So here we are, just a little over a week out, and I’m finally getting to my race recap. I know I say this over and over again, but time really just gets away from me. I meant to write this last week, then went away for the weekend (great trip to Philly – more on that in my recap of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly weekend), and now here we are at
Tuesday (and now Wednesday, started this yesterday and finishing now).
Friday – Pre Race:
Two Fridays ago, September 12, I headed to Grand Rapids for the Last Chance to BQ in Grand Rapids. I had an early flight (6:30 AM-ish) on Delta, which is always good and bad. I was happy to be getting out there to spend the majority of the day relaxing, but I was not happy about the early wake up call. Nevertheless, got up, and it was on the way to the airport. I was fortunate enough to fly through Cincinnati, to get to Grand Rapids, and my Mom jumped on the next flight up to Michigan.
We arrived around 12:30 PM or so, and headed for the hotel – Marriott in Downtown Grand Rapids – to check in for the weekend. The hotel was beautifully situated overlooking the river. After checking in, we grabbed lunch at a cute little restaurant, Reserve. Although the restaurant was cute, it was not the best for carbo loading or drooling at the wine everyone was drinking (not in the pre-race carb diet). My Mom, who is not a runner, was getting a kick out of the fact that I had said I needed to eat 2,200 calories in carbs the day before the race – not sure where I found that info, but if I happen upon it again, I will share it with you all.
Well after the late lunch, a little more resting in the room, and a quick shake-out run along the river, we were headed to drive up to the park and to pick up my packet for the race. The park turned out to be about a 10 minute drive from the hotel, which was perfect for the next morning and the packet pick up was at a bar about 5 minutes from the park. The crew at packet pick up was wonderful – I got my shirt and copy of Don Kern’s book in no time, and we were off downtown for dinner at a local Italian/Mediterranean restaurant.
After dinner, I was in bed about 9:30 PM and ready for the morning to come. I felt properly carbo loaded (maybe not 2,200 calories, but close to it) and properly hydrated. All I wanted was to run that race, which had kind of been my motto all week – I was ready to run. #RaceEverything as the November Project folks say.
With the race at 7 and only 10 minutes away from the hotel, the wake up call on Saturday morning wasn’t too bad. I was up around 5:15ish to eat some breakfast and do a little more hydrating. We left from the hotel at 5:45 and were to the starting area in the park at just about 6. There was a light rain coming down and the temperature was somewhere between 45 – 50, so we hung out in the car for the majority of that hour – with the magic time of 6:40 looming, when I would go into the cold (In reality it wasn’t that cold, but with the fact that we’ve been experiencing the Summer weather, I wasn’t exactly prepared for it).
Once out of the car, I made one last stop at the porties and then headed to the start line, for a little chit chat with other runners and the singing of the National Anthem, and then we were off.
The course was about a 4.5 mile loop, which was done just over 6 times. The first loop went out a little bit farther than the others, but the remainder of the loops were the same. This loop also only had 2 hills, which turned out to be wonderful, as I had been training on hills all summer in Boston and you knew exactly where these hills were on the course.
My goal/race plan coming into the day was to go out just under 8:00 min/mile, and then see where my legs took me. I knew that I would be better off getting time bucketed before the half way, because in my previous marathons, I had always hit the wall and hit it HARD (mind you my training was also never completely up to par). Well we started, and I immediately fell into this groove. I was in a pack of about 6 for the first loop or so. Of the people in this pack, it was another woman in the same age group, and then 4 or so men in the 50-55 age group, who were trying to hit under 3:30. The first loop with them went very smoothly, we figured out the lay of the land on the path – where the hills and water stops were – and then we just got into the groove with the running. We were all chatting amongst ourselves here and there, which was nice and eased the tension. Throughout this first loop, I was able to hold a pace of just under 8:00. I also managed to miss seeing my cheer squad aka my Mom and Sam, two times, so when we finally got onto the second loop and I was able to see them, it was great.
After the first loop, I was shocked by how easy I was able to continue to go with the flow of the race, take my water and energy products (Gu) where I needed it, and just enjoy the atmosphere of the race. I ended up running with a man from Canada for about 75% of the race, maybe a little bit more, and this was so helpful. He kept me on my pace, and reminded me often of when I was speeding up. I found that if we started talking about something that excited me, my pace would increase during the run – not what I wanted for the marathon. He was there though to slow me back down a bit. It also helped that we could work off of each other.
This momentum is what carried me through the next loops to the finish. The time was all a blur, but I was able to consistently hold my pace of just about 7:54/mile. I walked through just about every other water stop. This was the one tip I got from my Mom’s friend, who has qualified for Boston in the past, so I took it and used it to my advantage. This will gave me the opportunity to properly fuel and relax for a few seconds, before gearing back up. On the final loop, Sam was able to hand me my final gu to carry me to the finish and it most definitely helped – thank you Vanilla GU.
After I took that GU, it was on to the finish. Right before that GU though the man I was running with, at about Mile 22 or so, said “Well now we know we have the BQ, it’s just a matter of what time we come in with.” While I knew this in my head, I was just about to throw an elbow at him (old HS basketball move). I’m always fearful something will jinx how the run is going, but luckily enough on that Saturday, the statement didn’t do any jinxing. I rode my high to the finish, through those final hills and water stops, and I was able to finish in a time of 3:30:32 – I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!
All that anticipation from the week before and excitement to race had really paid off. My coaching from the summer had done me wonders. While I may have been able to do it on my own, I have no doubt that this helped tremendously. I made it through an entire training cycle and it really showed.
Last Chance to BQ – Grand Rapids
Saturday, September 13
Time: 3:30:32 – BQ and 39 minute PR for the Marathon
Pre-Race – Energy Bits – 20; Bagel w/Peanut Butter; Water
During Race – Lots of water, and 3 packs of GU
Post-Race – Beer and lots of it!
Overall, I had an amazing weekend in Grand Rapids and was so happy with my race. I had expected to run with about 300 people that day, but turns out it was only 65! Of those 65 people – 60 people finished, and 33 qualified for Boston – AMAZING! I would highly recommend this race to anyone who is looking to qualify for Boston. Grand Rapids is a beautiful city and perfect for a race, especially with all the local breweries you can visit for your post-race fun/celebrations.
Thanks to all for your support through these last few months. I can’t wait to hear from the BAA and hopefully run Boston as a registered runner in April (cross your fingers, still waiting to hear – hopefully today!). And thank you for hopefully making it through this very long winded post.
How is your training going? Are you running a fall marathon? Ever been to Grand Rapids, MI?