Yesterday pretty much rocked in my house.
The Ventura Marathon start time was 7 (I would have done pretty much anything for an earlier start time), so I set my alarm for 5 because I live 20 minutes away, and, because it was a smaller local race, I wasn’t really worried about crowds.
As soon as my alarm went off, I wished I was this girl:
I wanted to straight up freeze time so I could fit in another track workout or two, maybe some more hill repeats, get some more sleep, eat less chocolate and drink less beer, you know, all stuff that I shouldacouldawoulda done.
Instead, I made my first cup of coffee in seven days. And it was glorioius. And it made me poop immediately. <–Phew!
I also shoveled in some steel cut oats, chia seeds, and sliced bananas, but couldn’t bring myself to finish even half of it because I was so dang sick and tired of eating from The Week of the Carbs. I also sucked down a glass of Fluid to up my carb intake since solid foods weren’t making the cut.
After eating, I sprayed my toes and underarms with Tri-Slide and got dressed.
I graviate towards racing in skirts, specifically the Oiselle Bum Wrap, but I’m also a notorious over-packer, so I was concerned that I would be left carrying something. Luckily, my two plastic baggies of supplements, the nano, and an emergency mini Clif Bar all fit into the pocket in my Bum Wrap. I also stuffed four Gus in my handheld filled with water.
Then we were off. The husband played chauffeur to Veronique, J, and I, which I’m sure he loved.
We landed in Ventura with about 20 minutes to spare, so we hit up the bathrooms in the hotel near the pier. I was shaking so badly in line that Veronique called me out and told me to relax. I couldn’t. I was so terrified of failing.
After the final pit stop, I split from the girls to gather my thoughts and do my dynamic stretches downstairs below the pier, which definitely calmed me down. Just the routine of the stretches was enough to remind myself that I know how to put one foot in front of the other.
I like smaller races because getting to the front of the start isn’t a all out battle royale. I wove my way into the very back of first wave of runners who were supposed to be running sub-7:30s. I did this for two reasons: 1. I knew that a headwind would be picking up on the back half of the course as the morning progressed and I didn’t know how long the wait time would be between the first and second waves of runners (re: weather obsessed), and 2. I wanted to start behind super fast people so that I could consciously run my own race from the gates.
The gun went off, and I enjoyed the view from the rear. The first wave wasn’t jam-packed, and there weren’t any runners behind me, so I had no issue getting moving. It was a downhill start, so I was really careful to pace myself. My master plan was to run the first half between 8:10 and 8:00s.
Part of my problem with running races is that if I zone out, I tend to follow whoever is in front of me at their pace. I followed a couple for about the first 10K. They looked super fit, like they knew what they were doing (because they were fit looking=race stereotyping), and they were holding around a low 8:00 pace that I had hoped to settle into, but after I the first 10K, they began to slow, and I was relegated to forging my own path through the race.
Annoying Man pulled up alongside me shortly after I passed the power couple and tried to exchange pleasantries, only they came off as complaints. Yes, sir, I am from the area. Uh, it’s too humid for you??? What do people around here use for preventing blisters in the humidity, sir??? Have you been to the South, sir??? This fog is downright glorious, sir!!! Did you know that earlier in the week it was hotter than Hades, sir???
The only words exchanged on my part were, “I use Tri Slide,” and, “Well, good luck. Have a nice run. Maybe they have something for your blisters up ahead.”
Generally, I’m all about chatting with my fellow pedestrians, but not yesterday. I was all business. Eyes on the prize. No time for taking in the
roadkill scenery or playing with lab puppy cheerleaders chasing empty water cups (actually happened at the last aid station in Pierpont–>heartmelt city).
There were well-staffed aid stations every 1.5 miles, so refilling my water wasn’t a concern as I trudged onward down Harbor Blvd. to Ventura Road. On Ventura Road, I saw the first place dude and his bicycle escort looking freaking strong headed back to the finish. Man, that dude could run! I was still feeling pretty solid by the time mile 11 ticked over.
By the time I hit the halfway mark somewhere by the Hueneme Pier, I had already taken half of my gels and one salt tab, and I was feeling much better than I did in Mountains 2 Beach. Instead of feeling like I was about to hit the wall, I felt okay. Not speedy, but not sluggish either.
SIDEBAR: This was only my second full mary, so my experience is still super limited. For those with more running experience, this you might have stopped reading a long time ago, and for those who want to run a mary, take everything I say with a grain of salt because I’ve learned that every single one of us is so different when it comes to running and our bodies will respond/not respond how they should dependent entirely upon how the stars align. All you can do is go out and try your hardest because your body might not want to follow your mind.
At the turnaround point in Hueneme is when I first started to have panicky thoughts. The wind had picked up, and all I could focus on was, “GAH. Ventura Road is sheltered, but once I turn onto Channel Islands and then Harbor, I’m going to be running straight into it.”
I had to consciously tell myself that under no circumstances was I going to walk. I was not going to throw in the towel. I just had to keep churning my legs.
Mile 17 was where my turnover or strength or who knows what began to fall apart. I had hit the headwind, which probably wasn’t really much of a headwind at all, except for the fact that I let it into my head and slow me down. This distance is as much mental as it is physical.
Mile 18 included the bridge back over the harbor, I believe, which is where I took a grand total of seven walking steps to refill my water. Going over the bridge, I incessantly repeated what my running mentor told me a long time ago: head up, arms pumping, shortened stride, go on effort. And then it was done, but I never regained my turnover.
At 19, I turned on the nano and pumped Katy Perry’s battle cry “Roar,” followed by other notables such as “Teach Me How to Dougie,” “I Love It,” and “For What It’s Worth.”
Don’t judge me for putting a little Buffalo Springfield on a marathon playlist. Judge me for putting under 180 bpm songs on it.
Whatevs. I could have switched to my 45 minutes of 180 bpm metronome, but every time I would consider the thought, Katy Perry would come back on and hook me back in. Note: I playlisted “Roar” a grand total of 5 times but should have just put it on repeat. THAT’s how much I love that song right now.
Then, at 20.2, I did some fast math, and came to the conclusion that I could run 10-minute miles from there on out and still be at 3:35 (my age BQ standard). I’ve got this in the bag, I thought. Just, no stopping, cramping, stretching, puking, going backwards allowed. Just a forward motion.
At 22, this happened:
That’s right. My
sherpa husband met me right where I asked him to meet me with handheld #2 filled with ice cold Fluid!!!!!!!!! Above, you see the approach, the hand-switch, and the final product back on the appropriate right-hand side. It was a successful handoff. Maybe I’ll convince the huz to guest post about how in the last and only two marathons I’ve run, he’s batted one-thousand on busted bike tires. This time my mom’s place in the ‘nard was close enough for him to run the cruiser back and exchange it for a ghetto yellow Costco mountain bike without missing a beat.
Husband of the Year.
After the handoff, he thought he’d be all super nice and take photographic evidence of miles 22-22.15 by biking ahead and putting his iphone to the test, and I got all cray on his ass and demanded he return to the finish pronto.
Sometimes, when you’re running, you’re not that into life’s pleasantries and good deeds and good husband points. You’re only into finishing in your goal time. This isn’t a regular occurrence, thankfully, because otherwise it would be super difficult to ask the main man in my life to be my course support when I need it most.
So, in my nicest only-4 miles-to-go voice, I as-politely and as-non-scene-causing as possible asked him to go to the finish line. I didn’t curse. Out loud.
I learned from M2B that the last bit of a mary is the job only I can do for myself. Having the husband there would only tempt me with thoughts of what it would be like to simply hop on the back of the bike. And that would only break me down.This race wasn’t about enjoying the
roadkill scenery. It was about qualifying for Boston. Translation: I was a pace monger. And if anything was going to distract me, it was going to be mother-effing-Katy-Perry.
Those last miles were not strong. I definitely didn’t set out to finish with positive split times. But I finished, running through Pierpont with a goofy grin on my face, knowing that I hadn’t let my split times slip past even 9:00.
I had done it.
I qualified for the Boston Marathon by running the Ventura Marathon in a time of 3:32:47.9.
When I crossed the finish line, all I could hear was my name being announced over the loudspeaker, and all I could see was the time. And it was under 3:35.
I cried good and ugly, shouting, “I DID IT!!!!! Where’s my mom!?!?! I did it!!!!!!!” as my timing chip was snipped off. People were staring and laughing and clapping, and all I wanted was to see my mom and my husband and to hug them and let them know that I did it!
I almost passed the medal hander-outers looking for my family, who was by my side in no time, crying, laughing, and congratulating me.
J was there with a huge smile and a bigger hug having finished her half mary well before I crossed the finish.
It was just so awesome.
And then Veronique crossed the line of her very first marathon, and that was that.
We came, we ran, we conquered.
After everyone went their separate ways, I hit up the beer garden in my fave Oiselle hoody:
And bought some deep discounted Fluid Recovery drink from my fave race-day/long run hydrator and recovery drink maker.
Then we topped our morning with a final selfie:
And went home to celebrate with an ice bath and some Veuve in wine glasses:
I am so completely blessed, and I am so dang relieved that I accomplished a goal that took 8 months of training, one failed BQ attempt, hundreds of miles run, tons of hours of help from my mom, my sister, and my husband watching the girls while I went out and trained for this, and the support from all of you readers, friends, and family who believed I could do this.
As cliche as it is, it takes a village, and without you people, your words, your support, your love, none of this would have been possible at all.
Ventura was a great event. The stars aligned in my little corner of the world, and good things happened.
Now, all I need is to cross my fingers that there’s a spot left for me next monday.