Wednesday, May 14, 2014

maine coast marathon

over the past few days ive tried to convince all of my friends to write this race recap for me. sara beat me to actually writing a blog about the day, but she left out some key parts about my race (rude! next time call me before writing, ill fill you in on all the details!) i considered just letting some time pass and trying to make it off like i forgot to blog about it, but who am i kidding... this race will be on my mind for a long time. i also figured i wouldnt be happy coming back to read this at some point later in my life and just seeing something like:

maine coast marathon-
A goal: finish (check!)
B goal: sub 3:30 (hahahaha)
C goal: 3:32:22 (nope)
D goal: 3:34:59 (you missed boston by how many minutes?!)
E goal: PR (check!)

two out of five aint bad. it was hot, but i didnt barf! see ya in the fall. 

the end.

that about sums it all up, however there is a lot more to the story... which essentially started back on january 6th. i started out training for 3:34:59, boston marathon qualification time for a 34 year old toeing the start line in hopkinton on april 20th, 2015. over the next few weeks, my paces dropped and my goal changed. i felt like 3:32 might be within reach. and then 3:30, maybe faster. my long run calculated out to a potential 3:28 marathon time. any time i talk to people who dont know much about me and they find out i am a marathon runner, the common question is "oh, have you done boston?" and my reply has always been "no, im not fast enough". i didnt really even tell people i was training for a BQ attempt until my training cycle was nearing the end. although many people think boston is something that all marathoners strive for, it really has never been something on my "running bucket list". but as the weeks went on, and i saw my work paying off, i knew it could really be a possibility. and my desire to try to qualify grew.

as race day approached, i began getting really nervous. what if im not good enough? am i joking trying to run these paces for this many miles? but i kept getting my workouts in and hitting my paces in training, knowing that on race day it would (hopefully) all come together. i knew it wouldnt be easy, but i would never know if i was able to do it unless i tried.

on saturday i headed to the race expo with leslie, her husband tom, and kristal to pick up our bibs. there were approximately 3 tables and about 30 people there but we managed to have some fun.

invisible hula hooping, updating the twitter, silly faces

do we look nervous? i was so nervous.

and this is what happens when i give leslie my phone. weirdo.

flash back for a minute to december when i met leslie at our operation jack 10k satellite run... she was stupid fast and told me she was registered for maine coast and was going to try to qualify for boston! i looked up to her (literally, shes wicked tall!) for being so speedy and loved hearing her talk about what her training was going to be like and how excited she was to get going the following week. i told her i also was running maine coast but, unlike her, did not think a bq was within my reach and would be looking to use this spring marathon as a "come back run" after having henry. one day before her official marathon training program started, leslie got hurt. her 18 week program turned into a 7.5 week program, which got her to the starting line on sunday with hopes to see what she could do.

by saturday night i had gotten a bunch of good luck packages and messages from friends, complete with many bags of potato chips, gum, nail polish, motivating signs, tshirts and good luck charm cheetahs.... but this text pic just stole the cake-

i have amazing friends

i went to bed at a decent time on saturday night, woke up at 4am and went through most of my normal pre race stuff, and headed out to pick up kristal. as any normal person would do i cried in the car to eminem. she told me stories that helped keep my mind off running, which i absolutely needed. i also needed a bathroom, so i was glad to see porta potty at the parking lot when we met up with leslie before heading to the start. i sadly wasnt the only one with this idea (i dream of one day finding a never before used porta potty!) but the line moved quickly. while waiting in line, out of the corner of my eye i saw the bff appear, heading out for a run. i had not expected to see her before the race (i knew she was coming later on) so i yelled to her and she came running over with a huge hug. of course i started crying and told her she couldnt let me cry already! she took off to get her run in before spectating, and leslie, kristal and i headed to the start to be dropped off.

when i got there, i put my stuff down and was going to head to the bathroom again when i looked up and saw my friend jim... standing next to sarah n! i had NO IDEA she was going to be there and i lost it. like full on hysterical sobbing while hugging her (shes the one thats pregnant and emotional, i should not be crying!) i tried to pull myself together, looked up to see another twitter friend, chris, and was immediately embarassed that i was a basket case, haha. i used the bathroom, sara found me to wish me good luck, we took pics, they played the national anthem, i warmed up for a few minutes, then we headed to the start where i met up and said good luck to my friend cindy before the gun went off.

leslie, me, new best friend karen!

leslie, sarah, me, karen, kristal, sara

i believe in me and my potential. and im going to succeed because im brave enough to think i can

i really didnt have much time to be nervous at the start line (i think all my nerves were already out of my system... i know my tears sure were), and before i knew it we were off. this was it... feet fail me not.

i look like im having fun... 30 seconds into the race

mile 1- 8:03
mile 2- 8:07
mile 3- 8:02 

the "plan" was to start out the race conservatively. i had trained to start off and run 7:55s. the first 10 or so miles were downhill. my heart rate (in cool conditions) could stay in the low to mid 160s at that pace. over time, the rate could go up while maintaining that pace, but i would be fine, get myself into a groove, relentless forward motion. i dont know what the exact temp was when we started running at 7:30am, but i didnt even need the arm sleeves and gloves i had planned to shed after i started to warm up from the very start of the race. not a good sign (thanks a lot mother nature!). if i had to guess, id say it was in the mid to high 50s. 

there werent a ton of people running (under 750) but the start was a little crowded for a bit. i knew the first turn was a left hand turn, so i kept myself on the left side of the road, and avoided any unnecessary weaving. i locked into a good pace and looked at my watch about a half mile in (were already a half mile in?! that feels fast...) 8:15 pace. shit, not fast, speed up. i continued to look at my pace until i got it back down towards 8, and then locked into that as the watch beeped for the first mile, 8:03. ok thats good. then my pace for mile 2 started... 7:24. wtf?! i felt good but slowed myself down til i evened out the pace again, and finally found that groove. i knew already it was going to be too hot to try to run 7:55s, and i was ok with that since i didnt really need that in order to qualify. at the end of the race, if my watch read an overall pace of 8:12, id make it. after the first 3 miles, i thought "wow, this might actually be happening! this is my day!" smiles all around.

just before mile 3 my dad drove up next to me and honked/waved (hi dad!), then a little further up ahead i saw kristal (yelled my mile 4 time to her for a quick coach check in), and around a corner stood isaac with his magnificent poster he had made me! his friend kassie was directly behind me so that made things easy for him with cheering throughout the day (she and i stayed relatively within close range of each other). as we ran off, i talked to her a little bit and she said she was already feeling a little off. it was definitely starting to heat up and there wasnt a cloud in the sky.

mile 4- 8:03
mile 5- 8:01
mile 6- 8:03

the first hill came just after mile 5, and it was over quickly. we made a left hand turn towards the beach and i knew the 10k mark was coming up. i took my first gu shortly before mile 5 and i could literally feel energy filling up in my legs. at mile 6 my watch read just over 48 minutes, and i thought i remembered coach saying "just hit the 10k at 47, youll be fine" so that threw me off. ive been hitting very low 8s so far on each mile, how am i over a minute slow?! i checked my pace bands (i had a couple) and the 3:30 said 48:03 for mile 6. alright, im doin ok. must not be thinking clearly, dumb heat.

shortly thereafter my right quad started screaming. the kind of scream you dont want to hear at mile 23 of a marathon, let alone mile 6. i almost felt like it was on the verge of seizing. i tried hard to change up my stride but nothing helped. for a brief second i stopped at a telephone pole and stretched it, and started back up again. that seemed to do the trick. this shot me down a little bit mentally, but i remembered what the bff had told me saturday night- think only of the mile you are currently in. do not think of mile 20 when you are in mile 6. my body temporarily told my mind this race was over, but i pushed through it. i kept my mind in that mile. i decided to take one of the two salt pills i had brought with me, not knowing if it would help or hurt but figured what did i have to lose. 

mile 7- 8:06
mile 8- 8:06
mile 9- 8:02

we looped back around into town just after the 8 mile mark, i was finishing up my 2nd gu, and saw isaac jumping up and down with his posters again. i was almost out of my water/gatorade mix, which made me nervous because even on my long runs i never went through my whole handheld... and i wasnt even halfway done yet. i could see where this was headed (around the lake... puke... dying... shut up head! stay in this mile idiot!). lots of folks lined the street in downtown kennebunkport, and i saw kristal up ahead on the right. i yelled up to her to take my handheld and find me later after filling it up, gave her my mile 8 check in time for coach, and ran on. i knew this next loop got a little hilly, but it had great views (and maybe even a sighting of george bush sr. at walker point? no such luck).

despite the beautiful views, i pretty much just kept my head down and ran for the next few miles. i remember the road being very uneven for a lot of it, and i got up on the sidewalk for a little while. cars were able to pass us on the left, but there werent many on this part of the course. hills came and went, and before i knew it i was coming up on the halfway point.

mile 10- 8:04
mile 11- 8:17
mile 12- 8:10
mile 13- 8:07

coming up to mile 13, my mind started to believe my body. i hadnt been looking too closely at my splits, figuring the heat was slowing me down a bit more than i had wanted. josh turners "long black train" came on right before a hill, a reminder that i sure wasnt going to be giving up yet. then around the next corner i saw the bff and sarah n. jumping up and down cheering! they were absolutely what i needed at that very moment. and from then on, i started seeing chalk drawings, and i knew exactly who they were from.

the one that i saw that made me cry was "just breathe", and i sadly dont have a picture of it. i said to myself "youre halfway done with this race, youre not going to give up now! suck it up princess!" i knew when i crossed the 13.1 mark, my split for the half would be posted online, and as i crossed, i looked down at my watch.

13.1- 1:45:22
(pace- 1:45:00 split for 3:30, 1:47:30 for 3:35)

huh?! i was not expecting this at all, and that gave me a huge boost of energy. the course wound around a corner and then a right turn and there were lots of people out on the street cheering. i saw a co-worker chris (who had given me a pep talk earlier in the week) and i yelled to him "1:45 half!!!" i was pretty pumped up. as i got thru all the crowd and got settled back in, i looked at my pace and again it was in the mid 7s. oops. i reeled it back in, and geared up for a hill i saw coming up ahead. id trained on hills and knew i could slow my pace to maintain effort and not lose a lot of time. i had periodically been checking my heart rate, knowing it was high to start, and it continued to be up in the mid 170s. it wasnt where i wanted it to be but there was nothing i could do about it, and i sure wasnt stopping or slowing down to get it to go down. 

as we crested the top of the hill i saw ambulance lights ahead of us and a guy who looked to be pretty banged up to the side of it. then across the street i saw a woman pulled over talking to a cop. i dont know for sure, but i must assume that the runner had gotten hit by the car, which is so unfortunate. i feel like for the most part the drivers were pretty observant during the race... no one seemed to get too close or be going too fast, and the volunteers out there were awesome with holding up traffic, asking runners to run 2 by 2 on the sides of the road, etc. tough day for that guy though, for sure, and i hope everyone is ok.

mile 14- 8:24
mile 15- 8:18
mile 16- 8:26 

again this whole stretch of miles was such a blur. my leg wasnt hurting me all that bad any more, i had another gu, and took my 2nd (and last) salt pill (i bought a bottle of 100 pills and brought TWO with me. huge mistake). there were a few small uphills, a long down hill, and all of a sudden i was at mile 16. coach had told me that the miles were just going to tick by, but i hadnt believed him. all i have ever known is a 4 plus hour marathon, so its always seemed like a long time, but it really felt like i blinked and there i was heading into mile 17. i knew a long steady climb was coming up, and it was really really hot. i was grabbing water at every station and throwing it on my back, neck, and head. i knew i was slowing down, but hadnt been watching my lap paces, just checking my pace band at each mile to make sure i was still under 3:35. at the end of mile 16 i changed my watch from lap pace to average pace... 8:09. i still had this.

shortly after mile 17 bff jumped out of sarahs car and started running with me. i was hurting pretty bad, but she helped me maintain composure, carried my handheld, and we trucked along. i told her i needed another salt pill and the wheels were set in motion, come hell or high water, to get me one (spoiler alert: never happened). theres a mini citgo sign just before mile 18, and shortly after that we met up with sara b who joined me running til the end. i absolutely would have stopped right there, had a pity party, found a bench on the beach and had a picnic if these two ladies hadnt been there. they absolutely would not let me stop running. i may have cursed them at the time, but i owe my finish to them just as much as anything else. thank you ladies!!

mile 17- 8:14
mile 18- 8:31
mile 19- 8:14

mile 20- 8:36
mile 21- 8:26
mile 22- 8:21

around mile 22 we met up with kristal and her beautiful family, who were so kind to have made posters for me. although i was feeling like i just wanted to curl up and cry, this put a smile on my face and got my feet moving a little faster (despite my slowing times). 

id say we have some pretty awesome form for mile 22 if i do say so myself

as we rounded the corner for the last 4 miles of the race, people were handing out freeze pops! i had never been so excited about sugary sweet grape flavored ice sticks in my whole life!! i tried to choke some of it down, but ended up spitting most of it out, and then stuck it in my sports bra to help cool me down. each water stop we ran thru id grab a cup of water to drink, a cup of water to throw on my self, and sara grabbed a cup to have for me after that. (im fairly certain i ended up dumping a cup of yellow gatorade on myself at one of these stops because my whole tank top looked radioactive at the finish line, haha. whatever, i was a hot mess regardless).

mile 23 ran right along the ocean, and lots of people were out on the rocks watching and cheering us on. i thought about these last 3 miles over and over in my head throughout the previous weeks leading up to the race, thinking what it would feel like on marathon day when i hit those miles. would i know at this point that i had boston in the bag? would i know that i didnt and just enjoy the rest of the ride? would i be right on the verge and gutting it out? you never know, and thats the hard reality of the marathon. we got to mile 23 and i hurt all over. i told sara i couldnt feel my legs, and she said "thats pretty much the best case scenario right now. keep running". i looked at my watch and the overall pace read 8:11. i had some work to do, and as much as i was dying to just bust out some stupid fast miles, i just couldnt keep moving.

mile 23- 8:39
mile 24- 9:11
mile 25- 8:34

during mile 23 i lost it. i cried and cried. flashbacks of around the lake marathon and throwing up for 22 minutes at mile 26 flooded my head. sara must have thought i was going to vomit all over her at any moment from the number of times i kept burping and hiccuping. it was bad. i felt really bad. i continued to watch my overall pace creep up... 8:11... 8:12... 8:13... 

at one point i told sara, through my tears, "dude, im gonna be one minute too slow", and a few steps later said "and im ok with it". i had to be, i really had no other option at that point.

within 10 steps of the mile 24 sign, my groin seized up and i was literally stopped. i couldnt move. sara gave me approximately 3.6 seconds to stretch and then yelled at me to run, bitch. at least i think thats what happened. i knew i was close... close to the finish, close to qualifying time... and although i swore i had nothing left to give, apparently i had a little more left in me than i thought, as mile 26 ended up being my fastest mile of the entire race. who does that?

...with brave wings, she flies...

mile 26- 7:58
mile 26.27- 2:07 (7:52 pace)

im not exactly sure where the mile 25 or mile 26 signs were, i dont really even remember seeing them, but i had run the last 8 miles in training and i certainly knew where the finish line was. as i turned left into the university of new england, i knew i had probably a half mile left to run to get there. i looked down at my watch and saw the time change to 3:34:00... 

i had 59 seconds to get to the finish, and i knew it wasnt possible. 

18 weeks and 26 miles flashed before my eyes at that very moment, and i just took it all in. 4am (or earlier) alarms. the dreaded, but grown to love, treadmill. 100m/400m/800m/1000m/1200m/1600m sprints. long runs. ice baths. compression gear. foam rolling. garmin. gatorade. gu. heart. fear. dedication. smiles. tears. friends. family. ty. henry... nothing could take away the work i had put in to getting to me to this moment, but i also couldnt change the result i was about to face. and instead of throwing in the towel, giving up, or hanging my head, i pushed thru... turned left into parking lot 16, ran under the bridge, and came around the corner to see the finish line. i threw up my arms as if to say "oh well, better luck next time", and ran into the arms of my best friend as she placed the medal around my neck.

after getting through the finish line, i saw everyone there waiting for me, including leslie. i thought for a second that she had gotten ahead of me and finished already, thus qualifying her for boston! and then she pointed to her knee, where a huge bag of ice was wrapped around her. she didnt need to say anything more, i knew she hadnt finished the race. such a strong decision for her to make, and my heart hurts for her so bad, but i know she will be back even stronger for mount desert island in the fall. i hugged everyone and tried to fight back the tears, but they soon came, and boy did they come down hard. at one point im not sure i could tell if i was crying or laughing, just so many emotions flooded over me.

i cant even put into words the feelings i have for the race i ran on sunday, although i guess this post spells it all out as best i can. it is by far the absolute best race i have ever run. sure i had my moments, many of the miles were not my fastest ever, i had aches and pains and things that could have gone better (and many things that could have gone much worse). the weather was not on our side that day, and i wasnt ready for it after training in the cold. i had mentioned to kristal on the day of the boston marathon (where it was also in the 70s) "the only thing that i do not want to have happen for maine coast is to have weather like this". fail. (and on a side note- checking the extended forecast 24 days ahead and having it read high of 54 and chance of rain should be illegal!).

i could thank my friends and family every day for the rest of my life for all of their support leading up to and throughout/after this race and it still wouldnt be enough. training is stressful on everyone, and its nice to have strong support throughout it all. (above pic: me and kristal, who will be running her first marathon in october with me in CHICAGO!!!, sara b and i, an amazing friend and support who makes qualifying for boston look like a day at the beach! (hate you, secretly, xo), and i got to meet jocelyn after the race, and cant wait to see her again in chicago as well where we will both again attempt to get ourselves back to boston!!)

and these two ladies... i have no words. which is always a lie when i say that... i have many many words. to my bff elite jogger csi partner in crime, i couldnt have done this without you. no matter how many runs i (sadly) did without you, you were always with me. "your strength is the power that carried me through, forever....."

sarah n... you have been at (almost) every single one of my PR races. youre a good luck charm, and a great friend to say the very least. you inspire me so much, and i cant wait to watch you evolve into the new role as "mommy" very soon.

to my coach, sam... thank you for your support and guidance throughout my training. although i followed a specific training plan, you helped with my changing paces, adjusted the schedule to work for me, while helping to build up my confidence. 

and to my awesome, supportive husband, ty... i absolutely couldnt have done this without you. the sacrifices you made to allow me to get this are endless. "sometimes the people we count on the most are the ones who hear 'thank you' the least." thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

143rd place at the half and finished 82nd... i was determined apparently.

marathons are hard, im fairly certain no one on this planet that has run one will tell you otherwise, whether their finishing time is 2:03 or 7:35. coach said something yesterday when i was having a tough time emotionally, and it made a lot of sense to me... "equating to sports where you compete against somebody else (team or individual), you were going up against a tough opponent (a 3:35 marathon clock) and that opponent was tougher than normal that day because of the heat. you were a machine out there and played out of your mind, but there is some element of defeat in all of it. its like the university of maine losing to duke by 2 points. hell of an effort, still not a win".

while i havent yet drank all the bud light in a 10 mile radius of westbrook, ive certainly had a few. i was pretty hard on myself at first, but ive given myself some time to reflect, and had a great recovery run with the bff this morning. the boston marathon will be there when im ready for it, and ill certainly be back out there at some point to attempt this once again (just not any time soon). an almost 22 minute PR for the marathon is a truly amazing thing in and of itself, especially on a day like we had on sunday, and that is certainly something i am very proud of.

marathon #9

official time: 3:37:08
pace: 8:16
82nd place overall
7th age group
20th female overall


  1. wah! you rock!! and you make the girl who doesn't cry have a tear. Great great job, girl!!

  2. Danielle..... You have nothing to be ashamed of..... My god you ran a marathon.... Now that I am wiping my face from tears I can only say.... You truly are my running mentor.... You went start to finish..... I can only imagine running a marathon..... I never thought I would be at a place in my life where I would be running..... Keep up the great work and proud to say you are family!!!

  3. A PR is a PR. You worked your butt off for this race, and it showed. Sometimes Mother Nature is a cruel bitch. But you finished, and that is ALWAYS a win in my book.

    Anyway, I can't wait to (hopefully) finally meet you in Chicago! I'm running as a training run, so we will be nowhere near the same pace, haha.

  4. Awesome recap. You ran a hell of a race out there! Enjoy a little time off and some R&R and then start planning for a crazy fast fall marathon (which inevitably, since we are both going to Chicago will be 87 degrees... ugh! no!)
    Seriously, 22 minute PR... So crazy!!!

  5. Great recap and love the pictures! Coach said it well. We cannot help but question the what-ifs. You were brave and gave it your all. I am seriously honored to have shared the first 20.2 miles of this course with you AND a lifetime friendship has definitely been formed. Chicago for you... MDI for me and raise your Bud Light (I'll raise my Coors Light) to toast to "a lifetime of running journeys together".

  6. Funny - I knew what what was meant for everything I saw on the course ... a course I like and will run again ... but SIUP threw me ... given my life/backgound ... SIUP? Southern Illinois University - ? Suck it up Princesses .. hum ... you have done that and more all badass year long ... I understand that my own personal circles of people/runners who are on a tear are limited but you and Maddy simply astound the shit out of me every time you cross the start line. May not ss ee you sooner but I will be cruising behind you at Beach to Beacons ... stay strong, Great Race!

  7. You trained well, ran well, fought hard and got about as much out of yourself as you could on Sunday. Nice job, super proud of you.

  8. Congrats!! Boston is definitely in you, it's not a matter of "if" it's a "when". You are so close, don't give up!!

  9. So proud of your baller PR. Can't wait for you to snag that BQ. BRB rushing to speed up so I can run it wiiiiiiith you. <3 you.

  10. Look how close you got?! I know you are disappointed and I would be too, but think about how close you got. Looking at the pictures, what a desolate race. Chicago is a whole different ball game. You can run with the pace group, the course is flat as a pancake, and the crowds will push you to the end. You can do this. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

  11. Congrats! You ran a really good race in some very hot weather. It's even tougher that it was that hot so early in the year (no time to get used to it). Just think of all the progress and how much faster you can go next time! You've got it!

  12. CONGRATULATIONS on your ENORMOUS PR! Girl, I know how you feel. My last marathon, I ran my fastest mile at Mile 26 too. I was trying to go sub-4 and I ran 4:01:05. Then I got hurt and that was 18 months ago. You'll get your BQ just like I'll (hopefully) get my sub-4. Proud of you <3

  13. You are such a dedicated person to your cause. You have ran more in your life than 10 of me would ever be able to. Boston ain't going anywhere and neither is my love for you. Lovin' you extra hard right MEOW!

  14. This is a wonderful recap, thank you so much for sharing your story, it made me cry! A 22 minute PR is Outstanding, but missing your BQ by 2 minutes-heartbreaking. No doubt you will get it in Chicago where the weather WILL BE nice & COOL, especially after training during the warmer months here in Maine. I look forward to reading about your journey!! :)

  15. Seriously so impressed with you! My last half marathon PR flop was do hard, and seeing the time on my watch click past my A goal was so hard. What an incredible race, fall is going to be CRAZY for you!!! Big things to come!

  16. Seriously... You are pretty amazing. I'm finding myself tearing up reading through this and I don't even run, lol!! Sounds like it was an amazing journey. Congratulations!

  17. Congrats on #9 in the books! What a wonderful blog post, and it looks like you had a beautiful day! Sorry you didn't get a BQ, but it looks like you gained so much more. Can't wait to read about what you do next! Looks like I'll have to add Maine Coast Marathon to my list! ;)