Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Best Weekend Ever

I suppose that it would only be appropriate that the best marathon weekend ever would follow the best training cycle ever.

We left for Hartford Friday morning and went straight to the expo (after we found it -oops) and then to Casa Attardo, our humble abode for the weekend.

Expo Selfie

We had our pre-marathon dinner at DeNovellis Restaurant. I started my carbo loading regiment on Wednesday, following a plan that Tony had sent me that was WAY more food than I had ever carb-loaded with, so I honestly had a hard time enjoying this meal. I settled on a tomato pizza (and took off all the cheese).

The Dinner Crew

After dinner we were all beat and went to bed at 9:00. I was still fending off this cold and the sore throat seemed to be in control...but I was not taking any risks. We woke up at 5 the next morning for more carbs (we have all vowed to never eat another bagel until next marathon UGH) and the traditional word writing ceremony. Toby helped....

We all had the same word(s) for this marathon. TRUST - as in, trust your training. And, of course F*CK IT, because, well, never mind...that's self-explanatory if you've ever run a marathon and not had it go your way.

We arrived at Bushnell Park bright and early at 6:30AM, an hour and a half before gun time to get settled in with the temps, to find our way around and to hit the port-a-johns once, or twice, or eight times. Naturally, we had some time to kill, so ridiculousness ensued...

Like...Deanne having us pose for a Jem and The Holograms photo....

Deanne getting a free commemorative race T-shirt...
 Paul Revere growing out of Jim's head...
 Alice and I being dates (well, that is not ridiculous, it happens)

 Showing off our Fiercely United Fellow Flowers somehow led to this...

And, probably best of all, Jim taking a banana peel off of a shirt in the trash can and wearing it to warm up...ya. That happened.

As the ridiculousness settled down, we began talking about race plans and goals. Deanne brought us all to our senses, reminding us that we are all here because we can be and that being able to run a marathon, was indeed, a gift not available to all. It was beyond the perfect thing to say to our crowd, all of us having lost someone close within the last year, and I think I can speak for us all when I say it brought us back down to reality. We headed into the starting corrals and used the opportunity to snag a few more glamour shots.

Fellow Flowers - FIERCELY UNITED!

Maine Track Club! 

The "pre-race ceremony" and energy was probably the best I've experienced yet. They played a Boston tribute techno-y version of Sweet Caroline and everyone was singing and dancing. Then the gun went off and we were gone.

Last year, at MDI when I had my first huge marathon PR, by mile 4, I had found a groove. I knew it was my day, I was ready to rock and roll, and I felt great.

In Hartford, it never happened. I'll start the actual race recap by saying something that I'm sure you will all disagree with, based on the results. This, was NOT, my day. I had no business running a 3:32 marathon at Hartford, and a 10 minutes PR, given how I felt, the cold I was fighting off, and my heart rate. I am sure you are saying, now wait a minute - you put in the work, of course you could do it. Yes, that is true...but sometimes it comes down to the day. And believe it or not, I really still do not feel like this was "my day."

I had planned to run on heartrate. Based on my trial last week at the relay, a 162 HR was going to give me an even 7:45 pace, 15 seconds per mile faster than I planned on running even if my HR was fine. I hit mile 1 at 150, but by mile 2 was at 171. I slowed down, expecting that my HR would drop, as it had done last week, but it didn' went up. I ran another 2 miles, still expecting it to go down, as sometimes it spikes for the first few miles...but it didn't. It went up. To 184. By this point, I had found Audrey and we chatted for a few minutes. Her HR was screwy too, and I told her I was just going to wait it out, keep going, and see what would happened. In other words, I was giving myself permission to screw the race plan, knowing fully well it may mean disaster. I mean, really, our words were TRUST and F*CK IT. Totally appropriate. Every single mile that followed averaged 185-195 heartrate..WAY over lactate. Oops.

 But...the miles kept ticking by well under the 8:10 pace I would need to after the other. At mile 10, my hips began to hurt on both sides and I thought I was screwed. But it passed. I had the weirdest feeling running this marathon. It's hard to describe. I felt stronger than I ever have...but also like I was working hard. I kept waiting for that feeling that I had at MDI last year where I just went. I had the same feeling at mile 9 of Eastern States 20 miler last year - suddenly, everything just jived and my body went. I hit the half marathon point in 1:45:50, on pace for a BQ. Miles 14-20 were an out and back. Out and backs are my FAVORITE, as I get easily distracted watching other runners. No surprises here that I picked up the overall pace in these 6 miles from 8:05m/mile to 8:00 m/mile. I spent the first 2 miles searching for Jim and when he ran by me and was going so freaking fast his high 5 stung my hand! Ouch! I knew I wasn't going to see the girls until I turned around, so I started to get a little agitated looking for the turnaround. I started to think about how I felt and again questioned when it was all going to click for me when I saw the mile 17 marker, which was also the turnaround.

That's when it hit me. Sudden doom. The voice in my head - "uhhhh are at mile 17...if you haven't felt good up until certainly isn't going to come after mile 17. the best you are going to feel for the next 9 miles. THIS is it..." My sudden dread was counteracted as I realized at the turnaround that I was actually closer to the 3:30 pacer, than the 3:35 pacer. The next 9 miles were an emotional roller coaster. If anyone had been able to hear the thoughts in my head, I'm pretty sure they would have admitted me to a psych ward thinking I was schizophrenic.

I saw all three Sole Sistah's AND Tony within the next 2 miles and grabbed some high 5 power from them. No surprise here that I clocked off a 7:43 and 7:50 mile there. After I saw them, I focused in on the 3:30 pacer. I could tell that I was gradually reeling him in, and just put my mind on doing that, while not going so fast that I blew it up. I caught up with him at mile 21 and asked him if he was on pace. He told me he was a minute ahead and asked me my goal. I said I wanted to BQ and needed a 3:35. He gave me a high 5 and said words that were just what I needed to hear - "Well - you have that in the bag! Congrats! Keep it up!" I knew a lot could still happen in those last few miles...but his words of confidence kept replaying in my head. I stayed with him for a bit, but then got a bit ahead.

At mile 22, my first wave of nausea and dizziness hit.  I knew the next 4 miles were going to be a fight. Enter schizo brain...

Mile 22-23: "Keep positive" "You didn't run 22 miles at this pace to lose it know" "butttt you are probably going to pass out" "PUKE STAY DOWN" "NO stay positive" "remember what Deanne said, you can do this, because you GET to do this" "It's certain, I'm going to barf" "Am I even running straight?" "Be prepared Jamie, this mile is going to read 10 minutes on your watch." "NO STAY POSITIVE DAMNIT"

You think I'm exaggerating..I am not. This really happened. Happened for so long, that mile 23 clicked (at 8:15 mind you, NOT 10 minutes) and the 3:30 pacer went by me. Well..a sub 3:30 would have been sweet...but I can still qualify...just keep going.

I convinced myself to keep moving forward with the promise that I could take a quick walk break at the 24 mile marker. Right before it, I came upon a runner wearing a crow shirt and talked with her (I have no idea how I managed the words, or if they were even comprehensible) about being a crow and told her I was also a crow. As this happened, mile 24 passed, and I didn't stop to walk. 8:30. Still ok...not a complete blow up..I banked enough time to still BQ...keep going. Again, I promised myself if I kept going I could take a quick walk break at mile 25. Mile 25 came and my watch clicked 8:30 again and I quickly calculated that I could take about 20 seconds of walk and still BQ, but I would have to move. There happened to be a water stop right at mile 25, so I walked through it, then continued to the last mile.

Bob has always coached us to believe that the last mile was your "victory lap." At MDI, it was. As I started running this last mile, I tried to convince myself that this was my victory lap, even though I still wanted to puke and pass out. I have never had to dig so deep in my life. I rounded the second to last corner and there were people everyone yelling SO loud. I tried to enjoy it, but the loudness actually made me more dizzy. More motivation to get done. I rounded the last corner and saw the finish arch 100 ft. away and line I looked down - 3:32. YES! I crossed the line in 3:32:32 (official time) in complete tears and immediately saw Jim and ran (uh no, hobbled) over for a hug. I think I cried for the next 10 minutes as I made my way through the finish area to claim my medal and race bag. There was no better feeling than having people ask if I was ok, and being able to respond that I had just BQ-ed for the first time. So. Sweet.


We all united under a tree (and by united, I mean passed out). Jim ran an amazing PR - 3:02, and qualified for Boston by over 7 minutes. Audrey ran a PR in 3:36, and also qualified for Boston. Alice and Deanne...ALSO PR's in 3:53 and 3:55 respectively, nailing their sub 4 hour goal. Tony, also claimed a huge PR in 4:09.



We could not stop talking about this race. The course was amazing. It was a nice mix of city, residential neighborhoods and bike trails. There were some little tiny rolling hills, nothing too big, but enough to keep the legs moving. My favorite part (besides the out and back) was going over the Founder's Bridge. There was a walking path on a raised part of the bridge, and it was just lined with people looking down and cheering loudly. It was such a pick me up at mile 6, and in the last mile. 
The course support was even more amazing. There was a water stop at nearly every mile. I took a sip and dumped the rest on my head at every stop except for 2, and made sure to take a sip of G2 at every mile marker. They had a TON of bike supporters handing out GU and checking in on runners. When I was getting anxious on the out and back I had stopped one and asked where the turnaround was, and he went out to check for me and came back. He kept checking on me for the next few miles. They had a "Psych team" on the course as well, helping to get runner's through their doubts and road blocks. There was one on a bike talking to a struggling runner right before mile 25. It was really neat. And, to the 3:30 pacer. Your words got me through those last 3 miles of nausea and fatigue. You said I was going to BQ, and there was no way after you said it, that I was going to not. I was so glad I got to find him at the end and thank him with a big hug! Next time, I'll be running in with you, at 3:29.

Karen, Tony, me and the Momma Sherpa!

Sole Sister <3

Karen, me, Aud, Jim, Deanne and Alice <3

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Nope. Sorry - my mistake.

Best. Weekend. YET! Love you all! XOXOXOXO