Spoiler alert: I’m pretty darn psyched with how this race turned out given my attitude going into it the week of, and the fact that this wasn’t a goal race.
Also, my race pictures are by far the funniest I have ever seen. I snagged the best ones below 🙂
First things first: why wasn’t I excited? I signed up months ago when I remembered how much fun last year’s race was – the perfect whether, the first feel-good run I’d had in a while, plus fun chatting with old blogger friends & meeting new ones afterwards.
What I didn’t realize when I signed up was that this race fell on Labor Day weekend. My family has formed a tradition in the past few years of hanging out together on this weekend since my brother & I have birthdays early on in September…usually falling on Labor Day weekend. So when I signed up, I didn’t even consider the Sept. 5th race date. I glossed over it thinking our family weekend fell before that. The entire week before the race I was kicking myself for signing up for a race on Labor Day weekend, meaning I couldn’t drive down to my parent’s lake house on Friday night. Nor could I linger after the race to hang with some Lisa, Salt, or Sara.
I had a stressful day at work on Friday, and the second I was off work, I was fretting about the logistics of the race, and the fact that as soon as I was done, I had to book it from Baltimore to Rockville, then all the way down to Smith Mountain Lake in southern VA. What can I say, I’m a high strung person.
I tried to set all my thoughts aside that night, but didn’t end up falling asleep until sometime after 9, and I woke up at 3:30, unable to get back to sleep. I shrugged it off, got dressed, and headed to the city.
My training plan called for 18 miles total, with 14 at MGP (7:37). So I arrived early enough to catch the first bus at 5:30 from the finish line to the start, up in Towson. Once there, I quickly scarfed down a Clif Bar (Crunchy PB of course!) while I pinned on my bib, then checked my bag and headed out.
I ran 6 miles at an 8:30 pace overall, 2 of those miles at “MGP”: 7:34 and 6:59. As soon as I finished the warm up, I had 30 minutes until the start, so I ate one of my GUs while I waited in line for a porta potty. I didn’t bring any salt caps since these GUs had 125 mg sodium each, while my old GUs (which I used with salt caps) had no sodium. I’m not a fan of these new GUs- they make my mouth so darn dry for what feels like a good half or 3/4 of a mile afterward. Salt caps don’t, hence my preference.
After waiting in the porta potty line for just short of a millennium, I booked it up to the starting line, and slid in up front. The fastest pace group was 1:35, so I strolled in front of them, but stopped about 15 feet back from the line.
As the race director & other folks rattled through the announcements, and the singing of the National Anthem, I felt the familiar racing of my heart, excited to actually be on the line. I was surprised. All week I’d been far from excited for the race. I knew the course was wonderful and I’d loved everything about the race last year, but I had wanted to wake up at 5 am and knock out 18 miles ASAP all week long. But here I was, moments before the start, absolutely excited. I thought to myself I’d surely be in for a PR if I could manage MGP for 12 more miles since I ran last year’s at a 7:41 pace.
As soon as the gun sounded, I was off. I tried to settle in behind 2 women, but around half a mile in, glanced down at my watch and saw a 6:50 something pace. I winced. Not what I was aiming for. I slowed down a bit, but still grimaced when I saw my first split: 7:20.
The next 5 miles were all roughly 7:10 – 7:25. I was telling myself to slow down with each passing mile, but to be honest, my pride was getting the better of me. Deep down, I knew I might be blowing it, but I was relatively close to the front for women in a race of this size and couldn’t let go of how good it felt to be semi-near the front.
I downed my 2nd and final GU at mile 6 and kept chugging along. The next mile was something in the mid-7s, then I found another gear.
My final 5 miles of the race were all at a sub-7 pace, mostly between 6:50-6:55. I’ve never in my life run sub-7s for anything longer than a 5k, so to say I’m happy would be an understatement. To run that fast for me on an 18 mile day just makes my heart sing and tells me I’m doing something right!
I was reeling people in, and feeling good. After seeing a 6:51 for the 8th mile, I was shocked. It didn’t feel nearly that fast. I was sure the next mile would be back in the mid-7s, if not high 7s. The next mile was 6:49. I was confident it wouldn’t last. Then I ran a 6:53.
all the lolllllls at my race face(s)
I didn’t get a true runner’s high, but in my mind, I was ecstatic. I was running alone, but steadily passing people. I stopped doubting myself and just went off effort. I’d glance at my watch to make sure I’d catch the mile split, but otherwise didn’t let whatever it displayed affect my speed.
During the last half mile or so I was feeling a little sick to my stomach. It wasn’t awful, just uncomfortable – like if I pushed to my max I’d surely be sick. I was confident though, that if this had been a half marathon, I could’ve kept going, since it wasn’t all out.
While it wasn’t a serious hurt in my stomach, it is something that makes me consider my fueling situation. There’s just something about my GU + salt cap combo that works for me. These added sodium GUs make me thirsty, make me drink more, and fill my stomach nearly until it’s sloshing. Far from how I want to feel in the late stages of a longer race.
you’d think facing a mirror on all treadmill runs might help me with my grimace problem…but it doesn’t 😉
Regardless, I was psyched to stop my watch and see 1:25:50 for 12.14 miles – a 7:08 pace overall! To be fair, this is a net downhill course. While there are some tough uphills in the the first few miles, the last 9 miles are comparatively easy. So negative splitting this course isn’t the hardest thing to do in the world, but I was really happy with how consistently I ran, and for running a new 5 mile PR in the midst of a 12 mile race.
Officially I ran a 1:25:48, or 7:09 pace –close to a 7 minute PR 🙂
AG (20-29): 3/272
Who else raced this weekend?
Do you notice how salt in your race fuel affects you?