You didn’t train enough. You didn’t run your tempo runs fast enough. You should have gone up to 36K in training. You should have focused more on running and cut back on strength training. You should have tried harder to be at your racing weight. You went out too fast.
These were all the things swirling around in my head at kilometre 33 of yesterday’s Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. I was having a good race up until that point, deciding to run by feel instead of constantly watching my pace. My quads were burning at about the 25K mark, but I was able to push through to find a comfortable pace again and feel confident about my race. It wasn’t raining, the sun came out, my head cold was almost gone, and I wasn’t injured going into the race. Conditions were seemingly perfect.
It was at the dreaded 30K mark when things fell apart for me. The 3:30 pace group, which I’d been just in front of for the majority of the race, passed me and I couldn’t keep up. There’s a yucky, twisty incline after the 30K mark that goes on for about 5K that usually slows me down, and even though I pumped my arms and legs as hard as I could, I just couldn’t stick with the group. As the shiny, sparkly 3:30 pace sign bobbed out of sight, I started to beat myself about everything I thought I did wrong during training. “If I’m not going to make 3:30, why bother?” I told myself. That’s when my legs and mind threw in the towel and I starting plodding along, walking through aid stations and looking back behind me expecting to see the 3:35 group hot on my heels, ready to overtake me and crush my BQ dreams altogether.But they didn’t catch up to me. When I rounded the corner onto Beach Drive on Dallas Road near the 37K mark, I found my legs again and tried to pick up the pace. My Garmin, which I’d pretty much ignored this whole race, told me I could still get a BQ if I ran a 5:05 pace for the last 5K. I’d be cutting it close, but decided to try.
My legs were on fire for those last 5K, but at least I got out of my head. Matt and his friend Jeff were waiting at the 2K-to-go mark to give me the extra boost I needed to run hard at the end. I tried — I really did — to run as fast as I could, but my legs would not turn over fast enough. I finished with a time of 3:35:12, missing another BQ by 12 seconds. Not that it would have mattered anyway, as I would have needed at least a 3:31 to even get in based on these past few years of qualification standards.
Of course I was disappointed, but so it goes with the marathon. Every race is a lesson learned with lots of takeaways. I think I said to Matt right after the race that I’m just going to wait until I’m 35 to qualify with an easier time standard, but we all know that’s not going to be the case. I’m going to keep trying until I get the time I need to run Boston.
Even though I have like 10 of these medals from the Victoria race, I added this one to my vision board as a reminder that I still have work to do to reach my full potential. I know I have it in me to run a 3:30, and I know I’ll get to Boston one day. But in order to do so I have to be dedicated and put in the time and effort to train and race smart. I’m not a natural runner or athlete by any means — I almost failed PE twice in middle school. So if I want to get into one of the most prestigious races in the world, I’m going to have to work hard for it.
As for what’s next… right now will be just to recover (I’m sore everywhere). Then I’ll probably focus on strength training again and decide if I want to do a spring race or just the Victoria Marathon again in the fall (I’m leaning more towards that, with a half marathon or two in there somewhere). I plan to change up my marathon training approach to help push myself next time around, but I’ve got lots of time to think about what that might look like (Hire a coach? Try a new method? Join a local group?).
As for the immediate future, I plan to do as little moving around as possible today (aside from a short dog walk) and enjoy another Thanksgiving dinner with family.
Did you race this weekend? How did it go?
What was the toughest race you’ve done?
What usually takes you down during a marathon? Your legs, cardio or head?