Sunday, May 2, 2010

BQ or Bust!

On Wednesday of this week, I could tell that the weather forecast for today's marathon would not be in my favor. I decided that I would take the early start option (6:00am) and hope that the cloud cover they were predicting would be enough to save me from heat exhaustion.
On Thursday morning, the first thing I did when I woke up was check the weather forecast again. Much to my dismay, they had added humidity into the mix, and raised the high from 87 to 93. The low went from 64 to 72. Yikes! Based on this, I knew there would be no way I could BQ. I have run marathons and half marathons in these conditions and I've always preformed poorly. Furthermore, I thought it would be dangerous for me to even run a marathon in these conditions.
I cried. I just started crying my eyes out. Yet ANOTHER marathon with unseasonably hot weather. Was someone up there laughing about me? I was about to go for a morning run and it was 45 degrees. Why couldn't the marathon be that day? Why couldn't the cold weather just hold on? It was so unfair. I've been chasing this BQ for so long. I know that I am more than capable of a 3:40 (I am thinking more like 3:35) and yet the weather always comes in and messes it up for me.
My fiancé and I went for our morning run and 5 miles turned into 7 miles. What's the point in taking it easy for a marathon that I knew I wasn't going to run? When we got back from our 7 miles, I hopped onto and found the Bob Potts Heritage Trail marathon two weeks later. Even though the weather is more likely to be warm later in the spring, I didn't think it could get much worse than a high of 93. That's like a July marathon. Bob Potts appealed to me for three reasons:
1. It was within driving distance (just 2 hours away)
2. The course was mainly flat
3. It had a 6:30am start time
Later that day I mailed in my registration form.
On Friday, I decided to do a semi-challenging run to make up for the shorter, easier runs I had been doing during the taper. I ran a 10-mile progression run. The first 5 miles were at an easy pace, with my fiancé. He stopped there and I continued on for another 5, and I decided that increase my pace by 0:10/mile with each one. The last five miles were 8:37, 8:24, 8:12, 8:04 and 7:42. It felt awesome! While I was doing this run, I realized that there was no going back now. Doing a 10-mile progression run two days before a marathon is not something you're supposed to do!
On Saturday, I emailed the race director and told him not to expect me because I thought it would be dangerous to run a marathon with the forecast I had seen. He said he was really bummed out about not getting to meet me, and suggested coming out for a training run. I told him I would run halfway and potentially more if I felt up to it. He then told me that other people were just doing half, so they were going to score a half marathon, too. Running-wise, I ran 5 easy miles on Saturday morning.
I woke up, got dressed, took one Honey Stinger Gel from the pantry as well as a water bottle and headed out. When I got to the race, I started chatting with other runners. I told them that my plan was to just go halfway, and maybe a few miles after that if I felt okay. I told them about how I wanted to qualify for Boston, and I knew it wasn't going to happen in this weather, so I was going to wait two weeks for the Bob Potts marathon.
We started at 6:00. The race was an out-and-back on the C&O Canal Towpath-- done twice. So it was about 6.25 miles to the turnaround point. My goal was to keep my heart rate in the easy range, and maybe push a bit more toward the end. Here is a mile-by-mile recap.
1- 8:42 (Lots of women are passing me. That's okay.)
2- 8:37
3- 8:42 I stopped at a water station for about 1 minute and chatted with one of the volunteers who I knew.
4- 8:55 There was a tree branch blocking the course, so I decided to move it out of the way for everyone.
5- 8:44 (Okay, back running again. Keep that heart rate in the easy zone!)
6- 8:40 (Still in the easy zone, and I am passing people!)
7- 8:36 (The girl I just passed is completely out of breath, I wonder if she'll make it the whole way)
8- 8:51 (Yay, I passed another woman!)
9- 8:33 (Wow, I can't believe it's already been 9 miles.)
10- 8:30 (Oooh, someone just told me I was the "first chick")
11- 8:26 (Maybe I will speed up a bit!)
12- 8:48 (Damn, this still feels easy!)
13- 8:26 (I could stop and get a 1:52 half marathon, but I want to turnaround and keep running.)
14- 8:21 (I feel great! Maybe I can BQ. I just need to average about 8:02 for the rest of the race.)
15- 8:03 (Yes, I can BQ!)
16- 8:18 (Well. . . maybe I'll just go for first female)
17- 8:16 (I'll end up with a 3:44 which will still be awesome. I'm gonna go for it!)
18- 8:31 (actually, I am getting tired, probably should drop out, I want a BQ, not a PR.)
I ran a total of 18.5 miles at an average 8:33 pace and I was the first female by about three minutes. I stopped at the water station and the volunteers asked me if I was okay. I was perfectly fine, but I told them my dilemma: PR today, or BQ in two weeks? None of them knew what to tell me. I called my fiancé using one of the volunteer's cell phones. I told him my dilemma. He didn't know what to say. I told him I would run for a bit longer and potentially finish the race.

I started running again, but then turned right back around and decided to stop. I realized that my legs were tired, and if I went for it, my legs wouldn't be recovered in time for the Bob Potts marathon.

It was a tough decision. I was feeling a lot better than I expected to. I think that my problem withthe heat is actually more the sun. Yesterday I was standing out in the sun at a garden shop and I felt completely zonked and like I wanted to lay down. But as soon as I got home, I totally perked up. I fared much better at this race then I did at Shamrock, and Shamrock was only 65 degrees when I bonked. The difference was the sun. Today was hot and humid, but the overcast sky definitely helped.
Other factors that I was thinking about during my run was that I had just done a 10-mile progression run two days ago, and my legs would feel that starting at mile 20. Additionally, I only had one Honey Gel. I could maybe overcome that by drinking a lot of sports drink at the aid stations, but it wouldn't be ideal.
So, BQ or bust. I hope I don't regret my decision and that in two weeks, I will get a 3:35 at the Bob Potts marathon!


  1. It's good to have priorities! You ran great today, but I think you made a good decision not to leave it all out there.

    BTW, I'll see you at the start of Bob Potts (you'll have BQ'd and be on your way home long before I finish LOL).

  2. Kill it at Bob Potts, girl! That BQ is getting impatient waiting for you and wants a home in your pocket now!!! :-) And yes, good to stop when you did. Sun or not, the temps and humidity were nobody's friend today.

  3. Erika- That's so awesome. I'll send you a Facebook message about meeting up possibly the night before.

    Flo- Sorry I messed up your run today because I scheduled a marathon, and Greenlee marathon = hot weather. LOL. We shall see what happens in two weeks. I hope I don't regret this.

  4. Nothing to regret. YOu went in with the plan of dropping out and you stuck with it. Clean slate for Potts.

  5. Was it the sun or was it the fact that you didn't place any pressure on yourself for this day? Sounds like the race might be more in your head. Go out and have fun! Stay positive and don't focus on the BQ focus on that day that minute. Know in your heart and head how strong you are and you'll get that BQ when the stars all line up. If they aren't aligned in two weeks so what, you might just finish first!

  6. I'm proud of you for using so much self restraint. I *know* you will really appreciate your decision in a couple of weeks. It's great that you stuck to your guns and did what it takes to get closer to you goal. Good for you!

  7. Found your blog while Googling Bob Potts... I'm going for BQ there, too, and have done a lot of my long runs on the (very flat!) course.

    Good luck!

  8. Good luck this weekend! Go and get that BQ!!

  9. Thanks for the comments and support, everyone!