Mountains 2 Beach Marathon; 700 feet of net downhill over 18 miles – not too steep but just enough to let gravity help; finishing on the beach in beautiful Ventura, CA; and the perfect setting to qualify for Boston. Sixteen weeks of training, four long months went into this race. The first half of training was questionable as I had caught a cold a week before training began that lingered in my chest for the following eight weeks. The last seven weeks, however, I really dialed it in – speedwork, long runs, tempo runs, strengthening exercises, diet – my training seemed to be right on track with where I needed to be to run a 3:45 Boston qualifying finish time (I later learned I only needed a 3:55 but I had already been training for a 3:45 so I kept it at that.)
Then Monday of race week my husband came down with flu-like symptoms and was in bed most of the day bundled up in sweats and under blankets – we’re in Lake Havasu City, AZ where it’s 105° right now! I started doubling up on the vitamin C and Zinc and avoided him like the plague. We both agreed this week was too important for me to get sick so he didn’t take it personally, although Gracie was concerned when Daddy didn’t give Mommy a kiss good-bye when I drove her to daycare – so cute!
Richard was pretty miserable all week and I seemed to be skating by…until Thursday night when I started feeling a scratchy throat coming on. I ignored it, not mentioning it to anyone in hopes that if I didn’t acknowledge it, it would go away. No such luck. On Friday we loaded up the car for our trip to Ventura and I was cold and achy. We stopped for lunch and I had to put a sweatshirt on and take ibuprofen to ease my achy body. By Friday night I had full blown flu-like symptoms. My long sleeve tee and long sweat pants I wore to bed were drenched with sweat even though I was freezing and I had to change in the middle of the night. Saturday we bought salt and honey so I could gargle with salt water and drink warm water with honey to help ease my sore throat. It was another cold, sleepless, sweat induced night until 3am when it was time to get ready for the race.
Running 26.2 is tough to do when you’re feeling 100% let alone fighting a cold and a known blister (another story). But I was determined I could do it. I took three ibuprofen at 3am then another two right before race start – note, don’t do that. I had a plan to run a 3:30 marathon if all the stars lined up and I was going to have a perfect race but since I already knew that wasn’t the case I spotted the 3:45 pacer in our coral and decided I’d try to keep with him.
Donna and I got into the back of our coral seven minutes before the race start so it was already very crowded and the 3:45 pacer was a couple hundred people in front of me. Once the race began I made my way through the crowd and fell in pace with the 3:45 group. It felt very comfortable and I thought this would be something I could do. Then he stopped at the first water station and I kept going. I had never ran with a pace group before and I didn’t meet up with them ahead of time to know their strategy so I figured I’d just go on my own.
It all seemed to be going well the first ten miles. I was fueling every 20 minutes with a Clif Shot Block or Gu but I wasn’t taking in as much fluid as I had during training. Also on a short incline around mile seven I felt the sting of the blister taking shape on my left foot. I knew I needed to average an 8:35 pace to meet my 3:45 goal and at this point I was a little ahead at an 8:20 average.