preface: if i had just kept my big fat mouth shut (not likely, ever) i wouldnt even be having to write this blog right now! but since i told approximately 12 people that i was running a marathon this past weekend, and since i posted a stupid picture on instagram and tweeted that i had race braids in... i ultimately must write a stupid blog about my stupid race. my pity party ended about 15 minutes ago, but i forgot i hadnt written this yet. lets hope i can make it through without crying (not likely, ever).
may 12 2014- maine coast marathon:
"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."
(so... yeah. crying. apparently im still not over that race. move on! find a mountain and get over it already! maybe i should register for the mount washington road race, its just one hill...)
the boston marathon has never been one of my "i must do that race" races. i know thats weird. everyone thinks that race is the marathoners dream... it just never was one of mine. sure, i would love to run it. and as much as i would enjoy raising money for a good charity, i want to qualify. but after having run 8 marathons and just barely getting my sub 4 hour goal, i just didnt think i could ever be fast enough to qualify. and i was ok with that! i love heading down to boston in april and watching everyone run, and i usually have a marathon shortly thereafter and it gets me psyched up to watch one before i run one. (side note: if you have never spectated a marathon, let alone the boston marathon, you dont know what youre missing. its absolutely incredible. go do it! tomorrow!).
anyway, i started training on january 6th for the maine coast marathon, starting my training with the goal of attempting to qualify for boston with a pace of 8:11 (finishing time 3:34:59 or better). as my training went along, i began adjusting those paces and goal times (down/faster). and i came close to qualifying, finishing just 2 minutes and 9 seconds shy on the hottest day of the year. the heat and sun were relentless that day but i did everything i could and gave it my best. yet, my almost 22 minute PR wasnt enough to ride the bus to hopkinton and get myself inside those barricades along the streets of boston.
i was ok with it on that day, and for a few days after. and then i decided i wasnt ok with it anymore. i didnt want to wait until chicago. i deserved to get back what i felt like i lost that day along the coast of maine.
there were very few races left between the beginning of june and boston registration that were in close enough proximity to where i live that i could run, and i was talked into this one by someone else running it (they ultimately decided not to do it, and by then i was already registered). i decided to keep this race to myself this time (my husband and bff were the only people to know when i registered). i felt like it took some of the pressure off and i could just focus on the training and the race. of course as time got closer i told a few more people, but for everyone else i was still just training for chicago (which wasnt technically a lie!). a few weeks after registering i also convinced jocelyn to do it as well, and ultimately told sam (who had been coaching me all year) i would be joining him for the race i knew he would be trying to qualify at as well. yup, even kept this race from him for awhile! top secret!
my training went very well, just as it had for maine coast (minus the one week where i decided to quit running and that i hated all things marathon related and i think i maybe ran one of my scheduled runs and 25 of the 50 or so miles that i was supposed to run. whatever. i was SO over running). my mile pace went to 6:11. i did 600s at a sub 6 minute pace, sub 7s mile repeats, a 20 miler at 8:40 pace, 7:50s felt easy... everything was coming together.
in true danielle fashion i stressed about the weather (side note: apps should not allow extended forecasts to go out as far as 30 days!). every day for almost 4 weeks i checked allentown saturday night overnight temps, sunday am humidity, bethleham and easton temps. they went from 85 degrees, to 59 degrees, rain, high humidity, low humidity... why did i even bother?! but by the time race week came along, things were looking good. almost perfect actually. this was a real relief. this was going to be my day.
our original plan was to wake up early saturday morning and drive to the expo then on to the hotel (race was a point to point, with the expo mear the halfway mark). our parents suggested they come the night before and watch henry so we could leave friday instead, and ty said he would be able to get out of work early in order to leave at a relatively decent time. sam and his wife graciously offered their guest room for us to stay, which was going to give us the opportunity to go into philly on saturday for a little while, something ive wanted to do for a long time! (and she was making us her banana bread that sam has been raving about for 4 years!)
i pretty much packed up everything i own and we got on the road shortly after noon. i hadnt been feeling well for most of the morning but i thought it was just nerves.
car ride essentials
danielle runs on dunkin
i wasnt really paying attention to my water intake, but i felt like i was drinking enough there were quite a few bathroom stops on the drive, however, and my stomach really felt awful. i just wanted this race to be done with! remember when marathons were fun and not so stressful?! we got to west chester a little after 8pm and i was so happy to be out of the car.
he thinks hes funny. dont let him fool you, he was happy to have me there.
i struggled through a small bowl of pasta and sam made us watch ufc with him (ok ill admit i was slightly entertained). we got to bed a little after 10:30pm and i tossed and turned until almost 12:30am. then i was up at 5am, still not feeling well. sam and i went for a shake out run around his neighborhood and the humidity was 95%, which certainly didnt help me feel any better. i dont know what our pace was but i know my heart rate was not at a recovery rate, thats for sure (and i saw a snake. it was dead but yuck).
this was how i felt about our recovery run. i dont know why he was so excited about it.
i saw this on their fridge and snapped a pic before leaving
sams wife made us gluten free pancakes with chocolate chips for breakfast that were sooooo good, but i still wasnt feeling well and only ate two. i had already had half a bowl of oatmeal and granola that i tried to get down but couldnt finish. i dont know what was wrong but everything just felt off. ty and i left after breakfast and headed to love park and then to a sandwich shop he had gone to before (and was on one of those food network tv shows apparently). the drive into and thru the city (at least where we were) was way easier than boston, parking was a breeze, there werent that many people, and the sandwich at this restaurant was aaaaaamazing! (the drive to the restaurant was really really sketchy though)
ty had the most amazing pork sandwich but i was nervous about eating such a heavy sandwich so i ordered a BLT (only could eat half) and some french fries, of course. i kept stealing little pieces of his pork and would eat them with a french fry. seriously if youre ever in philly, go there. why would anyone go to subway? (which those are everywhere)
after lunch we headed to bethleham where the expo was. it was at the old steel stacks which were very cool. while waiting for jocelyn to arrive, we stopped in at "the steel pub" and had a drink. shockingly, i was able to finish my beer (actually thats probably not all that shocking). jocelyn texted me that she was stuck in traffic and wouldnt be there for a while, so ty and i headed to the expo to grab my stuff and then went on to the hotel. we walked around the expo for a few minutes, but there was certainly nothing i couldnt live without (and i knew i would probably be spending a little bit of money on chicago apparel... in hindsight, im glad i dont have the light blue half zip i had my eye on there!)
once jocelyn got to the hotel, it was like an instant giggle fest started (and seemingly never ended). we went to grab dinner at wegmans, laid out all of our race stuff, watched a few episodes of the big bang theory, and were in bed before 9pm. win.
i also tried on her hokas, which im pretty sure might be my next running shoe if i need a pair before brooks releases their new launch next year (and ebates has 4.5% off, free 2 day shipping, and free returns/30 day trial! cant beat that!)
they may look big but they are comfy!
obviously im not a pro like her
once my head hit the pillow i was out until my alarm went off. the hotel had bagels, coffee and little care packages for all runners (water, fruit and granola bar). i attempted to eat two pieces of toast with peanut butter, drank some coffee and we headed to the start. sam and jocelyn ran this race last year and said the start had been really congested, so we left early. there were barely any people there when we got there and we parked easily and got to the porta potties with no lines. it was pretty chilly so we decided to go back to the car to keep warm and listen to music... its a good thing we did, as we were parked in the wrong parking lot and everyone was needing to move (they hadnt yet blocked off the lot we parked in for the hospital). luckily moving the car wasnt a huge hassle. i snapped this picture before moving the car, and i had sam shine his flashlight on me while i took it. i didnt know he had taken a pic, but i think its actually a pretty cool shot.
after multiple trips to the porta potties (totally nervous and yet couldnt go to the bathroom. lovely!) it was go time. we snapped this pic real quick and jumped into the start line. jocelyn and i chatted pace plans for a few seconds and the gun went off. this was it.
sweet hairy chest photo bomb
as nervous as i had been, it was time to do this. i had no other option, and i wasnt about to let week after week of training go to waste. i had full confidence in my ability. id run 1,394 miles with all of this training... only 26.2 miles to go.
mile 1 7:58
mile 2 7:50
mile 3 7:55
straight out of the start line we ran straight for a short way out of the hospital parking lot and took a right, running us out through a neighborhood, up a small hill, and back out onto the street. we ran past the hospital, through an intersection and headed towards what looked to be a steep downhill. it was difficult to keep from flying down the hill, but as my watch flipped from mile 2 to mile 3, my pace was 6:12. yikes. the weather was cool and not too humid, all things felt good in those first 2 miles. dont remember much about mile 3, ran through a covered bridge and onto a dirt path. had a water/gatorade stop somewhere in there i think.
mile 4 8:01
mile 5 7:58
mile 6 7:55
somewhere between mile 4 and 5 i felt like i was drinking a lot and wasnt sweating as much as i had been. i remember wiping my forehead and feeling salt. shit. i took a gu shortly after mile 4 and also decided to take a salt pill. i had a gatorade/water mix in my handheld but knew i was drinking more than i usually do on my runs/races. i had flashbacks to 'around the lake' mile 26 and i certainly didnt need that. as we crossed over a bridge i saw bart yasso out of the corner of my eye cheering us on. that was a fun perk.
between miles 5 and 6 i started feeling an odd little pain in my chest, sort of near my left arm pit. my heart rate was up in the 170s, an ok rate for the pace i was keeping but i felt like i was working harder than i usually am. i tried to ignore it and kept on.
mile 7 8:07
mile 8 8:08
the pain in my chest never went away like i had hoped, and if anything it was getting worse. i had thought ty might be at the first relay exchange, but when i didnt see him i knew that he was just going to have gone to the half and i would need to meet him there. at one point i almost stopped when i saw a volunteer at mile 7 to call ty on his phone and see if he could get to a mile before 13, but i never did that. and shortly after mile 8 we headed out into the woods on a path that (i didnt know) wouldnt end until after mile 11. i took another salt pill, drank more water/gatorade, and had a tums, hoping maybe this was heart burn. i had had a great race until this point and thought i could continue on. i was going to get this done. this was my day!
mile 9 8:23
at mile 9, out in the woods on a single track path, i made a decision that ive never had to do before. i knew i would not be finishing this marathon. the pain hadnt necessarily gotten worse, but it hadnt gone away or gotten any better. i was also feeling short of breath, and my heart rate was still high. all i could think about was ty waiting for me and henry/my family back at home. this race was no longer about me or about boston or about getting another medal. this was now about my life. and nothing was worth continuing with the conditions i was experiencing. it was just a race, and there would be many many more (i hoped). and boston would always be there.
my current concern, however, was that i was in the middle of the woods. and i wasnt going to see ty (so i thought) until the halfway point. should i have kept running? probably not. but i wanted to get this over with. i cried for a while (shocking), then i happened upon a girl walking on the side of the path bleeding from her face. she had fallen and looked a little confused. i walked with her for little bit, asked if she needed anything, then told her i would send help. we didnt get out of the woods until a little after mile 11, but i sent the first volunteer i saw back to help her. (one of my only gripes about this race- each mile in the woods should at least have someone there with a radio incase something happens to someone! it took me way too long to get this woman the help she needed! i saw her at the finish line so i know she was found/made it ok).
mile 10 8:22
mile 11 8:15
mile 12 8:23
when we finally came out of the woods, i thought we would be heading straight towards the stacks that i could see ahead, but instead we took a left and looked like we ran up into some road up ahead. there were runners coming back towards us and i thought it was just a quick turn around, but then i saw sam pass by me! i figured either this was a very long turn around, or he was slowing down. i really hoped it was not the latter. shortly after i saw him, i heard ty yell at me from my left side. i wasnt expecting him until another mile, but i was so happy. i jumped off into the crowd where he was, bent over, and told him i was done. needless to say this surprised him, and he was caught off guard not knowing whether to tell me to suck it up and keep going, or be compassionate and try to figure out what the hell was happening. without even another single thought, i shut my watch off. i had had the last three miles to battle with myself whether i could continue on or not, and i had made my decision. i sat down on the grass with him and cried.
pretty ideal first half of a marathon
after explaining how i was feeling to him, he agreed i should stop. he did ask me if i was really sure, if i wanted to just walk and talk a little first, but i just wanted to go to the car. it felt so weird to be doing what i was doing, but i knew i had made the right choice. we got in the car and went to wawa for gas, coffee, water and so i could change my clothes, then we headed to the finish and found a prime parking spot about 200 yards from the finish line. we knew we had about a half hour until sam would hopefully come thru, and we were able to watch the first female marathoner come through in just over 3 hours.
right across the road from where we were standing were a group of girls who, after each marathon runner would go by, they would scream "YOU'RE GOING TO BOSTON". shut up girls. (not bitter... not bitter...)
we went and found him and i told him what had happened, then we went back to wait for jocelyn. as we were waiting to see her, two girls ran by that i had been running with thru mile 8. i turned and snapped a pic of the clock as they crossed the finish line. oof.
still a tough pill to swallow
as much as i would have loved to stay and hang out with both sam and jocelyn as i dont get to see either very often, we had a long drive ahead of us and i really wanted to get home and kiss henry before he went to bed. we hung out for a few minutes, but soon said our goodbyes and headed out. throughout the first few hours in the car my legs kept cramping up, and i realized how extremely dehydrated i was/had been. im hoping this was the cause of my struggles out on the course, but ill be going to the doctor regardless.
as painful as this all is, im really ok. we had a really great weekend away. am i glad this happened? of course not. but better to have dehydration issues happen at this race than chicago i suppose.
brb... gonna be drinking 3 gallons of water for the next 34 days. if you need me ill be in the bathroom.
medal-less. and a sweet tyler photo bomb.