Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rochester Marathon Recap (Part I)

As per usual marathon recap protocol this is gonna get long. Grab a beer and some snacks, kick your feet up (mine certainly are). Also, Hi...sorry it's been a while.

Race Weekend
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.
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Saturday morning I did my final run before the marathon- while it wasn't amazing feeling, I typically don't put much stock into how things feel the day before anyways. After that I spent the morning with my sister traveling to Buffalo for our cousins baby shower. Of course I wore a maxi dress so I could hide compression gear look nice. Later that day I anxiously awaited the arrival of not one, but two incredible people who would be my 'race crew' for the rest of the weekend. Britt and Heather helped me keep calm, made sure I was eating and drinking, helped me decide what to wear (the singlet debacle of 2014), and generally made the weekend that much more fun.

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.

The Race
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. 
I warned the guys that around mile 8 there would be some girls screaming and jumping up and down. They didn't disappoint, I was so happy to see Heather and Britt out there. It gave me a little boost and I sped up the hill a little after that to get to the canal.

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).
About a mile later I had the fabulous site of Laura running towards me. She asked if I wanted company for a few minutes, of course I said yes. We chatted for a few and then she let me go into the crowds of Schoen Place solo. I got to see my family again, and steal a fist bump from my nephew which gave me a good boost. The sprinkles of rain started here but it actually felt good to cool off a bit.

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....
4th Female
16th Overall
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 million few times in the last 9 months. With the times I thought I could be capable of, I knew my chances of winning the marathon (or at least top 3) were pretty damn good. I'm smart enough to know that I can't control who shows up, but I certainly put the effort in to make sure that I would put up a damn good fight regardless of who was on that start line.

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 :)


  1. Laura what a recap!!!! I'm sooo proud of you and your awesome PR!!! And in the rain too! You ROCK girl! Congrats!!!

    1. Thank you Mindy!! Your support and encouragement always helps, especially seeing how awesome you are doing yourself lately!!

  2. so. effing. proud. of you.

    And so glad I got to be a part of your weekend. You are my hero ;)

  3. Awesome job!! The thought of holding 7's for 26 miles makes me sore... my days of trying to be fast are over I think. Haha. Sounds like you felt pretty good the whole race! Won't be long until you get that 3:05 - and then sub 3:00 !? yes, maybe? Congrats on the new PR :)

    1. Thanks for jumping in with me for a bit! Need to run together soon!

  4. You are just amazing, Laura!! I can't believe how much you've improved over the last few years and continue to get faster. You make it sound so easy to run a 3:11! And in the crazy rain and wind- incredible. Huge congrats!! I'm inspired. :)

    1. Thank you Laura, it's definitely been a crazy few years! Lucky to have the time and energy to devote to this right now!

  5. Hello! You just rocked that race, my friend! Way to go! You kept your head in the game through the end, too. You are just getting started--lots of great race times ahead of you!

  6. Awesome recap! Sounds like it was a great day even with the rain and the half marathon walkers. Sad that there were some negative people out there unless they were not realizing you were running the full marathon.. I can't even imagine finishing a half marathon in that amount of time and you ran a full great job on your new PR!

  7. Congrats! That's pretty amazing considering the weather and weaving through the walkers. Keep dreaming big! I never gave up - in my 7th marathon, I ran a 3:10. In my 8th, I ran a 3:06. And in my 9th, I ran a 2:59:38. There's no reason you can't have that sort of progress as well.

    1. Definitely awesome progress you have had.... big dreams are there-- gotta make it happen!!

  8. shoot, my first comment deleted! Basically, I just said how much I loved this race recap, and a PR is still a PR. I love what you said about chipping away little by little. That's what I'm finding with my races, too. I haven't had some awesome breakthrough race where I smashed a PR. You're going to get that 3:05. I know it.

    1. Thanks Katie! I have had the smash PR's and the little ones- nothing wrong with either. PR is a PR and you yourself have had a few of those lately!

  9. Holy Hell!!! You are awesome!!! You rocked that race in every sense of the word!! A PR and an incredible time - way to go!! Placing is all great but in the big picture it is all about how you compete against yourself and you totally killed that!!!!

    1. Thank you so much Kim! personal victories are always the best!

  10. Wow. You're so driven! Congrats on that time and PR. Hopefully you are enjoying your success. :)

  11. Amazing! Really! I'm always impressed with your race recaps. You race hard! I think coming in so close to your goal is a huge accomplishment! Do a happy PR dance as soon as you're recovered!

    1. Thanks dear!!! Definitely did a PR dance, I was in a wedding the weekend after the race- luckily I was moving normal by then!

  12. Wow Laura. Amazing race! What an incredible performance. Congrats on your PR. It is amazing what you did with all the challenges of the rain and walkers. I think you are amazing and where you are mentally right now is strong too. I know this is just the beginning of many sub 3:10 marathons in your future :) xo

    1. Thanks Jes!!! Can't wait to see how awesome Chicago goes for you, I know we were both on the 'race redemption road' this fall!!

  13. Congrats! What an amazing time and effort :) Be proud!


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