or I peak too soon before tapering and I lose some fitness (not to mention some running burn-out).
- Don’t throw away the disposable gloves when you think you don’t need them. Put them in a pocket, because cold hands can be a mood dampener when the race is already cold.
- When you are running in a rainy city, or by the ocean, wear waterproof gear. I definitely should have kept the rainjacket – plus, it would have cut the wind.
- Don’t just look at the course map, read the reviews! Although the map made it look moderately hilly, the reviews made it clear (read post-race) that it was crazy steep! I’m not saying I wouldn’t have run it, but I definitely would have included more hills in my training.
- Take the day(s) before the race easy. I did way too much sightseeing and shopping the days before the race. My legs needed a real break.
- Do a long run or two at the time you will be racing. I am an early morning runner – try 5 a.m.! The race started at 8:15 PST, which was 9:15 a.m. for me. On a normal day, I’d have been long done with my run and eating my second breakfast. My body needed to be trained under circumstances similar to race day so I was ready.
I’ve already got my next training plan selected, from Bart Yasso’s book. Now I’ve just got to focus on rest so I’m ready to start training again in January.
Has a race course ever surprised you? How did you handle it?
What are you going to do differently for your next race?