As I went under the arch to leave T2, I made note of the time on the clock, 8:33…not too shabby. Off I went, full of adrenaline, ticking off some way too fast first miles….mile 1 8:30ish…mile 2 8:40ish (to be fair, it was downhill) and then finally got back into the 9’s.
After a few miles I was able to get an idea as to how my legs were feeling (They felt good! After how crappy they felt on the bike, I was worried), and then I started to try to do the math to figure out what pace I needed to run to break 13:07. After such a lousy swim I thought my day was over, so I had ditched any time goals out the window five minutes into the swim. However, after having a bike time similar to IMLOU’s and a speedy T2, I realized all was not lost. 4:33:xx. that’s what marathon time I would need to run to break 13:07. I had originally planned to run 10 minute miles, which would put me around a 4:22 marathon time, so if my legs could hold up, things were looking good.
I was glad I had also run the course when I came up during WIBA weekend, because it helped to know what was ahead. The course is basically a 2 loops of a 6 mile out and back (not 100% out and back but pretty close), so I broke the run into four sections, the out, the back and repeat. On I went, paying attention to my splits (trying to stay a tad under 10 min/miles), taking water and gatorade at the aid stations…and maybe passing a few men, which was the theme of the day.
As I ran up most of Observatory hill (the biggest hill on the run course) near mile 6, and walked the rest to keep my heart rate from going crazy, I noticed that my stomach was not a happy camper. I was wondering if it would pass, since during the run at IMLOU it was angry the whole time, but multiple porta potty stops didn’t seem to help, or if I should stop. Finally right before mile 6, I saw an empty porta potty at the aid station, and ran in. That turned out to be a good decision. Poor tummy. As I left the aid station with a happier tummy, I grabbed a water and forced down a gel. Sometimes they make my stomach angry so it was kind of risky, but I also needed the calories. Fingers crossed. I heard my watch beep and saw my last mile was a 12:4x split, but I knew the pit stop was needed, I still had some buffer time and that overall if I kept on pace I should be ok. Down the out and back on State street the crowds were electrifying! So many spectators were shouting my name (it was on my bib), which made me want to run even faster.
Then I was on the crushed trail the goes along lake Monona (we are spared going back up Observatory drive twice on one loop) and it was a bit more quiet. However my legs were still feeling great and I was in a good spot mentally. As I approached the mile 8 aid station I about died – it was a Halloween themed aid station!!! To those that don’t know me, I love Halloween. It’s really my favorite holiday and you can think I’m crazy, but I ordered yard decorations for our house two months ago. Yeah, I’m that lady. Anyways, it gave me a huge boost and made the 1 mile out and back before I saw it again fly by.
Soon I saw the mile 10 marker, and on I went, but I was feeling a bit more tired so this time at the next aid station I started drinking coke. I usually wait until the second half of a race to start drinking it, but decided, screw it, I need this stuff now! It worked. I felt a bit more energy (sugar) and as I got closer to the crowded streets near the capitol and turn around the energy kept growing. As I got closer, I saw JMR and Trish!!! I think I got teary-eyed when I saw them and gave Trish a high-five.
Once I made it to the turn around, passed the finisher’s chute (so cruel) and was on my way back out, I felt a greater sense of determination rather than sadness after seeing the chute knowing I had another loop. I wasn’t just trying to finish, I had a time to beat. I spent many hours training…very early wakeup times, very early bedtimes…hours away from JMR…hours I should have spent cleaning or doing yardwork which JMR graciously did without complaining. Lots of time AND money spent (training for an IM isn’t cheap). And I wasn’t going to do another IM for a while so I had to make this one count. I had a mission.
As I kept up with my planned pace, I just kept passing people (men) and the volunteers and spectators just kept cheering me on. Once again, like Louisville, my legs were on crack. It was like I couldn’t walk if I wanted to. Granted I was drinking a lot of coke and made a point this race to actually take more than one gel on the run, so I was getting lots of suger and calories. I also stayed on top of my eduralytes and took one and hour which seemed to keep any cramping at bay. I did resort to chicken broth around mile 18 when my calf seemed to get really tight, but after that, no other cramping issues.
I’m not going to say the run felt ‘easy’….but I also wasn’t dying either. My coach and I had worked really hard on maintaining a consistent pace during my long runs and so the marathon felt just like that, my long run, nothing crazy, nothing awful, just like my regular long run. Although everything was a tad more sore and I was a tad more tired, but I had some serious adrenaline going on with the amazing crowd support. As I ran along the crowded out and back along State street, around mile 19, I spotted Trish and JMR and gave them a huge smile and wave. I must say, without Trish cheering, JMR would have been a silent Ninja taking pictures and I never would have spotted him!
Throughout the run I had been checking my watch, looking at my splits to stay in between 9:30-10 minute miles, but I also was noticing that the 4 minute buffer I had created in the first few miles, from the original 4:22 goal time, was still was there with actually a little more buffer time. Woah. If I can keep it up… I could go sub 13. I tried not to get too ahead of myself, but I was feeling good and felt confident that I could keep this pace up. On I went, passing my oh-so-favorite Halloween aid station, then the short 1 mile out-and-back, and even managed to smile at the photographer the second time around. He was playing hispanic music from his car and as I passed a guy, I said “now I want a margarita’ and he agreed.
Three miles to go and I was still feeling good. I was getting closer to the crowds downtown and couldn’t help but feed off of the energy. I still took a water, coke and gatorade and walked through each of the aid stations along the way, but my pace managed to stay around a 9:30/45 minute mile. The last mile, I’m not going to lie, I was tired. My legs hurt and it took some effort to keep pushing. But then I could see those final few turns and pushed (the end of the loop is uphill. no fun), and pushed….and passed another guy (ha), and then I saw it. I saw the clock, I saw the finisher’s chute. Holy Crap. 12:51:xx… I tried to take my time running down the chute and enjoying the finish but HOLY CRAP, SUB 13?!?!, I think I was running around 7 minute pace down the chute, whoops. Unlike Louisville, this time I had tears while running under the chute. I did not imagine to have a day like this, especially with the swim that I had, and almost deciding to call it a day 5 minutes in. After I got my picture and the volunteers felt that I was in ok enough shape to send me on my way, I met up with Trish and JMR, and gave them both sweaty gross hugs.
After chatting for a while and taking pictures, we headed back to the hotel so I could shower and put on warm dry clothes (it was cold out!), grabbed dinner nearby the finish line (beers and burgers!!) and met up with my buddy Ryan who also raced and watched the final finsihers come in. After the final finisher came in (I wish I had done this at Louisville, I did at IMAZ too after volunteering and it was awesome) we headed back to the hotel to crash. I have to thank JMR, my family, friends and coach for all of their patience and support, without them I wouldn’t have made it to the finish. Next plans? I’m taking 2016 ‘off’ and doing a couple of local half triathons, but nothing too crazy. Relaxing and doing home projects are the main goals. Well…after the Chicago Marathon that is, oh why did I sign up for that?!?!
Run Time: 4:18:04
Finish Time: 12:51:39
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