Sunday, April 29, 2007
4:04 and I am stoked!
Well, I finished!!! Don't I look chuffed in this pic??!
And NOTHING went wrong (well, apart from running 10 secs per mile slower than I had planned, but I'm putting that down to inexperience and the fact that this is the hardest course in NZ and I'm absolutely not letting it faze me)
And I can't wait to sign up for number 2 (October '07).. where I will smash 4:00!
And I'm coming back next year when the course will be IAAF certified, and you know what?? I am going to BQ!**
We drove up to Rotorua on Friday- the car loaded with bagels and bottle after bottle of water. It was a relaxed drive, and we were running a little late when we arrived. The expo had run out of pretty much everything in my size, though I did find a nice new pair of shorts. We drove around the course as it was getting dark. The hills didn't look too bad, but some went on for quite a while!
After we finished our pasta dinner, I started to get nervous. About the rain, about the course, about hitting the wall, about everything. I don't know what was so stressful-either I'd finish, or I wouldn't! Slept fitfully and lay awake from 3:42 to 6:00 listening to the cars driving past and the rain beating down. I tried to take comfort on the rain- the more it rains now, the less it rains tomorrow, right????
Ate two half bagels (one plain with PB, one cinnamon raisin with jam) at about 6, then sat reading my book and collecting myself while C napped, and the boys slept. At 7 I had my coffee and got ready. I got dressed, prepared three baggies to carry on the course- food, MP3 and emergency supplies- and packed my bag for after the race (my biggest mistake of the day). P stuck Phiten patches all over my legs, I forced down a banana (retching slightly at every bite!) and filled a bottle of water to take to the start.
We lost C and F (her boy) at the start, but found some of P's colleagues who were looking at similar times to me. I was the only newbie though! It was good to chat with them while P was away and meeting their husbands properly meant I had bonus support on the course (one of them even got a cool video of me going past). One last loo stop, and we went off to line up. I decided at the last possible second to run without my poly- the first of my many good decisions! It wasn't that cold, and I really didn't need the extra bulk.
I lined up around the 4h sign. It was great to turn around just before the start to see P again, for a couple of last goodbyes. I gave him a quick kiss, told him to cheer for C from me, then we counted down, the gun went off and we were off.
The *biggest* marathon in NZ had 1400 entrants (running), so it only took me 1:xx to get over the line. Less than 500m in, I found a friend of ours, K, and we decided to hang together as much as we could. We were 30s over our goal pace at 3k, and we decided to try to maintain the gap, rather than to make up time. Mostly we succeeded- some ks were a bit fast, and some markers were off (like there's no WAY we did ks 18 and 19 in under 10 minutes total), but we ended up hitting halfway in 2:00 exactly! At about 9 or 10k, the rain picked up a bit- it was pretty hard, but we were used to being wet by this time! At 14k, we saw the lake for the first time (the race is round the lake, but the roads are pretty silly in Rotorua and very few front onto the lake) and the sun came up. It was actually warmish, and since my shoes had been soaked for nearly an hour anyway, I wasn't that excited about the sun!
I realised just past halfway that I was unlikely to break 4. I felt pretty good, and we were still chatting away, but it was starting to get a little harder (we'd done some reasonable climbs, but the hills were far from over), and I didn't quite feel I had another 2:00 half in me. K was fading too- it was at about 24k that she suggested I push on. I told her there was no way I was feeling strong enough to pick up the pace, especially with 18k to go!
The road was closed for a big part of the middle of the race (from sometime around 16? to about 24/25 k), so it was great to reach 25 and see people again. I saw C's partner F and the guys I'd met pre-race, and knew I would finally be seeing P soon. I was so excited to be passing him strong!
Soon after we saw P, I knew it was time to step up. I reached for my secret weapon, the magic music box. I had asked P and the rest of my family to nominate songs for me to run to. The best idea I have ever had!! It meant my family was with me, and I was able to think of how much they all mean to me as their songs came on. The songs didn't help me pick up the pace or distract me from the pain, but they invigorated me and inspired me. I lost K soon after that- I had a bit more juice in me (hardly surprising- I'm not sure if she ingested any calories during the race, and I managed to eat 150-odd calories off granola bar as well as some sport beans!!) It got hard at about 28k. I kept running, but the soles of my feet hurt, and my transponder felt like it was cutting off circulation in my ankle. I started walking the drink stations, as I knew I hadn't taken enough liquid- not by a mile, I later realised (TMI, but I didn't "go" until nearly two hours after my finish).
Between 28 and 38 I counted ks- and it took forever for each marker to come around (even though my pace for the second half was still under 9:30/mile, and was only 10s/k slower than my first half). Instead of passing everyone, I started getting passed, though I kept passing too. At 35k I saw P again. The photo he has of me shows that I was still definitely "running"- not shuffling like I thought. It also shows just how happy I was to see him.
I was listening to Annie's Song, by John Denver, which means a lot to both of us. I sent him on to the finish line and dug in for the hard part. There's not a lot to say. I put one foot in front of the other and thought about how impossible the last 5k were going to be. The task ahead seemed insurmountable, even that far into it!
At 38k, 4:00, 4:01, 4:02 and 4:03 were a distant memory, but I set myself a new mini goal of doing the last 4.2k in 24 minutes, to finish around 4:04. 38-39 was horrible, but at 39 it felt possible again- 4k is nearly 5k, but 3 is just over 2! My power song played, and although I did NOT feel like a rocket ship on my way to Mars, there was by that stage, no stopping me! I couldn't lift my pace, but I maintained it. I got some high-5s from neighbourhood kids, and I beamed and waved at spectators. I was nowhere near as emotional as I expected- here I was finishing my first MARATHON, having run all but 2 water stations, and I felt nothing! Me- the girl who gets choked up on training runs!!
My MP3 player had misplaced faith in me, and played The Final Countdown just before 41. It was playing when I hit 4:00! If it had played any earlier, I'd have had to skip it, but I reminded myself "this is a freakin marathon, Kate- the last 1.5 K IS the final countdown!" I picked up a bit, and passed a few people in the last k. We were in the park now, enjoying the home stretch. The finish line looked close, and I knew it was only 350m past the Princes Arch. I wondered if I could break 4:04, but realised that while the START gate was 100m away, the finish was a fair bit further! But I pushed it, and ran to the line with P running behind the crowd alongside me.
I collected my finisher's shirt and relaxed for awhile with P's colleague, who had done a PB of 3:56. We waited in the back for K and P's other colleague to come in (K did 4:14 and V did 4:17), then headed out front to wait for C. She was injured and came in at 5:44, so we watched for an hour before we gave up. I saw my blog buddy Mike come in without realising!! We also saw the Mask finish. Unfortunately, I missed seeing the dude who did the WHOLE THING IN CROCS because he finished in something like 3:20!! IN CROCS!!!!
I think it's time to leave this post now- it's rambly enough as it is. There's a really cool summary of my results here, just enter 461. Some (seriously unflattering- my hips are like chipmunk cheeks,stuffed with food and music- it's not all my pudge!) pics are here.
I'll be back soonish, with a "lessons learned" report, and some aftermath, and pics. But, in short- I don't hurt too badly at all (I hurt LOTS, but I was expecting worse- maybe the Phiten patches worked?!), my worst injury is the rubbing and bruising from the transponder band and overall, I'd say I came out well!!
Thanks everyone for your good luck wishes and your support over the past few months. This blog has meant SO much to me! I was going to name names, but you actually all ROCK!
**it's my day today- let a girl dream...