Cayenne’s Glass City Marathon Recap

Going into this race, I knew that I had run the most miles of my entire life. I had some ups and downs in my training, but deep down I was confident that my overall hard work would pay off in the end. My carb-heavy diet in the days leading up to the marathon was nearly perfect and I had a solid race nutrition plan. I had a few goals in mind:

1) To finish … always my number one goal!

2) To PR unless the weather was ridiculous or I puked.

3) To break 3:00, circumstances permitting.

4) To win money, this was more like a perk, not an important goal since I can’t control who does or doesn’t show up on race day.

To attempt to break three hours, I knew I had to start a little quicker than a 6:51 pace, since most marathon courses are a little long (unless you run the tangents perfectly), plus I have NEVER negative split a marathon. I had the ideal conditions for this attempt: the temperature was about 40° and sunny with minimal wind. Here is the breakdown of how it went!

Mile 1 (6:46)
I started the race at my planned beginning pace, which I aimed to keep between 6:45 and 6:50. It was a little on the quicker side of the plan. No matter how hard one tries to hold back, it is difficult not to get caught up in the excitement of a race, even though it is only mile one of 26. It did not help that the entire field was sprinting by me. I realized there were half marathoners in the race as well, but I seriously did not pass a soul until mile eight. I wondered if my Garmin was not working properly; the pace felt easy and I was getting passed like a semi on a highway full of Porsche Turbos.

Mile 2 (6:47)
I felt good. But it was mile two.

Mile 3 (6:55)
There was a mild hill which slowed my pace a bit. I have yet to run a “flat” marathon that is completely flat. I saw my boyfriend at the top which helped.

Mile 4 (6:49)
My thoughts from the previous mile were “Crap, I’m already slowing. I need to pick it back up.”

Mile 5 (6:42)
“Whoops, not by that much.” I saw the boyfriend again and I called out, “I feel good. But it’s mile five.”

Mile 6 (6:48)
“Ok, back on track.”

Mile 7 (6:47)
I sipped a Clif Shot gel. Throughout these early miles and the entire race, I mixed up my stride by doing high knees or butt kicks, and shook out my arms. I do this in every marathon to keep loose and to lessen the effects of inevitable stiffness and cramping at the end.

Mile 8 (6:50)
I finished off my Clif Shot gel, hastily gulping down the rest because I knew a water stop was ahead.

Mile 9 (6:51)
I tried to get water but a guy ahead of me grabbed it. I would have had to run backwards to get one from somebody else. I said screw it.

Mile 10 (6:48)
That water stop incident made me mad. It was at least over a mile to the next stop and my throat was full of gel. At least the frustration over this fact helped my pace.

Mile 11 (6:51)
I felt the Band-Aid on my toe slowly peeling off. Earlier in the week, I found my sock covered in blood after an easy walk. Stupidly, I had walked my dog in retired Hokas, not realizing that my sock had a hole in it. I completely avoided blisters this entire training cycle … why now??! Before the race, I had decided to run to the best of my ability, even if my entire foot was covered in blood by the end. A stupid blister wouldn’t keep me down!

Mile 12 (6:49)
Almost half way there. “I wonder if someone could drive me back if I quit now…”

Mile 13 (6:47)
I went through the half marathon point at 1:29:02. I knew I could break three hours IF I didn’t crash, and I had almost a two minute cushion. But I also realized that I had to run the entire distance I had just run, again!

Mile 14 (6:54)
That half split freaked me out. That was my half marathon race pace not too long ago. I still kept thinking, “I really have to run that whole distance again?” The task at hand seemed unfathomable. I broke out a caffeinated gel, which I had planned on reserving for later on in the race. I already needed it.

Mile 15 (6:49)
I got it back together mentally. That is, until a spectator called out, “You’re almost there! Only 11 more miles!” Seriously?!?! The “you’re almost there” method of encouragement should only be reserved for the last quarter mile of a race!

Mile 16 (7:01)
I really don’t know why this mile was slower, my Garmin jumped to a 7:20 at random even though I felt I was maintaining the same pace. I cursed at it and didn’t care if people heard.

Mile 17 (6:48)
“That’s more like it.”

Mile 18 (6:54)
A mild hill led up to mile 19. I slowed a bit, thinking I didn’t want to over tax myself this soon. I was also thinking I had time to spare.

Mile 19 (6:52)
I managed to somewhat get the pace back. The rest would be ok. Or so I thought.

Mile 20 (7:09)
This mile was the most difficult in terms of elevation. Then my right lower hamstring started to cramp. The left one did as well, but not as severely. I did some different strides and trots, and also tried to stretch my legs while I was running. I thought I could make up some time later on, and it was more important to prevent my legs from totally cramping up. It helped a little but not a ton. I know this is the cliché mile to fall apart in a marathon. The fact that I was falling apart made me even more mad! This was my slowest mile of the race.

Mile 21 (7:03)
The hamstrings were toast. I remembered how okay I felt last year at this point in the race. This year, I did NOT feel okay.

Mile 22 (7:06)
Ugh. “Well sub-3:00 is slipping away but I can still PR. Keep running.” More people called out “You’re almost there”, but it was still not even close to that point in a marathon. I needed another caffeinated gel.

Mile 23 (6:58)
After much cursing directed at my Garmin in the previous three miles, I forced my legs to go. They felt heavy and every step felt labored. My hamstrings screamed. I told them to shut up.

Mile 24 (7:04)
I kept on plodding. And it really did feel like plodding. My legs grew even heavier, my hamstrings throbbed, and my steps sounded like those of a pregnant elephant. Although I wasn’t maintaining my earlier pace, I passed a woman. I did not know if she was running the relay or the full marathon. I really didn’t think I was in any kind of contention for money.

Last year, many spectators called out “5th woman! 4th woman!, etc.” This year they didn’t say a thing. Because of all the relay runners jumping on and off the course, it was hard to tell who was actually running the full marathon. I passed a few other women but I don’t really remember where.

I didn’t care at this point. I was just running to finish. I took my remaining gel.

Mile 25 (7:03)
After throwing out all those over 7:00 minute miles, I knew I would be just over three hours. I saw my boyfriend again. He said “You’re going to break 3:00!” But he didn’t know that two of the earlier timing mats were a little off so I was actually not running as fast as he thought. I said, “No, I lost the pace!” But nonetheless, I pressed on, with a goal just to finish the damn thing.

Mile 26 (6:49)
My legs were done but I still had some heart left to hammer this mile out.

.22 (6:43)
This was my “sprint.” It was all I could do.

Final mile

My finishing time was 3:00:38, 5th woman overall. Apparently I was in 7th place until the last few miles, so two of those women must have been running the individual marathon. I felt like utter crap but getting a PR was worth it.

Awesome things

1) I PR’d by over four minutes!

2) I won money! Although I was four minutes faster than last year, I placed 5th instead of 4th this time. Like I said before, it all depends on who shows up on race day.

3) I had no stomach issues! I dialed in my nutrition and that was the best my stomach has ever felt in a marathon.

4) I am a 3-hour runner. Some races give runners a free “elite” entry if you run a 3-hour marathon.

5) It confirmed my opinion that in running, you get out what you put into it. I ran the most miles of my life in training and as a result, I was able to PR. This aspect was particularly rewarding for me.

Not-so-awesome things

1) I didn’t break 3:00 in ideal conditions. It makes me wonder if I ever can!

2) Some races actually say you must run a “sub-3:00 marathon” to get the elite entry.

3) My training was less than ideal at times. My hamstring pain was aggravated by my frequent, very long drives. I also did not do some of the long pace runs fast enough. This might have helped me to sustain a quicker pace in the final miles.

Goals

1) Recover!
2) Focus on shorter races to develop some speed.
3) Look at future half and full marathons because my sub-3:00 goal seems so achievable, I’m going to keep trying!

***

I have some definite room for improvement, but I will continue to work hard to achieve my goals. It is good to know that hard work does pay off!

I am a dedicated runner and classical musician. I am currently chasing a sub-3 hour marathon (3:00:38 PR). I often feel like the underdog going up against "serious" runners-I took up running after college, I do not have a typical "runner's body type", and I am mostly self-coached. I travel a lot to perform with different orchestras and run when I can, where I can. I love to (over) eat and that is my number one motivation for running! Follow me as I chase my goals!

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18 comments

  1. AH YOU’RE SO CLOSE! It’ll come. Be interesting to hear if you can figure out why your hamstrings cramped. More electrolytes, maybe? I don’t know the electrolyte composition of the Clif gels. Hm.

    CONGRATS on the big PR and a top-5 in-the-money placing! You’re a 3-hour marathoner!

    1. Thanks! I am training for another marathon now and I am experiencing some pain in the lower right hamstring after very long runs. The soreness goes into the next day so I am thinking it might not be electrolytes. I think I just have mostly right-sided IT band/butt/hamstring/lower back issues…probably from lots of driving. I am trying to strengthen/stretch/roll/ice and hope for the best!

  2. Congrats! Such a great time! If you find the secret to the hamstrings, let me know-I get plagued by tight/painful hamstrings too. I like the idea of doing high knees and butt kicks mid-race!

    1. Thank you! I am trying to do a few more 20 plus mile runs than I did last cycle and hope my body learns how to cope with the demands of a full marathon. I did a 22 miler and had some pain in the same part of the hamstring that cramped in my marathon. It seems like rolling with the foam roller and icing my lower back/IT band/hamstring is helping the most right now. I am also trying to take more stretch breaks and not sit for a long amount time without getting up. Will let you know if it all works-let me know if you find a good solution as well!

  3. Congrats on running such a big PR! You really ran even splits. A sub 3 is definitely possible- just think of it as 1 or 2 seconds per mile faster!

  4. Congratulations on placing, PRing, and running a 3 hour marathon! You have a LOT to be proud of and you wrote an awesome recap. Plus you won money, which is always a nice perk. I’m really sorry you did not meet that sub-3 goal. It has to suck to see it slip away and be so close, but that’s kind of how running works. The joy is in the journey to meet those goals and not necessarily in the accomplishment, but I could totally see sub-3 in your future given how close you were!