- my pacing. In all brutal honesty, I never quite believed I was capable of a 3:40 marathon. I struggled with the 8:20 min/mile all winter. Not that I couldn't do it, but it was harder than it should have been for a marathon pace. I couldn't pull it out during my 20 mile race, and I never "slotted into" the pace during training, the way you should. It's chicken and egg, I know, but I never had the true belief that I could run this pace for a marathon, and if you can't believe it, you won't do it. Quite that simple. My coach did what she could to instill confidence in me, but I just wasn't quite there. As it was, I did actually run on pace for the first 14M. But my legs were starting to cramp there already, a sign I would have to slow things down to finish at all.. So I don't think that, on the day, I had that pace in me. If I had been really honest with myself, I would have acknowledged that on the day (because I did know that) and would have set out for an 8:25 - 8:30 min/mile pace. Small difference, but I think I could have held on to that pace for longer. There is no question for me that I need to focus more on the mental aspects of running and racing. Ginny recommended Running Within, which I've started reading, to help with that. I'll keep you posted. Ironically - having said everything I've said above - after running Boston I think that I could actually run a 3:40 marathon in the future.
- Nutrition. A big fat success mark here. I have struggled in previous marathons with nausea which prevented me from taking any nutrition on after the halfway mark. In addition, I often found I needed to use portapotties, or bushes, during the race. Not this time! As far as the nausea goes, coach advised me never mix sports drink and GU - which I have, unwittingly, done during races. I ran with a handheld waterbottle during this race so that I could always wash a GU down with water when I needed to take one. As far as not needing to make a pitstop is concerned, coach warned me against overhydration (which I tend to do, I drink a LOT of water during the day generally) and so, on race day, I had a cup of coffee and sipped some sportsdrink on the bus while I had my bagel. No more. I made three (nervous) pitstops in the athlete's village but that was it. Nothing during the race.
- Having a coach. This REALLY worked for me. I loved knowing only the schedule for the week ahead. It meant I did not freak out about what was to come and tackled each workout as they were sent to me. I loved her confidence in me and the specificity of her training advice - when she told me I had to train at a certain pace, I just had to do it. And I did it. While I did not make the race pace that she felt I could do I ran the race stronger than I have ever done and I think it is due to how well trained I was for this race. Finally, having her to consult whenever I had a freak-out or a setback made an enormous difference - her calm and confidence stopped me spiralling into self-doubt and worry.
- My strategy. I am SO pleased with the judgement calls I made during the race. I am very happy that I went out at my intended pace. I wanted to give it my all, and during the first 14 miles I did give it my all as far as pacing was concerned. But I am even more happy that when it became clear to me that I would not be able to hang onto this pace for much longer, I just flicked a switch in my mind. I just thought "this is my shot. This is my Boston. I am going to enjoy this, I want to enjoy this race and get that medal." And I did it. I did slow down, especially on the hills, but I sped it up again when they were behind me. I high-fived lots of kids, I YMCA'ed when the music started up, I looked around me, I tried to smile, and I just soaked up the atmosphere. I didn't walk, I just pushed as hard as I could with my pace. I ended up with my second fastest marathon time ever - only 1:20 slower than my PB - on a bear of a course and with a smile on my face.
My summer plans are busy, busy, busy though I'm not putting as much pressure on myself. But they deserve, and will get, a blog post of their own. For now, I feel I have wrapped up Boston and I am ready for the next thing!