One day after the WI Marathon, I am pretty much overwhelmed with disappointment. My official time was 3:56:31, and though I should be happy because my goal was just to PR, I am pissed off about things that were out of my control, and I am having my own little pity party up in here.
Let’s start with Friday night before the race. I had an early dinner of chicken and pasta, and as I was relaxing on the couch, I started to get a headache. I decided to just hit the hay around 9pm, and I fell asleep right away. Around 2am I woke up with a sore throat. This has got to be a joke. I drank some water and went back to sleep, until I woke up at 3am. Yep, sore throat. I dozed on and off until I had to get up at 4. I felt groggy and generally crappy. I had my coffee and pre-race breakfast, and tried to put the fact that I was getting sick at the back of my mind. Bear in mind, I do not get sick. Ever. It is very rare, so I couldn’t figure out why this day of all days, my body decided to bring on an illness.
My training buddy James picked me up a little after 5am, and we were off. We arrived at the race and met up with some other friends in the parking lot. I was feeling a little better, probably because of the race excitement, and we snapped some photos. Here I am waiting to use the port-o-john.
Since it was pretty chilly, James and I decided at the last minute to sport our “Feeling gouda” shirts for the race. Notice my cheesy pose:
And here are my friends Ben and Maritza ready to take on the half-marathon (don’t know what he’s doing with his pants there):
We all finished using the facilities and jogged to the race start. Because of our super-awesome shirts, we were allowed to line up in the “cheesy start corral,” which was right in front. This would turn out to backfire slightly, as you will soon see in my split times. Right before the race started, I was excited and feeling pretty good, but I was really worried about my stomach holding up, as it was already feeling a bit off-kilter.
The rest of the story is going to include my mile splits, because they are just so wacky. Here we go…
Mile 1 – 7:48 “Oh Shit!” I actually said that out loud. Waaaay to fast.
Mile 2 – 8:01 Ok, slooooow it down. This is what I meant about starting in the front. We were amongst all of the front-of-the-pack runners (marathon and half-marathon), so it was hard to slow down.
Mile 3 – 8:18 Better…
Mile 4 – 8:42 That’s more like it
Mile 5 – 8:29
Mile 6 – 8:32
Mile 7 – 8:44
Mile 8 – 8:48
Mile 9 – 8:36
Mile 10 – 8:28 Miles 6-10 were really comfortable. I was really happy with the pace, and I was feeling good. It was shortly after this that things started to go downhill.
Mile 11 – 8:30 My stomach was really starting to bother me here. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to stomach much more nutrition, so I forced down some Clif Blocks.
Mile 12 – 8:27
Mile 13 – 8:42 Still holding a great pace, but I was starting to feel really sick. We hit the half way point around 1:51 or so, about 3-4 minutes ahead of schedule to run a 3:50. Though I just wanted to PR, a 3:50 was my ultimate goal, and it was in sight.
Mile 14 – 8:36
Mile 15 – 9:00
Mile 16 – 8:51
Mile 17 – 8:44 Here I was toughing it out, but my lower intestine felt as though it was going to explode at any moment. I was also starting to feel a bit dizzy. It felt kind of like I had taken some cold medicine, which I hadn’t.
Mile 18 – 8:57
Mile 19 – 9:41
Mile 20 – 10:45 Here I actually had to stop abruptly and walk. The pain was so sharp, I didn’t even know if I could finish. I waited to use a port-o-potty at the aide station, but there was a guy in there taking forever, so I decided to wait until the next one.
Mile 21 – 11:59 Here was another walking break, and I actually did stop to use the bathroom.
Mile 22 – 9:01 I felt a little better, and got back almost on pace. I didn’t think a 3:50 was still possible, but I figured I would still PR by a few minutes.
Mile 23 – 10:26 Here my stomach problems started up again, and I had to walk for a minute. Now I started to see my PR slipping away. I wanted to cry thinking about how hard I had worked for this, and through some cruel twist of fate, it was being taken away from me.
Mile 24 – 9:18 The last three miles were pure torture. Not only did I have incredible pain in my gut, but by now my legs were just done.
Mile 25 – 9:25
Mile 26 – 8:51
Mile 26.2 – 2:and change
I think it was just by sheer will and determination that I finished those last 3 miles. I knew at the end that my PR was going to be close, so I just gave it everything I had. So that’s that. I PR’d by 32 seconds, almost collapsed at the finish line, and then wobbled over to collect my cheesy medal.
I have no finish line/post race photos because I was so sick and shivery I thought I might die. In the aftermath, I am trying to sort through what happened, and it just boils down to the fact that it wasn’t my day. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you have given over 4 months of your life, dedicated to becoming faster, stronger. Never missing a workout, even if it meant running 15 miles on a treadmill because of a blizzard. Going into race week with the utmost confidence that you have done what was necessary, put in the hard work, and that it will pay off. At least I know that it wasn’t for lack of effort. I did everything right, and it wasn’t my day. As awful as I felt during those final miles, I am already beginning to forget the physical pain, to put it behind me. It’s what we as runners have to do. Believe me, if we carried that pain around with us, no one would sign up to do it all over again.
A few times during the race I wondered to myself what I was thinking in signing up for Ironman. I was doubting myself, doubting whether I have what it takes. Today I feel differently. As disappointing as the marathon was, I can’t go back and change it. I can only look forward. I do have what it takes, and I will put in the work. I have to trust that it will pay off, that it will get me to the finish line.
I am still sick today, though feeling slightly better than last night, when I could barely swallow. My legs aren’t that bad (or I should say not as bad as usual after running a marathon), which just confirms in my mind that I could have run faster. I am going to lay off the running this week and use it as recovery, and then it is right back into the swing of things with Ironman training.
And finally, a few thoughts about the WI Marathon itself. Being as it was the inaugural race, I think overall they did a good job with it. The course was very scenic, with much of it run right on the lake shore. The first half of the course was shared between the marathon and the half marathoners, which was nice because there were a lot of people. After the half-marathoners split off towards the finish, things really thinned out. The southern portion was still along the lake, but it reminded me more of running on Lake Drive in Milwaukee. You could see the lake beyond the beautiful houses that lined the streets.
One thing that was promised on the race website was “cheesy course entertainment.” There was not a single bit of entertainment anywhere on the course that I saw. Crowd support was very limited, which was kind of to be expected. Especially at the end of the race, it would have been nice to have more people in downtown Kenosha cheering us on. Also, there was supposed to be a Hammer Gel station at mile 17-18, and unless I am totally blind, it was not there. Not that I wanted Hammer Gel, but it was stated on the website, so I think it should have been there. And finally, the Heed energy drink that they had on the course was disgusting. I understand that they were a sponsor, but I would strongly advise them to try and get Gatorade or something else for next year. Yuck.
So there you have it. I am already considering throwing in a fall marathon after Ironman this year to chase that 3:50, but we’ll see. It might just be too much to mentally handle. One thing at a time, one foot in front of the other.