Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Marathon Musings

Even though I was happy about my sub-4 results from last week's CIM, it didn't all really sink in until I started reliving parts of the experience over the next couple of days. I worked so hard to see that "3" on the clock as I crossed the finish line, and reflecting on both the run itself as well as the journey finally led to that feeling of euphoria that I had felt after the Madison Marathon in May, even though I hadn't achieved my goal in that race.

So to honour this event, I wanted to memorialize some of my musings and thoughts during my post-marathon moments over the past week.

Run Your Own Race
This truism was totally reinforced for me, as I completely stuck to my plan for this race. I started with the 4:00 pace group, I didn't charge the hills, I re-fueled every 2 miles, and I let my body dictate the pace after hitting the half-way point. The result? Not only a sub-4 time (YAY!!), but also a remarkable lack of blisters, chafing, and cramping. Lovely.

Training IS Worth It!
In addition to running a 3:57:28, the benefits of my training were demonstrated by how quickly my body recovered. I felt close to leg cramps after the finish, but with some stretching and movement throughout the day, only my quads were still a bit sore by the evening. After taking 2 days off from running, I hit the road for a 6-miler on Wednesday with just a bit of residual stiffness and tightness in my legs. Being able to recover quickly from a marathon is definitely proof of the time and effort I'd put into my training, not only the running but also the weight training.

Umm.... Yeah, About That Recovery Time
OK, so I have a hard time slowing down, and I was used to running 4 days a week during my training, with distances of usually 10+ for my non long-run days. So I did 6 miles of my Land Park route on Wednesday (2 days off after CIM) followed by 6 miles on the treadmill on Thursday (due to the rain - bleah!). Mmm. A rather sharp pull in the left quad after that workout. Damn. I took Friday off from running and did another Land Park 6-mile loop on Saturday. Still sore in the quads, and my measly 10-mile long run on Sunday definitely suffered as a result. At this point, 10 miles should be easy for me, but I was dragging by the time I finished. I guess my body was trying to tell me something - namely, that I needed more recovery after the 26.2 miles - and as Mr. E suggested, "I hope your PhD mind will listen!" Yeah, yeah. Fine. I didn't run yesterday, and I only did 5 miles this morning even though my training calls for 7 miles. Does that count as sufficient recovery?

(And yes, I'm training again already, this time for the Davis Stampede 1/2 marathon on February 3rd. It's always been a fast race for me, and I ran my current 1/2 marathon PR of 1:44 in Davis last year, so I figured it might be interesting to actually "train" for it this year to see if I can intentionally get a faster time.)

Training Triumphs
  • Making 2 of my 3 20-milers into 22-milers
  • Running successful negative splits on all of my 20+ runs
  • Getting a 10K PR (47:14) in the Run to Feed the Hungry as my tempo run for the week (7:37 pace for 6.2 miles)
  • Completing all of my treadmill speedwork, including the 4 X 7:04 mile intervals twice (and keeping that pace for 2 miles at the beginning of the final speedwork run)
  • Running 1/2 marathons before work during my peak weeks
  • Doing a final tempo run at a 7:24 pace for 4 miles

Marathon Memories
  • Not feeling nervous or anxious at all
  • Ideal timing of taking the bus to the start
  • The woman talking about how she doesn't focus as much on time for a marathon but rather on meeting people and the experience itself, because "a marathon is special"
  • Pulling ahead of the 4-hour pace group after the halfway point
  • Seeing the 1/2 marathon time of 2:01:00 and thinking that was just about right
  • Feeling totally confident when I saw Mr. E for the first time near the 15-mile mark
  • Mr. E's constant support and encouragement when my smile wasn't quite as bright the next time I saw him a few miles later
  • The man who passed me after about mile 23, asking if I was an ultrarunner and saying he'd been chasing me for the past 5 miles (I think he was near the 4:00 pace group at the beginning, too)
  • Hearing a woman cheer for the "CAC member" as I ran down J Street near Big Spoon and realizing she was talking about me
  • Seeing Nic with a hand-made rainbow-coloured sign on the corner of M and 24th
  • The volunteer shouting "3:48" at the 25-mile marker and knowing that I was really going to make that sub-4
  • Surprise at passing Nick from Fleet Feet during the last mile
  • Putting my head down and kicking in with a little extra going by Capitol Park, then the Capitol, then the gradually narrowing lane turning onto 8th Street
  • Seeing the 3:58+ on the clock as I turned the final corner onto Capitol Mall and approached the finish, with Mr. E's cheers to spur me on
  • Joy and tears and relief at the end to share with my wonderful partner Mr. E

And I still get choked up even now when I picture that moment. This was such a big personal accomplishment, though I had gotten to a point of acceptance during my training, knowing that my body might not give me what I wanted on race day. To then achieve my goal and feel so confident about it during the marathon was just wonderful and strengthening and fabulous. I'm really proud of myself. And I'm so happy I'm a sub-4 marathoner. It's something I wouldn't have even considered just a few years ago. It's pretty amazing to think about the entire process and to relish those final few moments of the journey.

Now it's time to focus on the 1/2 marathons and 10Ks for awhile. Though I have to admit, running marathons is a bit like having kids (from what I've heard anyway, since I don't have or plan to have any personal experience) - the euphoria you get from the end result is so great that you quickly forget all of the pain and can't wait to do it again.

But don't worry, Mr. E, I promise to keep my word and stick to the shorter distances. No more marathons for at least a year, OK?


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