I've worked harder than ever since November. Training has been great. In 2011, I've:
* Had a great 24 hour race going until mile 68 when I got hurt.
* Half Marathon PR
* 50K PR on a solo training run
* Another Half Marathon PR en route to a solo 18 mile training run (silly, I know)
* Great Mt. Mitchell Challenge
* Several other 20+ mile training runs that went well
* Good hard workouts
I was really excited about this race & ready to go but the week after the Mt. Mitchell race was too light. I missed some runs because I was busy and sore and only got 19 miles in that week. I was ready for a Sunday long run when I stood up and my back seized up. I could only run 4 miles the next 10 days and then one day my back was fine. I ran Wednesday, Thursday & Friday with no problems and decided to run Sunday's Wrightsville Beach Marathon.
I was a little nervous that I'd struggle only getting in 23 miles in 17 days. I thought there was a decent chance I could have back problems again. Neither of those problems occurred but a very significant one did arise. Let's just say I had severe stomach issues. I don't know why I get like that sometimes. I used to eat too much before races, but didn't even come close to eating too much (or the wrong things) the day before this race. I really don't know what caused it, but I woke up with stomach pains and from the start, I had intense stomach cramps. I was still able to run 7:20 miles easily for the first 4 miles before it really hit me.
Once I'd stopped a few times, I realized the sub-3:20 I was shooting for. I sort of gave up there in the middle of the race to settle my stomach and because I knew my time was out the window. I threw up and immediately started feeling better around mile 18 and pushed harder the last several miles. I really enjoyed myself the last 8 miles.
I ended up running 3:39:44. Considering I wasn't moving for probably 18-20 minutes, I feel pretty good about it... especially since days just don't get much worse than that. I ran pretty strongly when I was able to actually make forward progress. Not even close to having to walk. Virtually no fatigue. Legs felt good. It actually felt easy and short. Felt very confident even though things didn't go right. I am positive I could've run under 3:20 and set a PR by several minutes. Bad part is I just don't run many marathons so I don't know when I'll have a chance to take advantage of the better running I've been doing on a better day. I'll have to look at the calendar.
The course had a lot of loops and turns and didn't flow very well. There were a lot of spectators on the course. Average shirt, medal, post-race stuff, etc. for a race of that size. Weather was super. Had been a lot warmer the two days earlier but was in the 40s until the very end when it was probably about 52.
I didn't come close to accomplishing what I set out to do, but I actually feel pretty good about it. I did the best I could given the circumstances, know I could've done a lot better, and still 3:39 isn't terrible for me. Better luck next time- whenever that may be.
Oh- and a little footnote- I don't think I've ever run the day after a marathon or ultra. I went out today for 2-3 easy miles but the team was doing a hard fartlek workout. When they went hard the first time, I felt compelled to do so and made it through the whole workout. BARELY. I was really struggling but managed to stick with the top girls, grunting and groaning the whole way. I'm not sure why I did it. Dumb, I guess.