Marathon in 2:49:06* for 1st! + bathroom break after the half-way point (36 seconds from door to road) So 2:48:30 without it?? I’ve heard there are no potty break conversions in the marathon. 🙁
We arrived at the race expo at 2:00pm.
I was told I had to visit the “solutions desk” to pick up my race packet. Here- I struggled. I told the man waiting on me, “I need to pick up my race packet here.” He then looked at me like I was crazy. Struggling to explain myself I blurted out “Um…uh…I’m an elite…?” He nodded as if to say “right answer” and grabbed a piece of white paper from underneath his desk, “OK, fill this out, what is your name?” He then came back a minute later with a race bib, arm bad, and a timing chip.
This is what he gave me.
I’ve never received this number before in a road race. I have been “1” on the track numerous times, but in a road race with 22,000 other people- this was a first.
Maddy at the expo- messy hair and cookie crumbs! We cruised through the expo, hitting the high spots – Brooks had a huge awesome presence doing gait analysis and showing off their super new line of clothing- I didn’t forget to visit my new friends at Sof Sole and ZeroWater…I even got to catch a few minutes of Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon talking about the good old days. I would drive five hours to listen to two running legends like Frank and Rod (look at me, like we are on a first name basis or something).
That night I made a rookie mistake. I was starving so Houston and I didn’t spend too long looking for a restaurant, we picked the closest Italian place we could find. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pronounce anything on the menu, so I ordered the only thing I could recognize: Lasagna.
Mistake. Big. Mistake.
I had a stomach ache all night, that lasagna was rich – much richer than the Kroger brand we are used to J. When I woke up race morning, I made numerous trips to the bathroom and I had a sneaky suspicion I may suffer from some stomach problems later in the race.
Being that we were staying at some over-priced hotel only ¾ of a mile from the start line (there was mandatory $35 valet parking) I had no trouble getting there in the morning to warm up and check my bag. The energy at the start line was amazing, the music was blaring, it was NOLA, it was AWESOME. I lined up with all the other “elites” and the when the gun went off- it was time to get to work.
I can understand how the half at New Orleans is so freakin fast, especially for the women. It is amazing, I have never had so many people to run with, many running sub 1:19 pace. Its flat as a freaking pancake, lined with fans, live bands at every turn. You run down by the French Quarter and many of the most beautiful sites that NOLA has to offer. The first 13 miles was awesome.
I was really just floating.
I glanced down at my watch every once in a while and knew I was running on pace. I felt amazing, slow at times. I was POSTIVE I could run 26.2 miles at the pace I was running, I was laughing talking and really enjoying myself. Until about 8 miles it was really just a dream of a race.
After that I started getting blisters. Like an idiot, I wore socks I had not tested over a 10 mile run and could FEEL blisters forming on my left foot. Every time I took a step I got a shooting pain up my leg and my foot was already slapping the ground hard. I figured it would be something ridiculous like BLISTERS that slow me.
1:22:33 at half-way (just before the bathroom break!)
At nine miles my stomach was aching hard, I was hurting and I KNEW I was going to have to stop for a bathroom break. Being that I had a awesome group to run with through the half, I held on as long as I could. After recruiting my biker friend to watch for second, and bidding my running friend so long (for now) I darted into a port-a-john about 10 meters off the course just before Audubon park. From opening the door until I stepped back onto the road, it was 36 seconds. New Record. Biker high-five.
Then I did something stupid.
Feeling amazing and somewhat fired up about how awesome I handled that “could have been disastrous” situation, I dropped a 5:58 mile after sprinting to and from the bathroom running into the wind at Audubon. Feeling good for just over a mile, I started to tire unexpectedly at 15, and at that point I realized I was in trouble.
Sprint to catch the pack of guys ahead with a 5:58 mile. Dumb move.I was alone and it was windy on this stretch. My hip started to get tight, my breathing labored. My stomach still hurt but at least it was not throbbing. I didn’t feel good anymore.
I got quiet and started to think positive thoughts. Honestly, I had no idea if the people in front of me were coming back or not ( I told myself they were). My husband offered me a gel, I refused, got quiet. No one spoke. I kept running.
Mile 16 I was passed and I spent about a minute trying to find my legs again. I was confident I could stay with this guy, and he was happy enough to run in front of me. We got back on pace running mid 6:20’s, not what I wanted but given the way I felt I was happy with it. It was getting hot and the sun was out, I was doing everything I could just to overcome those negative spots that made we want to drop out. I felt like I was going to bonk at any minute.
The next few miles were uneventful, I was catching back up with some of my earlier friends, but my stomach, feet, and body were still hurting. My form was deteriorating and at mile 21 I felt the side of my foot split open and was forced to run heal toe like a normal person. My legs felt dead and heavy doing this.
I’ve ran a lot of races in the past were I have really had to fight from half way because of my hip locking up so I figured I could rally. I convinced myself that if I let the guy in front of me go, I would be second and I would lose the race. Problem was that he was slowing too, and finding another gear somewhere, I ended up passing him before it was all said and done.
Running back towards Audubon and eventually to the finish, we turned back onto the course were 1000s of runners were just heading out to run the loop around the bay. Without these 1000s of screaming runners, I am not sure if I would have finished Sunday. I felt a few small surges of excitement and energy and for the first time, I realized I could really win.
The clock was off a minute the entire time so I figured I was under 2:50 for sure. I did some math and realized I only had to run 6:50 pace the rest of the way to break 2:50. This motivated me to run 6:30s, and before I knew it, I hit mile 25.
The last mile was a complete blur as we got closer and closer to the finish. There were more fans here and it really helped carry me along. I heard my name numerous times, I tried to wave but I couldn’t tell who anyone was. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other at a pace that would keep second behind me.
I passed two people late and finished the final 400 meters under 6:00 pace. It was exhilarating to run up the final straight away with people screaming at me, breaking a Rock N Roll tape. MOST OF ALL, it was relieving. After as much trouble as I had…I was just happy for it all to be over.
Afterwards I headed to VIP and grabbed a cup of coffee (yes, after 26 miles, this was all I wanted) and chatted with a few of the other winners, especially Liz, the women that finished second, a beautiful women and FAST! When no one was looking I snatched up a few handful of Gus that were piled all over the tent (for those of us that don’t have a nutrition sponsor, GU/Gels are expensive) I was just waiting for someone to say, “Is that the women that won the marathon stealing all those Gus?” Why yes that was me, and I went to the bathroom during the marathon too, in case you were wondering.
Highlight of the weekend besides winning a Rock n Roll marathon in one of my FAVORITE places on earth? Feeding Maddy beignets from the VIP buffet and accepting my award from Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon.
After all that, what did the Franks do? Celebrate? Yes, we celebrated (Franks Style)
We jumped in the car, stopped at a Wendy’s about an hour down the road. The Walking Dead was coming on AMC at 8:00pm and I wanted to clean the house before work in the morning.
Thanks for all the love and support. Your comments mean a lot. I have great running friends, family, a great community of supporters here in Starkville and with this blog. The 2:49, not what I wanted, and I know that I am capable of much better, but a win and a PR – can’t really complain.
I will line up for 26.2 once again to chase 2:45. For now, back to being Mom.