|central coast beauty|
|be still my heart, SB.|
So where do I begin? If you don’t want all the gory details, I can cut to the chase and tell you the Ventura Marathon was a total bust and a personal worst for me. I also peed myself (yes, I’m serious) and I have a swollen infected toe that is making it really painful to walk. Marathons are a trip, that’s for sure. If you want the full story, here it is, but don’t say I didn’t warn you…
The Night Before
The night before the marathon my legs felt a little achy and my confidence was in the gutter in regard to my potential. Like I mentioned before, my iron stores are basically depleted and I knew this would affect my performance just like it’s been affecting my training. Brittany decided at the last minute to have Teresa’s bib transferred into her name and run the half which was sort of a relief to me. I was happy that she wouldn’t be out on the course and wouldn’t see me suffering. Maybe I manifested all the suffering with my negative thinking? Instead, I could just look forward to seeing her at the finish.
We had sushi for dinner which I thought was a great idea (the perfect mix of carbs and protein, right?) but for once we didn’t yelp a restaurant before eating. We decided to wing it and ate at the first sushi place we found on Main Street and then did something you should never do. We read the Yelp reviews after eating our food. 1 out of 5 stars. I started mildly freaking out and asked Brittany to hurry up and look for the restaurant report card thingie that usually says “A.” I was certain this restaurant was going to have a “B” rating and we would be vomiting in no time. Well, we never found the restaurant score but we also managed to not get food poisoning. Side note: we were one of two tables eating at the restaurant – a sure sign that a restaurant sucks.
The morning of the marathon I popped right out of bed at 5 AM along with Brittany. This completely shocked me because we are not morning people…at all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Brittany coherent at 5 AM. Drunk maybe, but never alert and wide awake. But hey, there she was! She went straight to Starbucks to get me a soy latte with an extra shot and a toasted bagel which basically made her my instant hero and my favorite person on the planet. I’ve explained to her how critical a strong cup of coffee is before a race and she clearly listened and took it to heart. Major points.
Our hotel could not have been more convenient for the race. The start line was literally a 5 minute walk from our front door. I left at about 6:00 a.m. for a 6:20 a.m. start, which I’ve never ever been able to do. No shuttles. No crazy traffic. No parking lot issues. Nada. Major perk!
The race started promptly at 6:20 and I lined up with the 3:35 pace group just for the hell of it. I was actually trained for a sub 3:30 marathon (according to my training plan) but I figured I’d be lucky to even come close to qualifying for Boston with my annoying iron issues and the weather forecast of 80 degrees.
Within three miles the sun was beating down on us. If you didn’t know, I suck at running in the heat which is why I do so much treadmill running in the summer months. I was hopeful that this race would be in cooler temps and that we’d have a nice marine layer since it’s several hours north of here but nope, that didn’t happen.
I surprised myself by hanging with the 3:35 group for 18 miles and we were actually ahead of pace.
The group was really awesome and everyone was super nice and encouraging. I wasn’t listening to music so I was able to chat with some other runners and it made the time pass. The average pace, according to my GPS, was an 8:05 and it felt okay for about 16 of those miles. The pacer for our group said he wanted to run a bit faster in case the course was longer than 26.2 — which it was! We hit the half marathon turn around point at 1:47 and I still felt decent, just incredibly hot. I was dumping water on my head at every water stop and taking in a lot of fluids. I know how important fueling is but I really struggle with it. I brought along two packs of Jelly Belly sport beans but it was so difficult to eat with the heat. I chewed on a few but even chewing felt like wasted energy.
Hitting the Wall
I have yet to hit “the wall” in a marathon until this race. I have definitely struggled and found it incredibly hard to keep running, but I don’t think that is quite the same as the wall other people speak of. Now I know what bonking is. At mile 18 I just felt my body start to shut down. It felt like I couldn’t possibly take another step. Then the craziest thing happened: I started peeing.
I’ve been told by some girls who used to run cross country that a lot of times they’d pee themselves during a race. I could never understand why or how this happens but it’s called stress incontinence and it’s actually way more common than I thought. I literally just felt pee coming out and thank god there was a port-a-potty right there in that moment so I ran in and finished on the pot. But seriously how gross and embarrassing is that? I was already soaked in sweat and water so it’s not like anyone would notice but c’mon! That is just crazy.
I’ve never walked in a race (with the exception of a killer hill at mile 23 of the Santa Barbara Marathon) and I’ve never used the bathroom in the middle of a race either. But once you’ve PEED yourself, you start making exceptions. I clearly was physically exhausted and my body was turning on me.
By the time I stepped out of the porta-potty, the 3:35 group was out of reach. If I could have stuck with them until the end, I think I could have finished with a 3:33 which would have been magnificent. But once they were gone, I knew I lost my chance at qualifying for Boston. If I wasn’t going to qualify anyway, why push myself so hard? I mean I already peed my pants, so I might as well just slow down and walk as needed. In my head I sort of threw in the towel and that was the end of “racing” for the day.
I turned on my music at this point because I desperately needed a distraction from the monotony of the course. I was totally alone on a boring stretch of road and there weren’t any spectators out there to distract me. The Ventura Marathon is an out-and-back which is extremely mentally challenging for me. I thought it was going to be an oceanfront course and it definitely wasn’t. It was on a street parallel to the coastal highway but without a view of the ocean. That also meant no ocean breeze to cool us off from the blaring sunshine.
I’m not going to lie, I questioned my sanity at this point and wanted it to just be over so badly. I wanted someone to pick me up and take me to a bed. Normally I’d want someone to pick me up and take me to food but I was a bit nauseous from the heat and all I wanted was to be horizontal. You know I’m in bad shape when I’d rather lay down than eat. I mean seriously, even when I have the flu I want to eat.
The Final Miles
At this point there was a whole lot of pain, walking, etc. and then the 3:45 pace group caught up with me. I knew at this point I was on my way to a personal worst. I forced myself to stick with this group and hopefully finish in the time I ran Boston, which up until now was the hardest, slowest marathon I’d run. Sadly, the only people left in the 3:45 group were the two pacers themselves. This group had previously been packed with folks so I knew I wasn’t the only one having a bad day.
I reminded myself of the kind words I received from my friend, Eli, the day before. Her message was perfect and so completely true!
|and so I tried…|
I hung with the 3:45 pacers for what felt like an eternity to the finish line. Brittany was about 100 yards from the finish and cheered for me as I gave her a pouty face that said “this hurts” and then I sprinted it in with everything I had to finish with a 3:47. Although the course was from scenic, the start and finish were quite beautiful. The course starts and ends at the Ventura Pier.
I was super excited to see all of the fresh fruit at the finish and I gobbled up watermelon and pineapple like a starving child. It was so incredibly refreshing after running in the heat. I laid down on the dirty ground because it just felt right and eventually hopped in the ocean to rinse off before waiting for free massages. The little 10 minute massages were excellent and slightly made up for the crappiness of my race.
Brittany has hardly been running at all and finished her half marathon in 2:06. I am SO proud of her. She still hardly considers herself a runner which is crazy because she has some seriously untapped talent, in my opinion. I can’t wait to see what’s to come for her in regards to running. I’m sure she will run a marathon one day… even if she doesn’t know it yet.
Since Sunday, we’ve both been hobbling around like two 90 year olds and it’s kind of nice to have someone share in my pain, as terrible as that may sound. We happily lounged around in Santa Barbara and ate like our lives depended on it.
To Sum it All Up
In short, this was a tough race but it was another marathon finish, nonetheless. For that I am proud. I am proud that I was able to push through the pain and the pee and the heat. I was able to finish, and that in itself was a huge feat. I would LOVE to redeem myself in NYC with another BQ but I really need to focus on my health at the moment. I am going to take this week to decide what is best for me because another marathon may not be the brightest idea. My doctor has suggested taking a few months off from running in the past to get my iron stores back up and that just wasn’t an option for me back then. After the pain of this race, I will certainly consider it. I want my next marathon to be an awesome one. I want to not only feel great but also do great. I train too hard not to.
I hope I didn’t bore you too much with the details but I like to document all of the small things, the mishaps and also the parts of the journey I loved. Thanks for following along with my training and thank you for having such high hopes for my race. I wish I could have finished with the times you all predicted, but there’s always a next time. This race doesn’t define me or my abilities and I know there is a PR in this gal’s future.