We decided to incorporate a full marathon as a "training run" this time around. The main reason for keeping it a big secret was to keep it as low-key as possible; after my last marathon blew up in my face, I needed to get my confidence back and wanted to avoid any expectations or pressure. Plus it's kind of fun to say "Surprise, I ran a marathon!" :) So this was the true reason for running conservatively at Around the Bay last weekend.
The Martian Marathon was on Saturday, April 2nd in Dearborn, MI. I was able to meet up with some awesome bloggers while in town, but I'll save that for my weekend recap in a separate post!
I didn't taper, with the exception of keeping my runs easy from Thursday on-ward. In fact, this concludes three very heavy weeks of training (96 KM, 98 KM and 99 KM) and I just ran a personal monthly mileage record in March. I treated the race simply as a glorified long run - with some bling!
Race morning was very low-key, which was nice. We had no trouble getting to the park where the race started and finished, just down the street from out hotel. After scoping things out, we hung out in the car keeping warm for a while. The full marathon was starting at 7:15 and we were able to use the washrooms (no lines!) then stroll over to the starting area with just a few minutes to go. There were about 400 runners in the full, with the half starting later.
They were all decked out in the "martian" theme with blow-up aliens all over the place. There were also martian mile-markers and little aliens tied onto pylons along the route.
My plan was to run a comfortable and conservative first half (~2:00) and goal MRP for the second half (~1:50).
I started to get slightly nervous (more anxious) while standing with hubs waiting for the start, but nothing like my usual pre-race panic. Knowing that I was starting off at an easy pace helped keep me at ease. As I went through the motions of checking my Garmin and shoelaces, I caught Steph walking by. I had been keeping an eye out for her, but she's tiny and hard to find to spot in a crowd. I was so happy to see her for a quick hug and chat. Her first words were: "I thought you were running the half!" Hehe.
A few seconds later, we were off. The course was a lightly rolling out-and-back on a closed off two-lane road through a park. It was pretty quiet out there, but the scenery was nice and it wasn't crowded at all. I found that it was very well-supported for such a small event.
The first half was all about patience and discipline. I was using a 2:00 half marathon pace band (with mile splits) and checking my Garmin frequently to keep myself in line. I chatted with a fellow Canadian briefly (we were wearing the same race shirt) but for the most part, I was just zoned out with my music and pretending that I was cruising along on any old long run.
I was feeling great and holding back, knowing that the real work would be starting soon. I started getting anxious for the half way mark and turn-around; I had a feeling it was going to be a good day but I was ready to get find out for sure.
I took a quick pee break around KM 17 and refilled my water bottle at the next water station (I was carrying my 22-oz Nathan handheld).
First half kilometre splits:
KM1 - 5:36 (salt)
KM2 - 5:33
KM3 - 5:40
KM4 - 5:32
KM5 - 5:41
KM6 - 5:37
KM7 - 5:41
KM8 - 5:37 (gu)
KM9 - 5:41
KM10 - 5:32
KM11 - 5:31
KM12 - 5:41
KM13 - 5:37
KM14 - 5:37 (salt)
KM15 - 5:35
KM16 - 5:34 (gu)
KM17 - 5:54 (washroom)
KM18 - 5:28
KM19 - 5:40
KM20 - 5:32
KM21 - 5:39
Half Marathon split: ~1:59 (5:38/KM = 9:05/mi)
After crossing the half way mark, it was time to pick it up to MRP. The goal was 5:13/KM (8:23/mi). I focused on finding the pace that I've been practising to see how it felt on the back half of a marathon.
I changed my Garmin display to show current pace and average lap pace, so which prevented me from thinking too much about my overall pace/time/distance. I took it one click at a time, which helped a great deal mentally.
I locked in the pace and found I was able to settle in easily. How's this for consistency?
22K - 5:12
23K - 5:12
24K - 5:13 (gu)
25K - 5:13
26K - 5:13
27K - 5:13
28K - 5:13 (salt)
29K - 5:12
30K - 5:14
31K - 5:11
32K - 5:12 (gu)
They were ticking by quite easily. I assessed how I was feeling frequently and the answer was great. I was strong and in control, not feeling tired at all. As each mile ticked by I kept expecting it to get tough, but it never did. I forced myself not to go any faster until mile 20, and then I could pick it up slightly as long as it still felt good.
33K - 5:08
34K - 5:07
35K - 5:02
36K - 5:01
37K - 5:03 (half gu)
I could not believe how effortless the pace was feeling. I was passing people all over the place, which was great for morale - not that I needed it! I felt amazing and I was on top of the world. We caught up to some half marathoners at this point, and it got a little crowded but nothing unmanageable.
I was counting down the kilometres and miles and kept waiting to hit "the wall" but it never happened. I was only getting stronger.
There were times that I thought I should hold back, since this was supposed to be a "training run" after all, but I figured that as long as the pace was feeling comfortable, I should go with it.
For the last few miles, we moved onto narrower paved paths and it became very congested with the half marathoners. I had to go off the path frequently to get around people, but it only fueled my fire to get to the finish.
38K - 4:57
39K - 4:56
40K - 4:56
41K - 4:49
42K - 4:35
I held back tears as I passed the mile 25 marker. I was in disbelief. I was about to finish the race of my life and I had plenty left in the tank. I didn't know it was possible to finish a marathon feeling this good!
I kept an eye out for hubs as I rounded the final corner and I knew he was ecstatic to see me.
I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and couldn't take my eyes off the clock.
Second half split: ~1:47 (5:04/KM = 8:10/mi)
Chip time: 3:46:06, a 12m50s PR!
I made my way through the finish chute and Runner Nic spotted me! She had been watching out for me and we finally got our long-awaited hug & pic.
I collected my awesome alien medal and found hubs. I was ecstatic to learn that he had also killed it with a 3:18:30 PR following a similar pacing strategy, also feeling strong til the finish.
We were the 2 fastest Canadians in the race!
(So what if there were only 8...)
Chip time: 3:46:06
Pace: 5:21/KM (8:37/mi)
eta: race pics