Thursday, May 4, 2017

Revel Marathon 3:40:25- Bittersweet BQ

This marathon was an incredible experience.  But, I tend to reflect on what I could have done/executed better.  I expected a faster time due to the screaming downhill course.   However, I'm very happy with how things went overall.  So I will try to focus on the positives.  My calves hurt so bad 24 hours post race.  Surprisingly, my quads and hamstrings are not too trashed.

On Friday morning, I made myself another beet soda.

I worked until noon on Friday, and then I went to the Expo to meet my friend Jenn and to pick up our race packets.  She brought over a fresh beet juice blend for me.

That night I stayed up a little too late watching TV.  I went to bed at 10:30 pm.  I was so afraid that I would miss my 3:15 am alarm.  I slept lightly and at 3:00am I dragged myself out of bed and turned on my coffee pot.

For breakfast, I had two eggs over medium cooked in cooking spray with a flour tortilla.  I drank my coffee and then I got dressed.

I had been worried about freezing my ass off on the top of Mt. Charleston,  The temps were going to be 27 degrees at the start. I had thought about wearing long sleeves but, I figured that it would be warmer at the end of the race.

I had to drive across the valley to catch the bus to the start of the race, I was worried that I would get lost and miss the bus.   The race was well organized, and the buses were on time, and there was plenty of free parking.

***Random story time***I boarded a nearly full bus, and there was a lady that had an empty seat next to her.  I asked her if I could sit down and I did.  Everyone around us was pretty chatty, and once the bus got rolling we started to talk.  It turns out that she was one of my local Strava friends... We are both in a local Strava club, and I had started following her training a few months ago because she runs near my workplace.  We had a laugh and were happy to meet each other in real life.

The bus climbed up into the Mt Charleston mountains, and when we got to 7,000 feet I could feel the air getting thinner.  I had to catch my breath a little bit.  It was still dark when we arrived at the race start, and we were immediately kicked off of the bus.  It was a freezing 26 degrees outside.  But the ski lodge was allowing the runners to congregate inside the lodge until the beginning of the race.

I used the porta potties and then I headed into the lodge to chill for an hour.  I sat on the floor and ate a granola bar, took an electrolyte capsule and finished another beet drink.   I wore throw away pajamas and a fleece jacket.  I dropped my gear bag with my jacket and hit the porta potties again with 30 minutes to go.  I then went back inside the lodge.  I was starting to get a slight headache from the elevation.

All around me people were discussing strategy and I kept hearing "There is no way to negative split, positive split and bank time".  I did not like that idea at all.

The Race
This was one of the most chill starts ever!! There were a lot of runners who wanted to wait until the last minute before leaving the lodge.  With 10 minutes to go, I hit the port-a-johns again, and I dropped off my pajamas at the drop bag location.  I had already checked my bag, and I told them to just donate my clothes.

I saw runners walking towards the start, and a race director was telling us.  "Hey, the race just started" I decided to start towards the back to keep myself in check.  We had to run up a hill for the first half mile, and then the course was headed down the mountain.   I knew the first hour of the race was going to be the hardest for me.  Doubt and worry always creep in.  My feet were a little numb and I was worried that my right foot would bother me.  I told myself "the real race happens in the last 10k. Run easy.  This should feel easy."

I'm so glad I wore a beanie hat, head scarf, a throwaway neck scarf, gloves, and sunglasses.  It was cold but, the sun was out in full effect. The course ran from west to east, so the sun ended up being in my face the whole way.

The first four miles were downhill and then there was a short climb.  It was a nice change up, and during this time I opened up my first gel. I also took my second electrolyte capsule. The first few miles were super annoying. My shorts and run belt kept sliding down and I had to keep pulling my shorts up.  I knew once I started sweating this wouldn't be an issue anymore.

Mile 1-9:24
Mile 2-8:23
Mile 3-8:21
Mile 4-8:24

My plan was to stay on top of my hydration and nutrition.  I  tried to eat two energy chews every two miles and I also grabbed a cup fluid at every aid station.  Even in the cold dehydration is real.
I had to take off one glove before grabbing a cup of fluid.  I didn't want to get my gloves wet and end up freezing...
The course continued to rocket down the mountain but, my legs were warming up and I was able to slightly pick up the pace.  My strategy for running downhill was to keep my stride short, and to switch up my foot strike so I was landing on my feet differently every so often, and to land as quickly and softly as possible.  The aid stations were a little tricky.  Some were well stocked with volunteers handing out cups.  At other stations the volunteers may have been afraid of getting run over so they just left the cups on the tables, I had to stop at mile 9 to grab a cup and then take off again.  I had a few energy chews and kept on going.

Mile 5- 8:12
Mile 6- 8:03
Mile 7- 7:58 (around this time I ditched my throwaway scarf)
Mile 8-7:58
Mile 9-8:06

Around mile 10 I felt like I had to pee, but I didn't want to stop.  I kept debating if I would rather pee my pants or lose time in a porta-potty.  At mile 11 there was another hill, and I tried my best to save energy and not attack the climb.  I started to pass runners during the climb.  I think it was around this time I ditched my gloves.

During mile 13 I saw another porta potty and I made the wise decision to not pee in my pants.  Oh man, running downhill and then coming to a full stop was hard.  I felt like I was falling into the porta potty, and I could feel the burn in my quads.  I lost about 45 seconds but, I felt so much better.  I told myself that I would make the time up.  I was at an aid station so I grabbed a cup of water to wash my hands and a cup of Powerade to drink.  I also took another electrolyte capsule.

The mountains were beautiful.

I had planned on turning my music on at the half way point. But, I told myself to hold off until mile 16.

So many things ran through my mind.  I kept thinking about all of the hill climbing that I had done, and I was thinking of my husband and kids.  My calves were feeling knotted but, I was getting excited about the last 10 miles of the race.  Runners up ahead were starting to crash and burn.  I saw people stopping on the side of the road to stretch, and to take walk breaks.

Mile 10-8:06
Mile 11-8:10
Mile 12-8:09
Mile 13-8:51 (bathroom break)
Mile 14-8:09
Mile 15-8:15
Mile 16-8:12

At mile 15 I grabbed an energy gel from an aid station and began to nurse it. Around this time I began to slow down a little bit during the aid stations.  Instead of running through them I' would grab a cup and shuffle stride to stretch my calves.  I kept telling myself to hold off on the music until 20 miles but, at 18.5 miles I caved and turned the tunes on.  I also pulled out my final electrolyte capsule, and I dropped it on the pavement.  Without a second thought, I stopped, picked it up off the ground, and popped it into my mouth.

The music was a game changer.  I kept telling myself to not get too excited.   I knew that 3:35 was just out of reach but I was excited to go sub 3:40.  It was getting warm so I said goodbye to my beanie hat at mile 21.

Mile 17-8:18
Mile 18-8:17
Mile 19-8:30
Mile 20-8:09
Mile 21-8:15

The course began to flatten out some, and I was starting to really feel the burn.  At mile 23 we had to run a horrible out and back section with an uphill climb into a headwind.  I pulled out my last gel hoping that it would work its magic.

I felt bad for a woman who was throwing up.  This is the part of the marathon where the carnage is the worst.  People were stopping and I began to fall apart myself.  The climb wasn't super steep, but after all of the downhill pounding it felt so hard.

I saw my sub 3:40 starting to slip away.  But,  I told myself to snap out of it and fight.  I said all kinds of things in my head.  "In 25 minutes this will be all over, and then I can feel sorry for myself", "You are not a p*ssy", "You know how to suffer",  "Everything, everything, everything, leave everything out here"  The course went back downhill, and at mile 25.2  I hit the last timing mat and it was nice to know we only we only had 1 mile to go.  At this point, I didn't know if I would be over 3:40.  But, I fought like hell during the last mile

With 600 meters to go, my friend, Jenn was waiting for me, and she ran and cheered me through the finish.

Mile 21-8:15
Mile 22-8:29
Mile 23- 8:34
Mile 24-9:26 (ewww)
Mile 25- 8:39
Mile 26- 8:17
.38-2:47 (7:21 pace, wth?)

I'm shocked that I had such a fast sprint at the end.  If I had not seen my friend at the end, I may not have broken 3:41.

Official Time 3:40:25

Race Results/Data
Can you tell where I stopped to use the bathroom?

Official race data

Strava Data
My friend Jenn set a 10 minute PR in the half marathon distance!
Love you girl!
Thank you for taking care of me after the race!

Final Thoughts
I did manage to BQ with 4:35 to spare.  But, I don't think I will be registering for next year's race. I love the idea of going to Boston.  But, it will be expensive to fly across the country and stay 3 nights in Boston to run a marathon.  I feel guilty spending that kind of money.  I know that I really want to run this race again next year.

I know I have the potential to knock off a few extra minutes. I'm probably about 10 pounds over my ideal race weight, and while I feel strong, I know that I am doing myself a disservice by carrying the extra weight.   If I truly want to PR or get faster at this distance,  I will have to start dieting down (lifestyle changes) to get back down to race weight.

5 days after the race, I finally feel normal enough to go for a run.... I will discuss future plans in my next post.

Thank you for reading.


  1. You look so amazing, strong, and powerful in your race pix. I'm sorry it wasn't quite what you hoped for. Do you think that headache from the elevation manifested itself in your time? There's still so much about your training and your race execution to be proud of.

    1. Thank you so much for kind words... I posted the most flattering pictures. lol. The headache bugged me when I was standing around outside before the race, when I went inside the lodge it felt better, and once the race got going it slowly dissipated. I'd like to think that I have a high tolerance for pain. And I didn't want to dwell on the headache....

      I'm very happy with my time, and I really had a lot of
      fun. I wonder if I could have pushed the pace a little more during the first half, the sprint at the end showed that I did have some left in the tank.

  2. Congrats again, Dolly.That's huge. I looked at your splits, and I was so impressed with your conservative start and strong finish! I know what you mean about Boston - it was pricey even though we stayed with friends the one time I went - but would you maybe consider it as perhaps your Christmas/birthday gifts rolled into one? You worked hard to BQ, and I want you to enjoy it! But then, I also agree that a BQ is a BQ is a BQ - even if you never actually run the race. Anyway, once again ,great job on meeting this goal and awesome race!

    1. Thank you Gracie! I was lucky enough to go to Boston for my 30th birthday (2008) and it was my goal to get back there for my 40th birthday in 2018. I think just earning the BQ was sweet enough... I'm going to be really strapped for cash for the next year. I'm signing up for a CPA review course to hopefully sit for the exam. So I will probably be a stressed out hot mess until I pass the test. I will be looking forward to running again once it starts to cool off. :)

  3. Great race and great pics! Congrats on your BQ!
    Of course hindsight is always 20/20 but you still have a lot to be proud of -- you rocked it! Positive split... pssshhh.

    1. Thank you Kristen! During miles 17-21 I kept telling myself. "Who says you can't negative split? on this course?"

      I just crunched my numbers (Thanks Strava) and I think I hit the half at 1:49:46, and I ran the 2nd half in 1:50:39, so it was a positive split but, just barley.