Monday, July 20, 2015

Revel Rockies Marathon Race Recap

As many of you probably know by now, Revel Rockies Marathon was my goal race of the year. Unfortunately it did not go as planned. The marathon is a tricky distance. So many factors have to align to get the perfect race outcome - training, weather, fueling & hydration, mental toughness. Today was not that day. The weather was great, my training was pretty good (I'll get to more on that later - I do think I had a BQ time in me, but I also think mentally I didn't feel as prepared as I would have liked), but I had some serious hydration and fueling issues resulting in myself slowing significantly in the later miles and I did not have the mental toughness to come back from it. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I devastated? No. There will be other races. Today was not my day. Boston 2016 will not be my race. And that's okay.

Last fall, I decided I would try for a BQ by running the Phoenix Marathon on 2/28, the Colorado Marathon on 5/3, and then Revel Rockies on 7/19. My strategy at the time had been to give myself plenty of chances to get the BQ. I have now learned, it was not the best strategy. But, as the famous Robert F. Kennedy once said:

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."

Yes, I've failed in this attempt to qualify for Boston these past few months. But I am also still a relatively newbie runner and the more I run, and the more I set goals for running, the more I learn. You see, for a lot runners, especially those who run primarily for time goals, they only do 1-2 per year. Now, I kind of understood the logic behind it - running 26.2 miles - especially at "race pace" wears you down. You need serious training time to build up to it. You need recovery time. But, well I guess it was more that I was nervous to only give myself 1-2 chances per year to qualify. However, here I am, 7 months into the year with 3 chances and I failed at all of them. The only one I consider a real success is my 3:41:50 PR that I got at the Phoenix Marathon. It was my first of the year, and my first attempt at qualifying and yet I did my best. Why? Because I did a full 18 week training program and followed it to a T. Now that doesn't mean I didn't train for Revel. I did - long runs specifically and downhill runs to match the course. I put in 50 miles weeks. But I just didn't have the same motivation and dedication I had when I trained for Phoenix. And honestly - I think it all stemmed from the fact that I didn't give myself a true break after Phoenix. So I have now learned that running only 1-2 marathons at racing pace is not only for the physical aspect, but also, equally as important for the mental aspect.

Which is why I have decided not to attempt to qualify again until I can commit to a race and give it a full 16-18 weeks of dedicated training. I truly believe that is going to be necessary for me to achieve this goal. Not only will doing a full training plan with dedicated speed work and tempo runs get my body ready for a BQ, but it will get my mind much more ready as well. I had so much confidence going into Phoenix. I didn't have that here. And I truly believe that is half the battle - especially when the going gets tough. And oh how it got tough today! So without further ado, my race recap:

I had heard good things about Revel races (side note: I probably won't anymore - the Half Marathon ended up getting canceled at the last minute and people are VERY upset), so despite the insanely early bus pick-up time, I was okay with it and excited for this race! Having done a training run on the course, I also understood that it would take a long time to get to the start - Squaw Pass Road is very winding and steep after all! And I was right - I got on a bus at about 3:45 and didn't get to the start line until about 5:00. I met up with a friend from MyFitnessPal and we hung out while waiting for the start. At about 5:30 they announced that the race may be delayed by about 20 minutes because they were having some busing issues. I really wanted to start on time to avoid as much heat as possible as the day warmed up, so I was a little disappointed in this, but after hearing what happened later (the half marathon being cancelled and an entire bus of full marathoners not making it to the start line at all) - I'm just happy I ended up getting to run in the first place! Anyways, after making my way through the bathroom line and standing around for awhile, they finally announced at 6:00 that we would start at 6:10. Great! I threw my stuff in my drop bag and made my way to the start line - jogging a little just to warm-up. Before I knew it, we were off!

I ran the first 18 miles of the course in training, so I knew what to expect for those miles and as such I did go out a bit faster than goal pace for the first 11 or so. This is the steepest downhill of the course and I wanted to take advantage of it. And I don't regret it one bit nor do I think it effected my disastrous later miles - I went off of effort and felt great the whole time, running around a 7:45 pace on average.

At mile 11.5 the course turns onto Evergreen Parkway. This was the section I was most worried about because I knew it had some BIG hills. Overall though, I did okay on this section. I had some slower miles but I was prepared for that. It felt like it went a lot faster than it did in training - I guess because there were more people around. I started chatting with a guy named Matt and found out he was from Fruita (right near Grand Junction) which was cool. As we passed the half marathon point I mentioned something about how it would kind of suck to start the half on an uphill. That's when he told me the half marathon was cancelled. At first I thought he was joking - but apparently not. The busing company didn't provide about half of the buses they were supposed to (which now explained the late start), so Revel ended up canceling the half marathon the morning of!!! Pretty crazy!

Once I made it off of Evergreen Parkway, I thought I would be good to go - and this may have been part of my problem. I was expecting the course to continue to be downhill, but we ended up with some flat miles for awhile that I really struggled with. I also ended up getting a really bad side stitch at mile 17 - which ended up being the beginning of the end. I pushed through 17 & 18 - trying my hardest to run through the pain. I slowed by about a minute per mile, but I was still running. I still could have made up for it and had a shot at my BQ - but then at about 19 1/2 came the worst stomach pain ever - I just felt completely nauseous. I couldn't run through it - and slowed to a walk. I was hoping maybe I could throw up and recover (I know - sounds glorious!) but I couldn't, despite trying a few times. So I ran/walked the next 2 miles and watched my shot at a BQ slip away minute by minute. It was pretty depressing. At one point I ended up next to an Instagram friend who kind of helped me put things into perspective though. I told her I was so mad at myself and she just said, "Why? You're doing the best you can." So that helped me get over my immediate depression and just keep going. I came upon a big hill and decided to attempt to run down it. Well apparently that was what I needed to get myself to throw up because at the end of that hill, mile 22.5 - I did. It sounds awful and it was - but I actually felt WAY better afterwords. In fact, had I still had a shot of finishing in time, I think I could've found the strength to get back to a decent pace. But, since I knew it was over, I just decided to take the last 3 miles slowly and enjoy the scenery. With a mile left I realized I could MAYBE get a sub-4:00 time, so decided to pick up the pace and sure enough, I did squeeze by with a 3:59:10!

So, no I didn't get my sub-3:35 (by a lot), but I did get sub-4:00 at a race involving myself puking - so that's kind of a win after all, right? ;)

(more photo's to be uploaded once they're available - Revel offers free race photos - which is always a nice bonus!)

Location: Squaw Pass to Morrison, Colorado
Distance: 26.2 Miles (although my Garmin measured it at 26.6 - this was kind of a disappointment - it was off from the very first mile!)
Bib Number: 3039
Weather: PERFECT - ahh it was SO perfect. 40's at the start, 60's and overcast at the end.
Gun Time: 3:59:24
Chip/Official Time: 3:59:10
Average Pace: 9:07
8 Mile Split: 1:02:16 (7:47 pace!!!)
Starting Elevation: 10,563'
Ending Elevation: 5,781'
Overall Rank: 369 of 814
Gender Rank: 158 of 415
Age Division Rank (F25-29): 20 of 46
Garmin Splits: 7:36, 7:34, 7:36, 7:24, 7:34, 8:00, 7:44, 7:43, 7:36, 8:00, 7:53, 7:50, 8:17, 8:09, 8:21, 7:46, 8:00, 8:59, 8:47, 9:02, 12:43, 16:32, 12:32, 8:49, 10:17, 13:18, 8:39 (last .2)

Race Map
Elevation Profile
Beautiful sunrise as we waited for the start!
The starting line!
Probably around Mile 24.
Mile 25 maybe?
The Race Medals were pretty cool!
At the end of the day, I still ran a marathon and that is something to celebrate!

Overall thoughts on this race:

Honestly, I loved the course. I really did. It was downhill and very scenic ALL the way to end (as opposed to a lot of "scenic" courses where the last 6-10 are boring and awful...cough Colorado, Aspen Valley, and Phoenix). The Evergreen Hills are tough, but early enough that they're doable. It did flatten out a bit around 18-20 which was a little hard for me - but mostly just because I wasn't expecting it. I liked how the finish was right as you got into Morrison and didn't involve a lot of extra miles going through town like a lot of races do (see above coughing...) - although it does finish on an uphill - it's a short uphill, but I think that would have been tough if I was really pushing it hard at the end. From my perspective, I thought everything was organized well and put on well - however, as briefly mentioned earlier, apparently the half marathon ended up being a disaster - I really didn't get any details on that until later though, and the race has since announced that they will fully refund anyone effected by the busing issues. Therefore I think it's safe to say I would definitely run this one again sometime.

Thoughts on future racing plans:

Prior to this race, I had toyed with the idea of signing up for an early September marathon to give myself one more shot at Boston 2016, had I not gotten my BQ at Revel. But I have officially decided not to do that. As I've kind of explained above, I just really feel like I need to give myself a full training cycle before trying again. I also feel like I'm worn out and need a break from road racing. Here I am, late-July and have only been on mountain trails once. ONE TIME this summer. That is not okay for my sanity. So I will be spending the remaining summer and early fall months hiking and trail running! It is truly good for the soul! My plan as of now is to pick a winter or early spring race to attempt once more to BQ (open to suggestions - preferably in the February-April time frame). Yes it means pushing Boston off for another year, which I am bummed about, but I think it is the best thing in the end. 

And with that, I will leave you with some more quotes on Failure - just to make myself feel better :)

"Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a 
temporary detour, not a dead end." - Denis Waitley

"When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be 
times when you fail, and both are equally important." -Ellen DeGeneres

"Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement." -C.S. Lewis

"Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist 
failure or use failure that often leads to greater success." - J.K. Rowling

1 comment:

  1. So sorry you didn't get your BQ! Sounds like it just wasn't your day and there's nothing you could do differently.And how frustrating for the half marathoners! I'm glad Revel is giving them refunds, and I saw that RnR Denver is giving 50% off to anyone who was signed up and couldn't run Revel, so maybe that eases some of their frustrations.

    I do think you're smart to take a break for a while and then ramp back up and focus on just one race. I can't imagine racing three times that close together. You could look at Colfax this spring. It's in May, though, so maybe later than you want, but it's a pretty fun and relatively flat race.


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