Friday, February 01, 2008

Jennifer's Carlsbad Marathon Race Report

Ah, my first else would you want to celebrate your 31st birthday?

I decided in September that I wanted to tackle this next step in running. I wanted to try to push my limits a little and try something new. I figured it would help get me some good base mileage and help me develop a little mental toughness, especially knowing that I would be doing a lot of the training on my own. It was an easy choice to ask Sandra to make a training plan for me, which was so awesome as it worked around my crazy nurse schedule! I decided on the warm location of Carlsbad, California, to escape the cold winter, which had its pros and cons. Yes, it was awesome doing a marathon in perfect weather, however, some of those long training days in November and December were really cold and brutal. I struggled in December when I was sidelined with a foot injury, as I was getting nervous I wouldn’t be able to get the mileage in, but with some great advice from Sandra and some wicked ART, I was back running in 2 ½ weeks.

Race week came quickly. I stuck to the nutrition plan set by my coach religiously. I felt like I was eating and drinking so much but I knew it would work. Had a couple of days to unwind in the San Diego area before race day.

Race morning came with picture perfect weather. I had butterflies on the way to the start and stood in the porta-pottie line until 4 minutes before the start. Way too close for my liking, but my bladder was much happier. The first five miles I basically just went with the crowd because I had no choice. It was congested since the half marathoners also started with us, but it worked in my favour as I was able to easily stay at the pace I wanted. However, it was nice to get more room when we split from them shortly after mile 5. The entire course was gradual, long hills, up and down. Mile 8 to 9 ½ was all uphill. I stayed suprisingly strong on the hills and just tried to relax on the downs. I had a tough time on an out and back from mile 13 to 15, not really sure why but maybe something to do with the smell of the MacDonald’s and In’n’Out Burger? After mile 15 I was feeling good again, and we’re running the hills along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, just absolutely beautiful. I knew there was a big hill up to mile 18 and then it was a turnaround to head home. I stayed strong and my legs, stomach, and breathing felt great; only pain was my right ankle which I would just keep pushing out of my mind until the end. At this point, with my coach’s advice, I shut my brain off from thinking of the distance I still had to go and took it one step and one mile at a time. There were a lot of people walking, and I was now starting to pass people who had started the marathon one hour earlier than me. Every hill I came to, I told myself I just had to run it, and refused to succumb to walking, which was so very tempting with all the people walking around me. Not one person passed me between mile 18 and 23!!! This helped to motivate me, and I just kept passing people. I’m not a competitive person, and I wasn’t looking at this as a way to "beat" people, it just helped to keep me strong and positive. At mile 24, they re-routed us to the "alternate" last 2 miles to the finish since we didn’t make the cut-off to continue on the highway/closed roads route. These last 2 miles were brutal in the sense that I had to run on the sidewalks and stop at 3 red lights! Stopping at a red light this far into a marathon is a recipe for major cramping. My legs would seize up so I tried to walk/jog in place. The last mile involved the steepest hill of the course and then a lovely downhill. Finish time of 4:23:14. I am more than happy with my time, being my first one, and am really happy with my ability to keep mentally tough, keep a consistent pace, and stick to my game plan as far as nutrition went. More importantly, it didn’t scare me off of running another one!

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