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Thursday, April 5, 2012

A running & research long weekend - Part 4

Day 5 - Race day
My little girl, Millie
My alarm went off at 3:00 am. 6:30 am race starts are early! And I need to give at least three hours for my final calories to digest. Got up with my sweet little girls (Millie and Lily) to have oatmeal with a touch of granola, Hammer Heed and a nice cup of coffee:) I have been eating oatmeal every morning for some time now, including big long-run workouts, so I know that it works well with me. Keeping the fluids pumping in with some additional calories through Heed. I drink coffee every morning (and many other times during the day/night), so I don't want to change that, even though I don't need any help waking up this morning. I am so excited for the race.

After eating I did some work on my depression project and readied my marathon iPod play list to keep my mind off of  the race. The only time I let myself think about it was when I needed to do something for the race, such as drink some fluid, shower or checking that my Perpetuem bottles were ready for my mother to bring to the race course. Staying only in the moment helps me avoid race-day jitters and get "monkey mind."

I left my mother's house at 5:15 am to drive to Wrightsville Beach park and the start line. As I drove past the  Landfall entrance that marathoners would be going through three times this morning there was considerable police and EMT activity. I texted Coach/Race Director Tom Clifford in case the road was going to close. That would be a mess! We later learned that the commotion was for a race volunteer who was hit by a drunk driver. He amazingly only broke his ankle. WOW.  Talk about someone looking out for you.

Warm-up 5:45 am
100% humidity and temps already around 60 degrees met us this morning. I am so glad that I was aggressive as possible with hydration yesterday. The key to a decent race will be conservative running, keeping fluids and calories coming in, and patience. A PR is not likely in the cards, but competing and going for the win still is. After going through some dynamic stretches, I got my iPod out and started an easy 10:00 jog with strides on the loop, visualizing the first part of the race. I was happy and at peace, which is the best way to go into a marathon. Nerves were calmed by seeing running buddies Melanie, Melissa, Crotty, John, Leigh, Jason and Kyle plus coaches Tom and Brian before the start, as we waited for Tom's big AC/DC Thunderstruck race start. Just before the start, I looked up to see my husband, Brandon. What I surprise! He drove down after a meet at Lynchburg College and stayed at my sister's. What a way to start a race. That and the rocking AC/DC pump up:) Now to run like I mean it!

Race 6:40-9:40 am
Once the gun goes off in a marathon, I am always so much more relaxed than the days leading up to that moment. I have heard some say that the hardest part of running a marathon is stepping up to the line. It can be daunting to think about the challenge that awaits:) Amazingly all of the tightness and awkward running feeling that I had been having for the last three weeks was gone. I felt super smooth and knew by mile one if I ran smart I would have a good race (given the conditions). The lead biker picked me up after leaving Harbor Island around three miles. There is nothing that gets you going like seeing a bike pull up next to you with the sign "Marathon - Female Leader" on it. It still gives me chills. When I passed Christa and Tom for the first time I gave them big thumbs up, letting them know it was a good day.

My mother, Brandon and hat:)
As we came onto Military Cutoff for the first time, the crowds were amazing. This is one of the reasons why I love this race. People are up and going nuts early on a Sunday! I kept an eye out for my "crew" of Brandon, Kate, and my mother who had my bottles of Perpetuem. Luckily Brandon had a huge leprechaun hat on, which made his already 6'2" frame visible in the dense fog. The plan was to pickup a new 14 oz. bottle when I passed them at miles 5, 12 and 22. Turned out to be a very good plan, and in fact I held on to each until I came to the next. I was pushing fluids throughout the entire race. Something I learned at a very hot marathon many years ago. I also took Endurolyte capsules every two miles.

Yucky mile focus
I felt great through 16-18 miles, with a slight bad spot at 14. This is normal, as I think that the body switches energy sources around 14 miles. As my friend Tara says, "Good miles can still come." I just know that I have to run though a few yucky ones. Luckily seeing friends in Landfall helped bring a smile to my face during this period. Being in the moment and smiling helps so much.

I am also a big fan of music, especially in races where you will be alone without other runners. Some of the tunes that got me through Quintiles 2012 were "Lose yourself," "Dr. Feelgood," "We are young," and, coincidentally over the final miles when the cramping set in, "Living dead girl." There was also a little Britney, J-Lo and Pink in there I will admit:)

Mile 22
By the time I got to my family the last time my calves were ready to cramp. The key to the final 10K was going to be staying off of my toes as much as possible. Although I had been on PR pace through halfway, surprising myself with some sub 6:40 mile splits (although I backed off each time knowing that dehydration was coming with the weather), the weather was taking its toll. I had a large enough lead that as long as my muscles did not completely lock-up I would win. I focused on enjoying what was left of the race and slowing my pace enough to not lose my calves completely.

Mile 26.1
High five Dan & Christa
Coming into the finish was amazing. WOL teammates were out in force. I had made it through despite the weather. I even got to high-five friends as I came in. I actually did not even care that the clock had already gone over three hours. I truly enjoyed this race and did the best that I could on the day. Hard work paid off, and my doubts over the last few weeks were for nothing. The time was not what I had trained for, but given the weather, it was a great job. Not that long ago I was struggling to finish a marathon.

Good times will come if I keep doing what I am doing and listening to my coach. I have a great running support group and enjoy the training process. I learned that the taper can be TERRIBLE, but when the gun goes off I can feel great. Tom always says that trust is so important, and this was the perfect example. He knows what he is doing, and if I trust the process, it will work out. Think of all of the wasted energy over the last few weeks! I am so grateful to have people who listened to my carrying on and sometimes crying (Tom, Christa, Matthew, Jackie, Brandon and Leigh to name a few). I am so lucky.

Here is to recovery, extra research time (and gardening in this beautiful weather) and focus on the Columbus Marathon 2012,

Thank you Daddy
PS-I have run the Quintiles Marathon three years in a row in memory of my father, William Diedrick Kassens Jr. who died unexpectedly February 18, 2010. I race with a mini bow tie patch on my uniform in memory of his everyday fashion that many remember him for. He was with me throughout the race and through life.

I miss you so very much. This race & win was for you Daddy.


Steve Crowder said...

Great recap, and congrats again on repeating as champ! Also, is that Rob Zombie you refer to in your playlist? If so, nice choice! :-)

CBM said...

love me some millie - cute pix. i am so very proud of you! you are the fastest woman i know! sending love to you from CH. your daddy is smiling down on you!

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