Monday, May 17, 2010

Long and Winded Race Report: Rockford Marathon

Ok, so I'm finally getting around to my race report. Honestly, I've been on this high since yesterday morning and I've just been soaking it in until now:

I have to say that the finish at this race was even better than my first marathon finish last fall. I don't know if it was because of the PR, it being in my hometown, all my friends screaming with their super awesome "Robot Lady" signs, or the fact that I ran it all alone and stayed mentally strong despite being pain for a longer amount of time than at the Lakefront Marathon. WHATEVER. All these things simply came together for me and made a moment that I keep replaying in my head over and over again. *Sniff*

THE BAD: PAIN. I had a good amount of lower back pain pretty much the entire race- I think from sleeping on an uncomfortable bed the night before. I stayed at my Dad's house so I wouldn't have to make a super-early drive to Rockford and he had this weird memory foam stuff on the bed i slept in ( which I initially thought would be nice.) Turns out I couldn't get comfortable all night. At first I thought it was a case of nerves but in the morning I woke up and my lower back was totally scrunched. Oh noes! I didn't want to freak out too much so I just stretched for a good twenty minutes or so and told myself that it would warm up once I started running.

Unfortunately this was not the case. I was able to put it out of my head for a fair amount of time but it kept steadily getting worse after around mile 7 and every time my feet struck he ground I could feel it. Crap! In cases like this it makes me so happy that I practice yoga because I really felt like my ability to keep my breath slow and even and focus my mind. I was running this race by myself so I was able to crank my music, disassociate myself from the pain and focus on just moving forward. (Luckily, I didn't disassociate so much that my pace slowed. I must have checked my Garmin a hundred and fifty times through the race!)

THE AWESOME: My friends. They kept showing up again and again and it lifted my spirits each time like you would not believe. I first saw Amy and Emily (who got started driving at 3:45 even though they weren't even racing!) around mile 6. Then whole crew of girls showed up around mile 19 after they all had finished the half. I was pretty sure everyone would head back to the finish at this time but they surprised me by showing up not once, but TWO more times along the course and at one point even flew by me cheering out the window of the car! Plus, Krista and Rochelle jumped in and ran with me for a bit around mile 22 and when I heard about how ALL of them had PRs at the half it raised my spirits like you would not believe. After hearing this I headed into a mile long stretch of wooded trail where I was pretty much alone and I had kind of a rush where I ran with my arms out to the side and felt like I was flying. This was one of the high points of the race.

Then I got to mile 23. I was holding a pace between 9:10 and 9:30 all the way until this point but the pain in my back was starting to spread through my hips and down the side of my leg- especially on the left side where I'd been having some recent trouble with my IT band. I knew that even if I ran 10 minute miles until the end I would still make my goal of sub 4:15 so I didn't let it bother me that I had to slow up. Turns out I stayed at a sub-10 pace but it felt like I was trudging through peanut butter. Strangely enough I didn't feel out of breath at all but my lower body had had enough. I was thankful at this point for the volunteers along the path. Although I had my music pretty loud I could see their mouths moving with encouraging words and I thanked almost everyone I passed at this point (probably speaking way too loud because of my earphones. Ha.)

The last mile of the race I noticed so many people walking. It was strange because I felt like I was the only one left running at the point (even though I know it wasn't the case.) I was glad that I didn't overdo it so much that I had to walk as well but I could feel their pain every time I passed someone. As I came up to mile 26 I saw one guy who was walking stop and stretch as he got ready to make the turn around the corner to the finish. It made me laugh to think about "putting on a show" for the spectators at the end. But you've gotta finish strong, right? :)

THE PART THAT MAKES IT ALL WORTH IT: I had been thinking about this for miles. (Ok, months. I admit it but I kept visualizing it over and over during the race in order to get me through.) I had a cheesy, inspirational song blaring on my ipod (Melissa Etheridge singing "I Run for LIfe") as I entered the final stretch. I came around the corner and scanned the crowd in the distance until I saw my bright colored signs in the distance again. OMIGOSH. I won't lie, I totally started to cry. It kind of felt like a movie with the sweeping soundtrack blaring as I waved my hands around in the air. If I could have done so at this point I would have leapt, jumped up and down or done some kind of crazy dance. The finish was on a slight downhill so I got a huge burst of energy as I made my way toward the crowd. Whenever I finish a race I feel kind of disoriented by all the people so I didn't get a chance to take in everyone who was there but I do remember deciding to focus on Krista and Amy who were in the middle of the road cheering me on along with RANDOM STRANGE DUDE who joined in on the fun and started screaming my name like a lunatic. Thanks, random strange dude. I high-fived Krista and flew to the finish with a smile so big my face actually was hurting later. On top of my buds being there I also had my husband Jason and our two girls Juliana and Ava, my Dad, my Aunt and Uncle, my brother in-law Dan (who finished in 3:28!), my sister-in-law, mother-in-law and my three little nieces and a nephew. Whew!

I'm going to have a hard time topping this one. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't try. My next goal is to finish the Lakefront Marathon with my group of awesome ladies who totally rock my world like you would not believe. Everything I'm doing now is so different from where I was even a couple of years ago and I am so, so grateful. I always say that marathon running is similar to childbirth in that you are so elated with the result that you forget all the pain you had to endure and you tell yourself it would be an awesome thing to do again.


9:18, 9:09, 9:12, 9:14, 9:20, 9:10, 9:02, 9:18, 9:14, 9:21, 9:16, 9:30, 9:25, 9:08, 9:30, 9:17, 9:30, 9:24, 9:32, 9:21, 9:19, 9:20, 9:42, 9:40, 9:58, 9:53

6 Miles- 55:57
13 Miles- 2:01.30
20 Miles- 3:07:45
26.2 Miles- 4:07:42
9:28 pace

Look how happy Krista is to see me!

For some reason the clock is wonky in this photo and it's missing the seconds. My official time was 4:07:42

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