Napa Marathon 2013

Well happy March 3rd guys, I've got nothing going on in these parts so just, hope you had a good weekend and we'll talk later, cool? like....I have a running blog....and I have to write about my races....even the ugly ones?


I did not PR today, and I thought there was a high, 78% chance that I would.  I was basing that on a) the fact that the weather appeared to be working in my favor, b) I PR'd in the half marathon just four weeks ago, c) I tapered pretty hard-core and foam-rolled/stretched every day the week before, and d) I just kind of figured that the only direction to go in racing is in...improvement....

If I had had the time last week to do a real analysis of my goals and expectations, it would have looked like this: based on my recent 1:26 half marathon, which is about 2 minutes faster than the half marathon time I was rocking when I ran a 3:05 marathon, I would run a 3:02-3:04 marathon.

(friends, a sub-3 hour marathon is obviously a goal for someone who has run a couple sub 3:10 marathons, but that hasn't been on my realistic front burner recently.  My body is F-U-C-K-E-D up.  If you've read for a while you know that.  My body cannot last 26.2 miles without some major leg failure, i.e. this leg-lock I've referred to, which streams down through my calf, and then makes my calf cramp.  Not in the cards until I learn how to take care of it and fix myself.)

Point being, my goal was to PR, and a 2:59 was a "well maybe if there is a 20mph tail wind!" kind of 0.3% chance.  But 3:02-3:04, I thought I had in the bag, for the reasons mentioned above.

And then, the other 22% of me understood that a) the shoes I was determined to wear were making my right foot angry; b) in my training, a 6:50-7:00 pace was never really feeling that much easier; c) my buttcrease/leg-lock issues would likely make an appearance, and d) the Napa marathon course is bloody boring and difficult in the mental kind of way.

THAT 22% WON.  For all of those reasons.  Plus a few other reasons., I'm so used to training in the 40-50 degree morning air, and this morning was muggy and the sun just blared on the never-ending pavement.  I scratched at my forehead around mile 18 and it felt like a pile of sand was stuck up there - just salt.  I was losing so much salt.  Not acclimated to running in that temperature.  And I was guzzling electrolytes when I could, but it wasn't keeping up and I felt the nausea that accompanies dehydration early into the second half.

More reasons...I could not hold a sub-7:00 pace on the uphill miles.  Just couldn't.  And there were a tasty number of uphill miles.

And....the no-headphone policy and the sloped roads both turned out to be true, adding whatever degree of difficulty to the wear and tear on my legs, and to my sanity during the empty, lonely, miles of 16-24.

Big reason: I stopped to WALK and/or stretch.....during EVERY...SINGLE...MILE...starting at mile 20-ish.  Once my goals were out of grasp, I gave in to that temptation.

I have never stopped more than once in a marathon, in the however many marathons I have run (7? 8?).  

I want to let you know that to ME, a non-PR on any given day does not bring me down.  To me, this is a great memory (even the painful parts!) and I don't regret or feel badly about the day or the result in the least.  To me, striving for goals is often the funnest part, and I welcome the fact that I will reach to break these time barriers in the future, and will one day do so.  There were also many parts about the day that I LOVED.  I was still running after all.

But the day felt really bad, because so many people were physically there to support me, and I felt awful that even their big hearts couldn't lift me up to a PR today.  I also felt down because many others contacted me throughout the day to ask how it went.  That is the BEST question to ask me when I can excitedly tell you good news, but by the end of the day, I felt awful having to answer again, you know, I didn't do my best.  I DON'T LIKE LETTING PEOPLE DOWN.

(I realize that SOME of you want me to fail, because that is just simply how blogging works, and so at least I fulfilled the expectations of some people.  YAAAYYYyyyyyyyyyyyyyy).

Seriously, like, my dad was at the finish line.  That will probably NEVER happen again (because I'm never running the boring as shit Napa-no-headphones-allowed-marathon again, famous last words), and so when I DO PR, and when I DO run under 3:00 hours, and when I DO run even better than THAT, he won't be there.  I just wish I could have had that happy moment, and let everyone know, it was YOU on the sidelines and knowing YOU would be at the finish line and knowing YOU had told me you would send me good vibes, that is why I was able to push it and reach my goals.

I thought of each of those people.  At mile 14 when I could see my PR slipping out of reach, (after a 1:31 first half, when the hills started to push my miles to a 7:15-ish pace, and I knew it was getting harder and harder to dig for a 1:33 second half for a PR), I tried to think of these people for help.  I thought of running in hard at the finish line as these people cheered.  I thought of feeling strong at the next big crowd-support location and getting a surge from the awesome and hilarious posters my friend Allison had made for me.

And then I felt like I failed these people, because I couldn't get their energy to transfer into me.  That's why they were THERE, and I couldn't do it.

The sun.  My calf.

My goal changed from, "1:33 second half, you can still PR" to "1:36 second half, you will have a second-best marathon time" to "fuck me.  Let's at least finish under 3:10".

So I took my dainty little time, walked every mile, to get the goal I settled for with legs that weren't properly working.

3:09:30.  10th place woman.  3rd place in age group.  7:14 pace.
26.38 garmin, 7:11 pace.

(Women in 6, 7, and 8th place all passed me in the last 1.5 mile.  Darn.)


  • Stripped off my sock-arm warmers at mile 0.5--well my oh my, this is quite a warm muggy morning now, isn't it?
  • Miles 1-2 -- "so pleasant! This pace feels like a piece of cake! Thank you caffeine and tapering!"
  • Mile 3: foot--shut up.  just, shut up.  not now, too early, let's deal with you later.
  • Mile 4-10: my foot problem, whether plantar fasciitis or otherwise, was re-enacting the Kaiser half marathon.  It was going numb, making my inner ankle sore, on the verge of cramping.  So at mile 7, when I saw the Gentleman, I shouted out one of our pre-planned possibilities: "bring my other shoes to the next stop!"  I knew I was going to see him at mile 11, and I knew I needed to change outta these sucky shoes.
  • Awwww, Hi Allison! Hi Marjorie! Hi Gentleman! You guys are the BEST! I LOVE THIS!
Mile 1: 6:32
Mile 2: 6:47
Mile 3: 6:52
Mile 4: 6:43
Mile 5: 6:49
Mile 6: 6:58
Mile 7: 7:02
Mile 8: 6:57
Mile 9: 7:01
Mile 10: 6:56

  • I realized if I stopped to change my shoes, I would have to take off the chip timer and get it onto the other shoes.  Ugh.  I convince myself the shoes aren't that bad, and I don't make the switch.
  • IT IS HOT, gonna pour some of this water all over my hot head...gonna suck down some Gu and Gatorade to make up for all this salt loss.
  • Is this long, slow, incline, ever going to end, because if NOT, then I am kissing any chance of a PR goodbye.
  • ouch ouch ouch okay I need to stop real quick and stretch this calf before it full on spasms on me.
  • Awwww, Hi Allison! Hi Marjorie! Hi Gentleman! You guys are the BEST! I LOVE THIS!
Mile 11: 7:01
Mile 12: 6:59
Mile 13: 6:54
Mile 14: 7:13
Mile 15: 7:10
Mile 16: 7:28
Mile 17: 7:27
Mile 18:  7:18
Mile 19:  7:26

  • hahahaha, just walking through every water stop, just walking.  juuuuust walking.
  • just stopping to stretch out the cramp.  just stopping.
  • Awwww, Hi Allison! Hi Marjorie! Hi Gentleman! Hi Irwin! Hi Dad, Sister, Niece, Brother-in-Law, Alexis, You guys are the BEST! I LOVE THIS!
  • I'm done, I'm embarrassed.  Hi everyone, I didn't come close to my goal.
Mile 20: 7:32
Mile 21: 7:22
Mile 22: 7:28
Mile 23: 7:46
Mile 24: 7:43
Mile 25: 7:51
Mile 26: 7:36
0.38:      2:38

Yeah yeah Napa, soooo pretty.  Not after 3 hours of running.

Hi to my loves!

Proved it! No heel strike! I knew it.

Mile 24.  All of these pictures are.  The husband was busy handing me food and drinks at the other stops (miles 7, 11, 16), which I appreciated greatly.

I know what you're thinking.

"Dang, those miles aren't all that slow considering she stopped to walk and stretch."  You're RIGHT! I noticed that too.  I was semi-stoked that these stop-and-walk miles were under 8:00 minutes.


"well, you went out too fast."

Sorry, I still don't buy it.

I ran about a 1:35 first half at CIM 3 months ago, and still positive-splitted with a 1:37 second half.  Taking it slower in the first half still leads to a slow second half for me BECAUSE MY LOWER HALF IS FUCKED UP and my legs twerk up and lock.

I ran a 1:31 first half at CIM the year prior, and ran a 1:34 second half.  Point being, my 1:38 second half today was not, in my opinion, due to going out too fast, but due to my laundry list of excuses listed above.

I know what I'm thinking:

Is a marathon supposed to hurt almost the entire time? Am I just a wimpy whiner, or am I doing this whole thing wrong?  Or, like elite front-runner for today's race Caitlin Smith, maybe it just wasn't my day for who knows why.

You can still say I'm awesome if you want to :) That's what I do when other bloggers races don't go as planned....and I mean it when I say that to them....but it still is silly isn't it.

God, I love running.