The week after a marathon is always full of many emotions for me. My mind likes to replay every mile of the race and I tend to analyze everything. The entire Little Rock Marathon experience was amazing in every way and I celebrated it to the fullest. I am never one to jump back into running right away after a marathon and I wanted to be cautious after LRM. Last week I enjoyed sleeping in and did not feel one bit guilty about the down time. I don’t even like to cross train during that first week. Sometimes our bodies need to do nothing and just recover!
I also ate whatever I felt like which included a lot of sweets. There was an abundance of vanilla cake, chocolate cake, strawberry cake, and cupcakes… Generally I am pretty good about desserts in moderation but last week my sweet tooth had no limits!
As many of you know I compete in the Arkansas Grand Prix series and there was a two mile race scheduled for Saturday, six days after the marathon. (The Little Rock Marathon was not in the Grand Prix series but it was a race I wanted to run.) This race was the Chase Two Mile Race in Conway, AR. I ran this race last year with my daughter and she loved it. In fact, it was her favorite race of the year because after the two mile race there was a one mile dog race. Also, the trophies were shaped like dogs. A few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and register our family for the race since there was a pre-registration family rate of $55. I didn’t know if I would be up for running it but I figured I could jog it with one of the kids if my body was not ready to race.
On Friday (five days after the marathon) I went for an easy 4 mile recovery/ shakeout jog. My pace was just over 9 minutes per mile. My calves were a little tight but overall my body felt good. I decided I would go ahead and attempt to race the next day. I had no pace plan or strategy. Running a marathon and eating cake all week is not the best pre-race build-up if you know what I mean. Best case scenario I thought maybe I could manage around a 6 minute pace and I would have been thrilled with that. Worst case scenario would involve getting a major cramp or worse pulling a muscle so I’d have to stop or walk to the finish. Quite an extreme but I knew it could go either way!
We got to Conway with a little over 45 minutes to spare. While I was picking up our race packets I met up with a coaching client who I worked with before she started her college freshman year fall cross country season. She generously offered to help me with putting on kids bibs and chips. This was a big help! Thank you, Hannah!
After a 1.5 mile warm-up and strides it was time to line up. My legs felt fine and I hoped they had a fast two mile race in them. This year the race had a new course. It was an out and back with a slight incline during the first half and a slight downhill on the second half. I liked it much more than the previous course. After the gun went off everyone took off sprinting. I just reminded myself that it was only two miles and would be over before I knew it. Obviously this is the exact opposite of a marathon so my body and mind had no time to think. I just needed to run. I quickly settled into the 5:40 pace range which surprisingly felt very doable. I was second female from early on and at the mile marker I passed the first place female. I was still feeling good so I kept pushing. There were a few guys who passed me in the last mile stretch but I didn’t let it get to me. My main goal was not to be passed by any females. While I was in the final stretch I heard someone shout to one of the ladies behind me and I kicked it into my fastest gear. I was not about to get passed in the final seconds!
Official Time- 11:34 (Splits: 5:46, 5:44). Official Results can be found here. It turns out the female behind me was further back than I thought but I’m glad I didn’t know that or I might not have kicked as hard. When I saw my finish time I was shocked. It never occurred to me while I was racing that I might PR. I’ve been able to PR my one mile and 5k time since having kids but my two mile PR has been unbreakable. I set it in 1997 (yes, I’m getting old!) during my senior year of high school at my district track meet. I ran an 11:38 as an 18 year-old and I’ve tried to beat that personal record a few times in the last few years. This is one PR I assumed I’d probably never break. Finally, as a 37 year-old (six days after a marathon) I did. Go figure!
My first cool-down consisted of jogging back for the kids. I saw my oldest daughter finish and set her best two mile time in 14:54. Then I saw my oldest son finish in 16:14. My youngest daughter had play practice so she didn’t make it to the race. My husband stayed with my youngest son who was running his first race ever. He finished in 23:14. My dad entered in the walking division and actually placed second with a time of 25:46. So proud of all of them!!
After everyone finished we took a big group picture and then I jogged an easy two miles with some of my teammates. Our team was able to finish first in the women’s division. I love our team because we are all close. Most of us are moms and our kids are on the team too!
Even though the race went far better than I could have ever imagined I know my body is still very much in recovery mode. Sunday I took the girls to the pool at Harding during open swim time. They really wanted to swim so I did some light water jogging back and forth across the pool to loosen my muscles. My quads are pretty sore from the race Saturday. I can’t remember that last time I raced that hard. Last summer?
Thanks for all the comments and messages on my last post. I appreciate the kind words and everyone who took the time to say something. Thank you!