Has it already been over a month since the marathon? I thought I would write this recap at some point over the holidays but obviously never got around to it. Even though things didn’t go quite as planned I like documenting my races because there’s always things I can learn from them. I usually learn more from races like this one!
I trained for MONTHS for 3B26. It wasn’t my highest mileage training cycle ever but I was running consistent weeks in the 60-70+ range with high quality workouts. I never skipped a run and my training indicated I was prepared for a sub 3. The tune-up half marathon I ran a month before 3 Bridges went well and I knew I was ready.
The week leading up to the race was a little hectic with different Christmas activities/ events every night but I did pretty well about getting to bed and staying focused relaxed. I slept about 7 hours Friday night and my friend Natalie picked me up around 5 to drive to the marathon. John and the kids were going to get there a little later. I planned on seeing them for the first time around mile 9.
We got to the race in plenty of time. Temps were in low 40’s with 12 mph winds. Not ideal wind but should be doable. (After running Boston this year just about anything is doable! Lol!) When I went to pick up my packet and race bib the sweet lady who always works the registration table exclaimed “I didn’t know you were running! I would have given you bib #1!” (She gave me bib #1 last year.) I told her it was really ok! Honestly having bib #1 can add stress/ pressure so I told her it was fine! My only concern was I hope they had me registered! She said they just assigned numbers in the order people registered and I was #40. Immediately I smiled- this was my very first race as a Masters runner and I was #40. How cool is that?! Immediately I texted John a picture. It was meant to be.
Race Goals and Race Plan
My A goal for the race was to run sub 2:58. This would not only be a PR for me but it would also set the course record. My B goal was to run a sub 3. My C goal was to run a sub 3:07 which was the state masters record for the marathon. I planned to run the first 2 miles in the 6:50-7:00 range and then drop down into the 6:40’s for the rest of the rest. I hoped this would feel doable. The guy I paced some of Midsouth Half was also planning to run the full so we were going to pace it together. The 3 Bridges Marathon is a smaller, low key marathon with no pace groups and just a couple hundred runners so once it gets going it gets pretty spread out. I saw Tyler at the start and we were ready to go!
Mile 1- 6:54- right on pace.
Mile 2- 6:55
Mile 3- 6:38
Mile 4- 6:44
Mile 5- 6:45
Mile 6- 6:40
Mile 7- 6:44
Mile 8- 6:45
Mile 9- 6:43- Saw John and the kids during this mile as we headed onto the Clinton Bridge towards the turnaround in front of the Clinton library.
Mile 10- 6:56- Coming off of the bridge the wind hit me like a brick wall. I really had to work to keep my pace in check which is never a good thing at mile 10. I told myself the wind was just temporary and once we turned back onto the river trail it would get better.
Mile 11- 6:48- My pacing partner was drifting behind and after this mile I never saw him again.
Mile 12- 6:51- I passed the only guy I could see in front of me during mile 12 and from this point on I never saw another run in front or behind me. I knew there were 2-3 guys in front of me but we were just so spread out I couldn’t follow them. Fortunately I knew the course but the next half was going to be rough going alone.
Mile 13- 6:47
Half Marathon- 1:29:46. I knew sub 3 was still possible but I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to negative split this thing. I knew my pace needed below 6:50 to run a sub 3 and at this point running a sub 7 pace was requiring more effort than I would have liked. Not a good sign with 13 more miles left!
Mile 14- 6:55
Mile 15- 6:56
Mile 16- 6:57
Mile 17- 6:56
Mile 18- 7:10. This one hurt. Mile 18 is the toughest mile of this marathon as you head back over the Big Dam Bridge. This year it also coincided with a strong headwind. Running uphill into the wind at mile 18 of a marathon can leave you feeling pretty discouraged when you still have 8 more miles to go!
Mile 19- 7:02. During this mile I passed through the start/ finish area and saw John, the kids, my dad, and my sister and her kids. I was struggling but I didn’t want my kids to know I just wanted to stop right there and call it a day. I knew my A and B goals were shot. My main motivation for finishing was to get the state masters record. I couldn’t remember the exact record time but I knew I needed a sub 3:07. What was that pace? I couldn’t do the math and my legs were getting so tired. Fighting the headwind in the second half was proving to be harder than I imagined. I was pretty sure I needed to keep my pace under a 7:10 and I was really hoping this was possible. What if I didn’t even make my C goal?
Mile 20- 7:12. During this mile I had no idea how I was going to make it through the last 10k. I was all by myself heading into what I refer to as “no man’s land” of the 3B26 course.
Mile 21- 7:06
Mile 22- 7:10.
Mile 23- 7:10. As I entered the big Two Rivers Park loop I saw Amy and Natalie. They could see my frustration and despair. Natalie jumped in and started to run beside me to encourage me. This was completely unplanned but she was a lifesaver! I mumbled something along the lines of “I’m dying” or “I don’t know if I can do this” but she assured me I could. I told her I needed to keep it around a 7 minute pace but it was hard.
Mile 24- 7:01
Mile 25- 7:04. Natalie left me at the end of the park loop. I wished she could stay but I knew she couldn’t and I had to finish this thing on my own.
Mile 26- 7:10. During this last mile I saw several runners heading into the park loop. It was good to see other runners and I was so relieved to almost be done. I was counting down the minutes until I could stop running. I had no idea what my time would be but I knew I would make it under the state record time. When I crossed over the final bridge at mile 26 I saw the finish clock. It wasn’t a PR or sub 3 but I finished.
Official Finish- 3:02:48
John was right at the finish and I just ran to him. Of course I started crying (marathons bring out tears almost every time- especially when things don’t go well) and he knew exactly what to do and say.
How would I have made it without these two ladies?! Cheering me along from SEVERAL spots along the lonely course. THANK YOU!!
I was feeling all kinds of emotions and it was a lot to process. I was relieved it was over, disappointed in my race, but thankful I’d finished and met one of my main goals. I know I’m hardest on myself. I set these crazy hard to reach goals and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. Marathons can be particularly heartbreaking because of the time and effort invested in training. This one stung. Putting in months of hard training and not reaching your goal hurts. I know they can’t all be amazing Little Rock Marathon experiences. When I think of a race when things went so right I think of that one. That’s the kind of race experience I crave and that’s why I train. When races go right it makes all the ones like these worth it. It took a while to process this one. I’m still working on this distance. I know I still have more in me and it will come together when I’m ready. So… here’s to a new year of setting goals and giving it my all to reach them.