Flying Pig Marathon 2018. Was super excited for today. Felt prepared. Wasn't incredibly nervous at all as I knew I could do the distance. This was marathon #11 and Flying Pig #7. I love this marathon but this race is my Achilles heel. I have yet to be able to have what I consider a "complete race". I have always fallen apart at some point in the race every single year. This isn't an easy course. It's not Blue Ridge Marathon by any stretch but it's nowhere close to Chicago either. So, let's start with the day before. I talked with my coach to figure out who to approach the race. I hadn't "raced" or ran hard during a marathon since Columbus in 2015 (where I PR'd at 3:50:34). I knew I wasn't going to be going for a PR at this course but my goal was to PR the course which meant running under 4:16:17. My coach told me to run fairly easy for the first 4 miles and then be in a solid HR zone 2 for the first half and then zone 3 for the last half. She said I could easily race in zone 3, which she is correct, I can. The only problem was that I made a few mistake early. For the most part, I was right where I wanted to be in the first half. Where I made my mistake was going "too hard" on the hills. I didn't feel like I was pushing hard but my HR was in zone 4, sometimes upper zone 4. It didn't affect me until later in the race. I was cruising along with an average pace around 9:00. A lot of miles in the 8:40s. Outside of miles 6-8, I was running sub 9's mostly. Miles 6-8 are in Eden park and are hilly and include "Elvis hill", which if you know anything about the race, that part sucks. I still felt decent at that point especially since we had a little bit of downhill after that. I dropped back down to 8:40s for a few miles but when I hit mile 14, I didn't see another sub. I was still running low 9's and didn't feel awesome but wasn't dead yet. All of a sudden at mile 18 I started getting closer to 10:00 miles and by mile 20, I was pretty close to dead. I walked at around 19.5 for the first time and called Steven real quick just to update him. He had already finished his half (in 2:12:40!) and was showered and back by the finish. I let him know that I was starting to struggle, wasn't sure how much more I could run. I told him I wasn't hurt just spent. I got off the phone with him and got back running. I actually ran the next 2 miles (slowly, low 10's) before having to walk again. This time, my back was tightening up making it hard to get good breaths, it did this same thing the last time I truly ran this in 2015, not totally sure what is going on with that. I walked a little bit and got back to running. The next 2 miles or so I walked a little bit, not a ton but enough to try and keep me going. Mostly walking the aid stations so I could get enough fluids, I was starting to feel pretty dehydrated between aid stations. It was a lot hotter out than I was used to and that sun was hot (but I do like running in hot weather so not complaining at all). I saw that I was right on pace to get my course PR if I just ran the rest of the way the last 2 miles, so I did. It hurt a lot but I knew that the pain would mostly be over soon enough. I get to where the 25 mile marker was and it didn't seem right. I had been between 0.35-0.4 miles over at each mile and for some reason I was only .2. I didn't feel that the mile marker was right but I picked up my pace. I get to where I supposedly had one mile left and that didn't seem right either. I was pushing hard but that mile was never-ending. I see Steven at around where mile 26 probably was I was feeling all out dead at that point. I finally cross the finish swine at 4:16:26. I don't think I have ever hurt that much at the end of a marathon before. I seriously felt like I did at around mile 55 of my 100-mile attempt last year. My legs were cramping so much. They put my medal on my and I hobble through looking for food. All I wanted was water and something sweet, like cookies or something. Alas, there was nothing sweet. They had some chips, PB crackers, and pizza. I didn't see fruit, cookies, or anything. What I really wanted were the Donuts that were at the end of RunTheBluegrass but I knew I wasn't getting those. I pick up some pretzels, PB crackers, and 2 waters and try to carry all of that and my phone out to find Steven, all while my legs are cramping so bad (a bag would have been nice). I find Steven and he tells me that my finisher's jacket is like the complete opposite side of the park (this was the 20th anniversary of The Pig and the marathon finishers got Finisher's jackets this year). I wasn't about to not get my jacket but that long walk took forever b/c I kept having to stop, bend over, and try to get my legs to keep moving. I really wanted to lay down but knew I wouldn't be able to get back up. While I am walking over there, Steven tells me that when he finished he was given a bag of snacks that had chips, cookies, etc in it. Umm, that was totally not there when I finished. And I was like top 30% or something (will know more once they post final numbers, I am top 20% of females and 25% of females 30-34) and I felt there wasn't any food. The pretzels did help with my cramping and I did eat Steven's cookies when we got back to the hotel. This is my favorite race (even given the lack of food this year and the less than ideal finisher's area, but this is the first time I have experience that there) and I will continue to run this until I cannot run it anymore.
BTW, I did 2 things that is not recommended for a race. I tried new food the night before the race (TILAPIA from Bone Fish, I just started liking fish) and I decided to try new headphones the day before the race so we went and bought some and I ran with them for the first time on race day. They worked great, btw.