September 6, 2012 by Carin
I am going to be honest and just say it. I ran a horrible race. The Women Rock Marathon was not my race. I wish I could say I met my goal of a sub-4 hour marathon, but I missed it my more than thirty-four minutes. But I can honestly say I am not disappointed. I should be, but I have a second shot at my goal on October 7th when I run the Twin Cities Marathon. After going over the race multiple times in my head and talking through it with my husband, I have several things I can improve upon and I look forward to putting those things into action. But let’s talk about the day and the race.
The morning started out well and fairly cool considering how hot it was during the week leading up to the race. I woke early, ate my normal pre-run breakfast of cereal with blueberries and a piece of toast with butter and honey. I sipped water throughout the morning know it was going to be a long and hot morning. I was picked up by a friend and her husband, their young son and their neighbor. We chatted the whole way to the start line, laughing and having fun. We did the obligatory porta-potty break, pictures and more relaxing till the start of the race. The start of the race is where my problems began. I had planned on running with the 3:50 pacer to assure that I stayed on pace and didn’t kill myself by going out too fast, a common mistake. Well, this pacer took us out at about an 8:20 pace as opposed to an 8:50 pace. I knew we were going too fast and worked to slow myself down. That only partially worked. By 6 miles, I was 4+ minutes ahead of my pace. I was a little worried, but felt great. Then I hit mile 10 and realized I was still 4 minutes ahead of my pace and then I started to feel the effects of going out too fast. I started to slow my pace knowing I had another tough loop of hills ahead of me. Lesson #1 – Stick to your pace!
The HILLS! I was prepared for some rolling hills, but this course proved to have a lot more than rolling hills from my point of view. If you have ever run the East River Road in St. Paul or run the Twin Cities Marathon you know the hill you run up from the River Road to the University of St. Thomas. That HILL, it is a killer at that point in the race, well during the Women Rock Marathon we had to run it twice. UGH! I had done some training runs along the River Road, but not all at once so in my mind the hills weren’t that severe or constant. Lesson #2 – Be more familiar with the course.
Luckily I had a great husband who jumped on the course with me around mile 13 and pushed me through to mile 18. Once he left me to gather up the kids who were watching the race with family and head to the finish line my moral took a nose dive. I felt really alone on the course. As a side note, there were only about 300 participants registered for the marathon of the 4600 runners participating in all three races. So having very few runners around makes the race feel very lonely and with so few participants that meant there were very few if any spectators along the course. Now spectators are not necessary to run a good race, but their excitement is infectious and does a great deal to keep runners motivated and excited about the miles ahead. By the time I hit mile 18 in the race I had really fell off my pace. My friends Jen and Brette met up with me around mile 20 and Jen gave me a pep talk. At this point running was very uncomfortable, but not finishing wasn’t an option. I was determined to finish knowing I had no way of meeting my goal, but finishing is always the goal first and foremost. Lesson #3 – Family, friend and spectators make the race fun and motivating. You don’t realize this until you are running alone in no mans land!
At this point I was alternating running with walking. I was determined to get to the finish line and I was trying very hard to work through the tight hamstrings and back, screaming ankles, and quads that moved like bricks. I was feeling like I let everyone down by not meeting my goal. Before the race started I was pretty certain I could meet my goal or come close. I was feeling dejected, but know my kids and family were waiting for me kept me moving forward no matter how slow I was going. I was about 2 miles from the end when I saw my husband again. He knew how much I was struggling so he got to the finish and headed out at a fast pace to meet me on the course and help bring me in. He talked to me and about what had been going on with the kids, what he saw while spectating and what he saw while running out to meet me. At one point he had me laughing so hard I had to stop to breathe.
As we neared the finish line I could hear the music and could see the blazing pink of the banners. I had made it. With 50 yards to go, Grace hopped on the course with to finish with me. She was so excited to run across the finish line and declared us winners. My heart was full. If only I had the energy to pick her up and give her the hug she deserved. She helped me realize that my goal was for me, but no matter what she was proud of me. My kids don’t know I missed my goal, they only know that I crossed the finish line and in Grace’s eyes I was a winner!
All in all I don’t think I will run the Women Rock Marathon again. The race was well organized and supported by Team Ortho, the swag was good, the expo was fun and female focused. But overall the course wasn’t fun, the crowd support was slim and the marathon needs more participants. I don’t regret my decision to run this race, but when I registered for the race back in March I was expecting it to be more of a draw for women marathoners. But I think with it being so close to the Twin Cities Marathon and other fall races, the draw wasn’t there. In future years I wouldn’t hesitate to run the Half Marathon or 10k because Team Ortho races are always fun and well organized.