Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Mind Needs More Work - but I'm happy with it !

So, you all know that prior to St. Jude 26.2 on Dec. 3rd, it had been 3.5 years since my last marathon which was Boston 2013.  To refresh your memory, I decided back in April that I would raise money for St. Jude (we raised $4370) and I would make my "comeback".   My plan was to run fewer times per week, lower mileage, and basically, 2 quality runs per week (long run and either tempo, hill repeats, or intervals).  Also, back in April/May I decided I would focus on the mental side of training this time.  My thinking was that I would not be doing nearly the volume of training, like before, so I wanted a "mental boost".  I also wanted something new and fresh to learn about and focus on.

Dec. 3rd - St. Jude Memphis
My husband made the trip with me.  I have come to love, love, love when he travels to my races.  He is so supportive of "my crazy".    He's also a great support crew of one.  I'm talking leg massages, making sure I have what I want or need for the race, supporting me on the course, etc. etc. 
a little shopping at Bass Pro

The fall leaves were beautiful in Memphis.  We stayed at the Sheraton.  It was a great location, and .7 from the start of the marathon.
Today, I ran 5 miles with Kelly.  This was my 3rd run since Memphis. (I'm recovering really well - feeling great).   I gave her the recap and I realized I hadn't blogged yet about the race.  The weather was good.  I think it was around 47 at the start but with clouds and rain moving in the temperature was in the low 50s during the race.   Rain was predicted for around 11AM.  The race started at 8AM.  Personally, I would prefer the temperature to be much colder, but with the cloudy conditions, it felt nice (until the finish -sweat and FREEZING!!!)

This is a pic of the start.  It was crazy trying to get to the corral.  I was at the bottom, right of the white rectangle in this picture, which is a parked bus.  I started making my way to corral 5 from the street to the left of the bus.  I made it to the corner of the bus and found the corral gate was open here.  I was so relieved because I was worried about having to climb over the railing to get to my corral.  I had made it to the opening and it was gridlock.  Just as I made it to this point, I'm looking around and I see my cousin, Laura and our friend Paige,  about 2-3 people away from me.   I called her name and told her to come my way to the opening.  She took this selfie. I was so excited to see them.  It's pretty amazing that we ended up in the same spot.  Like a 1 in 10,000 chance.  Wow!
At this point,  and for the first 2-3 miles of the race, I reminded AGAIN, why I prefer smaller races.  The logistics, the crowds, and the early zig zag racing are not my favorite things.....Also, the first 2-3 miles of this race are not scenic.  At this point in the race, I feel like a fish out of water and I realize again that city races are not my thing.  I like some beautiful scenery to go with my running.
Thankfully, around mile 4 we made it to the river front which is a pretty area.  Chad was at mile 4 and had made a new friend.  His new friend's wife was running too and so they both jumped in the car and made it to various spots on the course.

During this portion of the race I felt great.  My early mantra for the day was "I can do this all day long" (meaning I can hold the pace).  I kept repeating that at several spots along the way.
Somewhere around mile 5-7 we get to one of the best parts of the race.  Running through the St. Jude campus is special.  Many children with parents line the streets and they are cheering for the runners.  It reinforced that the effort to raise money for St. Jude was important and appreciated.  It was a happy spot, even though on some level you are sad because so many children are ill.

Several areas along the course had beautiful areas of fall leaves. The pictures below were taken the day before the race.   Race day was really cloudy and gray.

My pace through mile 15 was 9:08.  The course is rolling hills the whole way.  Most of the hills are not bad, but some were long.   During the first half, my mind work was in full force.   I remember noticing all the great downhills while barely noticing the uphills (improvement here).  I didn't realize it until after the race, but I started falling off the pace at mile 16.   At mile 20, I was disappointed !   From May until Dec., my goal was this.......This time, I will conquer mile 20-26.2.  I will be mentally prepared and my mind will carry me through the hard miles.  I really believed it would be true!   I really did !   So as I get to mile 20 and I'm already slowing to 9:39 pace, I was upset.  Many, many times, I tried to shift gears and get back on pace, but it wasn't happening.

I was planning to see Chad at mile 22 and I was going to give him my fuel belt.  Around mile 20-21, I took my last gel out and was going to put it in my short pocket.  I dropped it !  I didn't realize it until I was down the road a little way, so of course, I didn't stop and go back to get it.  I convinced myself that I didn't need it anyway.   Guess what ?   I did see Chad at mile 22 and I totally forgot to give him my belt.  Marathon fog is real and I'm kind of foggy in general, soooo ........

The rest of the race was slower, slower, slower.   At one point,  with marathon brain fog in full force I looked at my pace which was around 9:30 avg.  In my confused mind,  instead of thinking about the 9:30 avg. somehow my mind went directly to thinking I was going to run a 4:30 marathon.   I was mad !   Even though 4:30 was my C goal, I was mad !   I just kept thinking about how well I had kept the pace up until 15, and I kept thinking I thought I was in better shape than 4:30.....

A few miles later, I finally realized I was still on pace to finish around 4:15 or better.  WoW !  I felt better !  Not like, better and I can run faster, but mentally better about the day.    In fact, my pace continued to slow down, but I still felt much better about my estimated finish time.   Miles 21-24 were in the low 10 minute range.  I even walked in mile 25 and 26 and those were 11:01, and 11:28.   Just to pile on, I ended up running 26.46, all while trying to run tangents.  I AM aware of tangents......   That's like an extra 3 minutes added on to my final time.  Ugh !   With the early zig zag, and sometimes with the crowds, it's just hard to hit the tangents correctly.  Also, this race has a lot of turns, so that adds to the challenge.   (I have finished several marathons at 26.2)

On our run this morning, Kelly asked me about my fueling during the race.  Even then it didn't register about dropping the last gel and it's impact.  It wasn't until I was driving home today, 11 days after the race, that I remembered about dropping the last gel.  All this time, I was thinking the rolling hills got me at the end, but today I realize that the low fuel at the end of the race had an impact too.    I think my last gel was around 16 or 18.

Hey, I'm a realist.  So my final review of this marathon is this:
when I factor in all of the following, I'm happy, happy that I finished with 4:12.   Please understand, these are NOT excuses, but in my realist mind, these things give me a clear picture of how and why I finished at 4:12.  Also, I like to analyze the what, when, and why of the marathon and for me, this is part of the process.  analyze, analyze, analyze

**I max'ed out at 43 miles (IMO - this is minimal mileage for a marathon)
**I'm 48 and it's been 3.5 years since I've covered 26.2 (this matters)
**This was not a flat course.
**I ran almost 3 tenths extra (adding 3 minutes to my time)
**no fuel after 16-18 miles

 So when I factor in the facts above,  I'm happy and proud !   I finished my 26th marathon and I finished it well, all things considered.

The data:
22 weeks of training
26.5 miles avg per week   (2013 - 45 avg per week)
Max mile - 43 miles - 1 week   (2013 - 80 - 1 week)
26:46 - 9:33 avg pace (what I actually ran)
26.2 race - 9:39 avg. pace (pace avg. based on 26.2 miles)
Yasso's Prediction - I ran the Yasso 800s - 10 X 800 at 3:55 - For me, I know the Yasso prediction doesn't work out, but based on the 3:55, I was thinking I might run around 4:05-4:10.
McMillan Running - Based on my Sept. half marathon - McMillan predicted I might run 3:59.  With my low weekly average mileage,  I was thinking 4:05-4:10 was realistic.

So, I've completed my 26th marathon.  Apparently, I still have some "mind and physical" work to do because I still haven't conquered 20-26.2.   I've trained up to a max. of 80 miles per week, I've added strength work, I've done boot camps, yoga, I've worked on my mind, and yet, I still have not conquered that last 6.2 the way I want to.  This is what keeps me going and intrigued.
I still believe that one day I will figure out how to finish a marathon well.  I will !   

A little post race Memphis BBQ

This weekend I will be "fun running"(maybe walk/running)  the Ole Man River half marathon race in New Orleans.  I signed up for this marathon last year when it was 5k priced.  This was LONG before a marathon was in my mind.  


Gracie said...

Wow, 26 26-milers! Good for you! I completely agree that time since the last race really matters. I struggled after my nearly-4-year break.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

The brain fog is real - I make short lists to memorize as I come to aid stations for what needs to happen there and I still forget things. 18 marathons so far for me, but I'm still learning, too. Congrats on finishing your 26th in 4:12!