Now that I’ve had some time to let the experience of my 1st half simmer for a week or so, I have a laundry list of observations and thoughts.
- Pasta dinner is essential.
- I was pretty good about staying off my feet the day before the race, and the short 2 miler was a nice way to keep my muscles fresh and happy. I took it so easy, I didn’t want to strain anything or hurt myself, so the jog actually felt great and made me feel better about the race the next day.
- Getting good sleep 2 nights before the event helped. The night before is important, but for me, Friday night’s rest was more important than Saturday’s. By the time Sunday rolls around, it seems to me that enough sleep the night before is fine, but if you’re running on fumes anyway, a few extra hours the night before won’t help. That’s why I usually try to get a good night’s sleep two nights before a big event: travel, triathlon, undergraduate thesis defense, etc. Most of the time it works…
- I was curiously calm the day/evening before the race and even on race morning. I can attribute it to just being happy about whatever my results would be, about being prepared with all possible clothing/food combinations I might want, about having some fans who were so positive around the whole thing.
- Getting to the race with plenty of time was a good idea. I really dislike being late, so it was good to be early… but there’s a fine line between getting there TOO early and getting there with enough time. I think we did well.
- I ate three GUs during the race, though I wasn’t quite sure I needed them. During training, I usually only ate 1 GU during my 2 hour runs, but on the race I took 3. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not. I imagine it didn’t hurt me, but I just don’t know if it was necessary. I’ll have to play with that a little more as I train for the next race.
- I didn’t stop to have water (and didn’t carry any with me) until the 6 mile marker: I didn’t feel I needed it and certainly trained on longer runs without any water at all. So from mile 6 on, I slowed to a fast walk at each water station and just drank 2 cup of water. I messed up at the 2nd to last station and got a cup of Gatorade, which I wasn’t expecting. I think I had an espresso GU and lemon-lime Gatorade. YUCK.
- The walking at the stations helped. It gave me time to get my bearings, feel my body at a slower speed, get some water in my system, etc. It felt very strange to go from run to walk, but starting back to running was easy: I just leaned!
- My right calf at the beginning of the race was a little bothersome. Just a little bit. Right in the middle of my calf, the mild pain was running vertically along the muscle. It started to creep down into my ankle and I think by mile 4 it was gone. All I did was focus on not using my lower legs: i pretended my feet were just like dog ears or something that were just floppy as could be. No tension, no stress, no strength. I think it worked because it was gone from about mile 4 till now. Hasn’t bothered me since.
- Miles 9-11 were difficult for me. I ran the race in my newer pair of 790′s, which I’d not had for a week. (Bad, I know.) I think they just hadn’t melded to my feet yet and were still a bit ‘stiff’. I use that term lightly because these shoes are nice and flexible, but you know what I mean. In any event, the sides of each of my feet at various alternating times. It was sort of strange, but I just really thought about my column and tried to lean enough that I wasn’t using my calf muscles, and lean enough that I could keep my feet hitting at the bottom of my column, behind my hips.
- My knees started to ache about mile 9 and that was a little alarming to me. In the past when I run about 9 miles, that’s when my knees start to ache. I did the same focus as I did with my feet, just trying to keep my column straight, my core engaged, and my feet hitting behind my center of mass.
- As you’ll see in these pictures, sometimes I had a great lean and foot strike and then other times (Sigh) I was just totally heel striking. Strange!
- I sent these pictures to my parents, who have watched my play sports since I was very young. Dad called this morning to say, ‘You know, Elizabeth, you look more relaxed in these pictures than you ever have while exercising. Your face isn’t even red!”
- The crowds were amazing. Truly amazing. Between tootsie rolls, Kleenex, blaring boomboxes and supportive shouts, I was a smiling fool. There’s a really funny picture at the finish line from the event photographers’ site (above) where I am crossing the finish line and my head is up towards the sun, eyes more or less closed and a huge grin spread across my face. I think it’s hilarious.
- The finish was truly incredible. Really, I thought the crowd was cheering for me! For the group I was running with! Oh yeah, these people love this stuff! WOW… and then I just started to realize that it couldn’t possibly be me that they were cheering for… Maybe it was a person coming full tilt behind me? Maybe it was a special needs coming to a blazing fast finish? Maybe it was… OH my GOSH! it was the MARATHON winner, Deriba Merga blazing past me in the adjacent lane, taking his last turn before his 20-year-record-breaking finish of 2:07:52. That’s so fast! Anyway, he was running past us and I just started screaming along with the crowd and got all sorts of excited and finished the last 200 yards or so in a full out 4th gear, at least in a 4th gear that I had left in me.
- The last 1.5 miles felt SO LONG. I thought it would go fast, but really it seemed to take forever. When I saw the sign saying ‘Only 1.5 to go!’ I was like, “Oh, I’m gonna run this so fast!” but it felt like it took forever. Probably it was my fastest pace, but that’s just the way the brain works, doesn’t it?
- When I was finished and walking back inside to be showered with ‘Congratulations!’ and the medal stuff by the volunteers, I was in a daze. I didn’t feel particularly tired, and I think at one point I actually thought, ‘Well that wasn’t so bad after all.’
I never thought the day would come that I can honestly say I can’t wait till the next race…
Stay tuned… I’ll keep posting here, with all sorts of new breakthroughs and lessons.
Thanks again to everyone’s support for making it possible.