Friday, December 9, 2011

I'll Take 4 Desserts and 1 PR, Please

Here's Michelle's story about her amazing eating and running in Las Vegas. Note that there are no pictures, as what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We're extremely fortunate just to get this report.

To summarize.... it was a fabulous run. I can honestly say, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

I was pretty up front with the fact that I was nervous about the race. As much as I tried to keep it in check, I don't think I succeeded because I was testy leading up to race day. I had a hard time relaxing. I think with tris I'm a little bit better just because I've done more of them. There were a lot of unknowns and I don't do well with unknowns!

Prerace
That's another word for EATING in my world. The race started at 4:00 pm. Something I've never done before. I don't like doing any of my workouts in the late afternoon/evening. So, I naturally wasn't real tickled about racing then. Obviously, a girl's got to eat right? And eat I DID! Vegas is FULL of buffets and I thought that would be an excellent way to get in some good carbs and fluids prerace. One thing I am clear on about myself is that I have willpower when it comes to workouts and races but not when it comes to food. I am honestly amazed at how much food I can put down when set to the task. I've had men say that eating with me makes them feel GOOD about themselves (since they eat so much less!). Anyway, I had to have a plate of each type of cuisine; Italian, Mexican, and Chinese. Plus, a little American. THEN....the desserts. I CANNOT resist dessert. And 10 choices? Forget it. I already confessed to my coach so I'm not going to get in trouble now. But I ate 4 desserts; pumpkin cheesecake, mousse, brownie, and chocolate cake. But, take heart, I planned my eating strategically, so I would at least be done by 1230 and have time to digest. I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon in a drugged, carb stupor, lying on my hotel bed with a bloated stomach!

Come race time, we had no trouble getting down to our start corral. My husband so nicely stuck by me and took my gear bag 10 minutes before the start so I could stay warm. The temp was about 50°F at the start and slowly fell thereafter. I was in the 2nd corral and we got off at about 4:02. I ran with my Garmin but no heart rate monitor. I did that on purpose. I wanted to know my pace in an effort to not overrun the first half. But, I didn't care about the heart rate number. I knew if I ran the right pace, the heart rate would be in check. Plus, I think too much data does a number with my head on race day. I've really come to love the less is more philosophy when it comes to racing.

Race
Wow, the race effect is dizzying. I averaged a 7:51 pace for the whole marathon. The first half I felt as if I was running on air. It was heavenly! Effortless! My pace was sub 7:50 and I was trying to slow down! I was talking to people and plain old having a good time. The first 13.5 miles was comprised of just marathoners and there was absolutely no issue with crowding. The course was boring as all hell in an industrial part of town. But, hey, I am NOT complaining. Of course, the 2nd half is where the fun begins. At this point we joined up with the half-marathoners. This race was big and there were about 37,000 halfers. At this point, we all ran together up and down the strip to the finish line. The organizers tried to give the marathoners a small strip of property off on the left for just us. But, this was for the most part overtaken by folks in the half. I remember several race organizers riding bikes right next to me hollering for racers in the half to move to the right. Really, I saw no moving. However, this might have worked out to my advantage as it kept my pace in line. I wanted to go faster and mentally had to tell myself to settle down. After several miles of this, I admit I was losing my patience. I kept saying 'on your left' in an effort to pass. I really tried to watch my tone of voice and be 'nice'. I really only had 1 guy say to me, 'well, then go to the left' in such a 'not nice' tone. I probably had it coming!

I need to mention my nutrition plan somewhere in here. There really was none. Really? Could I stick one more thing down my throat when I probably had put down 3000 calories about 4 hours ago. I literally took a few sips of water at almost every aid station and 1 GU gel at about mile 10. I will put this on record. I DO NOT RECOMMEND my prerace fueling strategy! I think I just got LUCKY!

Strategy in the marathon seems pretty simple. Don't overrun up front and brace yourself for the end. I tried to break the race up into sections. The first half I focused on mentally preparing for the second. And, yes, the second half did get harder. But up until mile 22, it was not bad AT ALL! The 20 mile mark seems to be the magic window that I hear about as to when the wheels can often fall off. And trust me, in training this fall, they DID fall off! So, I was ready. But, it didn't happen! I know part of it was because I came up on my friend Mark, who I had not been running with up until this point. We have a friendly rivalry and passing him seemed like it would be fun at the time. So, that kept me entertained for about 2 miles when all of a sudden I hear this freight train coming up on my right. Here it's Mark passing me back! We were at about the 22 mile mark by now. I knew I only had 4 miles left and now I was started to feel fatigued. Looking at my watch I knew I had well surpassed my goal time of 3:30. But, I didn't know how close I was to 3:25. Secretly, my STRETCH goal was 3:25. After Mark passed me, I think I mentally let myself ease up. It's amazing looking at my mile split times. All great until mile 22, then down around 8:10. Had I known the last 4 miles would have been critical to hitting 3:25 flat I might have pushed harder. I don't know. The operative word is "might". Anyway, when I found myself looking at .25 mile to the finish line, I saw 2 women in front of me then Mark. Well, you can damn well guess I wasn't about to let those 2 girls beat me and, boy, did I want to catch Mark! I pushed as hard as I could over that last stretch and I did pass the girls but failed short of catching Mark by 3 seconds! The look on my face from the picture was taken near the finish line and tells it all.


3:25:48!!!

It's one thing for the race calculators to predict a time, it's all simple math. But to actually realize it is SO gratifying, especially when it seems like a crazy idea. I mean...3:25? What silliness! But who knows, maybe there's a 3:20 or 3:15 in me?!

I can summarize this post very simply. I remember starting in endurance sports when I was 35. I distinctly recall my last marathon about 5 years ago when people were flying by me and I was completely in awe as I posted a 3:54. They were 'running' in my opinion. It was great to see. That gave me the visual in my head that I needed. Now, I am 42. I am no elite athlete, that IS for sure. However, I think I'm a little closer to 'running' than I was before. The thought here is basic. Keep WORKING at it. The gains WILL come and when they do it is AWESOME!