Thursday, May 25, 2017

Cleveland Marathon Race Report

It was a very busy and exciting Cleveland Marathon race weekend this year! I finally got off the plane Friday from California around 7:15PM, hurried up to change into a dress and head downtown directly to the Marathon VIP Reception. It's always wonderful to see my fellow race ambassadors and their significant others as well as the marathon staffers. Although we were later to arrive than I hoped it was a fun and exciting night. Shortly after taking our annual group photos, my friend and fellow ambassador Melissa's boyfriend surprised us all and proposed right there in front of us!

The following day there was lots to get done including unpacking, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, hitting the race expo to pick up our bibs and goodies and then we had my Aunt Shelly's surprise 60th birthday party at 5:00. We got home around 8:00 and finished getting our stuff ready for an early race morning.

4:15am Sunday came early and we were up getting ready to race. I had been worried about the weather and how I would run all week. I had been pressuring myself to get the BQ again this season. The night before I decided if a BQ happened it happened but there is much more to running than that and certainly much more to life. There are the friends and family that make us feel special and inspire us so I decided to make my race about more than a BQ. I wrote down the names of my friends and family members that have had cancer and I dedicated the race to them. Perhaps that helped me to have a better race then I would have otherwise...

Prerace with fellow ambassadors
Steve had to be downtown by 6 to pace the 3:35 group so we got here early enough that I was able to see many friends before the race including most of my fellow race ambassadors. I even made the pre-race photo this year! Around 6:45 I ran over for one last potty break before lining up in the corral with the 3:35 group. Instead of worrying myself I tried to take in all the excitement.

The first couple of miles didn't seem too bad to me and then I started to feel hot and labor on some of the hills. I thought to myself this is not good. It's too early to work this're doomed! Then I told myself to just be quiet and steady. I got a pick me up around mile 8 or 10 when we saw our friend and Snakebite Racing team member Eric fanning in his speedo and cowboy hat!

Focused on the finish!
Around the halfway I just started running out of steam. I am not sure why. I decided to allow myself to slow down a little. I thought who cares if you can't hold onto the pace group you can just run alone at your pace. That's not that bad. So that's what I did. I held on and worked quietly at the pace that felt right for me. Before I knew it I was on mile 19 and I was working through the fatigue. I never really bonked. I never walked - just stopped for a quick drink or gel as needed. Most of my late miles were 8:40ish versus the 8:10 I hoped for but I did what I could do. There were more Snakebite, CTC and other friends out on the course cheering so it really helped me stick with it. I want to say thank you to everyone that volunteered at the race or came out to cheer. The crowd support was really solid this year!

The last few miles I thought I still had a chance to BQ so I ran my heart out and came up a little shy with a 3:41:21 - less than a minute and a half off. I finished with mixed emotions over doing my best but not succeeding at the BQ. In the end this was still a Cleveland course PR for me and it's the second fastest 26.2 I've run out of about 15 now so I am happy with my effort.

The weekend went so fast and there was so much excitement. After the marathon my friend Dan and fellow ambassador Stephanie got engaged also! You may have seen the video. It was super cute. He waited for her at the finish line and proposed right there! Even if she didn't have a PR this year I know she'll never be able to forget this year's race! And it brings me back to my point that there is more to running than just the numbers and the goals. It's the people we meet that become our friends and sometimes significant others that really make these events special. In fact when Steve and I first met our first official date was on my birthday several years ago at the Perfect 10 Miler race. Who would have known that running would bring me my very best friend and husband?!

I'm sure I will be back next year for another Cleveland Marathon - and with the extra 5 minutes I'll have to qualify for 2019 maybe I can actually BQ. Or maybe I will just run it for fun. I guess we'll see. I'm not giving up on that second BQ. I know it will come but now I have to switch my focus entirely to training for the Canal Corridor 100, which is only about 6 weeks away...eek! I have the Green Jewel 50K next, which I will likely use as a training race versus racing it. I need to practice my 25 minute run/5 minute walk approach for the big race! Plus I will have to get in another long run on Sunday.

The hard earned 40th anniversary medal! The race started just before I was born in 1978!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hall of Fame Marathon Race Report - Hall of Fame 1, Pam 0

Sunday was a big day for me. I was ready to accomplish a couple of big goals including my second BQ and a shiny, new marathon PR. I have trained with determination for months. Through ups and downs, health concerns, foreign business trips. There were many obstacles this year that threatened to get in the way of my big goals - but I got through each of them. I never gave in. I never skipped my training - when I could control it.  Most weeks of the year I have run 50+ miles - sometimes reaching 70. I added in more cross training to avoid injury. I've biked hundreds of miles to keep my legs strong. I went to the gym all winter - lifting heavy a couple of times each week to avoid injuries mid season. I feel I did everything I could to achieve my goal. Yet, I didn't.

Prerace photo with my cute pacer!
I lined up at the Hall of Fame Marathon ready to give everything I had. Even after I knew the weather forecast wasn't ideal I could not bring myself to back down from my goals. My brain just doesn't work this way. I instead tried to acclimate to the heat as much as I could - running hot tempo runs at lunch and hydrating more than usual. I thought maybe if I ran a smart race with even splits I could beat the heat. This worked for a while. But then the heat and lack of water on the course got to me. Going two or three miles after 13 miles of running around an average of 8:08 without water caught up to me. Thank goodness my husband snagged a Gatorade bottle for me that I was able to refill and run with for the rest of the race. If not, I don't think I would have made it much longer.

The heat was heavy, my body sweaty, stomach sick from Gatorade, calves cramping and I just gave in a little around mile 19-20. Not a complete "I don't give an F" give in but an "I can't keep going this hard or I am going to pay for this" give in. So I walked a little. Then a little more. I did what I could do. I let my big goals go around mile 21 or 22. I negotiated with myself. Just break 3:45 I told myself. At least you will get in a good training run for Cleveland I told myself. You can try again. It's okay. Everyone is hurting. Not just you. Just do what you can do today. So I listened to my inner voice. I tried to run slower and steadier and just bring it home. I finished in 3:46:07. My husband was cramping and wanted to sit down for a few minutes. I couldn't. I just walked for a little bit and then stopped. And cried. Tears of frustration, exhaustion, disappointment, relief. The pressure that I put on myself temporarily removed. Until I try again. Soon. In less than three weeks - in Cleveland.

At times I wish I could just not care. Why can't I just do this for fun? Why do I need to compete? What makes me push myself so hard? So often? Maybe the need to control my environment? Maybe to prove to myself that I am good enough? Maybe something else? I can't say exactly what drives me. As long as I am competing I will compete against myself. I will set bigger goals.  And I guess that's okay. I just want to achieve things so I set big goals and then I work hard for them. I take them seriously. I make them part of me. It's not right or wrong. That's just how it is. Thank goodness I am an amateur - I can't imagine the pressure of being an elite and having my paycheck depend on meeting my goals.

So now, I rest and recover. I prepare for the Cleveland Marathon, Green Jewel 50K and the Canal Corridor 100. One day at a time. One run at a time. One mile at a time. Who knows what the future holds. Maybe bigger things than I can even imagine in this moment. Maybe more disappointment. No matter what, the journey won't be boring. And I will learn something new - even if it is something as simple as accepting myself and my failures. At least I earned a sweet finisher medal, right? I also earned my hoppy beer at R. Shea Brewing after the race!

Best part of this race is the medal for sure!

Post race at R. Shea enjoying an IPA!