Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ocean Drive -- can't PR 'em all

Emir always says it's way easier to write a post when things don't go the way you planned.  He also says people enjoy reading about a struggle and a race where things didn't go your way.  Let's see if he's right.

If you know me or follow my blog or my social media, you know that I did BQ at the Philly Marathon in November.  However you also know it was by a mere 17 seconds which the last few years has not been enough to actually get accepted into Boston which now being in this situation I'm finding to be the most annoying thing in the world!  I freakin worked my ass off and qualified so I should get to run!  Anyway that's not the way it works so I had set aside this training cycle to work on my speed for the Ocean Drive Marathon.  

Maybe I shouldn't have chosen the Ocean Drive Marathon as the race to improve my BQ.  Yes it's a FLAT, scenic race however it's point to point next to the ocean in March therefore about 99% of the time you will be running against a headwind, the wind never seems to come from the south this time of year.  I knew this but I still decided to go for it anyway.   Last year I faced the headwind and pouring rain for that matter but it wasn't the entire 26.2, maybe 11-12 of the miles and I was able to PR so I could do it again.  Maybe it wouldn't be windy the whole time.  Maybe it would only be in the 5-10mph range or off/on.  You just never know.  I really just had to try as other than the inexpensive entry fee for Ocean Drive I have no expenses.  We have a condo literally blocks from the 10mile finish so free lodging and super easy logistics, kind of a no brainer if you ask me especially with really no other options this time of year that would be doable.
I had a great shakeout
Now to te race itself.  The forecast changed a lot over the 10 days leading up to the race.  Finally it seemed to settle on sunny and 40s for the high but it seemed like no one could decide on the winds, I saw anywhere from 5 mph to 40mph being predicted.  On Saturday, shakeout day and packet pickup day, it was very windy.  The temps were comfortable for my shakeout but then hours later when we went to packet pickup not only was it WAY colder and it was snowing!  I still tried to just remain positive that I could handle whatever it was the next morning.
blizzard at the beach!

Saturday night, stretching and rolling

Not sure what I was thinking but I had packed my singlet and arm sleeves for my top portion but the temps even with the bright sun were just NOT what I thought.  The wind was so bitter that I knew I couldn't run in that comfortably. Luckily for me cindy had forgotten to give me my bday present last month and finally remembered to bring it with her ( she ran the 10 miler).  Turns out it was a long sleeve half zip, perfect!!! Problem solved.  

We arrived via school bus to congress hall in cape may and hurried inside, it was freezing!  Luckily the kind people at congress hall allow the runners to hang out inside and utilize the facilities.  About 15 minutes before the race Cindy and I ran a bit to the outside potty to go that one last time and to warm up a bit.  I was feeling nervous, excited but good.  I noticed the wind while we were warming up but was thinking "it's not going to matter too much, I don't think it's directly into us."
definitely my biggest supporter aside from Emir
Then we started.  I was going to pace the first 10 miles with Cindy but after the first couple minutes I was by myself.  I was jut going a comfortable, easy pace, at least I thought.  Mile 1 was not bad as far as wind, I think it was to the side or maybe a little at our backs but then it was time to turn to head towards the bridge out of cape may and "bam" I hit a wall, of wind that is.  I was thinking "holy crap!" But just kept at it.  I would have to put my head down so my hat wouldn't fly off, the bill kept flapping up and down.  Now that I'm writing about it, it sounds awful but at the time while I was running I really didn't think it was affecting me or my pace.  

at 10 miles on the Wildwood boardwalk
At 10 miles I was at 1:22, right on target and I felt good.  Emir and the kids were waiting for me. After that things started to fall apart.  My pace each mile was starting to creep up despite me feeling like I was putting in more effort than I had the first 10 miles.  At halfway I had just barely made the upper time of the range I wanted to be in.  I was like "crap". So I took it up a notch for that mile, hard effort and my legs were movng and I felt good but then my pace for that mile popped  up.  I don't remember exactly what it was but I know I was devasted.  It was no where close to the pace I felt that I was running.  And I admit, I lost it.  I just couldn't understand what was happening!  Why could I not run any faster?!?  Then I felt like I wanted to cry for a solid two miles.  Looking back on it, I think my body just couldn't take it anymore.  I slowed down a bitfueled and hydrated up more and started feelig better physically but mentally I was a wreck. Then I saw emir and I was screaming at him how "I can't do it!  I'm behind!"  He kept saying "you're fine!  Just keep going! You got this!" But I wasn't listening, sorry love!  

Not long after my sister pulled up next to me in her car.  I started the same self pity with her.  My sister, the great swim coach that she is, pulled over a couple blocks ahead of me and jumped out.  She started running with me and giving it to me good. "Amy, you've got this!  You train so hard!  You can do it!  Now pick it up!  Run hard half a mile then stretch out for half!  You got this!"

She really snapped me out of my funk, I guess that's why she's so good at what she does ;-).  I did what she said.  I really picked it up for the next couple miles and I did feel better about myself.  Even though my paces weren't where I needed them to be for a PR, I knew I was trying hard.  I also was thinking "what's wrong with me?!? Just because I'm not going to PR is no reason to give up!"

So I kept going on.  The last 10k even though I felt strong my paces still kept creeping up.  It was pretty frustrating to feel like the level of my effort was no where close to being equal to the speed I actually was going but I passed a bunch of people that had passed me in my sad state and a bunch of others.  And actually no one passed me at all in those last miles.
everyone waiting for me
Eventually I saw the finishline ahead with Cindy, emir and the kids waiting for me.  I smiled and reached out for Niko's hand.  He ran the last .1 mile with me holding my hand.  We crossed the finishline together and I felt happy.  This is what mattered most not my time. The kids spent all day cheering for me, learning how to be supportive.  Niko especially learned that not everyday can be your best but that you just keep trying and keep going.  He's so intuitive he totally knew I was disappointed with my time but he kept holding my hand, giving me hugs and kisses saying "mommy you did great out there!  You ran your best today and I'm proud of you". Yes I know how incredibly lucky I am to have such a sweet boy.  I teared up then and again now while reliving it.

finishing hand in hand with my little man, highlight of my day by far
So in the end I finished 3:46.43.  It was not the 3:37-3:38 I was hoping for but still over 3 minutes faster than last year's Ocean Drive and my second fastest time after Philly.  I also managed 19th woman overall.  

I can't lie and say I'm not disappointed because of course I am.  I busted my ass all winter long for this race not to mention just waiting for the chance to improve that BQ was killing me.  But as Cindy said not only can every race not be a PR but it's also a great learning experience and training experience.  And she's right. I've had so much success lowering my times the past year to year and a half that I have taken for granted that I can just go out and PR everytime no matter what.  It just doesn't work that way.  This race taught me that I need to just deal with the bad when it happens, not throw a pity party.  I need to readjust and move on.  I've also taken for granted that finishing a marathon isn't a big deal.  I've become so obsessed with attaining a certain time that I forgot, running marathons is hard and every finish is a victory.  Hell I started running less than 4 years ago and I've finished 10 of these bad boys not to mention the ultras I've done.  And when I say started running, I'm talking from ground zero never ran a full mile in my life.  So while I'm disappointed, I have to remember I love running especially marathons and ultras.  I did enjoy being out there doing what I love, just wasn't the exact result but all sports have their ups/downs.  Some days we have it some days we don't.  Some days there will be external factors we can't control.  But the most important thing, I am proud of everything I have accomplished up until now and the day wasn't all bad.
I'm not sure if I am going to give this BQ thing one more shot this year.  There is a marathon I could do mid May.  I have a lot of mixed emotions right now.  I do really want to run Boston but I just don't know if I have it in me to run faster than 3:39.  I know it was windy but was that really what limited me? I don't know.  I also have a bunch of ultras including my first 100 miler in October so if I decide to run this marathon instead of the 50miler I was planning in May how will that affect things?  I've got a lot of thinking to do.  But for now I am proud of my performance at OD and so thankful to have such a supportive family and I will always cherish my finish with Niko, beaming up at me.  And what the hell, I'm damn proud that I have a BQ whether good enough or not, that's something I thought I would never achieve! 

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