This year's course boasted to be the fastest course yet, with a new name ~ Stadium to Sea ~ starting at Dodger Stadium and finishing in Santa Monica, right alongside the ocean. On paper, the course looked fast and fairly flat. I had a smart race plan in place. If I played my cards right, I could possibly PR here.
Dee at the expo / Dee and I on our way to the race startMy marathon-partner-in-crime, Dee, met me there on Friday and we had 3 solid days of twin-time together. Oh, how I wished she lived closer. She kept me calm and focused. I am not sure why after doing this 42 times, I was still nervous. Perhaps it was all the pressure I put on myself for a PR? Yeah. That was why.
Sunday morning was perfect. The weather was ideal. I was so nervous and stressing out about getting to the start line, up close and in front of the countless first-timers that soooo love to run this marathon. We squeezed our way past as many people as we could before we found "our spot." It was amazing to have Dee there, as we embraced each other and teared up when they sang the national anthem. It never gets old. At about 7:30am, my journey began...marathon number 43. What was in store for me today?
The first half-mile was uphill and I was committed to running solely by heart rate, staying in my zones, keeping as close to the race plan as possible. I was already at LT and I was running approximately an 11 minute mile because of the steepness of the road. Shit. This isn't good. I went into full on race mode, shutting everyone else around me out and only focusing on myself, my steps, my heart rate, my breathing.
Somewhere around mile 5 or 6, the numbness and tingling began in my left foot. Come on! Now? Today?! Seriously?!? With 20 miles to go? I swallowed hard and blocked it out. It was all I could do as I trudged on, up and down the hills, up and down... what the heck. I thought this was supposed to be a flat, if not downhill and fast course. C'est la vie marathon PR. I went into survival mode. I could do anything for 20 miles.
At mile 15, as I rounded a right hand corner, a very unexpected and exciting surprise jumped out at me - my cousin Jason with a bottle of water. Oh my gosh, I could have cried. My foot was killing me and I still had 11 miles to go. But seeing him gave me a 2nd wind. Suck it up. I can do anything for 11 miles.
I looked down at my watch as was averaging 8:48 minute miles. Crap. 36 seconds off pace per mile. There was no way I could make that up with the pain I was in. It was starting to shoot up my leg. I couldn't stop though. I wouldn't. Just keep going I told myself. It's almost over. You know pain and this is nothing. Ironman is more painful. Keep. going.
I was expecting to see my friend Elizabeth at mile 23, so when I had a finger in my ear and an arm around my shoulder at mile 22, I freaked out. I turned to my right and there was E., big smile and warm eyes. Oh thank God. I needed her now. I wanted to quit. I wanted to cry. My left foot was killing me. She said I looked great and was running a terrific pace. She said all the things I needed to hear, whether or not they were true. I love her! She dropped me off at mile 23 and said it was literally all downhill from there. She said ...look for the ocean. That thought made me smile. 3 more miles. That's it. I could do anything for 3 miles.
After a few days to let the race settle in, I let go of the sadness and felt a surge of pride as I saw the race statistics and knew that I had so much to be proud of and happy about...(including the fact that I finally broke 4 hours again after 2 1/2 long years of Ironman dead legs!!!)
Official time: 3:50:08
Official time: 3:50:08
Division Place: 64/1,167
Gender Place: 351/9,203
Overall Place: 1,852/22,548
Fact: I was ahead of approximately 89% of male finishers [ENTER: HUGE SMILE]