Last weekend I kicked off Spring race season with the Providence marathon. I signed up for the marathon before I decided to take on the Ironman. It was a close race, a new state for my marathon list, and would be one of my runners and friend’s first marathon. Was a pretty easy sell.
Leading up to the marathon I decided that I needed a plan to be able to keep the marathon in with my training. I didn’t have time to taper or to recover but still wanted the experience of it (plus I had already paid). I also knew I couldn’t afford to be on my feet for a really long time just to say I had done another marathon in a different state.
With all this info I came up with the plan to use the first 20 miles as a slow long training run and then to walk/run the last 6 miles. The week of the race I trained as I normally would but think I underestimated what 26.2 miles regardless of how slow you run it. I had my highest training week ever and had already put in 30 miles running, 110 miles on the bike, and 2 hours in the pool and by Saturday I was getting a little nervous about how my knee was feeling.
Bib Pickup – I picked up my bib on Saturday afternoon after TC Saratoga training. The expo was very small and we were in and out within 5 minutes. Easy parking (Providence place mall), no lines at bib pickup, and a cute t-shirt I might actually wear had me in high hopes for the race. I am someone who HATES big races and complicated race logistics so all of these things made me very happy.
Saturday night I ate my typical pre-marathon meal of pizza and made sure to eat a bunch of snacks throughout the night to get my carbs in. I did not want what happened to me on the bike a few weeks ago to happen and wanted to be safe. After watching a movie and making a new playlist, I went to bed early, slept through the night and was up around 5:45 to drive into Providence.
Race Morning – It was really strange to be on my own turf for a marathon. Most marathons I have traveled so this one combined with the attitude of not racing it and walking some took all the pressure off and kept me almost to relaxed for running a marathon. I did make a rookie move of forgetting my sunglasses and gloves but was close enough to go back and get them without worrying about missing the start time.
There was no traffic and we parked directly next to the start line. It was so quiet and there were so few people around that I actually questioned if I had the right start time/if the race was canceled/what was going on. The race had a 5K/half-marathon/marathon option so I just assumed there would be far more people then there was. We got to the start line at around 7am and even this was very low key. I can’t comment on bag check but there were plenty of porta-potties and room to stretch/warm up etc. After saying hello to a friend to wish her good luck on her first marathon I got in a section closer to the front and it was time to go.
Miles 1-3 – No matter how many marathons I run I still get emotional at the start of every single one. Running has changed my life in so many ways and I always take the first couple of miles to reflect back on how far I have come as both a runner and in life in general. It also felt REALLY good to get back into running a race and to to be running fast (yes I understand this was exactly what I didnt want to do). I got caught up in the excitement and ran my first 3 miles around a 7:30 pace. At the 5K mark I knew I needed to slow down.
Race Logistics – The number of water and aid stops on the course were phenomenal! I’m not sure if its because I usually don’t utilize them at all during races so I dont pay attention or if it was because they were that good. There was one as early as the 1st mile and thats when I decided I was also going to use the race as a practice on hydration and nutrition.
I was a little worried because I knew the weather was going to be on the hotter side for my liking. If you know me you know I LOVE running in the cold. Give me 20 degrees any day over 70. My body (besides my fingers) tends to overheat and starting at the first aid stop I started my race routine of pouring one cup of water on my wrists and one cup on the back of my neck to cool down my body temperature. I wanted to get ahead of the heat from start as I had no idea if the course was shady or not. I also have the problem of forgetting to drink water when running and have run most marathons without a sip of one. Knowing this is not going to be possible during the Ironman I figured I would experiment to see how my stomach handled drinking and running.
Miles 3-10 – I always say my favorite runs are my 2 morning mid-week 10 mile runs. The entire year I keep these in play because my body gets used to this run as a base and an easy run. That way the real long run or race starts after 10 miles 🙂 I was planning on mentally breaking this run into 2 10 mile runs, 2 miles at a quicker walk/run pace, and then frolicking through the last 4 miles whatever way I could. I think I ran a steady 8:30 pace for these miles and was very torn between yelling at myself to slow down and thinking about the faster I ran the faster I would be done.
****This is a great time to tune those people that don’t know me into a little fact about myself. When I am given a task in life my motto is to always get it done as quick as possible so it’s done and I can get on to the next thing in life. This has ALWAYS helped me in my running as once I start a workout or race I don’t comprehend doing anything else but finishing. You tell me I have to run 15 hills I will do it with an effort until I am done. Tell me I will be running hills for 47 minutes and I will take the entire time getting hardly anything done wondering what the point is to kill myself. I have the amazing ability when running to shut my brain off and essentially black out until I’m done. I can’t tell you A THING about any course I have ever raced because I am focused on finishing. My motto when running or when working out is always “Get it done” because that is the goal.
As I have said before in my posts I am a rule follower. Essentially the rule of a marathon is to travel 26.2 miles. When people ask me if I am nervous about the Ironman my response is always “Well once I start I have to finish”. Those are the rules. Finish a 2.4 mile swim, bike 116 miles, and run 26.2. In my mind I don’t have an option to not follow through and once I start the faster I go the quicker it will be done.
Miles 10-13 – It was during these miles that I was really happy I had downloaded so many songs the night before. I also became really confused at how many people I was passing and how so many people in front of me could be running so slow as I knew I was slowing down. This entertained me for about 2 miles until I realized there was a charity group running the full as a half. I crossed the half mark around 1:52 although I felt I was running really slow knew I needed to slow myself down a little more.
Miles 13-20 – Basically I just started to get bored during these miles. I stopped at every water stop to grab some water and break the miles up and took a lot of snacks from random strangers. For some reason people seemed to be giving out a lot of munchkins and peanut butter cups and with the whole “I’m not really racing ” attitude I don’t think I ever turned one down. I justified this by telling myself this was nutrition practice for my Ironman.
I finished the 20 miles around 2:55 which was exactly where I wanted to be time and pace wise. Looking back based off my 5K and half time I must have slowed WAY down and taken way to much time at the aid stations and saying hello to children on the side of the road. I was fine with this and was happy my run was over. Only it wasn’t…
Miles 20-26.2 – I just wanted to run these miles and be done but I knew that wasn’t a good idea. I started a run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute method and this was great until I started getting severe pain in my knee each time I would switch from one to the other. Each mile the pain got worse and running was pretty much out of the question the last few miles.
These last six miles I was shocked at how few people there were around me. This started to mentally get to me and I think those last miles were the longest in my life. When I did see people it seemed like everyone was utilizing a walk/run method which surprised me because I’ve never noticed a ton of people using it at the end of a marathon. All in all I just wanted to be done. I ended up finishing in 4:10 which wasn’t horrible considering the week I had had but also the longest a marathon has ever taken me.
I got to the car, changed, and we headed out of Providence. Stopped for lunch, finally got my donuts, and relaxed for the rest of the day. All in all I would recommend the Providence Marathon to those who like smaller races and who live in the area.
Knee Update – It is now Thursday and my knee is still pretty bad. I have not been able to run and every time I try I face a bad pain in my kneecap. I have been swimming and biking but crushed to not be running. Up until today I just played it off as not being a big deal but after making it a forth of a mile and having to walk home I sat on my bed and broke down. I know there are far worse things that can happen in life but I have never had an injury and really want to be in the best shape for the Ironman. Luckily thanks to some amazing supports I have a PT appointment today and will keep you posted!!