Another marathon come and gone. It is amazing the amount of hours and days spent training for a marathon to just have it come and go like that. (*well maybe not ‘like that’ haha). But seriously I spent upwards of 6 months focused on the Ottawa marathon…. SIX MONTHS!!!!!!!!! And now it is done.
As many of you have gathered I did not hit my goals or showcase my current level of fitness. But we are only as fit as the numbers we put up…
The tough thing about the marathon is that I cannot take what I learned from today and apply it to a race in the next couple weeks. I literally have to wait another SIX MONTHS before I toe the line to take on the distance again. How frustrating!! But that is why I think it is so important to spend some time reflecting on the race immediately after. Then you can look back and learn for the next one. Reflect on your training, on your taper, on your fueling. What went well and what you would like to improve on.
That also puts a lot of pressure on the conditions and execution to go perfectly in order to truly show your true fitness and abilities and as I am realizing in the marathon that rarely happens. So new approach be ready for anything, assume it is not going to go my way and roll with the punches.
As many of you heard the conditions in Ottawa were less than ideal but not as bad as was expected when I arrived in Ottawa on Friday. It literally said ‘feels like 41 deg’ for Sunday morning. And then with the race directors were contemplating cancelling the race!! It was an emotional Friday afternoon. I will not lie I shed a couple tears thinking of the chance of not having a legit shot of my goals of breaking 2:45. My coach Megan Brown and I both had looked up different races I could potentially enter… but all my weekends are booked so this is it… They better not CANCEL! We had worked far too hard to not at least have a go at the marathon. But than I was emotional because I also did not want to run a marathon where I was going to potentially blow up due to the ‘feels like 41 deg’ weather.
This was my fourth marathon and I have yet to see ‘perfect conditions’. I am starting to believe they do not exist! But if anyone knows of a marathon with perfect conditions please let me know I am IN!
Of course goal #1 was to break 2:45 but that quickly changed with the weather predictions. Goal B was to run sub 2:50 and race to top three Canadians. So B goal accomplished. But who is satisfied with accomplishing their second goal…. Not me that is for sure!
The conditions were not as bad as were expected. It was LUCKILY overcast for most of the race. And the amazing residents of Ottawa really upped their game and brought out their sprinklers and hoses to help keep us cool. It was my first marathon where I had to really be diligent with hydrating. Every water station water in and on me plus the bottles I had with diluted sport drink on course. I ended up with quite the birds nest in my hair but how lucky are we as females to A) be able to rock a sports bra to race in and B) have a great cooling mechanism aka ponytail!! Also my first marathon/race rocking just a sports bra and a visor (*Shalane Flanagan style ;)).
Another first time experience for me was working with a pace group. The race directors had organized a 2:45 pacer, which was super exciting!! We had quite a group for a while too. There were three women and a handful of men that tucked in with the pacer. Unfortunately, through the first half we were slow splitting a 1:23:33—slower than my first half in my last two marathons. That shocked me a little and made me feel my 2:45 goals were not going to happen today… DAMMIT!
The plan was to go out with the 2:45 pacer for the first 10k than I was told I had to make an unemotional decision based on how my body was feeling as to whether I would hang with the group or drop off. At 10k I still felt good so hung on. It was a great experience to tuck in and try to do as little work as possible. I have this bad habit of doing the work or running alone. And I caught myself a few times out in front of the pack and then thought to myself no make this as easy as you can so I tucked back in.
I started to fade from the group between 25-26k after almost missing a water bottle I made a quick move to grab it. And the group was gone. I definitely made an effort to pull them back in or at least keep contact as best I could. At 30k the pacer stopped and the group really dissipated with some pushing it harder and some coming back to me. A while before this another female who did not appear to be an elite passed us and literally ran 100m ahead of us for a few km only to come back to the group (*rookie move). But regardless she looked strong so I figured my chances of getting top three Canadians were shot. BUT in the end she ended up being American. This also ate away at my confidence in the race.
My gut also decided to make a guest appearance during the show that is the marathon. After 13k I started to feel a bit uncomfortable but was able to ignore it until 16k when it was evident that yes in fact my gut was upset again. DAMMIT this happened last time… so much for learning from your mistakes. Anyways the gut did not cause me to stop but definitely made me tentative to push and to get my gels down. There were a couple of instances where I was tempted to stop and go… I always wonder if that is a better option but I honestly picture myself going into the porta pottie and everything seizing and not being able to move again or I could come out and feel like a whole new person… the jury is out but I was not willing to risk it so nasty gut and all I am finishing the race!
Something different I did this race was to try to just run and not obsess with the numbers on my watch… which was so nice!! This is something I will continue to work on.
I was so lucky to have my coach, Megan Brown out on the course. I have never had that either. Although when I saw her in the second half I just wanted to apologize as I felt like I was not performing the way I should be or the way she had coached me to be able to. I just did not feel as strong in the second half as I thought I would and I copped out not being as mentally tough as I have proved I can be.
So all in all the race was what it was and I was happy to pull off my second best marathon time of 2:48:33 only a minute off my PB in the conditions. But I still have the sub 2:45 monkey on my back and I am severely disappointed I did not make it happen. But after all that is the fire that keeps us training hard!! I have to remember the training gains made over the cycle and the leaps and bounds I have made physically and mentally.
So needless to say I will be meeting with Megan next week to make plans for the next build. It was funny post race no one was very happy with their performance so everyone was already talking about when their next marathon would be. That is when you know you are a true marathoner!! Right?
After giving myself a day of reflection I have an increased appreciation for the Ottawa marathon and race weekend. It truly is a top notch event, they do a great job organizing and I highly recommend it. The marathon course is excellent. It is scenic and always changing with only a few inclines, that are nothing to worry about. And the residents really come out to support the runners it is pretty awesome!! The only downfall was they started the half marathon (*thank goodness) 45mins earlier. Meaning that when I was finishing I had to weave through the 1:30-1:40 marathoners as the two course collide at 3k to go. It is just tough because making any sudden movements in the last 3k of a marathon is difficult to say the least. Although it was nice to have people to work on passing.
The day after and today I feel completely fine. Which makes me feel as though I was in fact prepared for the marathon but also makes me feel I could have gone faster had it not been for heat! On to the next one….
Lessons learned from marathon #4:
- Assume conditions will not be favourable… that way if they are it is a nice surprise
- Do not count yourself out if you split through slower then expected… think of this as banked energy you can use in the second half!! NEVER count yourself out before the race is over
- Do not make assumptions of who your competitors are and do not give in keep pushing it
- Nail the gut issues— must practice more race specific fueling in practice so my gut can easily handle it
- Do not let your watch dictate your race… just run. You know how you should feel!
- Do not let yourself feel defeated in a race setting— there is literally no point. Head up and keep pushing, you are going to the finish line no matter what so you may as well give yourself the best chance to succeed!!
REMINDER I am still fund raising for the Heart & Stroke Ride for Heart RUN that is this Sunday! I will not be racing rather doing a fun run with friends. If you are able to donate you can do so here:
Thank you in advance for your generosity!!