This race had its ups and downs. Overall, I was very pleased with it. I followed the Run Less Run Faster plan almost to a tee. The only change I made, which may have been a fatale error, was I ran the Papa John's 10 miler on a day that called for only an 8 mile run, with 1 mile warm up and 7 mile tempo. Instead, I got carried away and busted out a PR fairly easily. However, I did this race because it was an opportunity to run on the hills of Iroquois Park that I would hit in the marathon. Initially, this race gave me a huge confidence boost, but then after doing it, I really felt worn out. The weather warmed up, and the next two weeks worth of long runs were not where they were supposed to be. I actually cut one of the 10 milers short to 8, due to high temps and crazy winds, because I was no where near the pace I was supposed to be, and in my mind I was just making up that 8 miler that I switched with the PJ10. Its hard to say if that was the culprit, or if I didn't train on the hills enough, but to cut to the chase, I didn't get a PR. However, considering that I haven't run a good marathon in 2 years, the fact that I was within 5 minutes of my PR was still pretty good. AND I qualified for Boston (narrowly).
I hadn't really been talking about qualifying for Boston at all in my training. It wasn't really on my mind until recently. I was training for a PR, which if I suceeded, would give me hopefully a top AG placement and of course a PR since my Boston qualifying time has remained unchanged from my time in 2011 since I had a couple of birthdays, and gotten my 5 minutes back. I still needed a 3:40, and I felt I could do that easily if I wanted. I really wanted to go and see what I could do. Then the bombing happened, and my legs started to feel tired. I started to worry if I should really go for the PR or just go for a BQ. Marathons are crazy entities, and if you mess up the first half too badly, you can have an outright awful second half. I went back and forth on what to do. Ryan was adamant about NOT going back to Boston (we'll see), so I reviewed all my data and tried to come up with a plan for race day. I reviewed my data vs the 3:30 plan and even took a look at the 3:25 plan to decide how to pace myself. I saw an facebook update from BAA stating that they had updated their page with the qualification information, (mostly since they were getting results posted so the page was going from its race day format back to the usual format), and I double checked the qualification for the 2014 marathon. Then I noticed something. It is on April 21st, 2014. MY BIRTHDAY! I got so excited! I was just about to burst. I think I sent out about 5 texts when I saw that. I was going bonkers. Funny, I still haven't informed Ryan of that. I figured I would bother him about it if it was applicable. Then I really couldn't decide...conservative and get that BQ or go for broke- get the PR/blow up fantastically if I didn't. Hmm. I kept watching the weather, and thought I would just see what the day held.
The expo was fun. I brought both kids and we had a blast. We ran into Lisa and her kids. She had forgotten her double stroller, and had her 3 kids. Poor Lisa! I was really excited about the shirt this year. Finally women's specfic. I liked the yellow too. Full marathoners got the yellow, half got the blue. We had some fun with a green screen at the Humana Booth and a photo booth made out of a VW vanagan from Blue Mile. Lisa and I tried to squash everyone into the photo booth. Actual photo booth pics are shown too.
Race day arrived. It was a decent temp. I got there SUPER early. I had to track someone down to pay for my parking spot right in front of the Slugger Field that was on the corner of the start and finish lines.
I went to the bathroom and insane amount of times, and since I was there so early, I was the first one to use each port o pottie that I used for a little while. I was struggling to get the outer paper off of the toilet paper rolls. Well, maybe a dude had gone before me! I listened to my tunes, and I finally started finding friends about an hour before the race started. I ran into Keira's friend's dad Louis first. Apparently his story of how he found me is a lot funnier than my version. His goes like this- "I opened the door to the porto potty and there was Melissa" LOL! Yes, this is what happened, BUT, he was coming OUT, and I was standing in line. No indecent exposure or embarrasment! My version was that I was waiting for HIS porto potty, and he came out in front of me. We got a quick picture.
I met my aquaphor teammate Ande. She was using this as a training "event" for the Spartan Death race, and walked it with a 35lb weighted vest and carried a log, along with her mom who was walking it normally. Their goal was to finish the half before I finished the full.
Then, I ran into my neighbors John and Lisa. John is super fast, but hasn't quite been able to BQ yet. He is very speedy at the shorter distances, and went 1:06 at the PJ10!!!! They were doing the half too. We said a short prayer right at the start, and then I freaked out and had to go to the bathroom (parking lot) one more time!!!
I got into my corral. I felt pretty cool in corral A!!! It wasn't crowded at all at the start, and I found Jessica, one of my marathon bar teammates. We met at this same race 2 years ago. She is definitely an up and coming runner, and was fast when I met her, and is just getting faster. She represents Pacers and Racers now. My phone was already in a baggie when we took this. I should have taken it out.
Then, I found Jennifer, my Ironman partner in crime! I did take the phone out of the bag for this, since I was finally not freaking out as much.
Then it was go time! I tried to keep my first few miles in check, and I did a really great job at staying in the 7:50s until the dreaded Iroquois Park, at mile 11, Ugh, it really kicked my butt! I struggled with the uphills a lot more here than I did in the PJ10 (the hills were earlier and the race was shorter). I still managed to keep a sub 8 pace through the half, but the hills in miles 11-14 were too much of a match for me. I was hurting. At mile 17, I still had PR hopes, but was hurting BAD! I ran with my friend Ron for a bit, I can't remember how many miles. They were definetly over 8s, but still below BQ pace, so I felt OK about that. I had to walk a little bit at the water stations, and then there was Barrett Hill. I had run Barrett hill once before, and it sucks! It was at mile 22, and just miserable! I tried my best to run it, but I didn't want to blow myself up worse on it, and walked it a bit. I was doing CRAZY math in my head now. I just felt so sluggish. At one point I thought that if I didn't BQ, then I wouldn't have to have the discussion with Ryan about it! How terrible is that! It just wouldn't be an option! I couldn't believe I even thought that, but that is how defeated I was feeling. I continued to do runners math in my head with 4 and 3 miles to go. At 4 miles to go, I thought I could still squeak out a PR if I could get back on pace (seriously??? HAHAHA). But, I was still stressing about the BQ. It then became about the BQ and not slowing down. I kept saying Boston Strong Boston Strong over and over. At one point I felt incredibly wobbly. Like the people in those IM finish videos before they fall down, but I didn't fall. I passed an older man who was moving pretty good. I am wondering if he was the oldest competitor or something because he had people on bikes with him, and they were cheering for him, encouraging him with less than one mile to go- follow those pink socks. Look, those pink sock and shoes match. Follow her! I felt like I had to just finish strong. That last half mile seemed so long, and with less than .2 to go, you turn and see the finish line. I sped it up a little bit towards the finish, and my official time was 3:38:16. Ryan spotted me right away, and I was able to give him a kiss through the fence. The weather was iffy, and Soren had a game, so I told him that if the weather was bad, that he should just go to Soren's game with him instead of having him go home with the coach and bring Keira down. I was so glad he came, and that he found me right away. It is such a strange feeling to finish a race and then not know if you have family waiting for you. I was like that at Ironman too, because I didn't want the kids up too late, and the volunteer had asked me if anyone was waiting for me and I honestly said I didn't know. I bet they don't get that too much :)
However, the worst part of this race was my right foot. It is entirely trashed. It felt it hurting a bit during the race, but didn't think much of it. I could tell it was just a "flesh wound" type thing. I could feel my right foot blistering, and if I stepped on anything uneven, it was a sharp pain. I did my best to ignore it. After meeting up with Ryan and resting a bit before walking back to the car, I noticed my right shoe had some gunk on it. I told Ryan I didn't know what it was. I knew it wasn't the blue powerade (which Ryan and I both despise) that I spit out after accidently grabbing. Hmm, what did I step in that was red???? We walk to my car, spend about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to drive from my car (which was inside the race course) to Ryan's truck (outside the race course), and finally realized the only way to do it was to get back on the freeway, head home, and then turn around and come back in a different way. My bad! Having two cars down there wasn't the easiest. I also had to drive myself home from the race. That was a first! I never had to do that before, and thankfully felt pretty good and didn't put myself or Keira in danger. I got home, took my shoes off and took this picture, trying to sort of cover up the unknown splotch on my shoe.
Then I put a show TV on for Keira while Ryan was picking up Soren, and started my epsom salt/cool bath. I took my socks off and then knew immediately what was on my shoe. BLOOD!!! My whole big toe was bright red from a blood blister that ruptured, and then I had a second one about to pop below it. OUCH! Sorry, this is gross!
Thankfully, it cleaned up to look a lot better. The strangest thing was that my left foot looked totally fine. Not a single new blister. I also ONLY lost 1 toenail from this race, compared to the 4 at Boston. So, I am trying to decide if this bloody blister was better or worse than my last marathon. I really am not sure. My left foot sure is better.
Overall, I am pretty pleased. I went for it. I went for it as hard as I could and I didn't entirely fail. I didn't get my PR, but I still got the BQ. I know this is stupid, but I had a really hard time when people asked me about why I wasn't at the Boston Marathon this year, and that I answered because I "hadn't qualified". Nevermind the fact that Ryan and I didn't plan on going back anyway. Last year was hard because I felt like I didn't make much improvements in my running speed, and I had so many off race days. It felt great to really push myself and finish with such a great time. So what if it isn't a PR, it is still my second fastest race, and PRs I have learned are sort of these mystical things. Like everythingn is truly aligned for them to happen, and sometimes they are not meant to be broken. Will I be able to go sub 3:30 in the marathon? I don't know? Will I try again? Sure. Will it be on the Derby course? Heck No! I think I will chose either Columbus, Chicago, or Martian again for a PR. Those courses are better suited to PRs, especially since mine was set on a super flat course. Will I go back to Boston next year? I want to, but I don't know if we can make it work for our family. We'll have to see. I am also wondering if my time will be fast enough. In 2012, when I went, not everyone who qualified was accepted due to volume. This was before the time standards were lowered by 5:59 minutes. Last year, registration stayed open just over a month. Will it stay open that long this year? I don't know, especially because everyone I know that has even been to Boston or close to getting there wants to go next year. I have my entry fee socked away already, so I plan to submit my time and see what happens.