Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Lake Wobegon: My Favorite worst marathon ever!


On Saturday I ran my 21st marathon, 20 more than I ever imagined when I started 10 years ago! With the brutal winter and lack of spring my training has been less than ideal then combine that with massive allergies, an angry hamstring early on and then a crazy foot thing this past week and I was stressed but still went into the weekend with high expectations after a full taper and a wonderful forecast.

Come race morning my expectations had changed, let me just say that if this had been a training run I am 90% sure I would have rolled over and stayed in bed! I know I am starting to sound like a broken record with my poor race excuse list but I think this one tops them all (although I can’t say I got chased by dogs like last year!). So here it goes my pre-race list of why the day sucked…
  • Sharing a hotel room with an overly tired 3 year old who was awake giggling way past 10pm, flopping around like crazy fish and wanting ask “why _______” every 10 seconds meant minimal sleep for me.
  • But guess who was wide awake when my alarm went off at 4:40am, no not me! “Mommy it’s a little day out” Yes, it is and my head is pounding L
  • As soon as I grabbed my GF bagel/SunButter banana combo and coffee I knew this was not just a headache, hello migraine you’re not the running partner I wanted! Luckily some Nuun and Vitamin I helped to ease the pounding enough to function but the “migraine hangover” ugh!
  • And guess what? The weatherman was wrong! No perfect day of 50s, sunny and tailwind. Instead 30s, snow/sleet and wind up to 50+mph, nope not kidding!


The race had 400 registered runners, big difference for all of the other marathons I have run, and throughout had the complete small town feel. Runners got to hang out in the high school gym and we all headed to the start together, I mean check out this start line…

The race was held on an old (now paved) railroad trail winding through farmland, past lakes and through parks and old covered bridges. Flat course and made for PRs, but not when the winds are gusting!


Me in the Boston jacket

Mile 1-6: 7:35-7:50 pace and feeling good despite the cross winds blowing across me. I even chatted with a few other runners and questioned rain drops near Mile 6, as I grab my first Huma Gel.

Mile 7: Oh no, not rain bring on the icy snow pellets hitting the right side of my face at 30+ mph. Yikes!

Mile 9: Feeling the effects of no sleep and a migraine hangover, time to grab the iPod and have a little extra push. I need to be in my own head, just 2 more miles until they claim a tail wind! Just keep moving.

Mile 11: Yay, tailwind and downhill. And it is gone, a quick turn and headwinds L But there is my cheering section J As I high five O I get a renewed sense of energy.
A little cold to get out and cheer!

Mile 13.1: 1:43, I can still do this! Even as I fade I am on pace for a PR. The 3:30 pacer quickly catches and I stick with them for awhile.


Mile 16: Quads are tightening and yep here comes the hamstring! Take a walk break for a Huma Gel. I felt like I was in The Amazing Race as I hit the water stop and the volunteer hands the water as she says “welcome to Avon” (actually I think this may have been Mile 18)

Mile 17-20: Not so bad, I keep finding small goals, run to the next bridge, tree, the miles are just ticking away.

Mile 21: Oh my the pain is worse and the wind is pushing me backwards! A quick call to Matt to see how his race went (yep, I had given up on time). We chat but he can barely hear me due to the wind.

Mile 22-24: I am fading, it hurts the goals of running from spot to spot and becoming shorter. I am still running more and keeping 9ish pace.

Mile 25: Gorgeous, the wind is still gusting up to 50+ mph but the sun is out…just keep moving forward. I have about ½ mile to go and one girl in an Ironman jacket who I have seen multiple places spectating, starts walking with me “Are you okay?” We chat a bit, I tell her the hamstring is hurt. She smartly says “keep moving, you are so close. I know this isn’t how you planned to finish think of what you have still accomplished.”
Yes, hat and mittens were needed and check out the wind! O got to help with the balloons at the finish!

And finally I see the finish! 3:46:33

It is freezing, I grab get my medal and head over for my shirt which is nicely packed correct size in an envelope with a luggage tag from the race, I grab my bag and head inside. Now the downside of being gluten free: post race food! Pizza- nope, bagels-nope (can I just grab the big jar of PB?), cookies-nope, breakfast bars-nope, M&Ms-another nope (chocolate allergy), I grab my banana and orange slices and spot the cooler with Diet Coke, now I am happy J I have learned to pack my own and have a Perfect Foods Bar waiting in my bag.

I change and chat with some runners before heading to drive the 75 minutes home. I feel like this recap doesn’t do the race justice. I have written it all in my head as I ran, again I need to dictate!

Despite my poor race and list of excuses I loved it. Somehow the miles just flew by even though I wasn’t feeling great. There were spectators but not too many to mess with me. Just enough to give that boost when needed but no one telling me at every turn I was “looking great” when really I was near tears thanks to my hamstring. I honestly felt like I was just running and loved getting lost in my head and the surroundings rather than focusing on the crazy turns of a course or way too many runners. Even better the race was cheap (I think I paid $30), had inside facilities at both the start and finish, plenty of food (even though most I couldn’t eat), the shirts fit for a change- they realize women runners are not short, wide with skinny arms, love the medal and the photos are free- not that any actually look great of me.

So there you have my favorite race (besides Boston) with a not so wonderful result. I plan to be back again and set that PR! The good news from the day, no foot pain, still no idea what that was all about. Bad news the hamstring is still less than happy. I am seeing my sports chiro tomorrow for some ART and talking with a sports doctor to consider prolotherapy.

I am learning from this race and know my training lacked speedwork thanks to a brutal winter and the long runs were less than ideal with snow all the time. I am also stepping back to evaluate my nutrition and make changes. Mat also brought up all the stress of finishing school and the job issues that would have impacted training. If you can’t learn from something then it truly is a failure, but learning and improving makes it a growth experience.






32 comments:

  1. Congrats girl on your 21st marathon!!! Hate you didn't feel well..both your head and the hamstring. But glad you enjoyed the run despite the difficulties! Now get that leg all healed up!

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    1. Thanks Mindy! It did make for a tough run, but the atmosphere helped me focus on other stuff :)

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  2. Wow...congrats on finishing your 21st marathon and loving it despite less than ideal conditions and factors! It's fitting that after a horrible winter/spring it would stay the same on race day, huh? :( I'm super nervous about the night before my marathon. My whole family, including my almost 3 yr old twins, are spending the night in a hotel. Praying I get some sleep and don't wake up with a migraine!

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    1. Yes, it was fitting :) Good luck to you and hope your sleep is better!

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  3. I enjoyed this post. I ran a half marathon on Saturday in Minnesota, so I feel your weather woes. But I pulled out a great time, too...regardless. I'm running my first marathon in June. I can't believe you have run 21. Kudos! Clearly, I have a lot to look forward to!

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    1. Thanks :) Which half did you run? Good luck on your marathon, I'm heading over to check out your blog :)

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  4. Wow - even if it wasn't your best, KUDOS for 21!! That's a feat in itself! With such a crap training season, I think you did fabulously!! Can't wait to see how it goes when you get a PR there :)

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    1. Thanks, I can't believe I have done this all. I always said 1 and done, lol :)

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  5. Awesome job!! I'm sure after it was over it was one of those times when you were glad you went ahead with it migraine and all.
    So cool about the girl in the Ironman jacket encouraging you to keep moving at the end - love that kind of thing!!

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    1. Thanks :) The encouragement normally bothers me when I am doing less then I want but she knew how to say it and it was great.

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  6. Congratulations! You made the best of a very challenging situation and that is something to be proud of. I can't believe how crazy the weather has been this spring. Great recap -- you really captured the small-town feel of the race. (I'm a small town girl, so I'm a sucker for stuff like that.)

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    1. Thanks, I loved the race, I think I may stick with smaller races now.

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  7. hey, you still finished!! It's awesome to have horrible race conditions like that because every other race you do will be better no matter what!
    emma @ amomrunsthistown.com

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    1. Yes, I did and I had fun (okay kind of) doing it :)

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  8. Wow! 21 marathons! That's absolutely amazing! Congratulations! Despite the low temps, winds and sleet (what???), it sounds like a wonderful venue.

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    1. Thanks, it was a wonderful course :)

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  9. You did great Jen! So awesome that you were able to push through despite all the setbacks:) Sounds like a fun race. I like the smaller ones too:)

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    1. This is one of the first real small marathons and I am hooked!

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  10. Congrats on the finish! Way to push through it!

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  11. That was the best worst race recap ever. Congratulations on the finish, and for having such a great perspective of it!!

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    1. Thanks, changing my attitude was really helpful for me :)

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  12. Great job on your finish! It sucks when race conditions are bad like that but at least you made the best of it and finished!!

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    1. Thanks, sometimes it only helps to focus on the good and push away the bad.

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  13. Great title! :) I'm sure you'll get the PR next time. It seems that you did the best with what was handed to you!

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  14. Wow, great result considering everything that was challenging you! Congrats on #21.Now you're legal :-)

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    1. Hahaha, love it. I am now a legal marathoner ;)

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  15. Crazy race day conditions! I'm glad you liked the race, even if it was not the one you planned on. 21 marathons is amazing!! And I would LOVE to find one for $30. :)

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    1. It was a great race, come run it next year!

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  16. Congrats on your finish - this is actually in my neck of the woods, and I love being able to just get on that trail and run it out...even though I mostly have to do out and backs in order to get back to my vehicle!

    Love your blog!

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    1. I loved the trail, I think we may go back up there to bike it this summer :) I will for sure run the marathon again.

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