Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Wait, That Wasn't Supposed To Happen...AGAIN!

Someday, the running gods will not look down upon me with adoration and bestow bountiful race day wishes.

Saturday March 2nd in Tuscaloosa, AL was not that day. 

Three weeks ago, I ran the St Pete Half Marathon and PR'd by 4 minutes. I signed up 10 days in advance and hadn't really been training.
That PR wasn't supposed to happen.

Last weekend, I registered for the Tuscaloosa Half Marathon at the very last possible minute.
And PR'd by another 3 minutes off of that.
That REALLY wasn't supposed to happen.

I've never raced back to back, 3 out of 4 weekends, doing two half marathons and a 15K. Would my legs even be strong enough to handle such a ridiculous race schedule? 
There was only one way to find out.

I wasn't certain what to expect out of Tuscaloosa. I was coming to town to visit my friend Jackie and her new baby (who is stubborn and has not been born yet!), and this half marathon just so happened to be on that same weekend. I hadn't been in the city in almost 10 years so I didn't even really remember what it looked like, much less the terrain and elevation.
 All I knew was that it was supposed to be in the low 30's with snow flurries on race morning.

Cue high-anxiety-packing mode. I took 3 different outfits with me to Alabama. 
Florida people just don't know how to dress for sub-50 temps.  

 Rachel was running it too, and it was so nice to have a familiar face out there!

Here we are rocking out our throw-away jackets before the race started
(Photo stolen from Rachel)

The first part of the course was very emotional. I don't know what that Forest Lakes area looked like before the tornado swept through, but I do know what destruction looks like because of seeing the aftermath in my hometown of Cullman (which got hit by an F4 tornado that same day, April 27th 2011). The empty lots, the driveways that lead to nowhere, the mailboxes with no homes behind them, the trees that are stripped of branches but still standing tall like leafless twigs - I recognized it all and felt a huge wave of sorrow. I was running through hallowed ground, where people lost everything including their lives, and I almost flat out cried on the course.

Seeing the empty lots, next to new houses being built, next to houses that were spared, it struck a cord in my soul. 

Course map superimposed onto tornado damage path

The course may as well have been a mini version of San Francisco's elevation chart. 
Hills, hills, hills. Rolling ones. Up, down. Up, down. Just when you think you get some recovery...NOPE! There's another hill waiting for you.

By around the 7th mile I already felt out of steam. I struggled mentally more than I can remember struggling in any race ever, marathons included. I knew I went out fast, and wanted to keep it up, but could feel the fatigue coming over me like a heavy blanket.

I was also all by myself (cue sad music)--- since I've been running, I don't remember ever being alone during a race. There were no strangers to pace with, or draft, or focus on keeping up with to push me a little harder, so the drive to keep going completely fell on my own strength and focus. 

This is where my loner tendencies kinda came in handy, since I almost always run by myself during training. 
 These extremely photogenic race shots sum up my feelings of the final 6 miles as a whole.

I was overcome with joy to see that finish line. And even happier to see the time on my Garmin. 

Official Race Results: 
1:41:08 (PR)
66th overall 
2nd in age group 

After all that struggle, I ended up with a 3 minute and 15 second PR.

I made my way to the finish area to try and catch Rachel as she crossed, and I almost missed her because she was so speedy and crushed her goal with a new 2:02 PR! 

Finish line photo op!

Although Jackie's baby was due THAT DAY, she still came out and supported me at the finish line.

 2nd in my age group meant I got an award.
Cash money! 
Thank you Delane for letting me steal your jacket when my lips turned blue 

So then I was doing some thinking.

The spread on a half marathon and full marathon pace is around 30-40 seconds-ish, right?
Let's theoretically say 30 for this particular demonstration.

If I add 30 seconds to my 7:43 half marathon pace, that is an 8:13 full marathon pace.

(Yay, I can do math.)

Do y'all realize what an 8:12 marathon pace would get me? Just one second faster per mile than that?


That is, theoretically of course.

Forget the 3:40's, I'm going for a time in the 3:30's this year. You heard it here first, friends.

Now I just have to find a good course.....


  1. I hear Calgary is nice around May, cool mornings, dry air, etc...

  2. Way to go Mary on a new PR! You're so speedy!:)
    That is so emotional about AL. I'm from TN and know tornadoes well enough. I hate them and I prob would have felt the exact same way.

  3. Oh Mary... You are going to BQ this year.. I just KNOW it!!! SO glad we've gotten to run TWO races so far this year together.. and it's only March! :) Can't wait to see what the rest of 2013 has in store for us!!