I could start with this...
But I'd rather focus on this....
no i don't know why I'm posing like I'm on the red carpet. I am a tool.
The race was amazing. Nick and I headed to Richmond Friday afternoon, hit up the well-organized expo, had dinner at Olive Garden (a marathon tradition since I've done it twice now!) and checked into our hotel. The hotel was approximately 15 minutes from the race start and the race start was 8am, so I set an alarm for 5:45 and we slept fitfully. In the morning, the near fatal error occurred. I was trying not to stress, so we spent maybe an extra 20 minutes in the lobby, just hanging out and drinking coffee instead of rushing out. "Eh, it's a downtown race, there will be more parking than we could ever need." Except the world that exists in my head does not match reality.
Reality- the handy parking map provided by the marathon was indeed handy... except everyone else was following it too, and trying to park close to the start or finish lines. And there were somewhere over 10,000 runners all trying to do the same thing (an 8K and a half were also happening alongside the marathon). Blast. We got stuck in traffic for a while, navigated out of it, and finally found parking at about 7:40. Yikes. After a 10 minute walk we found the start line and that other line- bathrooms. We cut it super close, but we were right on time to find the 4:00 pace group, shed our outer layers and line up behind them. In addition to parking stress, I could not find my normal running sunglasses anywhere. They've been with me through every training run and even my last marathon and I love them. I had put them on at the hotel but somehow lost track of them in the hour that followed. After huffing and puffing about losing them I decided to wear my normal sunglasses. And then... the marathon fairy dropped my sunglasses out of my throwaway sweatshirt hood and back on my head mere moments before the start. I guess when I pulled my sweatshirt over my head they got stuck in the hood? I was happy to have them because they're comfortable and reliable, but now I was stuck with 2 pairs of sunglasses. Oh well. After carrying a water bottle, phone and a million gels on every training run, a pair of sunglasses was not a huge deal. Other minor blip- I thought I brought sunscreen, but I really brought insect repellent. We got a little burned.
We set off right at 8am. The course was awesome. I felt amazing through mile 15- in fact, we were hanging with the 4 hour pace group or just ahead of them through mile 17. We averaged 9 minute miles with relative ease. The mental battle began at mile 15 and turned into a physical battle in mile 17. Which also included a big hill. The miles after that were between 9:30 and 10. Oops. But you know what? I'm not upset! It's so easy to say "if we'd run a little faster, we would have broken 4 hours" but holy cow, I ran 47 minutes faster than I did last year! The big hill took my breath away and I couldn't recover, and the wear and tear of those first 17 miles caught up with me. My form broke down, my joints were aching and I started doubting myself. At this point, I turned from hopeful, happy Laurel to the super pissy version of myself. There's sweet Nick running along, snapping pictures of the scenery and appreciating spectators, and there's me, regretting that people keep SAYING MY NAME STOP IT DON'T TELL ME I LOOK GOOD I HATE YOU.
I'm a lovely human being.
So obviously, we slowed down that last little bit. I got the beginning of a calf cramp in my right leg (my calves had been tight all week but I'd been rolling them and I didn't expect they'd be a problem) so I started throwing back water and Powerade (blue electrolyte water=thank goodness I was wearing a black shirt) at every water stop. They were practically every mile, so that meant I was getting little slow down/shuffle breaks fairly frequently. Just knowing that we were closing in on the finish was enough to push me along mentally, but physically I was just not going to go any faster. Nick hung with me even though I am pretty sure he was feeling a-ok. Having him beside me and knowing he was finishing his first marathon was so, so great. I made a deal with myself that if at any point I wanted to start the walk/run cycle, I could, but I didn't want to drag Nick down and ended up slogging it out with only tiny walks to slow down and grab fluids. It helped that last year I didn't run and back then I was barely functional, blood-wise.
We finished! It felt great. After a little walk, some pizza and som stretching we headed back to the car and began the drive home. The rest of the day included showers, stretching, food and movies. In comparison to last year, I felt like a million (very sore) bucks. I wasn't completely and utterly sapped. I didn't want to go run tons of errands, or walk around much, but I felt like a functional human being and was even able to unpack a little. That's accomplishment.
Yesterday was another relatively lazy day. I did some stuff around the house and Nick left for a 1.5 week trip (lame) so I hung out with my parents and ate dinner with them (my brother's a vegetarian too so they have veggie stuff around the house. Awesome). This week will be a lot of lecture watching, cooking, and cleaning hopefully.