I am struggling to figure out how to feel about the MCM Marathon. In a lot of ways, it was an amazing experience and in others, it was a total failure. This is leaving me feeling, well, unsure of how I feel.
Sunday morning, my dad and I got up quite early and headed on the Metro to the race. I have been lucky with all of my major races before because they required very little of a commute to get to it, so this was new experience for me. After getting there, finding my Mom (she was at a wedding the night before and met us at the race) and waiting 20 minutes in line for a bathroom, the race started! The gun went off before I could get in line, but my time group started to far back that it was not a big deal. It sound weird, but I love being in the massive crowd of a race before it starts. The energy of the crowd is so exciting and nerve-wracking, so I did not enjoy having to run to the start.
When I finally reached the start, I felt like I was in a can of sardines! To be honest, one thing I did not enjoy about this race was how crowded it was. I have only run the Philadelphia Marathon before, which is comparable in size to the MCM, but with the roads so much wider in Philly, the race is only packed for the first 2 miles. I was still dodging people (on and off) up until around mile 20 of this race. I did not enjoy constantly having to run around people and I'm sure I was more tired because of it. I did, because of running from the bathroom, sneak in to the 4:10-4:30 marathon pacing section, so I am not surprised I was passing people and moving around to try to keep up a sub-4 pace. Still, I was annoyed throughout the race because a lot of the time, I couldn't just run, I had to defensively and offensively run.
Everything was going alright until about mile 19 and 20. I felt tired the whole race, which I attributed to my cold and my lack of running the weeks before in the hopes to heal up my ITBS. Around this time, I was really starting to feel tired. We hit the 14th St Bridge and I just fell apart. I got a side stitch, my back was in agony, and I couldn't breathe very well. My pace went from 9 minute miles to at times 11 minute miles. I truly felt like the forthcoming 6.2 miles would not be possible and I would get my first DNF. It was such a trying time mentally for me because I do not like to quit ever, but the miles ahead seemed impossible. I ran into a fellow Runner's World fourmite earlier on, but he passed me around here. He was super supportive, but I just couldn't keep up.
Around mile 21, my side stitch just disappeared for no reason. I felt stronger and I was able to pick up the pace to around a 9:30 min/mile. I know a PR was out of the question, so in a lot of ways, I didn't push myself as hard as I could have. I did not feel the pressure of the PR, so I ran hard, but was not killing myself. To be honest, I'm not sure I could have really run any faster, so I guess it was nice to not have the pressure of the PR looming over my head.
Overall, I'm feeling alright about the race, but still bummed my time was so bad. I knew I wouldn't PR with my ITBS (which gladly didn't bother me during the race) and my cold, but being almost 7 minutes slower than my last marathon was a bit disheartening. I am just eager to have a good training program for my next race, as well as to be in a good physical condition for it.
Thanks to everyone for your amazing support and I cannot wait for my next race (Mind The Ducks 12 Hour 2011? Yeah, I'm sure that will definitely be my next one.).