I should talk about the Marquette Marathon before I forget all the details.
First, the hours leading up to it were a bit of a clusterfuck, as is usually the case when my family travels anywhere. Races are no exception. We left late. I was anxious that I would miss the packet pickup – it’s roughly a two hour drive – and the anxiety made me feel like my husband was driving as slow as humanly possible. The kids were being…kids trapped in a small vehicle. We had the dogs with us. As it goes.
But eventually, with about ten minutes to spare, we rolled into the parking lot. Grabbed my bib and briefly considered buying an overpriced additional race shirt (passed).
Then dinner needed to be secured, and since we promised The Eldest we’d get her spaghetti and since it was getting really fucking late, we settled for Big Boy. Carry out, of course. Crabbiness ensued but food was secured.
Got to the hotel, checked in, fed children, laid out gear for the morning, went to bed too late. Even though this is not an ideal pre-marathon situation, let it be said that before my last long run I ate a hamburger, and just the fact that I did not cave and just go through the McD’s drive-thru for a burger is a huge win for my pre-race prep.
Morning of the race was again a bit of a cluster; Scott needed to put in some miles before dropping me off at the starting line; Marquette is a point-to-point race and our hotel was located closer to the finish than the start.
But I got there with ten minutes to spare, found my friends who were also running the full, and made hydration pack adjustments between the National Anthem and the starting gun.
I had a pretty solid plan of keeping this as a training run as far as pace was concerned, which took a lot of the pressure off to perform at any particular standard. If I’d gone in wanting to race or PR, the prior 12 hours would have really thrown me off. Despite being moderately annoyed that I’d brought my family to this race, I was feeling pretty relaxed at the start. It was warm but not overwhelmingly so, and the fog and clouds were still much preferred over blazing sun.
I managed to maintain a pretty steady pace between 11-11:30ish for the first half. Podcasts were playing. I was not suffering any apparent ill effects from eating greasy diner food the night before. I really can’t complain.
After my bathroom stop at 10 (Just. Couldn’t. Take. It. Anymore.) I felt pretty good and miles 12-18 were sub-11:00, just to see if I could do it. There was also a Bacon and Beer aid station (Mile 13 or 14?) and while I passed on the pig, I went for a swig of beer. Blackrocks Coconut Brown. It was delicious.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful. It’s definitely a downward slope from the start to the city of Marquette. The path is sometimes paved, sometimes gravel, and very runner friendly. I didn’t really start to feel like I didn’t want to run anymore until I got past mile 20. That’s pretty awesome in itself, and I was surprised at how decent my legs still felt. There was some walking during one of the final miles in Presque Isle park (uphill) but I managed to run the entire thing with only a few walking breaks that were never longer than minute or two. I’d never done that in any marathon I’ve ever run, with possibly my first as an exception. I am completely thrilled with the AMR training plan I used this time around. I have never felt more prepared for a marathon. Ever.
Official finish time was 4:53:11, and since I was aiming for something between 5-5:30, I’m pretty darn happy with that.
I’d run this race again, no question. The course is fantastic, the post-race food tent kicked the ass of every other marathon post-race food spread I’ve ever experienced, and it’s somewhat close to home.
When I signed up for Twin Cities, I hadn’t planned on doing this race. So in some ways, it feels like I’ve opened the Christmas gift before Christmas Day. Then again, I’m looking forward to doing another full, even if it’s just three weeks away. I know what to expect from the TCM course. I’m also adjusting my goals going in. At first, I wanted to see if I could run a 4:30. While that would be nice, and it’s possible my legs might be up to it by then, I know that running a slower race this time left me with legs that were not completely trashed. Sure, I was a little sore and stiff, but nothing like I’ve experienced before. I was even able to drive back home and head directly to a wedding for some friends. I’d much rather finish TCM feeling great, not wrecked and in a heap. I also need to decide if I will do a true taper before Oct 4 or continue to ramp up for the 50K (which is what I should really do). In that case, I will most definitely not be gunning for a particular time in St. Paul.
Plenty to think about before Oct 4. But for my last race in the 35-39 year old female category? Not too shabby. Bring on 40.