My Favorite Quote:

"There is an inner beauty about a woman who believes in herself, who knows she is capable of anything that she puts her mind to. There is a beauty in the strength and determination of a woman who follows her own path, who isn't thrown off by obstacles along the way. There is a beauty about a woman whose confidence comes from experiences; who knows she can fall, pick herself up, and move on."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Marathon #6: Rails to Trails

Pre-race, Saturday, 11/3/12
Eric and I left town with the boys around 1:30pm on Saturday, Nov. 3.  We headed out to Norwalk, WI for the packet pickup and the pasta feed!  The ride down was pretty long (and not because Eric took a 60 mile detour...seriously).  We arrived around 5:30pm and headed into the Norwalk Community Center for the packet pickup, which also happened to be the pasta feed (sweet)!  It is a very small town and the community center was hoppin'!  This is the smallest marathon that I have ever run, maybe even the smallest race :)  Just a side note that there was complimentary beer at all events associated with this race!  Packet pickup took about a minute, so we sat down to eat with the boys!  They took it all pretty well considering the long car ride. 

The guys eating pasta!

The course for this race was very confusing to figure out.  Many runners just stood in front of the map saying "I don't get it!"  I finally figured it out, but basically we were to run from Norwalk to Sparta and back.  It looked hard any way you looked at it.  The course maps can really freak a person out if they stare at it too long.  No need to inspect a long line connecting two cities and then realizing you have to run it twice!

Why do I do this?

We headed back to the hotel, which had a cool kiddie pool, and we unpacked and I watched the guys swim for the rest of the evening.  There were many runners and families at the hotel, so lots of kids for the kiddos to run around with.  The boys pretty much passed out as soon as their little heads hit the pillows!  Since it was daylight savings, Eric and I took advantage of the extra hour and got caught up on some episodes of Pawn Stars!

Having fun at the pool!

Race Day, Sunday, 11/4/12
It was a pretty easy going wake-up since we got an extra hour to sleep.  I had a lot of trouble deciding what to wear.  It was going to be 32 degrees at the start and it looked like sun, but that couldn't be counted on.  I dressed a little warm and ended up ditching clothes during the race, but I would have worn the same thing if I had to do it again!

The start of the race was in the Village Park in Norwalk.  I was expecting a small start line, but this park was pretty decked out with chip mats, a nice finish chute, and a heated chicken dinner dining hall for after the race (awesome!)  The kids played at the playground while I did my warmup.  It was pretty cold to start, so I didn't head over to the start line until a couple minutes before the gun.  Yet again, I had a high school xc runner ask me why I had so many gels...seriously.  I wanted to ask her if she planned to stay warm in her little shorts, but I held back :)  I did look around and saw MANY runners with 5+ gels strapped to them.  You could tell this was a different level of runner.  They knew what to do with the gels :)  Yes!!!

Let's get this started!

On my way!

The first 3 miles of the race was a loop out and then back to the start.  It was very crowded as we were all piled onto a 5 foot wide trail.  The pace was pretty fast, but I started back too far and got caught up a couple of times in a slow group.  I was happy to lengthen it out around mile 4.  I was expecting Eric and the boys around mile 7, so I took one mile at a time until I was finally able to settle in.  The first 8 to 10 miles of my marathons are always the hardest part for me.  It is where I struggle with my inner demons.  The ones telling me how badly "this sucks" and "I don't want to do this" and "this hurts too much".  So, knowing they were not far ahead was very good motivation for me. 

I had trouble pacing myself with the runners around me.  They were either too fast or too slow.  I couldn't find anyone my pace.  We eventually stretched out to about 15 feet apart, so I was able to find my stride!  At mile 6.5 there was an old railroad tunnel.  At the start of the tunnel, there was a bucket of flashlights to grab.  I grabbed mine and followed a guy in.  It was really weird inside.  There were lanterns along the way, but they only helped so much!  I took my headphones off so that I had all of my senses.  The guy in front of me kept looking like he was falling over and then catching himself.  It was weird to run and keep your balance in the dark!  The floor was rocky and the sides were ditches filled with running water.  It was cold in there and it was also very wet and rainy!  I kept seeing the end of the tunnel, but it took forever to get to it!  The tunnel was 3/4 miles long!  At the end, I tossed my flashlight in the bucket and saw the guys were standing just outside the tunnel exit, which ended up being around 7.5 miles.

Exiting the tunnel!

Ethan checking out the tunnel!

Ryan saying "I scared"!

Right after I saw Eric and the boys, there was a guy holding a sign that said "It is all down hill to Sparta"!  I asked him if it really was and he said "Yes" to which I replied "Thank God!"  Up until then, it had been all uphill.  So, I was really excited to run down hill for awhile.  The pace really picked up and I was able to catch up on some runners.  My foot hurt from pounding it in the tunnel, but it subsided after a mile or so.  I was dealing with some tightness in my hips too, but I put it out of my mind!

I looked down at my Garmin around mile 9 and noticed that it wasn't on.  I was having a lot of trouble with it up until this race, but I was hoping to get one more marathon out of it.  I waited until the half marathon split and turned it back on just to get the time of day.  It said 9:46am, and then died again.  I was pretty excited to have hit the half point in 1:46ish.  Since I was still on a down hill, I just ran a comfortable pace and tried to make up some time that I would need to power back up this hill on the way back!

I was expecting the guys again around mile 14, but somehow missed them.  I was getting pretty warm by this time, so I took off my jacket and wrapped it around my waist.  What I didn't know was that all of my gels fell off my fuel belt when I did this.  The turn around was at mile 15, so I caught the guys on the way back and was able to ditch my jacket, garmin, and hand held.  I went for a gel right after seeing them and noticed my entire belt was empty.  I tried not to panic and decided to fuel on powerade for the rest of the race.  Lucky for me, around mile 17 they had bowls of cookies and pretzels.  I grabbed a handful and put half in my mouth and half in the pocket of my belt (I didn't know if there would be more!)

Ditching the gear!

I kept plugging away a mile at a time, wishing that I knew what time it was and if I was doing well.  I ran by feel and hoped that the change in fuel would be good enough!  I realized at mile 21 that I had my phone on me for my music, so I could check the time.  It said 11:02am!  I was thrilled!  I thought if I could make it through the tunnel at a good pace, then I would try for a finish in the 3:40s!  This is why my theme song for this race is "Cinderalla Man", by Eminem.  Because, with my training, "technically, I'm not even supposed to be here right now"...

I approached the tunnel at mile 22 and headed in one last time.  I actually passed 4 people in there!  I was on a mission!  My glutes hurt like heck, but my legs still moved.  Once I got outside, I found the mile 23 marker and checked my phone and it said 11:20am.  I only had 3.2 miles to go and it was down hill again...awesome.  I cranked up the pace and couldn't believe how I was able to run without walking.  I passed the high school xc runner at mile 24.  She was done and walking it in.  I felt bad...she should have had more gels ;) 

I saw the town of Norwalk approaching and started to run even faster.  I knew if I stopped, then I would also be unable to start again.  I picked it up as I neared the finish line and passed through and looked at my phone and it said 11:46am.  I was in shock for a minute!  I subbed a 3:46 marathon!!!  I would have been teary eyed, but I was having trouble breathing again.  I was able to catch my breath after a few minutes and joined the guys over at the playground!

Me in the distance approaching the finish!

Final strides!
The bling!
It got cold fast!

After Eric grabbed my jacket, we headed over to the chicken dinner and found a table next to the outdoor heater!  We ate pretty fast since everyone was very tired...and Eric managed to partake in the free beer while they were waiting for me to come in :)  After we ate, I went down to check the posted results and found my official time of 3:45:19.  I'm very excited about this and am only 5 mins and 20 secs from my BQ.  I am hoping to nail it on a road with no tunnels next May!

Overall, it was a great day with beautiful weather and a well put on race!  After I changed clothes, we hit the road once again and headed home!

Event: Rails to Trails Marathon
Place: Norwalk, WI
Theme Song:  Cinderella Man - Eminem
Date: Sunday, November 42012
Time:  8:00am
Overall Place:  98 of 324
Gender Place: 21 of 107
F30-39 Place:  10 of 30
Final Time:  3:45:15 (8:36/mile)