Before I start my detailed race recap, let me say that I am happy that I finished, but also disappointed with how the race went. I'm motivated to train for another marathon, if only to redeem myself and perform as well as I know that I can.
The day started out fine. I got up at 3AM (yes, 3AM), ate my usual pre-run breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, and drank a glass of water. I was dressed and out the door by 4:30, and at the Sheraton boarding the bus around 5:30. I rode the bus with Steve from my group, and we talked through a lot of pre-race jitters, our race plans, etc. It was a bit too warm on the bus, so instead of waiting on the bus until close to the start, we got off the bus once it arrived and walked around. I ate my Gu Chews soon after. There were plenty of porta-potties, and we ended up finding the two other guys from the usual group (Chris and Nick) in line about 20 minutes before the start. We never found Brittani before the start, which was too bad. We went through gear check, and went to the start line.
I lined up a bit in from of the 3:40 pace group, and got really anxious. My heart was racing! I couldn't believe the race was actually here. The race started, and it actually wasn't too packed starting out. I had no trouble getting to the pace I wanted (well, a bit faster since it was downhill- I couldn't help it). The first few miles were uneventful. I got water at the first aid station, had a Gu at about 4 miles in, and water at the next aid station. I alternated between water and sports drink for the aid stations, and I hit all of them since I didn't carry water.
At maybe five miles in, I started to feel fatigued. Nothing hurt, but I had this weird feeling that I hadn't slept in a long time. By them, it was 8AM, and I hadn't had coffee since 3:30. I hadn't had real food since then for that matter either. This fatigue worried me, but I didn't have a solution to it. I hit the 5.9 mile mark at 48:11.
I started looking out for John once we turned onto Fair Oaks Boulevard. I knew the cross-street he would be around (Madison), but not the exact mileage, so I kept looking. Around 7 miles, my joints started hurting, which was unusual for me that early in a run. I don't know if the two week old, slightly different shoes were to blame or not. It wasn't too bad, though, so I just added it to the list of weird things going on early in the race.
I saw John right before Madison and Fair Oaks, and I felt great. I was maybe a minute ahead of my goal overall, and I felt good. It was so nice to see him out on the course.
Around mile 9 or 10, the fatigue got worse. Through Fair Oaks Village and beyond, I kept my pace, but it became progressively harder. This was way too early for the proverbial Wall. I got increasingly more anxious about the prospects for the rest of the race, but kept going.
By mile 12, I wanted to quit. I was fatigued, and starting to feel sick. I think around this time I had my second Gu, and it was hard to eat. I was worried that it was going to make me feel worse, so I think at that point I decided without really thinking to wait until I felt a little better to have any more Gu. I started thinking about my goals, and whether I should change to my secondary goal of finishing at 4:00 at that point. I hit the half marathon mark at 1:50:42, still ahead of my goal pace.
I held on for a while longer, then at some point the pain in one of my joints got worse, and I walked for a few steps. This way maybe around mile 15.5 or so, if I am remembering correctly. When I started to run again, I felt nauseous, so I kept walking. I would give myself a few minutes, then start again. I was still on target to finish in 3:40.
The 3:40 pace group passed me. That was fine, because I still had a 20 minute buffer (quite a few seconds per mile I could add to my pace). Everytime a pace group passed me after that, I would try to keep up with the group and get back on track. But I never held on for long.
After that, it all went downhill. I slowed down, and started walking more. I felt sick everytime I started running. I just couldn't bring myself to run. Ten miles seemed like too long to run and feel like throwing up with every step. I kept trying to run, but wouldn't make it more than about a quarter mile at a time.
Let me tell you, I was so disappointed. I cried, four times. I kept seeing people from my group passing me, who I would always finish before in training runs. People who weren't in shape. It was so frustrating.
I hit the 20 mile mark at 3 hours and 26 minutes, about 14 minutes ahead of the when I thought I would finish. Once again at that point, I seriously considered quitting and riding the sag wagon back to the start. I knew that would be more disappointing, though. I wouldn't get the medal, and that was too much. I decided to keep going, and walk the last 10k. Even if it would take me forever.
One of the girls from my program caught up to me after the H Street bridge, and asked how I was doing. I managed to run with her for maybe a half mile, from Sac State down to the hospital almost, then walked again. I saw Sandra and her boyfriend and roommate short after, which was nice.
I finished in 5 hours and ten minutes. A full hour and a half later than my first goal, and an hour and ten minutes after my second goal. I was very disappointed, but glad to be done. Trough my long walk, (an hour and forth five minutes from 20 mile to finish, I think), I decided that it was important to finish, and it was okay not to do as well as I wanted. I guess I was reconciling the fact that I wasn't going to meet my goal. By the end, I was happy I finished. And I wanted to go home.
I saw John as I neared the finish line. He was smiling and cheering. It was so nice. He found me at the finish, and gave me a hug. I think I cried again. I decided I didn't care about a picture at the finish. I just wanted to get my gear bag and go home. I didn't even have any post-race food, that is how bad I still felt.
All in all, I am disappointed, but glad I finished. I have a few thoughts about what went wrong:
- I didn't eat enough before the race. I carbloaded for the full week, but had a normal pasta dinner the night before the race. I had my normal oatmeal the morning of, but two hours earlier than usual. My stomach was probably empty by the time I finished four miles (when I first got tired). Gu on an empty stomach made me nauseous, which made it impossible to continue with my fueling plan.
- I should have had more Gu instead of less once I felt sick. I felt sick probably because I was hungry. It would have been difficult, but probably better than doing nothing.
- I should have had more water along the way. I was very thirsty by the half marathon. I probably wasn't taking in enough at the aid stations. I really don't like belts or handhelds, but I might have to revisit this for the next race.
- New shoes may have contributed to my early onset of joint pain. The shoes were different than the last pair, so it might have been better to stick with the shoes I was wearing for most of the training.