City of Oaks Marathon: Race Report
Well it’s over. The City of Oaks Marathon is finally over. For having spent so much time worrying about missing over a month of training, the hills on the course, and being sick with a fever this past week, I’d say I’m pretty happy with my results. According to my Garmin, I crossed the finish line in 3:28:52. The official results still aren’t up yet, but that’s close enough. The things that worked in my favor today were all the supporters, including my husband who ran around town just to be at certain mile markers, the nice weather, Eminem, having trained on the course, and visualization. The death of me was the greenway which was hilly, and narrow with lots of sharp turns.
The first 13 miles of the race were amazing. I was going at a pace that felt comfortable for 26 miles and that pace was right around 7:40. I kept imagining a finishing time of 3:20ish and felt pretty confident I could achieve it. As far as the hills prior to the halfway mark, I dominated them. They felt easy and I always passed runners on the uphill. (I guess you are right Mark – I do have an advantage on the hills.) Mentally, those first 13 miles were also super easy. I think because I had visualized the course SO MUCH as well as trained on the course, my expectations kept me sane. It was all happy runner’s feet for a while…
The next 13.1 miles are a different story, physically speaking. I had planned to take my 2nd Surge right around mile 15. As I noticed my legs starting to feel heavier, I went ahead and took part of it at mile 14. (I didn’t want to take the entire thing because it’s 100mg of caffeine and that would not be good for the stomach.) Right after mile 15, I started to feel like my right ribs were breaking. My right side hurt soooo much and it wasn’t a side stich. Well maybe it was, but no side stich like I had ever experienced. As soon as it started, I told myself Well, this is where you start calling on your positive images and recalling your motivational videos. I tried to focus on breathing, my posture, my arm swing, counting to 10 – nothing seemed to help. Finally around mile 18 it eased up, just in time to U-turn and head back the same way I just came. Fun.
Miles 18-22 I think were mostly downhill with brief uphill climbs. The entire way back, I was trying to prep myself for that big ass hill (forgive my language, I just don’t know how else to describe it) at mile 23. I saw it coming and I tried not to look up at it. My two mental chants up that hill were “Strength is the power of struggle” and a line from one of my favorite motivational videos – “Pain, you’re already in pain. Get a reward from it.” Ok my reward – a BQ time or a walk break. I took the walk break. BUT I think that helped me through those last hills on the greenway.
Mile 24 was great because Mario was there to cheer me on. Mile 25 was also my worst mile ever. My side starting hurting again and with each step of my right food, I thought another rib was breaking. There was one more U-turn (I really do not like those by the way), and then I was on the home stretch. I want to give a huge THANK YOU to the 3:30 pace group leaders and to Mario. They all helped me through that last mile. The 3:30 pacer was saying “Just breathe, lean into it, you’re almost there.” He also told me to imagine he had a bungee cord pulling me along. I really do love runners! Once I knew the finish line wasn’t that much farther, I summoned up my strength, passed the 3:30 pacers and a few other runners around me. I probably could have found that speed a little earlier, but I’m happy with my finishing time.
Overall, I am very happy with how everything turned out. What I was lacking in physical training, I made up for in mental training. And mentally, those were the easiest 26.2 miles I have ever run. Physically – the hardest. But I’m pretty sure I’ll sign up for it again. Tough courses make tough people.
A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Jenny, Jenny, Anna, Emily, Courtney, Maria, Jessica, and Alysha on their awesome races. Way to go ladies! And a huge THANK YOU to my dad, my sister Toni and her husband Brandon who drove over an hour just to cheer us on from start to finish. And thanks mom for cheering us on from Roxboro! Finally, THANK YOU Mario for running through Raleigh to see me along the course, helping me through that last mile, and helping me walk back to the car. You are fabulous!
Well it’s been a pretty productive day and now I’m off to get ready for my post race dinner at Sullivan’s Steakhouse. Yum! Other than sore legs, I feel pretty good. I didn’t even really take a nap after the race. That’s a first.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,