Thursday, June 6, 2013

Sunburst Marathon – June 1, 2013

Karen and I before the race
I had to come up with other ideas on how to get a Boston Qualifier in during the spring after things did not work out as well as I had hoped at Tobacco Road.  I had already signed up for New River as an option, but with it being a mountain marathon, it would be a long shot.  One night at a non-running event, I started talking with another mom, and not knowing that she was a runner herself we ended up in a long conversation about running, Boston, and racing.  She recommended Sunburst as she had run it before.  It was a fast, flat qualifier and it would fit in very well with where I was at in my training.  

As you know, I did not qualify at New River, so I registered for Sunburst.  I was even able to talk my sister into running the half!  What is really cool, is that we were able to make it into a sisters night away (with no kids!) in South Bend.  

I left on Thursday to make the drive to my hometown in Michigan.  We arrived safe and sound in the wee hours of Friday morning.  

Karen and I left for South Bend later Friday afternoon.  We enjoyed a quiet drive to South Bend (no kids, remember?) and went to the expo.  It was not a huge expo but it had packet pick up and a few vendors.  We did not stay too long and went to check into our hotel and find some dinner.

Hit Olive Garden for dinner where I ate my usual chicken parm, walked the mall for a bit and went back to the hotel.  We took a soak in the hot tub and a swim in the pool before retiring to the room for the evening.  We spent the next several hours watching the coverage of the Oklahoma City tornado and getting our things ready for morning.

4:00am came early.  Karen and I got up and were out the door by 4:40.  We made the couple mile drive to the start, found a parking spot really close in the parking deck, and settled in for a bit at the South Bend Chocolate Company and coffee house.  We sat around for a bit, watching other runners, drinking espresso, and enjoying the silence before the race.  

My nerves were actually pretty calm.  I knew what I came here to do and was prepared to do it.  At this point I was ready for the race to start!

With about 15 min to the start, we headed to the start line.  It was a light rain “tis but a mist”, humid but not too warm.  The sun was not up yet and when the starting gun went off, it was still quite dark.  

Mile 1 – my goal was to keep it around 8:45.  I did not want to go out too fast.  Just was trying to take it easy and have fun with it.  Actual time – 8:29 – little fast, but not too bad.

I fell into a great rhythm for the next few miles with the splits falling right where they should be between 8:15 and 8:25.  I was feeling good and was very pleased with how I was doing.  I was taking a gu and an s cap every 4 miles.  It worked at New River so I was rockin that system here too.  

Mile 7 we turned around and ran back along the river.  There was quite a headwind at this point!  The rain had stopped by now, but was still humid.  I ran with another runner named Dan for about a half mile before I pulled ahead of him.

The field had become quite strung out and I was watching one person about 40 yards ahead of me.  There were a couple folks behind me but for the most part, by this part of the race, I was on my own. This is where things get a bit interesting.  Between miles 9 and 11 the course winds through a neighborhood.  Here is a link to the map of the course.

Somehow the girl in front of me misses the left hand turn and we continue on straight and got into a group of runners who were about a mile behind us.  I started to freak out knowing that we were not going the right way….  She was looking back at me, and I was looking back at the guys behind me who followed me, asking “are we going the right way??”  We came upon an aid station and saw runners who were just ahead of us coming towards us.  I grabbed a Gatorade, told the lady that we had missed a turn and was going to turn around and run with these folks, as they were just ahead of where I was running.  What is crazy is that just before the 11 mile mark, my (borrowed) Garmin clicked off another mile.  Whatever mis-turn I did was right on as far as mileage went because the Garmin was consistently clicking off right before the mile marker.  My mojo was quite off for about a half mile because I thought I had really messed up.  I did not see that turn, there was nobody there directing the turn, and how in the world could I have (potentially) messed up my BQ attempt…  I managed to pull it together and clicked off the next couple miles and hit the 13.1 point at 1:50.  Right where I needed to be.  

This is where things started to get more difficult.  Don’t they always after the half way point?  (Kinda like the bumper sticker I saw the other day that said “26.2 miles – what could possibly go wrong?”) The clouds had begun to break up and the sun came out.  It was getting warm and quite muggy.  My times started to slowly creep up each mile.  I had to make a pit stop at mile 16 cause I was having some GI issues.  Seriously??  I was frustrated that I was wasting time on an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, and I was frustrated that I could not make my legs go any faster.  

It was a beautiful part of the race course along the river.  It was another out and back and it was somewhere along this path that I passed Dan and he said “great job Amy”   For a minute I was thinking who on earth here knows my name, but then I remembered *duh*  Yes,  I suffer from running induced short term memory loss…  so it goes.  It made me happy to hear my name.  There was not a lot of ‘fan’ support on the course so to hear just one person say your name means a lot!

Mile 20 was time for another gu.  I pulled it out and tore the top off.  “ugh, that is so gross”  (thank you Dax Ross!)  I started to swallow it and *uh oh* it did not want to go down!  I started gagging.  I am sure it was a show to whoever was running behind me.  Lol!  Ugh – it was SO GROSS!!  I couldn’t get it down and was gagging?  What was up with that??  I managed to wash it down with some water but my stomach was so upset at this point.  What was going on?  I yelled out loud to myself “Amy, pull it together!”  I knew full well that these last 6 miles would make or break that dream. The weather turned hot, my stomach was all messed up, and I knew that if I could not hold 8:15’s from here on out, I would not make it.  To top it off, I had to make another pit stop.  I was so frustrated…

With each passing mile, that Boston dream was once again slipping away... It was so disappointing. No matter how hard I pushed my legs would not respond.  I kept pushing along as hard as I could, because if I could not get Boston I was going to knock 5 minutes off my best time.  I had to improve.  

Here are some of my thoughts during the last few miles.  I was struggling, was trying to stay positive…

Mile 20:  “Just from the Museum to Umstead and back.  Your favorite route!  Pretend you are running down the hill towards Umstead”

Mile 22 – “It’s just a jog around Lynn Lake…  I do this all the time!”

Mile 23.  “It’s just a 5K to go! 

Time for another gu.  Yep, you guessed it.  Nearly brought up everything this time…  ugh!  GI issues are no fun….  

Mile 24 – “2 miles to go – just like the 2 mile loop you used to run back in high school – easy, right?  Keep going!!”

Just before mile 25, the marathoners met up with the half marathoners and the walkers from the 5 and 10K events.  It got really congested with lots of runners and walkers.  Runners were to the right and the walkers were on the left.  That helped.  

Mile 25.3  there was a girl in a wheelchair holding a sign saying “.87 miles to go”  O my goodness….  Brought tears to my eyes.  She was cheering so loud!  I had to do this!!  Started singing the song that was playing on iTunes “I’m on the edge of glory” then realized that I sounded worse than HORRIBLE!  HA!  Decided to keep the ‘outside’ tunes to myself.  

Mile 25.7 – there was a guy on a bike.  He asked me what my name was – I thought “why” but I managed to say “Amy” with not a lot of gusto or enthusiasm.  Not sure why he was asking, but soon he was riding along beside me yelling to the crowd saying “this is Amy – she is running the marathon – cheer Amy on! Let’s hear it for Amy!” and everyone started to cheer.  Wow, I needed that!!  Wish I would have had a better attitude when he asked me my name – oops!  My bad! 

At this time I could see the entrance to the stadium, I was finally smiling again.  I ran through the cool tunnel (temperature wise as well as how cool the experience was) listening to them blast the Notre Dame fight song.  I emerged on the other side inside the stadium with people in the stands and runners on the field.  I saw the finish line right at the 50 yard line.  I pushed it in as best as I could with my tired legs and the squishy ground.  I crossed that finish line at 3:49:44.  I burst into tears. I finished.  I missed Boston again but managed another PR.  Someone handed me an ice cold towel and put it on my neck – AWESOME!!!  She asked me if I was ok cause she saw I was upset.  I told her that I missed Boston…  She was sympathetic, handed me my finishers metal, and walked with me to the water station.  

I filled up my water bottle with Gatorade, stood by the sidelines, and just cried.  I had a bit of a pity party for nearly a half hour while waiting for my sister. Tried to figure out what went wrong.  What could I have done differently??  After realizing that there was nothing else I could have done, that I gave it all I had, and a lot of what happened was due to the weather, I started to pull it together.  

Sweet Caroline came over the loudspeakers and of course it was dedicated to Boston.  I sang my heart out through the tears!  Looking back I think it was playing at 4:09 during the marathon clock.  How cool is that???

Finisher!  2nd in my age group - woo!
I kept watching out for my sis who started her half marathon 1 ½ hours after me and started it injured.  She had a lot of courage for even going out and running it – I was so proud of her for starting!!  I knew it was going to take her a bit, and I had no problem waiting for her.  I kept an eye out for her.  You know how many girls were out there wearing blue shirts, black shorts and a ponytail??  It was a lot!  Lots of “oh there’s momo, o wait, that’s not her!”  lol!

I finally spot her and start cheering for her and meet her at the finish.  SO PROUD OF HER!  She kept on with “relentless forward progress” even when she was hurtin.  Found out later that she had the best experience with this race.  She was focused and had a good time with it.  That indeed is awesomeness!

We sat in the stands for a while taking some pictures and taking it all in.  It was a great morning.  As Karen put it, “we were basking in our awesomeness”.   We finished!  The only thing that could have made it better is to have something more than Gatorade available as a post race recovery drink… This is funny – it is the FAQ section of the website “Can you serve beer at the finish? It may be the home of the Irish, but this isn’t Ireland. University policy prohibits alcohol at the finish line.”  Boo!!


We limped up the stairs and out of the stadium (who’s idea was that!!  We run a marathon then have to walk up to get out?  Lol!)  We picked up our drop bag, bypassed the long line for a massage, and headed over to the shuttle to the start.  It was indeed cool to have the WMU shuttle bus carry us back to the Jeep, even if we were in Notre Dame Country!

We drove to the hotel, got cleaned up, and headed back over to campus.  Found a place to eat some lunch and have a beverage.  We took a drive around campus before heading back.  

Got back to my sisters and had to deal with some lingering stomach issues for the next several hours….  Apparently I gave it my all out there in South Bend. Not sure I could have done anything different to change the outcome.

Side note – Thank you to Notre Dame for letting us finish inside the stadium!  Not the practice field, but inside the stadium!   With all the rain from the night before, we runners tore up that field.  It was wet and hundreds of runners made the field a squishy, muddy mess.  So sorry about that!   I know it is a privilege to be able to finish there, and I am thankful for the opportunity.


22nd woman overall, 2nd in my age group (first was 3:14) 119 out of 490 finishers.  Podium!!!!  (even though they did not have an awards ceremony…)  that is super cool!!  I won a 5x7 print from Marathon Foto.  There were several pics that turned out good.  Woo!

Shoes: Hoka Bondi B’s, gu’s and an s cap every 4 miles (and at mile 23 instead of mile 24), Handheld water bottle filled with coconut water to start, then filled 2x with water along the course.  I finished the race with a full bottle of Gatorade.  One blister on my left big toe and losing the toenail on my right big toe due to a blister under it.  Unusual to happen wearing my hokas!  

Looking over the Garmin data, it was in the last 6 miles that I “lost the Boston race”.  I was running closer to 9:25 miles instead of 8:15…  Gotta figure out what to do about that…

Great race, good volunteer support, aid stations were well stocked and lots of staff to help, loved the location – nice fast and overall fairly flat course.  Just a few easy hills.  The only recommendation I would make is to have the course marked out better around miles 9-11 where many runners are weaving in and out in a neighborhood.  I would run it again!

Great pics taken by Marathon Foto!  Don't have them for this blog post, but I will be ordering some!  Amy's  Karen's  - these links are a little "touchy" it seems when I was testing it, it would only open up the pics of the first person you clicked, regardless of the link I put in.  Try clicking one link, close it, then click the next.  Otherwise do a search. Best I can do, sorry! 

cheers sis! epic $#!/ done!
So…………..  when is the next BQ?  Not sure.  I am not sure if God is telling me to “wait” or “work harder” or what.  I am so thankful for the strength to be able to run.  I am thankful to be at a point in my life where I am as strong and fit as I have ever been.  Thing is, holding this level of fitness takes a lot of time and effort, and I feel like I am teetering on the edge of being fit, and running the risk of being injured.  At the moment, I am having some issues with tightness in my right hip as well as issues with ligaments in my left ankle.  I am unsure whether to back off some this summer and start training again in a few months for a solid fall race, and focus on 2015, or look for another race the weekend of June 28.  After that, It’s going to get too hot….  I can’t tell you how much I wanted to qualify for 2014 but it seems that hope is fading with the heat of summer.  

If you keep up with me on facebook or daily mile, you will soon know how it goes….


1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on the PR! I ran the Sunburst 5K this year and the half last year. It's a great race. Good luck with your BQ. You're so close! You'll get there eventually.