As race weekends go, it involves the usual- Food, beer, shameless bib photos, restless sleep, outfit decisions, race prep, and general feelings of complete scatterbrain. I was incredibly lucky to have some great people around me all weekend to handle all of the above, and more.
I was up right at my first alarm- which most people know for me...only happens on race days. Shower, cold coffee, some food, typical race morning stumbling around. Heather and Britt were meeting me out on the course so they left while I drove the 2.25 miles to the race. I spent that time chatting with coach (thank you for getting up early on a Sunday to call me!) and mentally preparing myself for the next few hours.
After parking, I quickly found my family. My sister and I don't do the same races often, but we both had some big goals this time so it was great to support each other and have our parents there as well. Meandering over to the start area was quick and easy, I managed to find a bunch of friends and exchanged lots of hugs before heading to the line. While standing there I was getting emotional, but felt ready. I found a good friend across the road while looking around- ran over and stole a final big hug and then finally situated myself right on the line where I needed to be. This was it. We had a moment of silence for the recently fallen RPD officer Daryl Pierson, listened to the National Anthem and then it was go time.
In my head, I said I wanted to be around a 3:10 pace for the first 9 miles until the canal. This would allow me to not kill myself on the rollers that are within first few miles and feed my desire to finish stronger. Within the first mile I found myself with a group of a few guys, myself and 2 others stuck together for the first 9 miles. We chatted a bit, laughed, wondering if the rain was indeed going to hold off. The one guy then told us, if he got tackled off the course it was because his wife is 9 months pregnant and was going into labor. We joked that we got first dibs on his gels if that happened. I saw my family around mile 7, I smiled and high-fived while looking like I should be singing an R Kelly song.
|I'm either landing a 747 or jamming to "I believe I can Fly" on my invisible headphones. The dudes in Yellow and Orange were my homeboys those first few miles.|
Once on the canal I knew this is where the true grind begins. From mile 9.5-24.5 you are on a narrow path. Aid stations are further apart, spectators are fewer, and by this time in the race- the field of 600ish runners is incredibly spread out. Welcome to no-mans-land. Rochester, I really do love you, but there is SO MUCH MORE about this city to see than 15 miles of water on the left and land on the right. Okay, okay you get my point (yes, I knew these things going into the race).
I ran the first 10 miles of the race at 7:18 pace(average), or roughly 3:11 so I was slightly behind my goal of 3:10 pace for that section. My goal after that was to pick it up bit by bit and see how much I could negative split the course. The weather was humid, but not horrible. I made sure to sip a little water at each stop and was using margarita shot blocks (extra sodium) and gels(Clif shot w/Caff) to stay fueled. The rain looked like it was going to hold off so I knew it was time to try and ease into a quicker pace.
I hit the half way point around 1:35ish so I had made up ground and also knew I was about to see the girls again. Coming around the curve to Great Embankment Park and seeing Heather and Britt was just what I needed. Heather was jumping up and down cheering, so I did a little shimmy and shake dancing for her. Britt got a video of this, but you can't see me dancing- you do see Heather bouncing like Tigger though and it makes me giggle so much. (Britt's IG Video-->here).
|The pockets on the sides of the Saucony Bullet shorts are AMAZING for gels, except the fact that it makes my hips look like saddle bags (My sisters term).|
Miles 11-16 I averaged a 7:04 pace without really 'hammering' to get it. By this point, my 'A' Goal (stellar day) of 3:05 wasn't even a thought. But I knew if I held on my 'B' Goal of sub 3:10 was definitely possible.
Shortly after leaving Pittsford, a volunteer yelled to me "she's only a minute ahead of you"
*Insert racing heart and bulging eyes here*
By my assumptions, I was in 2nd or 3rd which meant this guy could be talking about the leader. BUT I had gone into the race knowing I needed to back off pace a tiny bit from 17-20 because of slight incline(effort vs. pace). Well shit, what do I do now. I promised myself I would keep my time goal priority until mile 20 and then depending where I was in the field would change strategy. So, I stuck with my plan and backed off a bit at 17.
Around mile 18, I caught a girl- this is the one I assume the guy was talking about- but unfortunately was not the girl that I knew was in front of me. Which meant that I had no idea what place I was really in. I passed her, and about a minute later...the sprinkles turned into showers. By 19, it was just chaos. I wiped my eyes with my singlet, put my glasses down hoping to block some water but still couldn't see too far in front of me. I remember hitting mile 20, hearing cheering (spectators were sitting under an overpass) and just being like- okay I can do this just keep holding on. I had actually sped up a tiny bit in the rain, but I knew I was spending extra energy fighting the wind.
|Official photos are not in yet- but the Fleet Feet page posted this photo. I assume this was taken at the finish around the time I was running miles 19-20...if that gives you a better visual.|
Miles 17-21 I averaged 7:21 miles. I was actually happy with this, considering I felt like I was going much slower (thank you wind and rain).
Around mile 21 the rain calmed as I got closer to Genesee Valley Park. By 22 the rain stopped but the air was thick and breathing became work. Here enters 'wheezy Laura'. Here also enters the battle of....the half marathon walkers. In the last few miles of the course the half marathon cuts back in, even though the half starts 15 minutes later than the full- there is still some overlap.
So miles 22-25 were spent wheezing out "on your left" and weaving in and out of groups of walkers. In some cases this meant running through huge puddles, on the grass and right between people. Many of them were encouraging, "you go girl" was a common one (thank you!). I did however get a few negative comments which was a little frustrating (I don't view passing those walking the half marathon while I'm trying to finish a marathon as 'showing off'). This was my slowest section of the race (for many reasons) averaging 7:31 for those 3 miles.
Getting off at the Ford Street Bridge was actually a nice relief, I surged up the incline and just told myself not to stop. I knew 3:10 wasn't going to happen but I wasn't walking away without a new marathon PR. I made the last few turns, and was grateful to be on a road with more breathing room while working my way through aid stations and those walking. I hadn't seen a female marathoner since passing the one at 18, and I hadn't passed a male marathoner in a few miles as well (So yeah, almost 8 miles of no marathoners).
I kept thinking about my friends and family waiting at the finish. I managed to pull a 7:22 mile for 26. On the last stretch before the left turn I was dazed, I could hear and see everyone cheering for me but couldn't process it all. I tried to high five my friends kids, but think I missed (fuzzy brain). I saw my dad cheering on the corner and pushed. That last little push sent my left calf over the edge, it seized up right before the turn. I definitely let out a cry of pain but made the turn and got my ass down the chute to the finish.
|Riding the Pain train with a left turn and 0.1 to go (and clapping cheering Daddio on the right)|
|Heading into the Chute....|
1 min 45 sec PR
30 min 7 sec Course PR
I got my medal and within about 30 seconds had 2 smiling faces in front of me hugging me. There aren't a lot of words I could use to describe how grateful I was to have Britt/Heather there. We confirmed my 4th place finish while I took in as much water as I could and tried to remain on my feet.
I did the "fat guy in a little coat routine" (putting on calf sleeves) and then we made our way back to the corner to find my family. Even when you are 27, mom hugs are the best and nephew kisses/fist bumps will always make me melt. Having friends and family there was such a great feeling.
Where's my head at now?
In the spirit of full disclosure. I didn't go into this race with the goal of finishing. I didn't go into this race with the goal of a BQ. I didn't go in with the "don't finish DFL" mentality. I wanted 2 letters the most...PR. But there was also the W...I wanted that too.
I decided back in the winter that this was the year I would seek revenge on my 2011 Rochester Marathon performance. I figured it would be a good goal to work towards, and that it could be feasible for not only redemption but a PR. I'm also not an idiot with the internet. Race websites typically hold the last few years results, I may have checked these a
Obviously, I didn't come in first place. I still PR'd by almost 2 minutes, and threw down a 30 (yes, 30) minute course PR. I never walked, I never cried (well, kind of), I never gave up. Personal victories that day will outdo an overall Win. But 4th place and $200 with that PR doesn't hurt either :)
I've thought a lot about my goals and if I was being realistic, or if I had my sights set too high. Fact is, I know I can run sub-3:10 and on a different day I wouldn't even rule out 3:05 right now. On Sunday I never felt that 'amazing' feeling of 'I've got this'. I worked for every second of that 1:45 PR. The hard work and the consistent training I have done has not gone to waste. I don't have that 'back to square one' feeling- I know I'm on the right track and there is nothing wrong with chipping away at my PR bit by bit.
So while I have a feeling of 'unfinished business' with this race/this course- I'm young and healthy and have a lot of life and many more marathons ahead of me. Maybe I'll try to conquer my hometown marathon again next year- or maybe I'll wait another few years. Who knows, I have others to focus on in the mean time! ;)
The post- race is something I'll talk about in separate post, because it deserves more than a paragraph :)