Wow. It feels light a lot of pressure has been taken off my chest since finishing CIM. Until yesterday, that was my only focus and I was a anxious trying to understand what it would be like, what would happen and so on. Now I can put the focus on LA and relax…a little.
I would have to first say thanks to all of you who gave me marathon tips — they really helped!
I went into the race confident; I was proud of my training and I really spent a lot of time preparing for the race. This preparation also included an understanding that anything can happen in a marathon no matter how you prepare. I wasn’t nervous like I normally would be in a competition, but I did think on occasion what it would be like when I got past mile 20 (since that was the longest distance I covered in training).
The night before I prepared all my gear for the morning so I could wake up early to actually enjoy my breakfast and stay focused instead of worrying about my lost socks or my Garmin being charged. When I went to get on the bus that took us to the course, I couldn’t find the bus ticket that I purchased the day before at the expo – I was so scared but luckily, they never checked. Race time was 7 and our bus arrive a little after six. It was FREEZING — I am talking 28 degrees with wind! There was only enough time for one port-a-potty break before it was show time. I downed one Gu and was off.
My original goal for this race was 3:40 and I knew that I could run faster since most of my long runs were just over 8:00 pace, but I knew a part of that thinking was my ego so I decided to start near the 3:35 pace group. I must mention that three months ago I had changed most of my PW’s for various personal accounts that included something to do with my really deep-down goal of 3:30. That reminder kept pulling at me…3:30, 3:30, it would be so nice if I could just run 3:30… After three miles I decided to change groups and ran near the 3:30 pace group. This pace was really comfortable and for the longest time the combined average pace was 8:01. I ran with them until mile 10. I decided then, that the race was starting to feel like a normal training day, so I threw off my sweatshirt and picked it up. I knew that every time I picked it up, there was a chance I could hit the wall, but I wasn’t laboring at all — I was so relaxed, looking straight ahead and I kept saying, “please legs, be nice to Tracy.” After I left them, I didn’t think about my finishing time whatsoever, I just looked at my pace and tried to stay between 7:40 and 7:45. By mile 20 I decided that again I would pick it up and try to stay around 7:30 pace. I was waiting for my legs to get tired but luckily they never did. I just tried to catch any woman I saw in front of me and tried not to get passed by anyone. I was smiling (at least in my mind) when I made the last turn to the women’s side of the chute. I couldn’t wait to see my friends that had traveled so far to see me.
Let me make one thing clear — I know this was a fast course. Carlsbad, LA, Big Sur or any other race could be a totally different experience. For me, I am most excited that I didn’t hit the wall, cramp-up or injure myself. That was enough for me to feel accomplished.
Here is what I think helped me the most:
- Sticking with a program. Until RR (LA Roadrunners), I was following Hal Higdon’s Advanced II workouts. The point here is not which program I followed, it was that I followed them as much as I could, only adjusting where I felt necessary. This was something that reminded me that I was ready. I didn’t even think once about what I didn’t do in preparation, it was more about what I DID do. It kept the negative thoughts out of my head.
- Hydration/Fuel. I made sure to hydrate appropriately at most of the drink stations and used about four Gu’s (not too mention salty margarita Clif Shot Blocks).
- Training partners/Running groups. Every runner that I have encountered, especially RR, had had a wonderful impact on me. It really helps to be around positive influences.
- Mileage/pace tracking device. My Garmin Forerunner (405) is by far the best purchase I have made. Like a training schedule, it really helps you know where you are in training. Before this, I felt like I tried to convince myself that I ran X amount of miles in X amount of time. Deep down I knew I could be full sh_t because I couldn’t really track it.
- Race preparation. I tried to eliminate small things that could have big repercussions the day of the race – like preparing gear ahead of time, Gu, etc.
Oh, and I cannot forget my sweet friend Janel who ran the relay, not to mention Emory who drove from Los Angeles and Asi who drove from San Francisco to watch me run.