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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Grandma's Marathon Recap

Running is my passion.  If you know me, I don't have to tell you that. It makes my heart beat, my lips smile, my legs burn, my eyes well, and my head reel. I love it. I love the amazing people that are a part of my life because of it, I love the sound of feet pounding on pavement, I love the feeling of turning left on a track, I love the feeling of my heart pumping, and my legs begging me to slow down. I LOVE IT! 

Grandma's Marathon was this past weekend in Duluth Minnesota. It is a beautiful course lined with smiling, coffee drinking spectators, that rolls along Lake Superior for nearly every step of 26.2 miles into Canal Park in downtown Duluth.  The race is a well organized machine that leaves you feeling so lucky to just be a part of it. But my goals in Duluth were more than to be a part. I wanted to qualify to the Olympic Trials. I have had this race on my radar since before my kids were born. I wanted a fairytale ending to my past year. I trained with these hopes in my heart everyday since July 21st when I ran 2 miles in 18:15.  My first run back after a long six months and 2 days of no running.  On November 16th I had a flare up in my back that knocked me out until mid January when I could finally resume training. I was nervous this would set me back too far since my fitness was still a far cry from good.  As the months went on I got stronger, running 17:42 for 5k in February, 28:38 for 5 miles in March, and 1:33:58 for 25k in May.  In the weeks leading up to Grandma's I knew I had worked hard enough, and I was ready to go.  

As the rain came down hard at the start line I enjoyed the anticipation of putting my fitness to the test along side my teammate, and former athlete of my own while coaching at Wright State, Kelsi Nutter. I knew she was more fit than I was, but I was so happy to have her by my side. After a few shivering minutes waiting for the start the air horn blew and the sea of 6000+ people were on there way to the finish line in Duluth.  6:03 through the first mile made me happy, I thought "calm down, and settle in closer to 6:10".  6:07 through the 2nd mile right alongside Kelsi.  And then it happened, I had a complete crisis of confidence. My mind began to spin with thoughts of "what if I slow down to 6:15 pace and I can't get back under?", "I have to keep pushing, I know I can do this!" Mile 3- 6:00 too fast. I calmed down and found Kelsi again miles 4 and 5 were both 6:10.  I came through 6 in 6:07 and Kelsi said "Beck, don't get greedy", I knew she was right.  But I pressed on like she hadn't spoken. Mile 7- 5:57.  Calm the hell down!! mile 8-6:07 I was still feeling great, as most do at mile 8 in a marathon.  Mile 9 is the "slowest" mile on the course with the most incline and Kelsi and I were comfortably side by side in 6:17.  This should have been a HUGE confidence boost, knowing that one of the slowest miles on the course was behind us, and we were still feeling good, and well under pace. Mile 10 is a large downhill, and at this point I should have made a smart decision, tuck behind Kelsi, and relax...Nope I pressed on 5:43, 1:00:46 through 10 miles.  The miles were passing quickly, and I was enjoying it. 11-6:11, 12-6:04, 1/2 marathon 1:20:20.  I felt so excited. We are going to do this! 1:22 for the next 1/2 marathon and our tickets will be punched to L.A.!

Still smiling mid race. 

I missed mile 14 but it was something like 6:10.  Mile 15 my left calf started to tighten up, more than likely just from the water and being a little chilly 6:14.  16-6:23 I was starting to really struggle. 17-6:51 the wheels were off. 18- I stretched momentarily while taking in my fluids 7:08.  I remembered my goal as thoughts of qualifying to the trials felt hopeless.   I reminded myself of my secondary goals.  To run the best MARATHON I could even if things weren't going to plan, and to enjoy being able to be out here racing.  So I tried to pull myself together again 19- 6:37.  I can still run well I told myself over and over.  DO NOT THROW IN THE TOWEL!! 20-6:41.  My stomach started to give me issues and 21 and 22 were ugly 7:22, 7:15.  Mile 23 I felt ok again and tried to push with all I had left to give 6:41, 24-6:27, 25-6:08.  I saw Nicole and asked if Kelsi was going to make it.  A huge smile of pride covered my face when she assured me Kelsi would be well under 2:43. Mile 26 was 6:35 and I could see the finish line. 2:47:34 was on the clock as I passed under it.

I found Kelsi, Beth, Ellie, Nicole, and Greg in the finish area, and felt the strangest wave of emotion I think I can ever recall feeling.  I felt overjoyed for Kelsi, who had finished in 2:41:35, and thrilled to be back out racing and finishing a marathon 11 months postpartum.  Still yet I felt incredible sadness for missing my goal, and the fairytale ending I had played over and over and over in my head for the past year. I learned that Beth(1:15 for 3rd in the half), Ellie(1:17 for 7th in the half), and Greg (1:24) all ran PR's in their races. I smiled and I cried. I felt so conflicted. 

In January if you would have told me I would run 2:47 at Grandma's and would consider it a poor race, I would have more than likely thought you were crazy. I may have even cried in true joy to know that in June I would be back out racing and doing so in a decent time. Following the race I believed I had done all I could. But after further evaluation I can see the error of my ways.  I was too aggressive. I ran a stupid, and reckless race. I don't know if I would have run under 2:43, but I do know I could have run faster. So this fall I will lace my racing flats again, and try to run with my mind a little more, and my heart a little least for the first 15 miles.

So it is back to the beginning for me. I will work to train with passion and race with intelligence. 
Kelsi and I after the finish! I am so proud of her!  

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