Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Providence Marathon, the Recap

So now that you know why I ran this unexpected race, I will let you in on how it all went down, and how we left it all out there on Sunday.

After a stress-free, restful night/sleep, we woke up with an hour to fuel, dress, and prep and headed to downtown Providence with ten minutes to use the bathroom and get to the starting line.  One of the advantages of a small race, we were able to do this with time to spare.  The weather was pretty decent, overcast and low 50's at the start - although there was some sun later on in the course, the weather stayed pretty decent with the cloud cover. 

Since the half was starting 30 minutes after the full, the crowds at the start line were not too excessive and we were able to line up at the back of the starting group, as our race plan was start out smooth and steady with an 8:30 - 8:40 pacing.  When Chris and I race together, we have a tendency to start out a bit faster than goal pace and burning out early, so we were pretty diligent on keeping the goal pace from the starting gun.

The first mile gets you out of downtown Providence and it wasn't too crowded of a start, so we got right into an 8:24ish groove, not too bad, but the lower of our pace range, so we were careful to keep an eye on that the first few miles.  The only real hills in the course are in the first third of the race, with the course really flattening out for the last two thirds (only a few hills towards the end), so we were conservative on the first portion.  We ran into a friend that had run Boston as well (in fact, we ran into a lot of runners that were using this as their redemption run after Boston's conditions - one of the women actually had "Redemption Run 2012" marked on her).  We chatted with him for a while about the race, about Boston, about pacing for the day, until we hit the biggest hill of the whole race around mile 5.5 - 6, which lasted a good half a mile I believe - this was the point I really didn't think the whole race was possible, and he ran on ahead and out of site.

I know this sounds crazy, but at mile 6 or 7, I had gone very quiet, head down, concentration mode, not thinking I could make it much past the half way mark, let alone the whole 26.2 - Chris, who stuck by my side giving some motivational words like "you're a machine" & "you can tackle this hill", kept asking if I was OK, and I just told him yeah and that I needed to focus.  I couldn't believe I was letting the course own me so early, and I shook off my haze around the 8 or 9 mile mark, took my first gel and completely switched my negative mindset.  The race seemed more attainable when I revisited my positive visualization.  Chris and I continued to act as each other's pace police - nudging each other when one of us would start to speed up or encouraging the other when one of us slowed a little too much. We met up with another couple of Boston friends around mile 9 or 10, and ran and chatted with them for 2 miles until they took off ahead of us.  

The goal of the race was not to kill it early on, but make sure we could finish strong with a sub-4.  Chris' race plan was to run an even split (not focus on a negative or positive split), but rather aim for a solid pace for the whole race, but evaluate that pace at the halfway mark and either keep the same or speed up just a bit if the energy was there.  This was a solid plan to get us across the finish line, so there was no need to try to keep up with anyone else on the course, just room to run our own race.

At the halfway mark, I knew the whole 26.2 was going to be possible.  My hip wasn't bugging me too bad, we were keeping a solid, doable pace, our support crew had been amazing at keeping us energized and our water stocked.  I popped a few Advil just to kill the dull pain I was feeling and powered on.  Chris looked so strong throughout and we decided the 8:40 pace we had settled into was a good pace to keep at.  Around the half mark we started walking about every other water stop, to make sure we got our hydration and nutrition in adequately without cramping our stomachs, and then would head back into our 8:40ish pace.  

Miles 14 - 20 were kind of lost to me, not in a delirious light, but I just can't remember much more about them (besides swiping this amazing lubricated cloth on my inner thighs - the one spot on my body I forgot to bodyglide!! That stuff was serious and I need to find more of it, it was a sample from a swag bag, and I need to remember the name of it!).  These miles were split between suburban Rhode Island and the Providence bike trail, so there were some interesting views, and small neighborhoods - at one point we were running through full on traffic, which was not too fun/safe, but thankfully that didn't last too long.  Mile 20 - 21 is where our pace took a bit of a dive, as there was some cramping issues popping up, and Chris didn't want to risk not being able to finish the risk due to muscle fatigue/cramps, so we took some more walking breaks - we hit the other big hill in the race, which we started out walking, but finished in a jog.  

These miles were spent reverse roles, with Chris getting more quiet and me trying to keep his head in the game.  I kept trying to get him to focus on moving his feet, rather than the stabbing cramps in his quad, knowing that the pain was tough (as I was trying to keep my fatigued hip pain at bay - the more I kept moving, the less I thought about it - but as soon as I started to walk it would throb and start to stiffen).  He was a trooper though and pushed through that pain to keep his walk breaks short and his running pieces quicker - we had a sub-4 goal, that we were going to make.  The calculations started around mile 22, figuring out how long we could walk and how fast we needed to be jogging to still get there with a time we would both be happy with.  There were a couple of times when Chris told me to run ahead and finish my race, but I had only run this race because he asked me to, and I had that bib because he secured it for me, and I agreed to run this thing and had hung in this long to get this goal with him - so I didn't leave him.

Miles 25 and 26 were tough.  The course went back onto the bike path briefly and over a highway bridge and down a weird ramp - it was tough to keep the mental game going at this point.  I just kept looking over my shoulder to make sure Chris was sticking with me, and trying to push forward.  The mile markers had been all over the place the entire race, so it was no surprise that the 25 mile marker showed up when my garmin read 25.62 (I feel bad for those who didn't have a garmin to assure them there was less than a mile to go!!), so when we saw that 26 mile marker, we both looked at each and I just said this is it - you are going to make it, so lets run it in! We picked it up and finished with a mid 8's pace, and smiles on our faces - oh, yeah - and a 3:52 on the clock (8:52 pace overall).
Tired, but satisfied with the finish!
I was beyond excited for Chris, and for myself - for both of us pushing through mental and physical battles throughout the (what I believe is the) toughest part of a marathon, that last 10k.  Katie and Tripp - who had been our amazing support crew throughout the race, met us at the finish, as we chowed down some pizza and a greek yogurt for me - and just as quickly as we got the race, it was all over, and we were on our way home.  I was on the phone, assuring my mom I was still walking and healty, before noon.

I laid low the rest of the day, had some amazing steak tips for dinner, and prepared to be dead on Monday (after Newport, I could barely get out of bed, let alone even think about getting down the three flights of stairs).  However, Monday morning came, and I jumped out of bed at 7 am, wide-eyed and ready for the day.  With only slightly sore hamstrings and hips, I powered through my daily to-do list without much fatigue at all, and a faint belief that I had just run a full, untrained for, marathon the day before.  Was it possible, that I felt great, had energy and was walking around? It must have been a dream...
My face was all salt, but it didn't matter - I was all smiles :)
It wasn't though, I have pictures and I have a medal and a legs are a little heavy today, but since Sunday I have been able to play field hockey (at 10 PM on Monday night, don't know how I did that!), and run a couple miles this morning.  I plan on taking it easy this week and working back into a normal schedule next week, as I realize I need that energy that can only be found through a great workout to function normally.  Who knows, maybe there will be another marathon this year - but this time I might train...I have a goal in mind, and it is a bit quicker than my current PR (3:49)..

Have you ever run a race you weren't prepared for, and still had a decent outcome?

Random tangent - My gym membership ends tomorrow, where is your favorite place for at-home workouts?


  1. YAY! Congrats to you and Chris, I can't believe a surprise marathon can be a sub4! that's really impressive. and it must've been nice to run with Chris and know that you weren't that far off from your current PR = meaning you can easily PR with a tad more training :)

    I love it! and you look so pretty for just finishing a marathon lol

  2. OH my gosh, I am just still so impressed with you, how you signed up so last minute and were able to achieve such an amazing time!!! Just imagine the possibilities after you do some more training ;)

    So happy for you!!

  3. AMAZINGGGGG!!!!! seriously. im so happy that you had such a fantastic experience! what a great feeling friend! ahhhh. this just brought a huge smile to my face! cant wait to see what is next:)


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