Monday: Strength and run
Light arm, ab and leg workout
1 hour walk
Tuesday: Light speed workout
This workout was on curvy roads. I was slow but didn’t care.
1 mile warm up, 4 X 400 (not fast), 1 mile cool down
Wednesday: Easy run
6 miles (9ish pace)
20 minute swim
Friday: Shakeout run
2 miles (7:52)
The weather was good-overcast and low 60’s. It would have been more perfect for running had it been in the 40’s and 50’s, however it could have been much worse. I had an awesome pre-marathon experience. At the Friday night dinner I got to hang with the elites and meet Meb. The expo was pretty cool too. Although this is not a huge, huge race, it had a big race feel and everything was very well organized. Although the dinner they provided had some very tempting items, I kept it simple and stuck to pasta with marinara sauce. Because of past stomach issues in marathons, I severely limit my fat, protein and fiber in the days preceding a marathon. Others around me were eating salad, meatballs, cake, etc. I had serious food envy.
Race morning: I had my usual meal: two black teas and a bowl of oatmeal. Although I love coffee, it gets things going a little too well for me when I’m running, if you know what I mean! I only need a stimulant for a short time, not for hours during a race. The tea is perfect for that-it works but does not have the lingering effects.
I did a half mile warm up before the race. I felt great during the first half, as I’m sure most people do. But I didn’t go out too fast. There were several downhill stretches. My 6:40 mile was not a 6:40 effort; it was downhill. Because of the severity of the hills, I decided to run an effort-based race and not worry too much about slowing on the uphills and speeding up on the downhills. Here are my first half splits: 6:52, 6:59, 6:48, 6:55, 6:46, 6:57, 6:56, 6:40, 6:43, 6:52, 6:56, 6:56, 7:05.
I feel like I ran two different races. I had heard from several people that miles 12.5-14 were tough. I was mentally prepared. Before the race my bf had told me to short stride the hills and increase my cadence like we practiced. I used this technique to get up the long hill and thought, “ok, that wasn’t too bad. I can do this!” But my problem wasn’t that one hill. It was the succession of hill after hill. The short striding worked on the first few hills but I soon realized I couldn’t short stride the whole freaking second half…the inclines just wouldn’t end! The fatigue gradually accumulated in my hips and quads and my legs just gave up. Even when I hit the flatter sections, my legs didn’t want to move fast.
At one point early on in the race a spectator said “you’re in the top 10 women.” That didn’t motivate me a ton. But late in the race someone said “you’re the 4th woman!” I think he was mistaken, as I know there were more women than that ahead of me. When I had looked at the projected finish times people had put down, I knew there were about 10 women capable of running faster than me at the race. However, even if he was mistaken, it motivated me to stick with it. I somehow managed to slightly recover after the 7:40 mile. Here are my second half splits: 7:12, 6:54, 7:19, 7:00, 7:03, 7:07, 7:16, 7:13, 7:27, 7:40, 7:18, 7:03, 7:20, 6:54.
I was not proud of the mid 7’s miles or the 7:40 mile. It is pretty discouraging to see a training pace on your watch when you are racing, and realizing that is all you can do. I was prepared for a rough second half but it was worse than I thought. There was only one short, steep hill that I remember. The rest were long, gradual ones which are much harder for me.
I somehow passed a few women throughout but one passed me around mile 23. She was running strong and I was pretty much done. She ended up getting 3rd place. I closed in on the 4th place woman but ran out of real estate. I later found out that those 12 seconds cost me an additional $500…(place up and Ohioan prize). That was rough! I still finished in 5th place (they award top 5 overall-yay!). I really feel that I could have PR’ed on paper had I run a course like Toledo that day. Some people say flat marathons use the same muscles and fatigue the legs more…based on my experiences I’d really have to argue against that! 3:07 is a long way from sub-3, but I still have hope that I can do it on a flat course.
Although my watch had a 7:03 average and a long distance, they had me at a 7:10 pace. Everyone I talked to had the course at 26.4 or more…mine was 26.58. This could have been because I ran a little out of my way each time to get my “elite” fluid bottles. I use “elite” in quotes because my time certainly did not seem elite.
At the Toledo marathon in April I also had a 7:03 pace (26.21 distance) and finished in 3:04. On paper it looks like I am slower than last April, esp to people that don’t know the Toledo and Akron marathon courses. Toledo was shorter and flatter. There is no comparison to Akron. To have the same pace at both races is great for me…I am treating this like a PR!
I ran much more even splits at my last marathon but am ok with it because the second half was so much harder here. Holding back on the downhills in the first half would not have done me a ton of good or saved much energy. I feel like I am full of excuses but for me this marathon was very hard. If I ever do this one again I will need to practice gradual uphill courses, even more than I did.
Akron was a great race. It was the most challenging marathon I have done-much harder than Boston. However I MIGHT do it again with the realization that I will be several minutes slower on that course compared to a flat one. It is my hometown and it was a great race experience overall.
Sunday: Pizza and beer
Total miles: 28ish