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Breaking the 3-Hour Barrier My Story

Breaking the 3-Hour Barrier, Part 7

Is it wrong to be disappointed with your performance, most of the time? Everyone tells you not to be too hard on yourself, and appreciate the little “wins” along the way. I get that being dissatisfied most of the time makes it hard for one to continue on in whatever it is they’re doing, but what if it doesn’t? What if being “unhappy” with your results doesn’t make you want to quit?

Racing morning was perfect. I felt excited and confident, the weather was cool and forecasted to stay there, my foot hadn’t been giving me any issues, and my nutrition and hydration felt good. All systems pointed to a great race. I had tape over my watch again to make sure I was going by effort and not freaking out over my splits. I found one of my fellow track club members and we chatted until it was time to get in our corrals.

Historically, this is a slower race, so I knew I was a contender for the podium, but that means that there is at least one other runner there thinking the exact same thing. I made my way to the front, eyeing the competition, but tried to relax and focus on what I really wanted – my goal time.

The course was hard with hills, even though it was technically a net downhill. I was told it was really the only fair course around (the other local marathon courses are going down mountains). The biggest downhill was at the beginning and I just let my legs go with the flow. Trying to “pace” yourself on a downhill can waste energy. For the first 9 miles I thought I was in 4th, but I guess I was in 3rd. I was trying not to care, but I can’t completely erase the racing mentality from my mind. But I slipped into 4th and was able to let the new 3rd female go. I watched her fade in the distance and remained calm.

Just after the halfway point, all within a minute, I got passed by another female and then watched who must have been 2nd drop out. With no one else around, I was a lonely 4th for the next seven, long miles. The sun was warm, but not hot. My legs felt trashed with still six miles to go and I knew my goal time was gone. I began having a sharp pain in my right adductor attachments. I realized it was probably from my foot injury that felt fine, but was still weaker than the right so my body had to compensate. I started to worry that it was going to get bad, but then at mile 21 the course turned and there she was. 3rd female, still several hundred yards out, but I saw her. Instantly the pain started to dissipate. I wasn’t going to get a sub 3-hour marathon, but I could still try to make the podium.

Over the next two miles, I slowly closed the gap. I didn’t want to rush it because I was really starting to struggle, and didn’t want to leap frog through to the finish. A short distance after the 23-mile marker, I overcame her and another guy and just tried to push my pace so I was never running with them. I had 2 1/2 more miles and all I had to do was just keep the pace. It didn’t have to be pretty. It didn’t have to be fast. I pressed on until I finally saw the finish line. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me, but I mustered up all the energy I had left to just get there already.

    Third place female, my first marathon podium. It was my second fastest marathon. My splits were all over the place, but my heart rate was steady – I was pretty satisfied with that. I also raced well, and didn’t blow up trying to keep up with other competitors. However, my legs were not strong enough to break three hours, and I am disappointed in that. I would rather have come in 20th place and beat my time goal. I’m also sad that my next marathon is a downhill course next month. I’ve said before that I didn’t want my first sub 3 to be on a downhill course. I really thought this race was going to be it. But in Ogden I will race again, and I will do my best to smash it with a time to justify the course – break ‘n’ build.

      Of my fifteen marathons, I’ve had three that I would call successes. That means 85% of the time, I’m disappointed. I’m not a glutton for punishment (well, maybe) but I am pretty okay with working really hard for months, putting a lot of time and effort into training, getting excited to perform and attain a desired goal, and then having it all slip through my fingers in just a few hours. I know what I want, and it’s very focused and specific. When your target is that small, you have to give yourself plenty of chances to miss.

      Final Stats

      Time – 3:08:19

      24th of 699 overall

      3rd of 297 female

      1st of 59 age group

       

       

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