Krista, Anne, and I all woke up at 5:30 for the race. The weather reports had been conflicting all weekend long, ranging from perfect running weather (IMO) to 25-30 mph winds and real feel temps of 17-24 degrees. Uff. Krista and I purchased some delightful throwaway clothes at Savers, so I literally had my "grumpy pants" on race morning. I froze to death while we were waiting for the race to start (but managed to warm up slightly when we made a full LAP around the Capital looking for the bag drop, only to find it was DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF WHERE WE STARTED FROM), but the corral was warm enough that I was able to strip down during the star spangled banner. The gal next to me gave me an odd look, as 85% of the runners were dressed for full on winter. She said that I must run hot, and I said yes.
I was able to pick it up to the 10:30 pace that I had planned for the flat portions which helped my confidence a bit, unfortunately the first 18 miles were hilly, so the flat portions were few and far between. I knew I was going to see Renee and Jen around mile 8 so I just focused on getting to them to pump me up a bit. I also decided to stop watching my garmin and just run.
When I finally saw them, I think I yelled something about hating the hills and then picked up the pace a little bit because there was a very slight decline on the course. Wheeee! I realized around this time that 11 minute miles were likely my fate for all of the hilly miles (the first 18) and that I would work to keep that pace and then try to pick it up the last 8 if possible. I spent a lot of time figuring out what a new goal time would be. Math while running is notoriously hard, so this kept my mind occupied for quite awhile.
At this point I thought a 4:45 would be my new A goal, so I kept putting one foot in front of another with that in mind. Shortly after I saw Renee and Jen, came the REALLY BIG HILL (per Krittabug) at mile 9 or 10 (based on my garmin data it was DEF mile 10). It was huge. I was listening to Wheezy's Green and Yellow and just powering up the hill while many were walking. When we got to the top (or so I thought) I was pumped, until the street re-oriented itself and WE HAD TO GO UP EVEN MORE. I may have dropped an eff bomb to the effect of "You've gotta be f-ing kidding me?!?" Oops, sorry folks.
After that I knew the worst worst hill was over, but I still had the major one at 17 and 26. I started to pick off a few runners starting around mile 12 or 13 as folks were starting to fade. Somehow I was still managing a fairly steady pace, albeit fairly slow, but don't tell my legs that! I met up with another guy around the halfway point and we chatted for awhile. I saw him again at the 25 mile marker (there was an out and back so he was around mile 23, I think) and he started waving and flashing me the thumbs up. I <3 runners.
11. 11:46 (major downhill that I had to tippy toe down, fail)
The route was a smidge boring for a couple of miles after the halfway point, but the rolling hills just kept coming. There was also some sections where the wind was full on in your face. There weren't any spectators so I cranked my iPod, put my head down and just pushed. We hit another hill around 16 and I got all excited thinking that was the hill that Krista had told me about. I tried to pick it up again, and was feeling really good with only ten miles left. Side note: I've never run a marathon and thought, "yay, only ten miles left!" Usually I'm so broken that with ten miles left I'm ready to have a hip or knee amputated.
Well unfortunately I was wrong, and there was a MASSIVE hill during mile 17. I so desperately wanted to walk up it like everyone else was doing, but up to that point I had only walked while going through the water stops (the race had little plastic cups, and I am not nearly coordinated enough to drink out of those while running). I saw a girl who had passed me a mile or two earlier ahead of me and decided I would run as far up the hill as she did. She stopped and I marked the mailbox she stopped at in my mind. When I got up there, I just put my head down and kept going. I pulled a Danielle at the top and got super teary eyed, and had a major peptalk with myself "I'm so proud of you JERI!" Seriously, this happened.
The downhill on the other side of this monster hill was brutal. I slowed way down and was doing something in between a jog and a slow shuffle down the other side, trying to keep good form (typically the downhills are what destroy my IT bands, woof). Changing my stride must've been a big no no because my right quad seized up majorly and I started to feeling stabbing pains in my right knee and left hip. So much for picking up the pace after the last big hill, eh? :(
After the hill ended, I did a quick form check and tried to make sure I was running with things in alignment, not overstriding, etc. I had just a few more stabs of pain in the knee area, but I was able to get it under control. I took two salt packets thinking (=hoping!) that would help my quad seizing to dissipate and just kept plugging along.
Somewhere during that time I realized that speeding up probably wasn't in the cards, so I focused on not slowing down and not giving up or quitting. It's so easy to just start to walk or give up when a good race time is out of the cards for me, but I refused to let that happen. Miles 18-20 seemed to take FOR-FREAKIN-EVER.
Once I got to mile 20 I had a plan to run each of those miles for someone special, and that helped so much mentally. 20-21 was for my newest niece baby Harlow, or Lolo as the family calls her, 21-22 was for Harper girl, and 22-23 was for the H-Bomb.com. I hope that some day they can watch their aunt Jeri run a marathon. I get all teary eyed whenever I see little kids on the race course with a "Run Aunt ____" sign. Too much cute.
I got to see Renee and Jen again around mile 22 and immediately demanded they tell me how Krista did. She destroyed it, no surprise here, and that lit a fire under my ass to hurry up and finish. She was probably getting cold waiting at the end for me!
23-24 was for my mama who's the biggest and bestest race spectator and cheerleader EVER. I got teary eyed during this mile because I REALLY wish she had been at the race to cheer for me, and I missed seeing her face all over the race course. At just that moment I saw my mom's doppelganger standing in the median of the road facing the other side of the race course (it was an out and back here) and she turned to my side of the road and started cheering for me, "Go Jeri!" (our names were on our bibs), I got even more teary, sobby, so good thing it wasn't an uphill portion.
Mile 24-25 was for my Papa Big Jer for giving me his athletic genes, (sadly no endurance running genes, I've had to work my butt off for those!) and for showing me how the Light's can fight last spring when he had his heart attack.
And the final mile was for Kyle for putting up with me. I imagine that somedays, being with me is just as difficult as running the final mile of a marathon uphill (ugh, enough with the hills already Madison!).
The last little .2 (or in my case .3, tangents are HARD) was for my precious pug Ollie, since in her prime running shape she could run a whole quarter mile at once. #beastmode
26. 11:00 (yes, I would like the last mile of a marathon to be UPHILL)
.31 3:07 (10:07 pace, more uphill, neat)
The last 10k I kept recalculating to see if I could run sub 4:55, and I knew I'd need to haul the last 5k if I was going to do it. We ran up a giant hill with .6 to go and I got a HUGE side stitch and was super annoyed at myself for not grabbing water at the last water station. I told myself to suck it up for five minutes and kept going up up up! Krista had told me that I would run up to the capital and then be rewarded to a nice little downhill to the finish. Yayzies! I tried to haul up hill and then turned the corner and cruised down the hill. IT bands can be destroyed at this point, for all I care. I turned another corner and DRAT the finish is still uphill more. I kicked, and then kicked some more when the announcer yelled out my name.
My final time was 4:55:26.
I missed my sub 4:55, but I finished the racing knowing I left it ALL out there on the course. I was grossly unprepared for the HILLS of Madison after running the "hills" that Sioux Falls has to offer. But I'm pretty dang proud that I never quit.
Next up, speedy spring!