Race Recap: The Smuttynose Marathon

28 Oct
October 6th dawned dark and gloomy.  In fact, it really didn’t dawn at all.  Or, if it did, I missed it because I was huddled in my brother-in-law’s car trying to stay warm and texting my Mom across the country to see if she would think any less of me if I ditched the race.

I know, I know. Pathetic.

But sometimes all the arguments of “I trained hard for this and put the miles in” fail you when you’re really cold and wet.  And all you can think of is the sleep you are missing out of.  Honestly, and this is horribly honest, probably the only reasons I actually ran were 1) I had a friend running her first half marathon and I wanted to not wimp out on being there and 2) I had a friend running the marathon that I could run with and misery loves company…even damp company and 3) carb loading.  I had to justify the Flatbread Company pizza I ate the night before, right?  And 4) I’m annoyingly stubborn.  So there’s that.

Fast forward 4 1/2 hours and I was back in the car…even more wet, even more cold, but with a marathon medal and a very empty stomach.  Also a reflective piece of marathon foil (which really does nothing when you’re soaking wet and there is no sun). I turned up the car heat to the highest it goes…and kept it like that for the 15 minute drive to my sister’s house.

And I could leave the marathon story like that. Because it’s all true.

But I could also talk about the rest of it. Which was fun and rewarding and reminded me why I love running.  And that part is all true, too.

I ran with a good friend who also completed the same half Ironman that I did. But of course you can’t really hang out with someone during a triathlon (that is, even if i could keep up with her in the water…which I clearly could not) in the same way that you can during a marathon.  I figured that worst case scenario was I quit the race at the half marathon cutoff. I’m not sure why I was so adverse to running alone…since I like running alone.  Maybe I remembered how long 26.2 miles can seem when you run without any musical distraction and much as I love New Hampshire, I recognize that Hampton Beach isn’t a particularly scenic marathon route.  20 of the miles are run around cul-de-sac neighborhoods.

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So we started together.  And we finished together.  And I felt like we had been running for 2 hours when we finished but not more than double that. I felt good – injury free, happy lungs, cold enough to leave my arm warmers on for most of the race but not uncomfortably cold other than miles 11-13 when the wind and the rain picked up and we were running along the ocean and my hands wouldn’t bend.

We thanked all the race volunteers with words and smiles both.  We ran up the one beastly hill twice (even faster the second time around – which impressed the volunteers).  I fueled properly and laughed and we entertained the other racers around us. Here’s what I didn’t do – I didn’t PR.  There came a moment where I could choose to try for a PR or I could continue to hang out with my friend and push her to a PR.  I chose the latter. And no, it wasn’t all selflessness. I am a pretty good person but a lot of factors went into not making this an A race.   Maybe I could have PRed, maybe I couldn’t.  I’ll never know.  It was a flat race but conditions weren’t perfect. I PRed at my 5k and half marathon distance this summer so maybe I was ready to run faster…or maybe I was overtrained and tired.  I could come up with lots of excuses for not PRing and lots of reasons why I would have succeeded.

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But, I honestly don’t care in the least. After the other races this summer, I was grateful to be outside and running, with a friend, without any discomfort (other than the knowledge that I had run too much in my shoes and needed to) and without any time pressure. There will be more marathons in my future. There will be a race time PR.

But this race included:

– a PR in fueling well

– a PR in “undertraining” for a marathon in less than 8 weeks and feeling better than when I follow a full 16 week schedule

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I referred to myself as the “uninvited pacer” as I basically chatted my friend to the finish line. I’m pretty sure she was running faster than her normal pace not only because she’s in better shape than she thinks and because sometimes you need a slightly faster runner to push you out of your comfort zone but also because she wanted a break from my incessant chatter. I mean, I don’t listen to music on marathons so I come across as that person who wants to commune with nature and hear each painful footfall and heavy breathing and really live in the moment.  And then I become the person who talks and talks and talks and comes up for air only to ask about our pace and time (God forbid I wear a watch) and to realize I’ve missed 4 mile markers and we’re much further along than I thought.

I ran my other marathons alone (except for the partial marathon I ran with a friend where my entire role was to distract her and pretend that my IT band hadn’t allowed me to only run 2 miles and now I was attempting to run 10 times that…)  I guess I treated this marathon more like a long training run.  Maybe I should have capitalized on that and done another marathon or ultramarathon shortly after.  Or maybe I just needed to lie to myself “this is not a marathon, this is just a friendly training run and you can stop whenever you want and go home.”  Lies, all lies.

I was no less proud of this race, my Personal Slowest, than I have been of any other marathon. Since I’m not a competitive racer, although I can be a competitive runner sometimes, I think that makes sense. What’s the point of growing older and wiser if that doesn’t include learning to cut ourselves some slack, to enjoy the memories, to relish the 25 minute hot water shower we take afterwards (sorry about your hot water bill, Debs!) regardless of what goals we met or did not meet.  I started, I ran, I finished. In a respectable amount of time. I smiled, I thanked people, I laughed at myself, I didn’t throw up any Gu, my friend’s husband was waiting at the finish to cheer us for those last pesky yards…then I went home to a hot shower (sorry again) and an afternoon of puzzles and football and Indian food in the crockpot…because the best part of visiting family is that you are separated from your to do list and can do nothing but relax in your sweats (especially after a marathon). What more could one ask for?

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One Response to “Race Recap: The Smuttynose Marathon”

  1. Sarah Hussey October 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    Yeay!! So I helped you to get out of your car and race 😀 That’s awesome! I’m so proud of you for running the entire full, even though you weren’t feeling 100%. You did an amazing job, and I’m sure your other friend really appreciated you being there every step of the way. I can’t wait for the Jingle Bell Half in December, it will be great to run with you! You are such a good friend, as well as a good training coach. I’ve learned so much from you! And I love that I can ask you anything about running/working out and you don’t think my questions are “stupid”. Great race!!!

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