This was the most casual and friendly race I have ever done. The marathon started at 8:30 in the morning. There were only 4000 runners, the corral was full of runners and supporters, just hanging out.
I started with the 4:30 pacers. That was my goal time. I quickly found out I do not much care for running in a huge pack. People kept cutting me off and I kept thinking the person in front of me was going to hit my shins with their back kick.
So I stayed ahead of the 4:30 pacers for the first 10 miles and felt great the whole time. I was probably running at a 10k pace, but I figured I've tried starting off a marathon real slow and I never sped up later. This time as long as I had the energy I was going to run as fast as my legs would take me. Probably need to work on that pacing thing.
Around mile 10 or 11, we hit the sunny concrete boardwalk, which from now on I will refer to as the torture chamber. I have seen second hand how painful it can be to run on concrete, but I've never tried to maintain a certain pace on that stuff. Every step I took just zapped the energy right out of me. It sure was beautiful running right next to the ocean though!
This is when the 4:30 pace group caught up to me and I fought like hell to stay with them for the next 2-3 miles.
I ran the first 15 miles in 2:40. My half marathon PR is 2:38, so that felt pretty dam good!
Somewhere between mile 15 and 16, I hit the wall. I was in pain and hungry. So far I had just relied on the water stops that came about every 2 miles for water or Gatorade.
Well just then a lady pops up giving out oranges. I said, "Thank you, you are awesome!" and made a mental note to hand out oranges at the next NYC marathon. Next I grabbed a GU from the water stop. Then there was a tent handing out beer, so of course I took one. Yup at mile 15 of my marathon, after training so hard and having this great nutrition plan, I drank a beer at mile 15.
I payed for it mile 16-19, my whole body started cramping up, especially my legs and stomach and I felt light-headed. I worried if there was poison in it, but I think any beer at mile 15 of a marathon is poison. I really didn't think I was going to make it. I stopped in the next two porta-potties without any success, and did some sort of run-walk shuffle in between. Now we were running through some type of military base with these barbed, electrified wires on either side of us.
I thought back on my first marathon that took me almost seven hours in San Francisco. My second was the NYC marathon which I ran 8 months after I had E-man. I pushed him in the stroller on all my training runs, stopping to nurse him along the way. I thought I would surely do better than San Francisco, but some time in the NYC marathon, I remember realizing I was not going to get much of a PR. It ended up taking me 6 hrs, 47 minutes, a PR by 2 minutes from SF.
This time I really trained, granted I know how I can train better next time, but I really trained this time, and here I was hardly able to walk at mile 16-19. I was like Anna, you bring your family down here so you can run a marathon and now look at you, you suck!
Around this time we were running on a slow incline on a road somewhere out in the trees. There were a bunch of green signs put up with Shamrock jokes like, "What do you get when you combine a rock and a pillowcase?" I'm pretty sure the same person wrote those jokes that designed the concrete torture chamber.
At the next water stop around mile 19, they were giving out bananas which I took with a glass of water. My stomach started feeling better immediately.
Just then I ran into this lady who asked me if I was OK. "Yeah," I said, "I think I just got dehydrated," and she started running alongside me, and we started talking and helping each other pick up the pace. We ran the next 6 mile together. The last mile we were back on the concrete and I knew I would run nonstop to the finish line, but not at her pace so I let her go ahead and do her Kenyan dash thing.
I ran that marathon in 5 hrs, 27 minutes, a PR of 1 hr and 20 minutes, and that was with doing a 20 minute or slower pace from miles 16-19. I lost a good half hour those 3 miles. I absolutely would have finished in under 5 hrs if I had ummmhhhhhh...did a little better on the nutrition.
But you know what, if I had accomplished my goal without any problem, that would have been awesome and I will do that. But the fact that I thought I wasn't going to make it and I ended up recovering and running the last 7 miles...I just can't believe I came back from that! That lady was my angel, and you know what, that was her second marathon in two days. She had done a trail marathon the day before. She was incredible!
You run into so many incredible people doing a marathon. Oh and you know what else, I did the whole thing without any music. I tried listening to music during those three slow miles to distract me from the green signs, but it just depressed me even more.
Virginia Beach itself is beautiful and so laid back. There's a pancake house, icecream shop, bar and seafood restaurant on just about every block.
At the finish line, there was a line of volunteers handing out food, medals, hats and a sweater which I love and don't want to take off saying that I ran the 40th annual Virginia Beach marathon. Oh yes I did! By the time I got all my goodies, I was standing right outside my hotel.
Even though at mile 16-19, I was sure I would never do this again, by the time I got upstaris to my room, I was planning what to do different next time.
1) Work on the nutrition plan. Probably need some electrolites or salt and potassium or something. Also maybe a good idea to refrain from the beer next time.
2) Add strength training.
3) Train up to at least 20-22 miles nonstop instead of breaking up all my long runs.
Now it's time to start training for my second annual Lone Ranger 24 hour race in Philly July 14-15. It kicked my butt last year and I plan to take revenge on it this year. I'm ready, today I ran 4 miles and did a cross / strength training workout and felt great!