Pocono Run for the Red Marathon Recap

Happy Monday – I have the day off today! And boy do I need it after the race yesterday. I am extremely happy that I qualified for the Boston Marathon, but it was not an easy race by any means.

Saturday

We headed up to the host hotel on Saturday afternoon and got in around 3:00. We checked in and then hit up the expo to pick up my racing bib, etc. The expo was small, but it was helpful. One of the race coordinators was giving an in-depth overview of the course and what we could expect the next day. He reiterated what I’d already read online – the course has a lot of downhill in the beginning, so remember to pace yourself. He also briefed us on a few uphills on the second part of the course, which I was dreading.

After the expo we went to a local outlet we passed as we arrived for a bit and then stopped at CVS for water, gatorade, snacks and contact solution stuff I forgot. Once we got back to the hotel it was just about time for dinner. We spent a few minutes enjoying the view from our balcony. It was a gorgeous setting. There was actually a wedding happening at the host hotel that night as well, so we watched as the bridal party took some photos.

Gorgeous view…

The pasta party started at 5:30 p.m. and was what was to be expected: salad, bread, penne pasta and spaghetti sauce, as well as dessert. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was free for me and only $7 for Hubby, so understandably generic. We piled our plates and settled at a table. A few minutes later a brother and sister running pair joined our table and we started talking BQ-plans and dreams. We strategized, talked about our previous marathons and then wished each other good luck a little while later as we all headed to our rooms to try to get some sleep.

I laid out all my gear the night before, as well as my morning food and drinks. Around 9:00 p.m. I headed to bed. Hubby decided to head down to the hotel bar to give me some time to get to sleep and to have a few brews to help him get to sleep. After he left, I proceeded to lay in bed wide awake. I’ve never experienced such nerves or had such a hard time sleeping before a race – even my first marathon! I tried counting, I tried switching positions, covers on and covers off, but nothing worked. When Hubby got back to our room at midnight I was wide awake and told him so. He proceeded to hop into bed and fall asleep within 10 minutes. I tossed and turned and think I may have finally dozed off around 12:45 – 1:00 a.m. Not good!

Sunday – Race Day

I woke up Sunday morning exactly one minute before my alarm was set to go off. Anxious much?! I got up and started my pre-race routine. I don’t particularly enjoy getting ready for a race in a hotel room. I’m not usually comfortable or feeling my normal self, and especially not after such little sleep.

At 6:30 a.m. I headed downstairs to wait for the bus to the start. I ran into the brother and sister team from the night before and they shared with me their get-sleep tip: they split a Benadryl pill and slept soundly. Genius! Mental note to give that one a try if I face sleep issues again. We all hopped on the bus and began to head to the start when Louie (the brother) realized he didn’t have his timing chip! As he ran off the bus, two other girls realized they didn’t have theirs either and they went sprinting to find them. So after a slightly delayed start we were off.

We got to the Clear Run Elementary School and I headed straight to the bathroom. Then I grabbed a race-provided trash bag to put my long-sleeved shirt in for transport to the finish. Finally,  I hit the ladies room one more time before heading outside. The temps were a little chilly for standing still, but perfect for running. We all lined up at the start and I could kind of hear the National Anthem and then all of a sudden we were off!

From the course overview the previous day, I knew the race wasn’t completely downhill from the start. From about mile 1 – 8 we ran through rolling minor hills. Around mile 4 there was a loop where the leading runners ran by. Then we moved up a slight hill. I was moving at a pretty good clip, but was nervous to hold back too much. I knew this wasn’t the “downhill” section by any means, so I tried to maintain a comfortable pace that was still pretty strong.

Mile 1 – 7:53
Mile 2 – 7:55
Mile 3 – 7:49
Mile 4 – 8:03
Mile 5 – 8:05
Mile 6 – 7:56
Mile 7 – 8:02
Mile 8 – 8:09

Starting at mile 4 or so, I took water or Gatorade at every stop, which was just about every two miles. As we hit mile 8, one of the spectators or course managers said: “Ok guys, it’s downhill from here for a while. Just settle in and cruise.”

And then the downhill began and this guy was not kidding. It was all down hill for quite a few miles. I tried to use it as much as possible, but kept telling myself to “use it, but don’t lose it.” I didn’t want to go crazy and really kill my legs on the downhill by just letting completely loose. From after mile 8 – 13 we went all downhill all the time.

Mile 9 – 7:44
Mile 10 – 8:02
Mile 11 – 8:09
Mile 12 – 8:04
Mile 13 – 8:06

My pace for mile 9 was a little too fast, so I decided to scale back a bit. I also took a Gu between mile 11 and 12. When I crossed the halfway mark I was pretty floored to see that my half marathon time was a PR! The clock said around 1:45:30 I think. This made me a little nervous – I knew I was going really fast.

A few minutes later I was very glad I took that Gu because miles 14 and 15 were rolling hills and my pace slowed a bit.

Mile 14 – 8:11
Mile 15 – 8:13

As I got past mile 15, my adrenaline began to pump because I knew that Hubby was likely going to be at mile 16. That was the only spot that I was able to give him directions for. My pace picked up and I started looking around as we neared the spectator spot.

I heard Hubby cheering me on before  I even saw him and started grinning like a fool. (me in the blue tank top)

And then I started waving…

Doesn’t the guy with the number 664 bib kind of look like an older Steve Carrell?

Sorry – sidetracked. Anyway – I saw Hubby and was all giddy and he told me he was on the phone with my best friend and she was cheering me on. YAY! I was so excited I sped up a bit. So I checked my Garmin…

Mile 16 – 8:00

I was feeling good, but that was short-lived. My next mile was my first taste of the dead legs that were to come.

Mile 17 – 8:28

And then there was a lovely and much-appreciated downhill.

Mile 18 – 7:47

But that little spurt was just a tease because then came the hills. They weren’t huge hills, but they were hills just the same and they were tough. I didn’t walk at all, but I was moving slower and I watched helplessly as my split times crept up.

Mile 19 – 8:56
Mile 20 – 8:43
Mile 21 – 9:00

And then after mile 21 things went bad pretty quickly. Call it the wall if you want, I called it the end. The end of my BQ hopes. As I watched my splits get slower I began to prepare myself for the fact that I probably wasn’t going to qualify. I was just moving too slow. There was no way. And then I told myself that this was probably good. I didn’t want to run another marathon anyway – I completely forgot how awful I feel after mile 21. This was a good reminder and was reinforcing the fact that I am not cut out for a BQ. I decided I just didn’t have it in me.

So after this little non-pep-talk, I decided that it would be good enough if I could just finish the race and try to finish without walking.  Although at the worst moments I wondered how bad it would really feel to not finish (I decided it would feel really bad), but thankfully I pushed on.

With my non-BQ pace acceptance, I struggled to just put one foot in front of the other. I decided once I got to mile 24, things wouldn’t be so bad.

Mile 22 – 9:25
Mile 23 – 9:29
Mile 24 – 9:32

As I hit mile 24 and saw that 9:32, I also looked at my pace band on my wrist and saw that I was actually a little bit ahead of the pace for a BQ. I didn’t quite understand how this could be, given my sluggish times, but I figured my surprising speed during the first half must have really built a cushion for me.

So this is when I decided that maybe, just maybe, I had a little something left in me. I started trying to push a little harder. As I’m working to build back up some speed, who do I spot and hear cheering for me just before mile 25? Hubby!! He was along Main Street cheering like crazy and I definitely needed it. I start to push a little harder.

Mile 25 – 9:04

I hit mile 25 and knew there was 0nly 1.2 miles left and that I can certainly finish, but if I maintained my speed, a BQ might still be in sight. I push on and on, for what feels like forever and finally I see a school up ahead. I know that this finish is around a school track. Pushing hard, I finally hit mile 26…

Mile 26 – 9:01

And then there is .2 to go. We had to run around the track and I could see the finish, but there was still more to go. Miraculously, my Garmin says I just hit 3:38 and there is a slim chance that I could sneak in under 3:40! I start sprinting – or at least try. It feels more like a slow-motion sprint, but I give it a shot nonetheless. I push and I push and I push and finally I cross the line:

3:39:35!! (official chip time)

I did it! I qualified for Boston. I cut things pretty close, but I finished under 3:40.

In all honesty, this is not how I pictured running this race or qualifying for Boston. I wanted a nice even 8:10-8:15 pace the entire way, but this marathon was not built like that, in my opinion. I think it’s inevitable that you will run this race much faster in the first half. This was a hard race – it was fast – but it was really hard. Compared to my first marathon, I think I gave more of myself and exerted a lot more energy.

I’m still shocked that I actually qualified based on my splits. I was fully prepared to accept that I wasn’t going to get my BQ. But I am beyond thrilled that I did it and that I’m heading to Boston next April. I hope to maybe even meet up with some of the amazing running bloggers I read regularly. And now I have to cheer on my best friend Lauren as she tries to get her BQ in October at the Bay State Marathon!!

Thank you to everyone who supported me, encouraged me and made me believe I could do it! And thanks again to my husband for coming to the Poconos with me and cheering me on. I did it!!!

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42 responses to “Pocono Run for the Red Marathon Recap

  1. Congrats again, what a great race! I love how you gathered up enough oomph at the end to BQ even after writing it off earlier. Really I think your splits were pretty perfectly matched with the course. How awesome that you get to start planning for Boston now!!!
    You’re right, that dude totally looks like Steve Carrell.

    • Thank you! And yes, I think a lot of people who ran this race might have encountered a similar situation with their splits. Maybe not to the extent of mine, but it’s sort of an uneven course as far as speed goes.

  2. i can’t believe you flipping close your time was! this was a 3+hour race and it came down to mere seconds… insanity!! if you hadn’t done your “sprinting” at the end, who knows what might have happened! good for you linds 🙂 so the boston marathon is 4/11?

  3. Congrats. All your hard work paid off, I knew you could do it.
    You have achieved what few can manage to do!!! Celebrate all summer long, you deserve it.

  4. My legs are hurting just reading about the excrutiating race!!!

  5. So proud of you Lindsey Lou 🙂 We all knew you could do it!!!

  6. Yay!!! So happy for you!

    I know banking time isn’t the ideal plan…. but it is really hard to maintain a pace, especially when there are hills near the end!

    Hopefully I’ll see you at Boston!!!!

    • Yeah – it wasn’t ideal, but by the end I was just happy to squeeze in under 3:40. I will certainly take it! And we definitely need to plan to meet up at Boston next April!!

  7. Yayyyy I’ve been so excited for this post! I am so happy for you and so impressed by how fast you are. And of course you struggled — everyone struggles during a marathon! But you are amazing and you worked hard and earned your BQ. Now you deserve rest! And maybe some Caravan of Dreams 🙂

    • Aww thank you!! Yes, I see some Caravan in my future for sure! And I can’t wait until you start your 2011 NYC Marathon training because I know you are going to do awesome!!

  8. And yes, that guy looks just like Steve Carrell! You look great!

  9. Congrats! That is so awesome that you qualified! You must feel just AMAZING!!!!

  10. wow what a race! congrats on gaining that hope back at the end and crossing in under 3:40!! see you in BOSTON!!!!!!

  11. Hmm I don’t know if I can handle the enormous pressure u have put on me!!! And hubby was on the phone w me mile 25 also, although this time, very very concerned! We spoke quite a few times as I anxiously awaited updates:) you did it… My turn is next!!!

    • Beavie’s first comment!! Hahaha – yes, Hubby knew it was going to be verry close. I have 100% faith that you will qualify in October. I think you will blow it out of the water – it won’t be the squeeze-by finish that I had. I just hope that Boston doesn’t fill up before Bay State!!

  12. Dude you more than qualified! You just had to beat 3:40:59!!! You BQ’d by OVER A MINUTE!! Congrats!

  13. YAY! YAY! YAY!!!! Oh my gosh I am so excited for you! Now I just need to do it!! !:) You rock…totally and completely rock!! 🙂 XOXO! I am so proud of you! 🙂

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  16. Nice Race Report Lindsey! Me and sis knew you had it made… Let us know if you’re doing any races in the fall

    -Lou

    • Thanks! I’m glad you guys knew I had it because I certainly did not for a big chunk of that race. Ahh relief! The only race we (yes, the Hubby is running it too!) have on our schedule right now for certain is the Utica, NY Boilermaker. It’s a really fun race and a big party afterwards (with free beer) – if you guys feel like taking a little drive in July you should do it!

  17. Hey! Congrats again! You described my race too! I started in the 7:30 minutes per mile range, ran my fastest half, then crawled over the finish! It was rotten. Can’t wait to suffer again with you in Boston! YIPPEE! Thanks for not mentioning the socks in the blog…

    • Thanks and same to you! And oh boy – it was a lot tougher than I expected. Those minor uphills really got me. Yeah when I saw you guys at the turnaround spot in the beginning you were looking really good and like you were moving fast! Let me know what Boston hotel is the best bet. I was browsing the options online today and they are P-RICEY! I think I’m just going to have to pick your brain about Boston in general as well! 🙂 Can’t wait!

  18. Hi Lindsey, thanks for stopping by my blog. Congratulations on the BQ!! The RW forums are so big, it’s hard to find ppl in there sometimes. So, do you think you’ll join the Women’s BQ thread? I hang out there a lot.

    Great racing last Sunday!! Imagine my surprise when I came over here to read your RR and I’m in a couple of your pictures, just behind you in the pink top and black shorts. We must have run near each other for the first part of the race. Hey, what does your DH look like? Glasses? There were a few diff. ppl I saw popping up along the course supporting their friends/family. What a great race, huh? Your splits are great and despite the slowdown in the final miles you pulled out a BQ so that is totally awesome! I’ve been going over splits for the course and a lot of people had positive splits anywhere between 10-30 minutes or more. It was tough with those hills in the end.

    • How funny that you were in my pics! You know I thought your RW pic looked familiar. Small world for sure. We must have been running together during the part when I was still feeling good. You probably left me in the dust around mile 18! 🙂 My husband does not have glasses. He was only able to make it to mile 16 and then 25, but I think you had definitely pulled way ahead of me at that point.

      Congrats you on a great race – awesome time! I will be checking the RW forums more often, but I tend to get lost in them. There is soo much going on. I’ll be sure to check out the Women’s BQ Thread though – thanks!

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  20. Christine Piscitella

    Hi Lindsay – I am a friend of Rebekah Conroy’s – my sister is Kim Charest and she introduced me to your blog. I too love to run and I enjoy reading your posts and getting healthy food ideas. Congrats on the BQ!! That is super! I also laughed at your Steve Carrell note. Just thought I would say hello. I’m supposed to run the NYC marathon (my first) this year however with baby #2 on the way in July and an 18 month old to chase after this may be really wishful thinking. We’ll see what happens.
    Keep writing and running! Congrats again!

    • Thanks for stopping by my blog Christine – of course I know who you are. 🙂 Congrats on baby number two!! And you and Kim will be having babies together this time – so exciting and fun!! If you end up running NYC in November you deserve a huge medal for that. And if you do, I’ll be down here cheering you on. If not, I’m sure you’ll have many other chances. Baby time definitely trumps marathon time in my book. I think I remember Kim telling me you are a runner. Best of luck to you in future running — in races and after your babies! 🙂

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  23. That is an amazing run! So exciting!! (even just reading it was exciting…)

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  25. Just registered for the 2011 Pocono race with a goal of a BQ time and need to come up with a pace strategy.

    Your recap provides some very useful information about the effect of the hills at the end (I’m not sure how I’m going to use it right now, but more information is better than less)!

    Good luck in Boston (I’m sure that medal will certainly be something to cherish)!

  26. Also, a BQ on your 2nd try – very impressive!

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  28. Wow – what an amazing story. How did Boston go?

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