Years ago, the marathon was my first experience with an endurance event, and it became one of my favorite things to do until I found triathlon. All of my marathons were self-coached endeavors, and some went well, and some not so well. I had to experiment with training, nutrition and tapering, the latter of which I almost never got right. I haven’t had a chance to go back and try it again after spending time on long-distance triathlon. My last marathon was in 2007 – the Seattle Marathon. I was excited to try it out again, see if a Boston Qualifying time could be had, and see how the whole thing would feel.
Leading up to the race, I’d taken time off during December after two Ironmans and a service trip to Nepal. It was a tough few months recovering physically and mentally from all of that, and although I stayed active, I did very little “training.” I have some big races coming up later in the year, so my coach and I decided that I wouldn’t do too much volume for this marathon, which wasn’t an A-race, therefore making recovery easier. But, with a good plan I should still be able to reach my goal of qualifying for Boston.
The weeks leading up to the race were stressful and busy on the home front, and although I got my training in, my sleep and nutrition weren’t perfect. My training had been different than for all other marathons I’d raced before. This time I only ran up to 15 miles but had several weeks of back-to-back 10 or 12 milers, all with tempo work in them and banking on the fact that I had a big aerobic base from the Ironman races last fall.
The day of the race was about 40 degrees at the start, warming up to the low 60s. The course is beautiful with the marathon heading out and back along the 10K course, then circling the river twice, crossing two bridges. The sky was bright blue and the hills around Wenatchee were turning green. Most of the run was on park trails along the river, with slight rollers throughout. I began conservatively, starting with an 8:15 pace per mile, then bringing my heart rate to a comfortable level. I was so comfortable that I felt like I could have run forever at that pace, but what would it feel like after mile 15, the length of my longest run?
Mile 15, near the start/finish, with one more 10-mile loop to do, came and went. Around mile 17, as I prepared to cross the bridge, I felt it the first bit of real fatigue. My pace slowed a bit, and I thought, here it comes. But, after the downslope on the other side of the bridge, and back on the path shaded by oak trees, I kept my pace going. The course was fairly empty of runners because it was such a small race, but I did see a few people here and there. After exchanging positive words with a couple people around me, I ran on, settling into the newer feeling of being tired. I watched for mile 20, the time I was allowed per my race plan to let my HR go above 155. And as soon as mile 20 hit, I pushed it. I saw a girl ahead of my who’d been a quarter mile up the whole race. I gained on her, and as I got closer, I thought that maybe I could pass. My pace per mile dropped into the 7s and I wondered if I could hold it for these last few miles. It crept toward 8’s, but having run this race so many times before I knew all the turns and surfaces and rolls of the last few miles, and that helped me visualize when the finish was going to arrive.
When I got to the final bridge to cross it, my friends were waiting to run across with me and I crossed with a 3:31:39, more than enough to reach my goal of running Boston in 2018!
It still felt tough, but frankly not as tough as I thought it would. The cool weather helped, as did my large base from last season. My time was near my stretch goal of 3:30, but faster than my realistic goal of 3:40ish. A successful day in Wenatchee!