I did it. And I proved to myself that I can still BQ.
Woke up at 4 a.m. after about 5.5 hours of sleep. Had to drive an hour and a half to the race. It was dark the entire time, I felt oddly disoriented a few times from blinking construction lights, but there was hardly any traffic. Parked in a lot downtown and walked to the civic center to meet the girl who picked up my packet. Checked my bag and then sat in the seating browsing my phone. When we had 10 minutes to go I wandered over to the starting line. It was pretty sparse. Not sure how many people ran the race, but clearly not as many as the other marathon I just did. They just shouted Go! and everyone took off. We weaved along the downtown city streets for the first several miles. Then we ran up a big hill and weaved through some historic neighborhoods. The half marathoners broke off and rejoined us a couple of times before we turned off after mile 16. Then we ran to the other side of town through some neighborhoods. I was looking forward to one part where we would run through a park for a whole mile (at mile 23). I had several milestones in my mind, 16 miles, 18 miles, and 20 miles. At 16, we were still running with the halfers and I knew the area we were in near campus. I thought, if I can just run well to mile 16, then I can run/walk the last 10 and still finish decently. At 18, I always think, just over an hour! And at 20, I think, okay, I am definitely going to finish this one way or another. So I was basically running smoothly and walking for about 50 steps at aid stations. I skipped a couple that were only a mile or so apart from each other. I got to mile 23 and ran into the park. I started to get excited. I was a little confused about where to go at times because the runners were so far apart, but I found my way and exited the park at 24. I grabbed a sip of gatorade and walked for a half minute before taking off again. That was the last time I walked. Mile 24 was down a big hill, so that was great. I felt like I was flying. We turned and passed 25 and I was so stoked at how good I felt. The sun was bright, but it was still in the 40s, so I felt energized. I picked up the pace and we ran probably about .6 miles to the end of the street and then made two turns to the final stretch. Spectators were few and far between still but they were enthusiastic. I made the final turn, a u turn in to the civic center and through a tunnel then onto the floor beneath the jumbotron. Hardly anyone even noticed. The announcer said my name but it was like the volunteers weren’t really paying attention or cheering, so that was anticlimactic. I got my medal and two bottles of water. Food was just some fruit, so I skipped that. Walked up and out of the arena on my tired legs, got my bag and exited. A bike taxi asked me if i wanted a ride, so I said sure, take me to my car. So that was cool. Then I just got in my car and drove home. Stopped once to stretch at a rest stop.
My splits were pretty even. The only clocks were at the 6.5, 13, and 19-ish mile markers.
So now how I felt while running…
First off, my ankle area hurt. The wrap came loose and probably wasn’t doing much anyway. I think it’s tendonitis. Pretty much the entire first hour of the race I was doubting that I could do it. I knew I could cutoff with the halfers at several points, so I kept going. At some point I stopped noticing the pain so much. I started music at mile 8 and that was pretty motivating. Also, there were great spectators along this part of the course that kept me positive. I decided at the half way point I could start taking longer or more frequent walk breaks. But I didn’t need to. Ditched my shirt at 13 and then decided that since I felt good, I would push that back until 16. But I felt good there too, so I never did increase the walking, just stuck with my plan to walk and drink and count to about 50. So I probably doubted myself the first hour of the race, but after that, I was able to stay positive which was my goal and what I prayed about. I felt so good at mile 20, but i was trying not to get overzealous and end up cramping up or dying in the last 10 k.
So I took water at nearly every aid station. I ate 5 of my 6 chews because they started to make my stomach turn a little. I also grabbed a half snickers bar from a station. Ate the first chew around mile 8 I think. Then the rest during miles 10-18.
The biggest things that helped me to do better than last time was 1. eating a bigger breakfast. and 2. the cooler weather! Started at around 35 degrees and ended in the lower 40s. Wore a long sleeved shirt over my t-shirt for the first half. Also, I feel pretty dang good today, just a little sore. I credit the Beta alanine supplement for that, because that is what it is supposed to do, but who knows?
Anyways, I BQed by 3 minutes and 2 seconds. I have no plans to run Boston 2017 (I age up that year to 35-39), but I still really wanted to BQ. I hope to someday still PR in the marathon but I have got some work to do to get there!