Sunday, October 21, 2012

Baystate Marathon Recap: Crash & Burn, Baby.

So I ran the Baystate Marathon today. This was my first marathon since the 2009 Chicago marathon.

I now remember why I swore off marathons. The PAIN. OMG, the pain! I have so much respect for those of you that can run them and not come away hobbled. I am not that person. I seriously just don't want to put my body through it again. Halfs for this girl from now on!

So, anyway, a proper recap. So I cooked us a feast of grilled chicken and sweet potatoes last night, and we went to bed early (about 9 pm). I slept well, only woke up to pee once, and got up when my alarm went off at 4:30. I drank my standard 2 cups of coffee, and ate two rice cakes with peanut butter & a banana. We got ready and left our house at around 6:00 AM.

We got to Lowell a little before 7, parked in a garage less than a 1/2 mile from the finish/start line, and lucky for us there were bathrooms in the parking garage. They were clean, had toilet paper, and there was no wait. Very nice.

We checked our bag, and stood inside the high school for bit until we went out to line up at 7:45 AM. This race only has 1500 full marathoners, so it wasn't a problem at all to line up in the corral. I realized when we got out there that I need to go to the bathroom again - but apparently they only had about 12 port-o-potties at the start line (for 3000 runners! WTF!) and I knew I'd never get in one, so I just sucked it up and ran. (It turned out to not be a problem., I never had to stop on the course)
Before the start, sporting throw away gloves. Jazz hands!

jazz hands again!

So we take off promptly at 8, and I crossed the start line only 10 seconds later. There was little to no crowding, and I was at racing speed in no time. The weather was perfect - about 50 at the start, and sunny.

I took off a little too fast - the first couple miles were around 7:45. I reeled it back in and found a 7:55-8:00 pace, which I carried for for the first 13 miles. I intended to run 8:10, but honestly, that's really not that much of a difference. I crossed the halfway point at 1:45:06 - which is a half marathon PR for me. (cue ominous warning signs here)

By mile 14.5, I was feeling the crash already. I walked a few times and even stopped to text my husband that I wasn't sure I'd finish (he was running too, but battling a sprained wrist, ankle, and badly bruised ribs from a soccer match last weekend, so had to slow down bigtime to compensate). I sucked it up at some point and mostly ran (albeit, much more slowly) until mile 20.

The majority of the race was limited to the shoulder of roads meant for vehicular traffic only. I guess I am spoiled, living in Boston - I always run on sidewalks or bike/run paths. By mile 20, by left hip was in excruciating pain from running on the uneven shoulder! I had to stop a few times to stretch out my hip flexors. From that point forward, I allowed myself to walk a few steps every mile. It was the only way I could see finishing.

In the last few miles, we were running on a divided highway, limited to the shoulder, with some STEEP banking. My hip was in agony! The worst of it was in the last half of mile 25, which hobbled me to walk again. We finally came back into downtown Lowell, and even then I had to walk a few steps right before we hit 26. I don't recall ever feeling that level of misery in my past two marathons. I knew I'd totally blown my chances at BQ'ing, but I was hoping to at least PR. That was dashed when I turned into the finish and saw the clock. I finished in 3:56:04 - 6 seconds slower than my 2009 Chicago performance. Honestly, I didn't even care, because I was so happy that I even finished. I was about 15 seconds away from dropping at mile 15.
We didn't die.

But I did get very upset at the finish - because the water/food/gatorade station was almost a half mile from the finish line!!! This was my biggest disappointment in this race. To me, it was just totally unacceptable. After running for almost 4 hours, as soon as I stopped running, I needed nourishment immediately. I could barely walk because my hip hurt so bad. I also was really weak. It took me almost 30 minutes to get to the food tent - I had to stop and sit/lie down at least 4 times because I was so weak. Race directors - DO NOT make marathoners travel so far to get nourishment at the end of the race!!!

And THEN, when I got there, I had to wait in line (again, WHY with only 3000 runners??)! I had tunnel vision by the time I got under the food tent and had to just grab the first thing I saw with calories - a can of Pepsi. I crawled down on the ground right by the tent and drank it (yes, I did look insane, and I didn't care). I finally started to feel a little better, and I got up and grabbed some orange slices. My husband finished in 4:27, and they were totally out of Pepsi by that point. Ridiculous. We got some soup and then headed home.

I have to say I have mixed feelings overall about this marathon. I love that it was so close to my residence, that I could sleep in my own bed the night before, and I love even more that the entrance fee was only $70. The on course support was very good, and I have no complaints. The course was a little... boring. But I knew that going into it. But the experience at the end was just not good.

Eh, but it's over now. And I guess at the end of the day I'm happy I finished and that it was at least under 4 hours. I am disappointed with myself that I wasn't mentally stronger and didn't try to tough it out, though. I wish I wouldn't have given up so easily! It makes me feel weak. But then I remember that I did traverse 26 miles today, which is no small feat.

I also realize that from now on, I'll stick with half marathons. Or 10 milers. Or maybe just 5K's and 10K's. :)

Reward time!


  1. Can I just say it is insanely refreshing to read a blog post about a marathon and have it NOT be all sunshine and roses. This is exactly how I feel when I've done my marathons- like crap and like I want to just crawl home....I'll never understand people that are all chipper and cheery and say 'It was great!" ha ha so I am glad to see I'm not the only one who finds them...well, painful! And PS, I did the San Diego half marathon a couple years ago and had the same exact issues with pain due to running on shoulders and embankments!

    1. Thank you! At the end of the day, I'm still proud I finished it, albeit not really how I wanted. But I just don't think I can put my body through it again. I realize now that I can love running without putting myself through this masochistic level of training and racing.

      I did the SD RnR half in 2010 and I remember the pain of running down the 163 on that steep embankment. It wasn't fun at all! But I do miss living in SD!