Saturday, April 25, 2015

Athens Marathon 2015

Well shit.

The Athens Marathon was not the PR party or Boston qualifier I had hoped or trained for. Unfortunately, I did not win the weather lottery and it took its toll.

PS - I would have loved the weather they had for the Boston Marathon.

Let's start from the beginning. Although nervous I felt like I was doing well the morning of the race. I was able to eat breakfast, got to the race site easily and calmly, and I took some port-a-John stops and snacked on some gummies. I lined up and felt relaxed. I turned on my iPod and it was Taylor Swift's "Fearless", my power word of the day. It was going to be a good day.

Seriously, look how much leaner and fitter I look than my last marathon.

The plan was to start out easy, take the first hour to warm up, and start to build pace. The first mile was mostly downhill until you got to the trail and then the rest of the race was flatflatflat. My pace felt easy. I felt relaxed. Everything was going to be great. After mile 4 I noticed how warm it was getting. My pace was around an 8:16 average but it wasn't feeling easy. Although I was carrying water I used the water stops (few and far between as they were) to dump water on myself. I saw Dave before the half marathon turn around and let him know that it was just going "okay."

 This is my look of "I don't know how this is going to happen."

And then my stomach started bothering me. I started panicking. I was dry heaving and freaking out. I was hot, my pace wasn't falling, and I just felt horrible. I told myself that it would pass, that I always felt low in the first part of the race. Unfortunately, it wasn't passing and the voices in my head were starting to talk. Near the halfway point I decided I was going to drop out. This was ridiculous. There was no way I could set a PR, no way I could qualify, and it was going to suck for quite a bit longer. Dave, being the voice of reason said no and made me continue on. 

The next couple of miles were not slow but I was already doing some walking. It was too early to be doing any walking. The next time I saw Dave I was toast. Done. Finished. DO NOT WANT TO RUN ANYMORE!  I was at mile 16ish and there was still a long way to go. I stopped and tried to reason with him. He was having none of it. The medical staff calmed me down, gave me a bag of ice (awesome) and somehow, I started moving again. The ice was a godsend. It stuffed it down my sports bra and sucked on some. I, obviously  needed to cool down. wasn't 'that' hot. But it was in the 70s and that's way hotter than anything I have trained in this winter. 

For a while after I saw Dave I was able to get my head back in the game. I was running pretty well and holding some sort of a pace. Although there weren't many people on the course (gosh this race was small), I was starting to pick off people. At mile 19ish I saw Dave again and he said I looked like I had perked up a little. He gave me some Coke to settle my stomach and ran with me for a few minutes. The next time I would see him would be the finish. 

Those last couple of miles were long. There were points where I did not see anyone in front of me or behind me. I tried using tricks like counting my steps or finding landmarks to focus on but all I could focus on was the pain - my stomach, my feet, my legs, my head. I turned off my watch. Just move forward, Meredith. 

The finish seemed to take forever to get to. It was incredibly windy and there was nothing to block the wind. I swear I would have been faster walking faster than the doing whatever shuffle I was mustering. There was one last water stop at mile 26 and I yelled to the volunteer "Jesus Christ where is the finish?!?!"  I apologized to him for the language. I apologize to you. 

Finally, there was a left turn onto a patch of grass (stupid), down a homemade ramp (even dumber), and then onto the track for the finish.

 That look pretty much says it all.

4:02. Ugh!!  Pathetic, pitiful, disappointing, but mostly sadness. I worked too hard for this result. I had great training. I sacrificed so much time.  I gave up drinking. I ate better. I recovered like a boss. Whatever.  I really cried. I cried a lot. I cried most of the day, actually. I was so disappointed. 

But then there was this...

Only one woman went under 3:30. I was the 10th place female and second in my age group (my award was a travel mug). The conditions got to everyone. You've got to work with what you're given and this was the best I could do that day. Disappointing, but there will be other races.

One of the ugliest marathon medals ever.

Seriously, a travel mug?  I think I would have preferred a cheap trophy instead.

Tomorrow, more on what I learned about this marathon and thoughts on my next attempt. 


middleagedrunner said...

Oh my goodness this sounds awful! I'm so sorry that it was hot- 70 is brutal and horrible after the winter we had.
The medal is ugly too and the whole race sounds like a miserable time! (I'm good at commiseration 😉)
How do you feel? Maybe it was easy enough on your legs that you can take another crack at it in a few weeks before summer sets in? (Come to Maine for the maine coast marathon in 2 weeks and try again!)
Good job for finishing, I'm sorry it sucked, I have totally been there and it is a bitch!

Carina said...

I am so sorry to hear about the weather, and I can imagine your disappointment and sadness. 70s can feel insanely hot. The year I ran MCM I think the high was maybe 65? But I was certain it was in the 80s, and it was humid and awful -- and that was coming off a summer of Texas training. Heat and humidity can do in even the best race. I picked up a bag of ice last year in San Antonio, I shared some with other runners who were so grateful, then I held the bag on my neck and under my arms, and put ice down my sports bra, the works. I know that "need to cool off" feeling all too well. 4:02 in that kind of weather is awesome, but I know you're disappointed (if it helps, my San Antonio the year with the ice was a 4:24). Even though the training doesn't show in the results, you got the benefit of it and you're stronger and faster for it, it will show up, I promise!

danielle said...

yeah come to maine! xo