The marathon is long. That’s pretty much the best way that I can describe it.
It’s not the longest athletic endeavor I’ve ever done—that would be a half-Ironman—but it was the duration of it that put me off the idea of it. Then I did a few Ironman 70.3 races, which took five-and-a-half to six hours, and it didn’t seem quite so long. Of course, two hours of running after more than three hours of swimming and cycling isn’t the same as running four hours straight. So the question I had going into the BayState Marathon a couple weekends ago was “How bad is this really going to be?”
I hadn’t been training long for the marathon. Or maybe I had. Either I started training for it right after Timberman. Or I started training for it last November when I started building up to the New Bedford half-marathon. At any rate, my official training where I ramped up from preparing to run 13.1 miles to being ready for 26.2 only lasted nine weeks. Some people train half a year to run a marathon, and I wasn’t sure how ready I was or how long it would take.
But Sunday the 20th came whether I was ready (really, super-duper ready) or not. The weather was perfect for a race. I find that if I’m not cold beforehand, I’m going to be hot after the first five miles. (And we were all cold as we waited around for the start.) I had my nutrition and insulin plan all worked out, and I was carrying all of my water with me. I didn’t really care if I looked like a dork with my hydration pack; other people don’t have to carry around a bunch of diabetes paraphernalia, and I can never seem to drink the right amount if I don’t bring my own H2O.
Here was the race in a nutshell:
- The first few miles were too fast. They always are. Despite lining up closer to the 9:00/mile (5:30/km) sign, we were running the first few miles closer to 7:45 (4:50). I knew that there was a lot of race left, so I did my best to get close to my goal race pace, and after about five miles I was running along with the 3:35 marathon pace setter.
- We ran along the river from the post-industrial center of Lowell out to rural Tyngsboro, crossed the bridge, looped back along the river to a different bridge, and turned right back around for another lap. The first 13 miles felt pretty good; I ran a 1:50 half-marathon and felt like I could keep going all day.
- I saw Lisa on the bridge where we started the second lap. It was so good to see her on the course, and I think she helped me hold on to a better pace for a few more miles. Love that girl!
- Around the 15th mile, my energy really started to flag, and I had trouble keeping the pace I was doing. I started walking through the aid stations a mile later.
- The last six miles were just awful. I hurt, and I could tell I wasn’t really going very fast. I could also tell that I probably wan’t going to make the 3:30-4:00 finishing time I was hoping for.
- I heard the announcer call out the four hour mark from a block away. That was a little disappointing, but I was already digging deep, trying to make the best of the last mile. It wasn’t pretty, but it helped me finish with a time of 4:00:24.
- And I had a really good diabetes day. Not too high. Not too low. Not too worried. Not too shabby!
The BayState Marathon is known as a Boston Qualifier, since it’s so flat and fast. I only missed my BQ time by 50:24. Ha! I have a bit of pride, and I’m glad that I was just able to sneak into the range of times that I was expecting. But my time didn’t really matter to me in my first marathon. I now know what it’s like. It’s difficult, and it takes a long time, but I won’t go as far as my grandmother did when she said she “thought that a bit much.” I’ll definitely do another one some time. Perhaps I’ll do it the right way next time . . . and precede it with 2.4 miles of swimming and 112 miles of cycling.
As always, Lisa took some awesome photos.