Since I didn't want to sabotage my team, I jumped into their gut-twisting, butt-kicking track workouts to prepare myself for such a "short" race. I have to admit that I actually enjoyed putting myself through these torturous workouts, mainly because I had great company but also because I began to hit times I had never run before. What better way to start the day than running 5x 1 mile repeats with your friends at a pace 10-15 seconds faster than you ever thought possible?
Large races scare me. I'm afraid that I'll get lost in the masses of people or worse, not be able to use the bathroom (multiple times) before the start. The Shamrock Shuffle was by far the largest race I've ran with over 34,000 participants. However, since the team competitors were given their own area before the race, complete with bag check and porta potties, it didn't feel like I was about to take part in huge race. While I enjoyed this special treatment, I felt out of place among all the very fit, talented runners. I don't think I've ever been surrounded by so many well defined muscles. As a side note, after countless ab workouts, I have come to the conclusion that great looking abs is genetic and that I'm destined for the "soft" look.
The race went by really fast and I finished in a time of 29:49, just under 6 min/mile pace. I was both excited and disappointed by my result. I typically run this pace for the majority of the 5ks I run and I've done a 4 mile race just under 6 min pace and this was the first time I was able to hold this pace for 5 miles. So, it was an accomplishment. I just thought I should have been able to run faster. I think that's a common sentiment among runners. We are always chasing a faster time that we think we should be able to attain.
After the Shamrock Shuffle, I was looking forward to the Carmel Marathon. I felt like I was in great shape; however my confidence took a little knock when I had a couple rough weeks of training leading into the race due to bad cold. Despite that, I decided to start the Carmel Marathon with a strong pace since I wanted to aim for a PR. My pace for the first 9 miles was in the low 6:40s. Unfortunately, I felt like I was expending more energy at that pace than I would be able to maintain for the rest of the race so I decided to slow a little. A sub-3 would still be attainable and if I felt better later, maybe I could still pull off a PR.
Around mile 16 or 17 my body just felt depleted of energy, and I realized I was going to have to enter survival pace if I was going to finish without crawling. At mile 23, a friend from college and his posse caught me. It was great timing. With a little over 3 miles left, I needed some encouragement and distraction. I latched onto the group until my body revolted. With 1.5 miles left, my vision started blurring a bit and I had to try with all my might to keep my legs moving. The race provided bike escorts for the top 3 men and women. Since I had been in 2nd the entire race, I had a cyclist with me. We hadn't spoken to each other thoughout the race, but he must have sensed that I was struggling because he started to offer words of encouragement. Either the rapid slowing of pace or the "come on, Melissa" I started repeating to myself out loud probably tipped him off. I crossed the finish line in 3:02, 7 minutes over the PR I was hoping to run.
|With Leah Thorvilson after the Carmel Marathon|
I'm not sure what caused my slow demise. Maybe it was a combination of starting too fast and having an off day. Although Justin and I may have had less than spectacular performances, I think we were more the exception than the rule. I came away from the race inspired for my next marathon by a number of runners. To name a few... Leah won her 5th marathon of 2012 in a super speedy 2:42 (and she had ran a marathon the week before). Laurissa placed 3rd and was only 2 minutes off her PR just 5 months after having a baby. Tammy and Wins crushed their previous marathon PRs by over 10 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively. Remarkable!! If that doesn't leave you wanting to run more, I don't know what will!