Monday, May 2, 2011

Thank You, Kara

'Not my day, but thats okay'.

I trained for months to re-qualify for the Boston Marathon at the OC Marathon. I needed a 3:40, but I wanted to get a PR of sub - 3:38. I finished in 4:01.

Today is just the day after the (disappointing) OC Marathon. I find myself using 'the google' in search of others' experience post a disappointing time, after great training. I stumbled upon Kara Goucher's blog after this year's 2011 Boston Marathon experience. It struck home. Whether it was the fact that even the great, sometimes fall short, or just hearing my experience ring true in another.

The OC 2011 Marathon itself didn't have a good day. 80 degree heat. Gusty winds on the back half, including the trail portion. And, misplaced or absent mile markers. I wish I could tribute my troubles to any one of these, but that just wouldn't be true. All of the usual elements were there for a successful race day. My Dad and Dan on their bikes going along side me. The crowds  at the major corners, where I could scan for familiar faces. My dad had all my mid-race goodies packed in his backpack. I wore a pacing band that doted the 'Marathon Pace' miles incorporated in all my training runs. My coach was there hydrating me with his own bottles of water.  My new hot pink running shorts. Just saying', it helps. But, I wasn't feeling it.  I started the race focused on running 'silent' for as long as I could, and found myself turning on my iPod at Mile 2, to relax. I wasn't worried about completing the miles, I was worried about how tired my body felt so early on.  I was still 'nervous' on mile 9.  I usually LOVE running this hometown marathon, and here I was concerned on the best half of the marathon - the back bay early miles.   I had been dealing with a hip injury leading up to the race, and had laid off the mileage a week before. But, I felt that as is typical for me on RACE DAY, all the (pain, doubt) would be replaced with excitement, determination and energy. It wasn't.

Normally, I stay about 5 minutes ahead of the 3:40 pace group, and they passed me by at Mile 13. I knew I would never catch up. My hip really hurt. It was even harder seeing the look on my Dad and Dan's faces; it wasn't an expression of disappointment, but more pity. They knew how bad I wanted this, and they knew I wasn't going to make it. But they are also two of the best people I know, and Dan said it perfectly, 'Just enjoy yourself now, it's not for a time.' The race was grueling. I was battling with my mental side more than my physical. My physical knew how 'fast' it was ABLE to run, so it went on cruise control at that pace. I was emotionally going through what went wrong. Should I have taken more time off for my hip? Did I train enough? Did I train too much? Silly things happened during the course. A man on pace for a 3:40 was just behind me, I heard him ask a man if he had some Gu. I turned around, "I do! DAD! Get me some Gu!" By the time my Dad got it out of his backpack and pulled up on his bike along side me, the man was at a nice pace just ahead of me. Technically, I could grab some energy and run up to him. I looked at the Gu. It was the Chocolate one. My favorite. And I was hungry. So I opened and ate it, figuring 'You shouldn't have passed me if you really wanted it man....' but also thinking 'Please don't turn around and see me eating this right now....'

Was there anything else I would rather be doing on a Sunday morning in Newport? No. Was I debating finishing? Yes. Did I pass that thought up immediately? Yes. Do I miss loving just the experience of the marathon, rather than the competition? A little.....

Thank you Kara for sharing your experience. Like you said, it just made you realize why you love the sport so much. It continues to toughen my skin. The challenge betters me. If it were easy, it wouldn't feel as sweet.