Saturday, June 29, 2013

That One Time I Won an Award and Didn't Tell Anyone

I have a secret. 

I'm an Athena. And I have the award to prove it.

I walked into the packet pick up in Newport, OR to get my race bib for the marathon and stumbled into a booth with a scale that said "weigh-in". 

Looking around, all the athletes picking up race packets were in legit shape and super fit. My first thought was Oh crap. You have to be a certain weight to race? I am screwed.

Turns out, it was a weigh-in for a special division in the race called Hercules and Athena.

Hercules were men weighing in more than 190 pounds, and Athenas were women weighing in more than 145. 

According to the Newport Marathon website, the Hercules and Athena division is "an added incentive for large-framed runners". 

Disclaimer: I do not believe that men over 190 and women over 145 are large. Quite frankly I think that's a little ridiculous. But, it's their rules not mine. 

 Being 5'9", I suppose I could possibly be considered as "large framed", but I prefer the term "tall".

My weight has been known to fluctuate by 10 pounds in a day (no joke!) but typically I stay right around 137 pounds on average. A little lighter in the morning, a little heavier at night. If I'm tapering I'll go into the 140's range. If I'm carbing up, a little bit more.

Just for fun, I figured I'd jump on the scale to see what happened. I had been tapering, carbing up, and drinking tons of Gatorade, so figured I would get pretty close.

Yep, definitely qualified as an Athena.

Also, with my 3:45 finish time, I got 3rd in the division and got an award.

This large-framed runner came out of Newport Oregon with more than just a PR. 

I am an award-winning Athena.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Humpty Dumpty Doesn't Get Enough Credit

Running is hard, y'all.

  The Newport Marathon was a small and very well put together race with a gorgeous course that I will never forget. In my third marathon of my running career, I got my time down into the 3:40's and PR'd by 8 minutes.

I was also unpleasantly introduced to "The Wall".

I have never hit the dreaded wall in either of my past 2 marathons. Maybe it was luck, or maybe it was being able to stay in control and not push myself beyond my fitness limits. Either way, I officially acquainted myself with this phenomenon in Newport, Oregon last weekend.

It was a gorgeous morning, somewhere around 50 degrees. I was fueled up and feeling inspired, and decided to let my legs decide the pace.

 BAD IDEA-- not having a real time goal in mind and just running until your legs fall off is NOT a good plan. Don't do it. 

For almost the entirety of the first half of the race, I was running sub-8 miles.
 When I crossed the halfway point at 1:45, I knew I was probably gonna be in for a very grueling second half.

 Umm, what was I thinking. Really. Come on Mary. That is even faster than BQ pace. Heck, that is as fast as I ran the St Pete Half Marathon just 4 months ago.

Oh, look who's feeling so good at mile 10 with their sub 8 pace and their big smile. Yeah, you have another 16 miles to go, idiot.

The wheels started coming off around mile 18, where I logged my first split over 9 minutes. From there, my average pace was about 9:15. I had to stop and walk and tried desperately to jump-start my mental game, but I was dead. The 3 mile gradual incline beginning at mile 22 didn't help, either.

Over it.

The look of pain.

My run-until-I-crash-and-burn plan was a complete success. 
I crashed and burned and all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn't put my poor soul back together again.  

The only thing that truly gave me any hope to keep going at the end was this guy.

He had rented a bike and decided he was going to ride part the of course and stop to cheer me on every few miles. 

When I saw him around mile 22, he knew I was in rough shape. I must have looked dreadful. From that point on he slowly rode about 50 yards ahead of me, looking back every so often. It was either to make sure I could still see him, or to make sure I wasn't dead on the side of the road.
I forgot what the Garmin was telling me and how much my body hurt and how I longed to give up and quit. My new goal was to keep him within my sight.

I finally finished, feeling defeated and broken but happy it was over.

I'm extremely disappointed in my mental state those last few miles.
I hate you, Marathon Wall. And I hate that I allowed it to happen.

Still, after that dreadful performance of the last 8 miles of the race, I am an official 3:45 marathoner.
And that is really really really really cool.

Looking back at my splits, had I actually stuck to a pace and not gone out at a crazy suicide speed, I could have definitely gotten super duper close to 3:40. Maybe even a 3:39.
And that makes me CRAZY excited. Now not only do I know where I stand, but I know what I need to work on and have a clear goal for Twin Cities in October. I want to beat the wall and beat 3:40, and I want the chip time to prove it. 
You heard it here first. 

I also have to brag on the state of Oregon. I had never been to the Pacific Northwest and was completely blown away.

 Oregon Coast

Everyone in Oregon is so nice. They give the south a serious run for their money when it comes to hospitality and general friendliness.

 Pre-marathon breakfast at the Original Pancake House

International Rose Test Garden in Portland                Rogue Brewery in Newport

Voodoo Doughnut in Portland

After running, eating, and craft-beer-drinking my way through Oregon, I am back to the humidity and flat terrain of Florida with a clear head, a refreshed soul, and a shiny new PR.
And maybe a few extra pounds.

Thank you, Oregon. I can't wait to see you again.