It was done. Milestone completed.
November 2nd I ran the Bowling Green, KY Marathon and pushed my body and mind to limits I never knew existed.
The race started 7am central time. The weather was a raw twenty five degrees, but the sun made it bearable to pre race warm up. After equipping my bib to my Salomon tee, I did some strides in front of ballpark to get the legs up to speed. The race directors were nice enough to include pace marker signs at the start line, so I moseyed over to the 7 minute pace group where I found a couple of strong looking marathon runners to team up with. At the one mile mark an older gent started conversation and asked what my goal times were, so I told him around 3 hours to qualify for Boston. He advised that I should slow it down a bit because he’s experienced plenty of marathon bonkings in his day. So I did just that – sort of. I stopped to fix my compression socks that were falling down my calves, yes, I stopped with no shame. Two marathon runners came up behind me that were talking up a storm so I hung with them for many miles. One of them was a Bowling Green native who was pretty talkative. He was kind enough to give me some terrain pointers, telling me what hills to be weary of. Again, more good advice duly noted!
Imagine the campus of Eastern Kentucky University perched up on a steep hill, now understand that the course ran over the campus a handful of times like a speed bump with attitude. I kid you not, the total elevation gain was about 1,000 feet. Which isn’t unheard of, but tough enough to make you grimace for your first ever 26.2.
So I kept on my two marathon buddy’s heels for the first half. One of guys decided to surge ahead and leave us, so I made a small push at the half to have bragging rights that I was in 2nd at one point. That reality dissipated shortly after we crossed the first half when my buddy left me to pursue first place. Ever watch those Sesame Street bits where they continually say, “Alone. Alone. ALOOONE.” while the words pop up in tandem? My feelings exactly.
Things were great. I was cruising at a safe 6:40 pace all the way up to mile twenty. Weirdly my legs started getting weaker, lessen with each stride length. I knew the wall was coming, and I was bracing for hellish torture was ahead. My honey stingers were losing their sting by my third gel, and I was feeling like I ate the Seinfeld black and white cookie. No, I didn’t barf, but a little was reaching my mouth. Luckily, the last six miles were flat neighborhood so it was a bearable challenge. By the time turned into the first neighborhood, I absolutely had to stop. My legs and mind were playing games with me. I wasn’t ashamed for walking. Although, the hardest part admitting to was that I wasn’t going to qualify. As I transitioned from walk to run I saw my pace on my watch gradually slipping into the seven minute range. I eventually accepted the facts and decided to finish – that was my goal!
Grueling through the last six miles push me to a dark place in my mind. A battle of bad thoughts danced in my mind trying to discourage my persistent efforts, while I thought positive believing that just finishing will be good for me. Lessons were learned. The three runners that passed me frustrated me because I knew I was a better athlete than they were, however the results said otherwise.
In hindsight, perhaps I went out too fast. I’m glad I did though because that instilled lessons in my running work ethic that I’ll take to my next marathon and the ones after that. There things I want to do differently next time. I want to experiment with new nutrition to ensure my late race is strong and not a slogfest. I also want to figure out another hydration solution. My Salomon hydration pack is useful, but I’d rather not have it on me. Maybe just rely on the aid stations? So many options to play with for next race – I’m getting giddy boi’s and gurls.
Here’s my stats:
Half way – 1:27:33
Finish time – 3:16:30
6th out of 187