Monday, May 4, 2009

Marathon PR


Yup, I did it: I broke 4:00 in a big way yesterday, crossing the line in 3:52:37. That is more than 8 minutes faster than my previous best. Yet, idiotically, I was disappointed and almost heartbroken after finishing because I hadn’t run a Boston-qualifying time. (Don’t worry: Already, little more than 24 hours later, I’ve already knocked those feelings out of my pea-brain!)

Let me back up. I ran a stellar race yesterday. I didn’t let nerves or emotions overwhelm me. I ran a relatively consistent pace, going out slowly for the first few miles as I knew I needed to do to stay strong for the distance. My playlist was perfect, boosting me up when I needed it and keeping me steady when that was called for. The weather, rainy at first then mostly overcast, ended up being great running conditions. (Although I got a massive blister on my right big toe, a first for me. It was so big, on the drive back to Portland, LJ and I debated naming it!)

And I felt strong for the vast majority of the race. Literally, I felt wonderful, yelling out, “I feel fantastic!” to my good friends Amber and Angella who were cheering me on near mile 8.5. I was comfortably running mile after mile at a pace between 8:32-8:47. It felt easy, natural, fluid not forced—just like Lynn had assured me it would. I continued to feel stellar until about mile 15, then I shifted my pace to be consistently faster as LJ and I had discussed I should if I was feeling up for it. (“Take the chance, Sarah!” she yelled out to me at one point.). I felt challenged but still very good until about mile 22. LJ was at various spots, handing drinks and energy gels and chews to me, and she commented later how I was never running with the same pack. I was picking off runners throughout almost the entire race. I felt good from about mile 22 to 25 and decent until almost mile 26.

Then my body went into complete shut-down mode.

Even as it was happening, I marveled at it. One of my mantras is, “Empty the tank”; it’s a goal I've had countless times in races. But until yesterday, I’d never really achieved that condition. Yesterday I did. It was like the electricity had been cut, and all systems were powering down. As you can see from one of the photos above, I had a distinct feeling of crumpling—like the backside of my body was an accordion folding onto itself. I continued shuffling toward the finish line, never walking, but I nearly collapsed immediately after the finish line. Thankfully my dear friend Ellison had finished less than a minute ahead of me so she was there for me to lean on as I hobbled into the finishers’ area.

Again, let me rewind: As I was approaching the finish line, I could make out one face in the crowd--Joanne, Phoebe’s teacher from last year. Joanne, a tall, attractive brunette, was jumping up and down with tears were streaming down her face. Even through my systems-failure haze, I could distinctly hear her shouting, “Sarah, you did it! You did it!” She was in the same ecstatic state when we met up outside the finishers’ area about 20 minutes later, as I teetered out with ice bags Saran Wrapped to my quadriceps. All I could think was, “No, Joanne, I didn’t. I didn’t qualify for Boston and I feel awful.”

But within hours I realized how right Joanne was—and how I wish, even now, that I could have shared in her unbridled elation. My training with LJ had been going so well for so many weeks that she and I had come to accept that I would meet my longtime goal to break 4:00. As LJ told me after one of our runs, “You’re going to break 4 hours. It’s up to you to determine by how much.” Thus, I realize now, I’d shifted my A-goal to running a BQ time, assuming the sub-4:00 was a done deal.

So today I’m trying to capture some of Joanne’s joy, looking back at a top-secret email I sent LJ way back in November, when we were just in the planning stages for this marathon. I’d written her a span of possible finish times and how I’d feel if I ran them. Here’s a snippet:
"3:51: Unbelievably Stoked, All Cylinders Firing

3:53: Wowee-Wow-Wow"

Seeing that I landed smack-dab in the middle of those two times, I’m doing my best to feel a mixture of “unbelievably stoked” and “wowee-wow-wow.” I’m getting there.

-SBS

22 comments:

Jen C. said...

Even if you won't tell yourself- let me be one to tell you- YOU ARE AWESOME!
'Nuff said!

Bec said...

Revel in your accomplishment. It was a task well done.
Congrats!

Rebekah said...

Congratulations on a great race! I've been waiting all day for this post. :) Beautifully done.

Leah said...

Awesome, awesome. You do look very strong in the other picture. And there's nothing like all systems failing to totally skew your perspective. You did great and you should feel very proud. You are an inspiration to me!

kateinct said...

Great job Sarah, you gave it your all - hold your head up high, smile and revel in your accomplishment!!

Naomi said...

Hmm ... i think you rocked it. I also think that you shouldn't wish that you shared J's unbridled enthusiasm at THAT very moment. Sounds like she celebrated it FOR you. You now just need to relish in it from here on out.

Way to go ... seriously? WTG!

Tall Girl Running said...

Totally. Completely. Awesome. You must feel so satisfied. Exhausted and sore, but satisfied!

Congratulations!

marybob143@aol.com said...

Wow, Sarah, I'm just so happy for you. You were so committed to every aspect of your training & it it paid off - as a fellow 40 something mom, 26.2 is not an easy thing to accomplish - life calls often & loudly & as moms, we heed that call...you are amazing & truly an inspiration. I can't wait to lock in on my next 26.2...my hope is to break 4, by however much is cool with me...take it EASY!!! You earned it. Thanks for posting...

Monica said...

Sarah, Nice job in Eugene. Your time was awesome. You rocked it! So I need to tell you and Dimity that two girls in line for the porta potty were talking about you and Dimity. They spotted a cute skirt and said, oh my gosh, that is a cute skirt.. Looks like a tennis skirt. Oh, did you see that tall women that ran San Fran in a dress. That dress was so cute... And then Ellison said, we know those women!! It was pretty funny.. You are a ROCK STAR.

Monica

Kelly(M&M) said...

I loved this race report. You described it very well, what a fantastic race you had!! It sounds just like my Newport last year. (Except my tank started emptying around mile 23!) It is crazy how our original goals get forgotten as our training gets stronger. Crushing a PR by 8 minutes is fantastic! BQ can be your next goal. I am glad that Joanna seemed to have the right perspective to help you see that. Thanks for all your inspiration. I have enjoyed following your journey and look forward to continuing to do so. You kicked butt this whole training cycle. You should be very proud of your hard work. I am glad your time reflects that!! What's next?!

Stuart said...

Beautifully written and beautifully run. To hell with you. I am stoked for you.

Carolina John said...

WAY TO GO SBS!!! nice pr. Breaking 4 hours is a goal that most people have, work towards, and might never accomplish. You did it, and you should be proud.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!

jamie said...

You rock!!! Good job!!!

Scheri said...

Congratulations!!! You ran a fantastic race!!!

silly aunt sarah said...

Great Race!! I saw your finish and you looked like you were hurting BUT you got your sub-4! AWESOME, you should be so proud!!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You killed it! This blog is a real inspiration to me. Thank you so much for documenting your journey!

Ian said...

Congrats SBS! An impressive accomplishment.

Shannon said...

I am a relatively new runner and just scheduled my first half marathon for Jan. 2010 in Disney. You have inspired me to tears. I can't tell you how much you have motivated me. I have followed your blog waiting anxiously to see your results. You did incredible! Way to go!

Shannon, mommy of 2 and new runner
North Carolina

Joanne said...

In so many ways you DID qualify for Boston...And I would have followed you there...What was soooo amazing is that your daughter got to see you 'win' YOUR race...Phoebe and I had a long talk as we walked to the finish line and she understood so much more than I thought about what Eugene meant. What an incredible thing to teach your daughter...The entire weekend was a BLAST!

Anonymous said...

as I get ready to start preparing for a fall marathon, I am searching for some inspiration - wow - a wonderful story and race well trained for an run - thank you.

I now know what I need to do - empty the tank.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!

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