Exactly a week ago, I returned to Rochester after “America’s Marathon Weekend” in Atlanta. I met up with my friend Bri (plus her college teammates, Bree and Gronke) to spectate the Olympic trials marathon, then run the Publix Atlanta Marathon/Half-marathon the next day. The trials were impressive, inspiring, and an all around solid experience.
Since we had our own race the next day, we wanted to at least try to stay off of our feet while spectating the Trials race. For those less acquainted- to spectate a distance running race is to chase your athlete around the course on foot in order to see them a lot. We sought out a viewing spot that minimized time running/walking around the course (i.e. streets of ATL) but also maximized our view of the athletes. We settled on a corner where we cheered on the athletes on as they passed at miles 2,10, 18 one way and 5, 13, and 21 the other way.
Their course was challenging: while facing a net 1,000 feet of elevation gain (but a net downhill of 17 feet due to the proximity start and finish lines) athletes faced rolling hills as well as multiple loops. At the end of the day, the top three women were Aliphine Tuliamuk, Molly Seidel, and Sally Kipyego – all underdogs. Aliphine wasn’t seeded in the top three and Molly had never run a marathon before this. In the last two years, Sally had a child, became a U.S. citizen, and dealt with a bout of malaria. Woof. These STRONG ladies will represent the United States at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. (Unfortunately, I worry whether this year’s Games will have a different atmosphere, given the COVID19 epidemic. The WHO has yet to call it a pandemic as of the first publication of this post).
Although we tried to stay off our feet on Saturday, we ended up covering over 12 miles. Moving so much was probably unavoidable, since we all flew in Friday night and had to get our racing bibs from the Expo on Saturday afternoon, ran a ~4 mile shakeout to scope out the starting line area, and went to the grocery store twice. Nevertheless, we tried; at one point we Lyfted 0.4 miles to avoid a sizeable uphill effort. Kind of embarrassing, but hey!
The pre-race dinner: We cooked our own meals at the Air B&B and just chilled the night before the race. I cooked Tim’s brussels sprouts recipe everyone, and was v proud that I didn’t burn them or anything. Bri made Linguini and alfredo sauce with chicken for herself, Bree, and Gronke, while I made my own special pasta and red sauce (#Veg).
After dinner, we stretched and talked, and set up our racing outfits for the next day. I learned from Gronke I’m supposed to call my outfit setup “Flat Ashley.”
Race-day! Below I tried to outline the progression of the day; first, by time up to the start of the race, then by mile since I kind of lost track of time for the ~3 hour race.
5:30-7am: Woke up, Bri made everyone coffee (#angel), and I ate breakfast (granola, banana, and almond milk). I drank a lot of water too – which I ended up kind of regretting during the race. More on that later…
6:15am: We all jogged our warmup to the starting line, less than a mile away. Bree and Gronke were running the half, but the half and full marathon start together for this event.
6:45am: Bree started her half-marathon
7am: Gronke starts her half, Bri and I start our full marathons. Side note- Bri was actually supposed to start at 6:45am too (her PR is 3:14! #damn), but she decided to stay back to start with me (my previous PR was 3:18) ❤
7am-10:10am: Runnin’- finished at 3:10-28, which is an average min/mile pace of 7:16.
Recap of select/noteworthy miles:
Mile 1-4: This is so much fun! These hills aint no THANG.
Mile 5: Bri and I accept and share a solo cup of beer from spectators offering along the course. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Mile 5-10: cruisin’ with Bri and this girl Leanne we befriended.
Mile 11: lost Bri and Leanne, circle back and get Bri.
Mile 12: lose Bri again but keep going this time. I was clicking off consistent 7:18’s (minute/mile pace) and felt like I could keep that up.
Mile 14: Porta potty stop! Remember when I said I drank too much water? Yeah, I was about to pee myself at mile 14, so I stopped for exactly 35 secs #speedypee
Mile 15: Phwew. So relieved, still feeling good. Hills are kind of hard now.
Mile 16: Wow 10 more to go. Lots of hills. Woof. *Miley Cyrus “The Climb” echoes in my mind*
Mile 17-21: Caught up with runners from the first corral (these athletes had a faster entry time). I try hold the pace I’ve been going. I’m passing a lot of people, but it’s hard to keep my pace because the flow of runners is a lot slower at the back of the first corral group than at the lead of the second corral. I picked up a Clif- energy shot packet at mile 17, which I kept in my sock. I know what you’re thinking: “What does she mean, kept in her sock?!” Here is a photo of me mid race, which may help clear that up:
Mile 23: Start to feel like I could hit a wall, so I swallow more Clif energy shot that I’ve kept in my sock-glove. Pause to stretch my calf then keep going. The middle-aged guy I am running with at this point praises me for “adhering to the precautionary principle.” Thanks, dude.
Mile 24-26: I am very ready for this to be over.
Mile 26: SO. CLOSE.
Mile 26.2: Heck yes- done!!
Mile 27: Wahlburger for a well-deserved (vegan patty) burger and margaritas with the girls!
All in all, I felt great during this race. I felt like I was well hydrated, in shape, and so happy to just be out there racing. This is my first marathon back from injury, and I was grateful to just be able to run and be healthy. The course was fairly hilly, but they were rolling. Whenever there’s an uphill, there’s a downhill, eh?! It got pretty hard at mile 23, because there was a sizeable uphill effort and my legs were getting tired. Other than that, I felt strong on this course and ended up with a big PR from the race. I ran 3:10:28, which qualifies me for Boston 2021 and gives me an auto-qualification for NYC marathon in 2021 as well.
How did I prepare for this marathon? I kept it very simple. I ran, stretched, ate well and slept well. In a sense, this training cycle was a bit of an experiment in that I didn’t do workouts and didn’t lift or do anything I didn’t consider enjoyable. I maintained a fairly consistent long-run schedule with Jacquie, which made me look forward to each long run. I especially looked forward to the end of each long run because we go to Timmy Hoes for Ice Capps. My other running buddies in Rochester (s/o to Laura and Erin) helped me rise early to get runs in before work, or motivated me to get the run in after work. I like to think of my runs as just hanging out. TBH, I feel like I have better conversations while running. I’m committed to making running my stress relief as close to 100% fun as I can. I keep pretty busy, which is stressful, so I like to keep running relatively carefree.
Nevertheless, I do keep track of my miles I log. My “system” for keeping short-term track of my runs is to record weekly mileage on the whiteboard in my apartment. Serendipitously, I had been taking photos of each month for a scrapbook I’m planning. So, I actually had a way to retrospectively calculate my mileage, which is below:
Taper and qual exam noted with red arrows.
Long runs too:
Half marathon was Winter-Warrior (see other post). Peak long run was 22 miles. Race day was March 1st.
This training cycle was all about having fun, staying healthy, and listening to my body. One thing to glean from the graphs is the oscillatory profile over time. It reflects low-mileage weeks when I felt tired or was busy, while high-mileage weeks represent times I was able to run longer because I had less on my plate.
I’ve yet to pick a Fall/winter Marathon, but I feel good and want to shoot for one. @Followers, I am taking requests! 😊
Shout out to ATL track club for taking many of these photos!
“I run because it always takes me where I want to go.” – Dean Kamazes