Sunday, March 6, 2011

my return to racing

march 5, 2011 came and went just like that. but it's a day i will not forget anytime soon. 3 and 1/2 years ago, i PR'd in Philadelphia, and since then, it has been something like this - 4:16, 5:00, and 4:30. instead of moving forward, i moved backwards. 12 weeks ago i started a journey to the snickers marathon and wanted it to be a comeback. and it was. warning: this is a long post.

all week long, my friends and i tricked the weather and to our dismay, saw a dismal forecast of warm temperatures, humidity and rain. talk of adjusting the race plan began, and i began to get freaked out. you see, i am the most mental runner there is. after 10 marathons, i still get nervous like it's my first. friday morning, we loaded up and left hattiesburg. i was feeling good and excited about traveling with these girls, 4 good friends. i was also feeling oddly more confident than i ever have, but i was waiting for the jitters to really set in. after a long drive, some afternoon pizza and a birthday surprise for ginny, we arrived in albany. after going straight to the expo, a very small expo, we found our hotel. we unpacked, went for dinner and then came back to get ready for the race. i'm still feeling pretty good at this point. we were also not as worried about the weather, which probably helped my mood.
we woke up early the next morning, all doing our own routines. i ate a banana and half a bagel with a little peanut butter. surprisingly i'm still feeling pretty good, a few jitters, but nothing unusual. after doing our pre-race rituals, we headed out the door and to the race. after one last quick visit to the port-a-let, we walked to the start and immediately were off. terri and i planned to stay together as long as we could and hopefully the whole race, but agreed to do our own race, meaning one could leave the other at any point.
i never really remember or notice things about a race, like what roads we run, what we pass, and such. this one was no different, but i remember running through some pretty neighborhoods, seeing people watching from their porches or lawns, wonderful support at aid stations, and great volunteers. the course was one of the best. it was mostly flat with rolling hills and the roads were smooth and clean. terri and i ran along with a few people for most of the first half of the race and had a blast doing so. i've never really done that before, and it made the miles go by quickly. at mile 13, terri said she was putting on her ipod, and i decided to do the same. at this point, i'm still feeling really, really good. however, i was worried that i had gone a bit too fast, but i had decided to just go with it and go for it. she and i stayed next to each other until around 16-17. at that point, i think terri decided to pull back a little, which ended up being smart for her.
i kept going, and pushing, and i was dreaming of the possibilities, thinking of a possible PR. i knew i'd have to keep on pace, but i also knew how difficult that can be. i was also thinking, if i don't PR, so what, i'm running the best i've run in 3 1/2 years. the rain started, and i kept rolling. that is until about mile 22 where the tempo caught up with me. i began feeling unable to push through it. i felt a little nauseated, weak and suddenly tired. i started taking a few walk breaks of about 30 seconds and walking through a couple of water stations to drink better. that helped and i kept going. just before mile 25, i happened to look back and saw terri waving at me. i took another short walk break, and she caught up to me. she and i almost were in tears at seeing each other. she was running strong and her decision to pull back a little was successful. i, on the other hand, was struggling. she got about 10 yards ahead of me, and i decided to fight like hell to not walk again and keep her right there in front of me.
and i did. we made the last few turns and headed to the finish. i crossed the mat in 4:07:47, about one minutes off my PR 3 1/2 years ago. i was back. i was happy. and i felt terrible. i immediately got nauseated and desperately needed to sit. it's safe to say i left it all on the course, i took nothing with me to the car, to the hotel, anywhere. i ran my hardest, the best i could, and i am pleased. the training paid off.
in the latter part of the race, i was unable to effectively run the tangents and ran 26.6. my pace for that distance was 9:18. my pace for the 26.2 was 9:28. i ran a 9:18 pace, i just ran longer than a marathon. here are my mile splits: 9:29, 9:40, 9:16, 9:15, 9:07, 9:10, 9:08, 8:56, 9:04, 9:11, 9:12, 9:08, 9:12, 8:59, 9:07, 9:13, 9:04, 9:01, 9:14, 9:14, 9:13, 9:37, 9:52, 10:08, 9:53, 9:42, and 5:26. i am so proud of how long i stayed strong and only slightly disappointed that i fell off my pace. i am most proud of how strong my mind was. i have never had a race where i felt like this, ever. i'm finally back where i need to be to move forward. i couldn't be happier. the snickers marathon in albany, ga was a mental victory.
after the race, the 4 happy finishers dined on snickers bars, mexican, and later on a yummy hamburger and a wendy's frosty. we had a great time, and i'm so grateful for these 4 girls. we had a blast.
here are the happy and proud finishers.


  1. so proud of you this weekend Dawn. What a fun trip! Thanks so much for the birthday surprise. FUN! Tangents and you easily have a PR next time. Well... maybe not easily, but you got it! AWESOME "SOAP" AWESOME!

  2. Excellent race Dawn. And you are right. You’ve got your head on straight, this running thing is so mental. The race got tough (as it always does) just after mile 20. Miles 22 – 26 averaged 9:50.

    How do you run a marathon PR. Run a marathon within a minute and then work really really hard!

    I overheard something once; someone yelled “What do you get for finishing?” The answer is “Satisfaction!” (And a frosty).

  3. Really, really proud of you Dawn! You pushed through and look at the excellent return you got on your training investment! Strong mind, sound body will get you everywhere. Congrats girl you deserve it! Never mind the fact that you got to have one super weekend with a bunch of fab people... but then again I guess I am kind of partial on that one. Cheers!

  4. Great Job Dawn! Wish I could have been there with you guys. Your running inspires me more than you know. I love to get some long runs in with my girls!