This marathon schooled me, mentally and physically. It wasn’t the course, which was harder than I expected, but still potentially a PR course on fresh legs. It was the fact that I did not have fresh legs.
Even though I took Big Sur relatively easy, it was still a marathon. I still ran it faster than a training run, and it was only two weeks ago. I ignored this, since my legs felt okay, and tried for a 3:40 BQ time regardless. The pacer took us out way too fast, which killed my legs a little, and there was a huge downhill from miles 6 to 8, which killed my legs some more. When I hit the first small incline after that, I knew I was in trouble. My body felt approximately like it did after 18 miles of the New York City Marathon last fall, and I was ten miles short of that marker in this race. (And 18.2 miles from the end.)
At mile 10, I gave up on my time goal and decided I just needed to finish. At mile 14, I stopped checking my watch. Somewhere in there, I gave myself permission to take walk breaks as needed. I had side stitches coming and going, I wanted to barf, and I felt thirsty no matter how much water I took. (Racing in humidity and temperatures above 50 degrees: Not really my jam.) I made it across the line in 3:57:32, about a minute slower than I finished Big Sur, but my second half took almost 20 minutes longer than my first.
Overall, though, it was a fine weekend. I earned my fourth marathon medal. I got to have photo shoots before and after the marathon, since I am writing about this, which was a lot more fun before the race. (I cannot wait to see how miserable I look in the after photos.) I still haven’t taken longer than four hours to complete a marathon, which is nice to be able to say. And I learned what $5 will buy you in Stroudsburg, PA: