Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Race Recap - Pocatello Marathon

I have been informed that I "owe the world a blog post". I am quite sure that not too many people are anxiously waiting for this, but here goes!

(And if you have been anxiously waiting, I apologize for the delay! I had to get my seven junior high and elementary school kids back to school yesterday and things have been busier than usual, and we are usually pretty busy!!)

I got up nice and early on Friday morning and went for a quick three-mile shakeout run. After a shower and breakfast I was in the van and on my way to Salt Lake City airport to pick up Jennifer (a three-hour drive). I met her in baggage claim and the chatting officially started (and stopped only while we were asleep and during the race, until she got in the airport shuttle on Monday morning!)

Best friends, reunited!!

We had some lunch, did a little shopping, and then hit the road for the two and a half hour drive to Pocatello, Idaho. (Insert endless streams of talking and laughing here). I don't think a road trip has ever gone by so fast for me!

We arrived at the host hotel and quickly got checked in, put our stuff in our room, got our bibs, race packets (including great shirts and sweet duffel bags), and potatoes (yay Idaho!), and walked around the little expo.

in front of the pool by our room at the hotel

My two friends Lauri and Alana arrived a little while later, and after we got their room and packets, we all went out to dinner and then went back to our rooms to get our stuff ready for race morning. I was feeling good! I was happy and relaxed with Jennifer around. I was focused on the race the next morning, but not super nervous. I was feeling calm and confident and happy. I was ready to run!
Alana, me, and Lauri
We got to bed pretty early and I think we got about five and a half hours of sleep which is not bad for the night before a marathon. (I had gotten GREAT sleep the whole week before so was very well rested). I woke up with some nerves but nothing terrible. We left the hotel room about 4:55 and got right on to a shuttle, which took us to the race start area (which was at a farm).

Barn at the start area

As usual, despite having on my race outfit, warm up pants, and a jacket, I was freezing. Josh teases me that I am only comfortable in an 8 degree window - I don't like it when the temps are hot, but I am almost always cold. Jennifer (from FLORIDA) was in a tank and shorts and was fine, and I was bundled up and had my teeth chattering (literally). The temps were 45-50 or so.

We went into the barn with some of the other runners for warmth, and found a whole bunch of baby goats! They were really sweet and the people who owned them were in there and were very friendly.

Don't mind my crazy eyes!!!
We left the barn to get on the portapotty line, and as soon as I got out and checked my bag, Jennifer sang a BEAUTIFUL rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and a minute later we were running!! There was very little time to stand around and be nervous.

It was still quite dark when we took off, so much so that I coudn't see my Garmin. I decided to just run by feel for those first few miles with the goal of being at or slightly faster than goal pace on these downhill miles, but to not blow it out or go out too fast.

I think I did a good job with that! My splits for the first half were 7:17, 7:05, 7:06, 7:10, 6:59, 7:02, 7:08, 7:09, 8:33 (pit stop #1), 6:59, 7:08, 6:56, 7:23. I hit the halfway point in 1:35 and change even after one pitstop, which was right on target.

I felt good for the first half. I got warmed up and got into a groove. I ran alone for the most part. There were some leaders who took off quite a bit faster and a few other runners who seemed to be at a similar pace as I was, but there was not anyone I was talking with or anyone to have to get around or anything like that. There was lots of lonely miles, which made me glad that I train on mountain roads by myself so often!

There was a head wind a few times and I would have killed to have someone to draft off of, but I just kept running and didn't let it mess with my head.

Mentally I was in a great place. I didn't have any music, I wasn't being passed or passing too many runners since there weren't that many of us, and there were not any spectators, so I was very focused on my stride, my breathing, my pace, etc. I told myself that this was my "victory lap" from all the training and told myself to be "brave and courageous". Those are the two mantras I used the most. 

Going through the halfway point was very cool because Alana and Lauri were out there getting ready to start the half marathon (with all the other half marathon runners) and they all cheered for me as I went by.  That was definitely a boost!

I started to feel my energy lapse in the 15th mile. We hit the first significant uphills. They were not anything major, but after running downhill for over 13 miles, it felt hard to run up any type of hill. My stomach complained and I had to make another pit stop. I felt myself starting to get frustrated and tired, and I tried to regroup mentally and physically after that pit stop.

Up until then I had just been drinking my Fluid Performance which I had mixed to 400 or so calories in 20 ounces of water, and I had been sipping it every mile. Since I felt like my energy was lagging, I took a Hammer gel over a mile or so, and I did feel better after that. I continued to sip on my Fluid Performance after that until I finished it around mile 23, and I supplemented with some water from the aid stations. 

Miles 15-17 had some more uphill and then the course leveled out. Mile 21 had another uphill, and then it was a very subtle downhill to the finish. 

I got to the 20 mile mark seconds after the 10k started, so there were lots of people to pass for awhile. They did a great job in this race of keeping the left "lane" clear for marathoners for the most part and they also did great recognizing and cheering on the marathoners (there were also half marathoners, 10k runners and 5k runners). I was grateful for the support!

Mentally and physically I felt the worst from about mile 14 until 17. After that I felt better and better and I remember being surprised a couple of times how quickly the miles went by. The sun was WARM but I knew that the temps were not hot (it was probably 65-70 at the finish line). I did dump a few cups of water over my head at the aid stations to keep myself cool.

I knew my pace was not quite where I wanted it to be, and I wished I had pushed it a little more during this second half, but on this day the combination of the temps getting warmer and switching from all downhill to flat and rolling hills made it hard. I also wish there had been some other runners around. The fastest half marathoners blew by here and there and there were walkers and slow 5k and 10k runners to go past, but not many others.

I did "chase" two marathoners in sparkle skirts. They stayed just ahead of me for miles and miles, probably the last 10k or so was when I came up on them. I could not catch them until the final mile when they separated and I caught and passed one of them. At the finish area one of them came up and thanked me for pushing them so hard. I didn't even know they had realized I was there!

My splits for the second half were  6:56, 9:15 (second pit stop), 7:57, 7:49, 7:30, 7:18, 7:38, 7:35, 8:47 (hill and I stopped and walked a minute to unscrew my bottle and drink the last little bit of my Fluid. This was a tough mile obviously), 7:32, 7:43, 7:41, 7:07, and 6:49 for the last .4 miles (my Garmin read 26.4 at the end. It read 1.1 at the end of the first mile, 2.2 at the end of the second mile, and then stayed .2 ahead of the mile markers from that point on so I think I ran the tangents pretty well!

From 23 miles on I felt better and better. I was TIRED and ready to be done, but I started to get that excitement you get when you know the finish line is nearing. I started to really push when I hit the 25 mile mark. I wasn't focusing on my Garmin too much and I have a hard time doing math when I am running, but I guesstimated in my head that I was going to be around 3:18.

You turn the final corner in this race with about a half mile to go, and I gave it all I had left. I did cross that finish line feeling like I was on fumes, so as much as I wish I had pushed it harder for a lot of the second half, I don't know what would have happened if I had.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 3:17:42 and I was HAPPY.

I had not quite hit my goal of running sub 3:15 (although I did RUN faster than that if you factor in the pit stops. I know it doesn't count on the clock, but I also know what I was able to run) and I did not hit my goal of sub 3:10, but I was still happy.

Going in to this race I needed to see progress. I needed a PR. I needed to remind myself how it felt to run 26.2 miles strong. I needed to have a good race mentally, and a good race physically. I needed to finish strong and to perform well. For myself, for me, I needed a good race.

Was it a perfect race? No. Did I do exactly what I hoped to do? No. Did I run as well I think I could have? No. But I set a 10 minute PR. I ran strong. I enjoyed it. I stayed focused and positive. I had to stop twice, but my stomach was the best it has ever been in a marathon and I did not feel sick or crampy at all in the first 8 miles or in the last 12-13 miles. I won my age group and was sixth female overall. It was a great day.

I celebrated by hanging out at the finish line, talking to Josh on the phone, stretching, cheering in Alana and Lauri finishing their half, drinking my Fluid recovery drink, talking to other runners, etc. I love the finish line area at this race.  I talked to Jennifer a couple of times and gave her encouragement, and when it was time, I went out on the course to cheer and run her in.

I saw her coming up that long final stretch and I couldn't help it. I just started to cry and cry. I don't cry when I finish races, but I sure did cry for her!! I thought about her beating cancer not ONCE but TWICE. I thought about many challenges she has overcome and will overcome. I thought about what a beautiful person she is and what an incredible friend she is to me. I thought about how amazing it was that she had come all the way to Idaho to run her first marathon with me. I thought about HOW CRAZY PROUD I WAS of her. She was doing it! She was finishing her first marathon!! Tears and tears and tears.

If you missed it, here is the video of me running Jennifer in to the finish line.

We stuck around for the award ceremony since I won my 35-39 age group. I got a flower and a water bottle. :)
Running Happy in my Brooks uniform

After Jennifer finished!!!

Yay for Lauri and Alana!!
After the award ceremony we drove back to the hotel (yay for late check out!) and got ourselves showered and packed up. Alana and Lauri were in a rush so they left before we did. Jennifer and I went to lunch at Five Guys, which I had never had. It is gluten free if you get the burger in a lettuce wrap which was exciting. I am not usually much of a meat eater, but man oh man did this taste awesome. And the fries were heavenly.
Post marathon pig out meal!
After this we walked over to Kiwi Loco (a frozen yogurt place) and I had a sorbet with fruit, nuts, and marshmallow. So yummy!! Then we had to search for and gather a looooooong list of school supplies at Walmart, and then we were on our way home sweet home.

Once again we talked and talked and talked and talked and all of a sudden we were home. :)

It was great to see Jennifer meet Josh and the kids (and for me to be home again with Josh and the kids). Jennifer did a great write up here about our weekend together, so you can just go read it here if you want to read about our time together. It went WAY too fast.

She was super awesome and did new family portraits for us, senior pics for Sadies, pics of Josh and I, and pics of all of the kids for my living room wall. They all came out amazing! Here is one that we got of just the 12 kids.
Best 12 kids EVER. :)

Lots of work to be done, but I am looking forward to doing it. And for the moment, a PR of 3:17 feels a lot better to me than 3:27. Progress!

That is all I have time for for now. More soon!


Abbey{RUNS} said...

Amazing! Super proud of you!

Jen@runfortheboys said...

Tears... I had no idea you had "bad" miles during this race. You are such a rockstar. I will never ever forget my first full marathon. Thank you for making it so special. I love you!

Suzy said...

So relieved you blogged. I've been checking back for days! ; ) Really, I have but without any feeling that you "owed" me anything.

Gracie said...

You raced your heart out as always! I hope you continue to conquer your stomach issues and continue the roll of PRs!

robinbb said...

This was a great race report. It really showed how hard you worked and should prove to you what an amazing athlete you are. A 10 minute PR is huge when you already run as fast as you do and you will figure out the stomach thing and when you do your race will be flawless and you will run much faster than 3:10. Congrats Erin, I am so happy for you!

Terri Lima- Rosen said...

Erin- you are so adorable- I love that photo of you eating Five Guys!! Good for you! It's pretty good and you deserved it after that great race! You look so cute in that pic!XO

Loren said...

So a Garmin doesn't have a "light" button like a Timex does? Or were you running too fast to push it? Thanks for the recap, I love how you remember so much detail of your races!

Happy Running Mama said...

What a great race report! Congratulations on a big PR and feeling strong throughout the race. I loved your video of crossing the finish line with your friend.

Thanks so much for sharing. :)

Raina said...

I hope you realize just how incredible a race you had and how much potential is still there! Fantastic job (and with the port-a-potty stops to boot).

I think I would like to start a race in the dark! It sounds kind of fun.
Also the goats- that is pretty sweet.

Awesome job, Erin!

Jill said...

Fantastic, girl! I am so very happy for you. You got the time - and the energy - to get the job done you seek, so don't worry. Enjoy the victory you so rightfully earned. I'm sure all those beautiful kiddos sitting on that fence are super proud of their mom! :)

misszippy said...

Awesome job, Erin! Really happy for you to be able to shake that old PR. And what fun to share the whole thing with a great friend!

Love the pic of the kids!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! This post makes my heart happy :)
Jamie in Arkansas

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, I don't think you owed anyone, but I have definitely been checking to see if you posted the full recap! I stumbled on your blog a while ago and I find it (and you) so inspiring! When I have a hard time getting out of bed at 6am (which is every time I do it haha) to go run 5-6 km I almost always think of you getting up much earlier and running much farther and it shuts those inner grumblings right up...congratulations on a great race!


Canuck Mom said...

You are beyond inspiring. I hope to someday be as speedy as you. Congrats!!!

fancy nancy said...

I definitely have been watching for a recap but I guess you have a good excuse! I had a hard time getting one child out the are awesome!! You ran awesome too!!!! Such an inspiration!!! What an amazing story about your friend...I was tearing up just reading about it! I could feel your pride in for her! Great family pic!

Jessica (Pace of Me) said...

i loved reading this - hung on every word. you are incredible and i always love your perspective and attitude!
GREAT job!! xo

Kathy said...

Yay! Yay! Yay! A smoking PR!!! I see you'll be here in CO in a few weeks, hope I get to meet you (I'm good friends with Terzah). My running group is putting together a cheer tent for the R&R. So excited for Jennifer's first. What a wonderful day!

Terzah said...

It sounds wonderful to me! Big PR for you, amazing first-marathon experience for Jennifer, bonding time....and of course school supply shopping (ha--just kidding on that last bit).

You did *great*, and it will be so fun to see you again soon (armed with Justin's products). Bring on Denver!!

{lifeasa}RunningMom said...

Only you can repeatedly get me all teary eyed with your race recaps!

What an awesome job and Jennifer rocks!

Jlern1 said...

Congratulations!! I, for one, have been anxiously awaiting the recap. You do such a great job giving us the play by play's almost like I was there with you! Haha (I would have been much slower however ; ) I'm so happy for you and Jennifer both, and I know you will continue to achieve your dreams.

Beth @ Miles and Trials said...

Great recap of your awesome race. You are such an inspiration. Congratulations on the 10 minute PR (that's HUGE!). And how special to share the weekend with your best friend. You seem to have a special bond and you got to share Jennifer's first marathon with her, it doesn't get much cooler than that!

Suz and Allan said...

Great job on the race and congratulations on a huge PR! I got so emotional reading this hoping you were going to set a new PR even though I'd already seen the previous post so I knew you would. I'm sure a sub-3:15 and a sub-3:10 marathon is in your near future!

Jolene Nelson said...

Thank you so much for posting this...yes you may have just owed us! ;)

I am so awe inspired. You have amazing endurance, and congratulations on winning! Loved the story, and I cried when you told about running your friend in.

lindsay said...

progress is right! woo hoo 3:17! won't stick around long, i know it :)

Rori said...

I have been checking are inspiring. Great PR! You rocked it.

Elly said...

Wow, thanks for writing such a detailed report - you're a rockstar!! Congratulations, Erin! You truly inspire me every day.

Laura @ Mommy run fast said...

I love this recap- and am just amazed at the thought of holding 7 min pace for most of a marathon, way to go!! A ten minute pr is huge, I'm so glad you got this boost of confidence. Many more prs to come, I am sure. :)

Tia said...

I am a few days behind reading this but WAY TO GO !!!!!! Way to earn that PR! I'm sure with bathroom issues under control you could get that sub 3:10. I can't believe you ran that time with 2 pit stops. Congrats on the AG win as well!