Friday, April 29, 2016

Oshkosh Marathon Report: Nobody Dies and Says "Glad I Didn't Try"*

Well, that happened.

I can't even be that bummed about it. (And surprisingly, I'm not.) I feel like it was a big question mark trying to race another marathon just three weeks after running under 3:39. In the past I've run two marathons five weeks apart and PR-ed, but I've also run two marathons four weeks apart and completely blown up. (The latter was a super hot day though so I still thought it was at least worth trying to see what would happen.)

So... what exactly did happen?

Clearly, I was not fully recovered from Circular Logic three weeks ago. It's one of those things where you might *feel* like you are better but you don't actually know until you get out there and try- and then your body says OH HELL NO.

As for training, I treated the Circular Logic Marathon like it was my "last long run" of a regular marathon cycle and did a re-taper of three weeks into Oshkosh. I figured that I was already conditioned to run the distance, I just needed to focus on recovery so I could be well rested on race day.  I did a teeny tiny bit of marathon tempo work but I really erred on the side of caution because I didn't want to overdo it. I know I can run an 8:10 pace for a lot of miles, I just needed to rest up so I could try it again for 26.2.

Start photo. All business

Race morning was perfect. I would have killed for these conditions in Indiana a few weeks ago! Cool, cloudy, and most importantly NO WIND to speak of. If I would have chosen this race as my goal race initially I would have been golden. (Ugh. I'm trying hard not to think about that too much.)

Anyway, there's not really much to tell about the actual race. The story is that I was able to go out at the pace I wanted, it just never felt good. I always tell myself to give it a couple of miles before freaking out because sometimes it can take a while to settle in. But by mile 10 I knew it just wasn't going to fly that day. My legs weren't sore but I felt sluggish overall and even though I don't wear a heart rate monitor I could tell that I was exerting more energy than usual to run at that pace.

It took me a couple of more miles to talk it through in my brain and then I made the decision to let it go for the day. Between mile 12 an 13 I downshifted into my regular "easy" long run training pace. It wasn't going to be worth it to try to force the marathon distance again and come up with a 3:43 or something like that. Clearly, I needed to step back.

BUT, I've got the Ice Age 50 mile coming up on May 14th so it wasn't like I was going to drop out right? Before I had decided to run this marathon I actually had a 50K trail run on my training schedule. In short, I needed to run a lot of miles on this day either way and now it didn't matter what the pace was so I could relax and chill out.  So I did!

Near the finish. Emotions.

When I file this race away it won't really stand out that much, but this photo happened to catch a moment when I was suddenly feeling really overwhelmed and grateful for what I'm able to do. I mean, I just qualified for Boston three weeks ago and here I was running a 3:55- a time that was my dream time just a few short years ago. What an ass I would be to not be grateful for that.

The week leading up to this race was kind of rough for me. The 15th anniversary of my mom's death was on Saturday and my emotions were all tied up in that as I drove to Oshkosh that day. By mile 20 on Sunday though all I could think about how incredibly proud my mom would have been of me if she were still around (at least I'm pretty sure of that) and whether I run a 3:35 or 3:55 of 5:55 she would be proud and amazed either way. 

I hear that Boston Qualifications are way down this year due to some warmer weather at races. Maybe my BQ -1:03 will hold up after all and I'll get to run Boston 2017?

*Credit to Tigernite's "Empire" for the post title. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Groundhog Day: Circular Logic Race Report


BQ. Number. Three.

Yet.... still no moment. No feeling of "I've made it!" It's still not enough.

Once again, there's the pride of having run another PR. I'm really happy that I have *technically* qualified again for the Boston Marathon.... but a BQ -1:03 is presumably still not good enough to meet the the inevitable cut-off time time for 2017. (This year it was 2:28. TWO FREAKING TWENTY-EIGHT.)

Have you heard this story before?

Overall, I'm really happy with how I ran at this race.The big difference this time around is that I ran strong the entire race instead of struggling to finish under 3:40. There was no bonk, no hanging on for dear life after mile 19. Quite honestly, Mother Nature decided to take a big dump on the midwest this weekend.

It pains me to even hint like I'm making excuses but I feel the need to mention that I ran this marathon in 30+ mph winds. I also feel lucky that I completed the race in time I did since it started to hail just minutes after I finished. This is literally what happened at this race in the final hour:

I know, gross.

It really wasn't the best conditions to go for a speedy time but I drove 3 1/2 half hours to run twenty-six 1-mile loops. There was no way I was going to drop out of this race halfway because of some wind.

This is my running into the wind face

My plan for the most part was to run between an 8:05 and 8:15 pace but with the course being a 1-mile loop I would hit the headwind every time around.  I knew that I was going to need to ease up running into the wind and try to take advantage of the wind at my back on the other half and hopefully make up for lost speed. Here's what my pace analysis on Strava looked like:

I'd be laughing if it wasn't so utterly frustrating. Like I said before, despite the wind I still felt so strong! I was executing my plan, feeling relaxed and not stressing out too much about the unfavorable conditions- until the wind began to pick up even more. In the last 45 minutes Mother Nature decided to kick it up yet another notch and each time I went into the headwind it was like running into a wall. Adding to my frustration was that all the faster runners had to run out the outside of the mile loop, making it impossible to run the tangents and adding an extra .4 miles to the course. When I realized how many minutes this was going to add to my race, my heart sank. I've run enough marathons to know that most courses measure long on GPS devices and because of this I always budget an extra .25 miles into my race plan.... I finished with 26.6 miles. Funny enough, this is pretty much exactly the difference between me making the cutoff to Boston.

Hahahahaha. Ha.

Oh hey, I got third female overall!

I won an overall award! That never happens.

You know, it's almost becoming comical at this point. I cherrypick a race that on paper seems to guarantee me the result that I'm shooting for and yet another obstacle gets thrown in my path. I don't know what I could have done differently honestly. If I went out faster I only would have crashed at the end. I feel like my pacing strategy as sound, my nutrition was on point and for the first time in a long time I actually tapered well (thanks vacation!) Much like the Wisconsin Marathon last year, the one thing I missed was the thing I have no control over whatsoever.

I do have to say though that aside from the weather trials and tribulations this race really impressed me. The event had that close-knit "run club" kind of vibe to it, much like the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon here in Milwaukee. The race director and organizers really had their act together and I felt encouraged and welcomed by all the volunteers and spectators. (I had a crew of ladies who cheered me on every loop that I looked forward to every time around!) I also felt like having an aid station every lap really helped me lock down my hydration and nutrition- something I've struggled with in past races.

After mile 16 I kept counting down, "10 laps until Boston, 9 laps until Boston, 8 laps until..." I really thought I had it.


I'm registered for the Oshkosh Marathon in a couple of weeks because fuck this I'm a fighter.