It's the end of another marathon training season for me and while I'm sad to not have a current goal race, I have to admit I'm a little excited about the prospect of being able to focus on other fitness-related goals for a while. I only had 3 months between the Ogden Marathon and Pocatello, which was plenty of time for getting in adequate training and lots of long runs. I had high hopes for this race; it was to be my "A" race for the year. I would have liked to have done at least a little better than my PR (4:36), which was on this same race last year. My training consisted of doing two 18-milers, two 20-milers and I even ran the full marathon course (it actually ended up being about 26.6 miles) 3 weeks before the actual race. So, when the race started and I immediately felt pain in my lower back and in both my hamstrings, I was already worried that my goal would be out of reach.
It was a beautiful morning, almost a little too warm. With temps around 50 degrees at the 6:15am race start and sunny skies, it didn't take long before it just felt hot. The first half of the course is mostly downhill, which is fun, but tricky. It's so easy to go out too fast and then pay for it later on in the race. I tried to pace myself, and thought I was doing well, having reached the half-way point at about 2 hours 12 minutes. I knew then that I had enough left in me to finish the second half at a consistent pace, but it would be a slower pace than I had hoped to maintain. I think around mile 19 or so, as I was greeted by my husband who had lovingly brought me a Coke to sip on and was taking a few photos, the thought came into my mind that I was just going to enjoy the rest of the run. He let me know how much ahead of me my friends were who were also running the race...my response to him was, "It's okay, I don't care. I'm just running my own race. I'm having fun."
Heading into the last couple of miles, I actually felt a little burst of energy and was able to mentally move past the pain I was feeling in my legs. I tried to push myself, but I knew it wouldn't have much effect on my overall time. I finished my race in 4:53 - an 11:07 min/mile pace, which was about 20 minutes overall slower than my goal. I'm alright with it, though. I'm happy that I can say that I ran another marathon and still want to run more in the future. :)
Some of my loyal readers may have been wondering why I've been MIA for the past couple of months...well, between the marathon training, working my job at the gym 30+ hours a week and trying to find time to do fun things with the kids during their summer break, my blog writing has taken a back seat. Now that the kids are back in school, I will still be committed to a rigorous training schedule and working lots of hours at the gym, but I will hopefully be able to find a little time to post more often.
The past couple of months while training for this marathon, I learned a few things about my running preferences. Most of my long runs this summer were done with friends - at least one running buddy and often there were several of us. All of my best running friends run at a pace faster than me. That means that they have to slow a little and I have to go faster. I know that sometimes it can be very helpful to run with people who are faster, but going at a pace faster than what feels comfortable to me just seems to take so much more out of me physically. Then my recovery is longer and I am more apt to feel burned out. In between my runs with friends, I would run alone, at my own pace, lost in my own thoughts. I always finished those runs feeling content. While running with friends is great for the camaraderie, and often the time goes by much more quickly, running really is a solitary sport. It's so hard not to compare ourselves with everyone around us, and I spent a few days after the marathon lamenting about how I was the slowest one in our group, despite the fact that I've run so many marathons now, and how lame I am, blah, blah, blah...but after I let myself wallow in self-pity for a bit, I came around. I realize that in the end, it doesn't matter how fast I am. There will always be someone faster, always someone slower. And who cares anyway? I'm not running to break any records. It's fun to get a personal record, but in my mind, if I'm not enjoying running, I might as well do something else.