Rest Day! It means I finally have time to catch up and write a little recap of the 3M Marathon held right here in Austin last weekend. Already I'm ready for the 2015 race—super fun, incomparable swag bag and so many Austin locals come out to cheer athletes on. However, I went into this race a little apprehensive: it would be my first big race since nearly dying at Kona, my run training has been okay... but not stellar and lots of work done inside on a treadmill recently instead of getting outside to run. But mainly I was worried about learning to go hard again. It’s something I was not quite sure I’d ever be able to do again after going to the well in October: not sure if I could physically due to the damage done, not sure if mentally I’d be able to let myself ride that edge again.
To be honest, I'm pretty sure I left a part of myself out on the Queen K. Looking back now, I realize it has taken me some time to admit to it, but training is not where it once was. The pain doesn't come quite as easily these days; I have to work harder to summon it. My personal goal last Sunday was to push that comfort zone--without overstepping it--and rediscover my love for the masochistic.
The morning of the race, I felt great. It was a nice low-40 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. When the gun went off, it just clicked and off we went. Tacking onto the 1:30 pace group wasn't in the plan but I was feeling good and, what the heck, ready to throw caution to the wind. Mile 1 down, 6:52, mile 2, 6:38... early I knew these splits were putting me in over my head but figured I might as well gut it out and see what happened.
I was also in my brand new Pearl Izumi N2s. The day before the race I ran in my current pair and realized that due to all my treadmilling recently, I had no idea how worn down they were—but when moving from the cushioned treadmill belt to the unforgiving pavement, it felt like I was smacking my heels with each step. So against all advice from Runner's World, I went out and bought a new pair of the same brand I had been running in to wear on race day. Spoiler alert: everything turned out fine, no blisters. Either I'm an anomaly for the "nothing new on race day" rule, or Pearls are just that awesome—up to you.
Things trekked along smoothly until mile nine or so when I could feel the pavement doing damage on my quads and fatigue settling into the legs. Mile eleven I started to feel a slight pain in my chest and slowed down—was this another heart attack, like I had at Kona, or just cramping from going too hard? Which side of the chest did the heart even sit? I thought about the pledge allegiance... okay, right hand over the heart, I *think* I'm okay.
The course continued to slope downward for the last three miles and I let gravity do the work, lengthening the stride and speeding up my turnover. Mile twelve I wondered whether I was dehydrated and mentally there so I started quizzing myself: mother's name? father's name? current president? alphabet backwards? The last one was out of my comfort zone so stuck instead to counting down from 100, hoping that would give me enough clues into how "all there" I was.
A few girls passed me in the last mile. Normally, I'd fight back. Today, I didn't really care. No Kona spots at stake, no Age Group rankings. It was kind of nice, actually. I turned the corner and brought it in the last quarter mile at a semi-comfortable pace. I crossed the line right around 1:31:40.It was a new PR and I'm happy with it but know there's still serious progress to be done. In a weird way this race let me know that A) I'm baaaaack and B) provide the right push to really get after it in my day-to-day training. This weekend was a great reminder that decent training can only take you so far and that it's the little things that really count. Here's to pushing it to the edge, cleaning up nutrition and acing recovery in the next few weeks before my next race, the Austin Half-Marathon.
This weekend also reminded me how FAST a half-marathon will feel when you've gotten yourself used to five- and ten-hour days. Little-to-no prep, no gear bags, no transition, done and done in no time!
Good luck to anyone else preparing for or racing in a spring road race! I know it's a nice change of pace from the normal long-course triathlon and a great way to mix up the standard swim/bike/run. It was also a great excuse to add another local medal to the growing collection:
For anyone looking for a fun half-marathon around Austin, this would be it! I'll have to check back after the Austin Half next month but so far this is probably my favorite. And not just because I swooned hard for the awesome swag bag.