So, I ran a marathon on Saturday. Compared to Chicago last year, there’s been very little mentioned here about this race and that was a conscious decision. I figured I would check in after the race, tell you all about my fun day and move on to other topics. We chose the Hamptons Marathon. It’s a small, local race that Runners World gave good reviews. I don’t like marathon training hanging over my head too far into the fall, so late September seemed perfect. Let’s just say my plan didn’t work that well and Saturday- well it was rough.
My training leading up to the race was pretty strong. I was running faster than I had in recent years and diligently tracking all my runs from my Garmin GPS watch in Training Peaks. I ran a couple of half marathons this summer; one was strong, one more conservative (it was a very hot day). And though I was sidelined with bronchitis a couple weeks ago still felt ready to go. I started eyeing the forecast about a week ago and felt relieved that there didn’t seem to be a heat wave coming. Of course as we got closer rain seemed a good possibility but I was ok with that. What had started out as five people we knew running the race had dwindled to three. Friday, late in the day, my friend emailed she was out, a hurt knee and the weather didn’t help.
So it was just Marc and me. The boys would be staying with friends (very, very nice friends) and we drove out East Friday night. We had our usual pre-race sushi dinner and prepared for the next day. We pinned our numbers to our shirts, packed our shorts with Clif Shots and printed our pacing wristbands. I set the coffee maker for the next morning and of course brought our Le Pain Quotidian coffee from home. I am a big believer in race rituals and am a planner by nature; this too would work against me.
We woke up at 5AM Saturday, my father in law said “I think you got lucky, it’s not raining.” I had my E3 Live, followed by coffee and Purely Elizabeth Granola with fruit. I put some Vega Performance optimizer in a bottle to have in the hour before the race. We drove to the start, found parking close by and felt that nice race day buzz.
We had plenty of time and a full row of empty and clean Porto potties. I decided to take advantage of this and laughed when a Lululemon bag with the words “Breathe Deeply” had been discarded on the floor of the Porto potty, I decided not to comply.
We lined up at the starting area. Instead of a motivating welcome speech the man counting down said these ominous words “this is not a flat course, it’s very hilly out there” and then we were off. We were running alongside half marathoners and some doing a 5K so it was important not to get caught up and go out too fast. After a bunch of marathons, I knew slow was better than fast and continued to consult my watch and pace accordingly. I distracted myself looking at the runners around me. There was the woman in teal who moved her arms as though she were swimming freestyle. There was also the shirtless man with a hairy back and Vibrams. I briefly wondered where he placed his running number without a shirt. I also noticed it was very, very humid. It felt like you were running through glue and I just didn’t feel energetic.
We were on pace through 5 miles and at about mile 6 my hypersensitive Garmin watch, probably malfunctioning from the humidity/mist, stopped. Part of me freaked while the trying-to -be-sane part of me realized I’d have the race clocks and with my pacing band could gauge my speed. The only thing was at 6 miles the full marathon split from the half marathon course and so it seemed did all of the race’s efforts. The next clock would be mile 13 (it said 2:70, 2 hours 70 minutes? It was broken).
Trying to regroup, I tried to use the fluid stations as markers but there were times when these were 2 miles or more apart. Some had Gatorade, some didn’t, and some didn’t even have people manning them. Marathons are very mental and looking back for someone so routinized (ok anal) all of the changes didn’t go over well. By mile 15, I was wiped out. I felt how I did last year in the final miles of Chicago. I had never experienced this so early in the race. There were really no spectators and with the hills I was warned about looming for as far as I could see, I made the decision to drop out. I reasoned that it wasn’t my day and that was fine. I planned to find a police car at the next water station and pack it in. Even my dropout plan backfired when at the next water stop there were no police cars or anyone to drop out with. I had one Clif shot left in my pocket and figured I may as well see if some “triple espresso” would do the trick. I looked ahead of me and it didn’t help that everyone was walking. I elected to continue and figured worst case I’d have a 10-mile walk. Instead, I used my music and told myself I couldn’t stop until a song was over. As I ran for the duration of my son’s favorite song (Paycheck), I passed hairy back. As miserable as I was, I laughed a little
Soon I was at mile 20, I was scared to look at the clock. With my walking breaks and fatigue, I thought for sure it would be beyond horrible. It said 3:18, I was flummoxed. I was only a few minutes slow. In a typical race, I’d dig down deep and finish strong only I was so exhausted that wasn’t going to happen. There was no euphoria, there was no strategy remaining except to finish. At the 26-mile mark I summoned the last remaining energy and ran it in. Marc was there. Though it was humid and he didn’t feel he could push it like he wanted to, the lack of clocks or water didn’t affect him. He didn’t really have a race plan and it worked out well. As for me, while disappointing this crappy race was also informative and will in no way diminish my planning tendencies. In fact, one day later I realize how lucky I was to have participated and will use what I learned in planning future races.
Are you someone who plans or wings it? What’s your next fitness goal or challenge?
Do you think being goal-oriented can have its disadvantages?
Congratulations on finishing the race! Not knowing the time or what mile I was at would have driven me bonkers. Sounds like you did great!
I'm mostly a planner, but winging works sometimes too. Fitness goal = heal these pesky injuries!
Thanks Jess. I was tired from the humidity but that mental part did me in. I didn't know you were injured, hope things heal soon.
Wow I am so impressed you finished! Not that you had a choice I guess – I can't believe it was so poorly planned on their part, having people cheer you on is huge (as is knowing what mile you're on). but some days your body is just not feeling it no matter what. I'm more of a winger although I am also a huge ritual fan. Fitness goal: Doing a silly 10K mud run next weekend. Some day a marathon I hope.
To clarify, there were mile markers so I knew when I had passed a certain mile just no clocks to know how fast/slow I was going. It was a mess. Mud run, where- sounds great. OK now we have to get you to plan a marathon- you mentioned it.
Nice job finishing! It was an unexpectedly tough one. The clocks not working was a huge fail. But you did great, nice review.
Congrats on finishing! I ran the Hamptons half, and found the course to be a bit disappointing as well. They did have race clocks at all of the mile marks, so I cannot complain about that. I thought for a small, local and young race, it was very well organized. The course itself was pretty tedious – and for a mile or so, treacherous. I know there are plenty of reasons the course couldn't have been planned closer to the water, but I need something to look at when I'm doing a long run – especially around the 6th mile. In the end, I did beat my previous time, which I'm pleased with given my 2 injuries this summer. Until 10 days ago I wasn't sure I could run at all, so I'll take it. I give the credit to Honey Stinger gels. Where have these been all of my life? I'm planning for my first marathon next fall, and had been considering doing the Hamptons. I might still do the half, but I now know this is not a good race for a first-time marathoner. I fully appreciate being a planner and having your rituals. In fact, I really think my first marathon needs to be NY because I can't imagine running a marathon without sleeping in my own bed the night before and having all of stuff (my coffee pot, my way of making oatmeal, etc.). Yes – I am uptight, but at least I'm self-aware.
melissa/beth thanks for the comments and great job with the half. I am glad the half had clocks, it seemed to be ok the time we were running with the 1/2. It's funny, I did a southampton race july 4th weekend and a woman warned me off the hamptons full. she said course was boring (full that so many there and back where you see people ahead of you and have to retrace your steps), poorly staffed etc. Beth, NY is a great race the crowd literally propels you through.
What kind of friend would drop out due to a bad knee?? Doesn't she have another?? (hee hee!)
So, this one wasn't the best but you did it!! And, there will be many more where you do it AND have fun!!! You are starting your week off 10x – make that 100x – ahead of others as far as fitness accomplishments this weekend go!!! And, you and Marc look great in the pic! xxoo
A smart friend. A friend who knew when to say no. I look forward to fun runs, I look forward to remembering this crazy day with less disappointment but right now I look forward to not having a training schedule (for a week or so).
God that marathon sounds kinda awful, doesn't it?
Of course, you should be proud of yourself for finishing the race (26.2 miles is no easy feat) and for all your training. I think a marathon should be a memorable experience and it's a bit of a bummer that the race wasn't more organized and enjoyable.
I also ran the Hamptons Half on Saturday. Im a runner, but this was my very first official race. I thought the conditions were challenging but just figured thats how these races are. I was very pleased with my time, so now I am motivated to keep going. I live in NYC, can you recommend any more scenic and organized runs to do?
Congratulations Leeann. From what I gather the clocks/water situation was much better for the half. It was humid so well done with a good time. NYRR has great races, the brooklyn half is one of my all time favorite races. Jack Rabbit stores have info on other non-nyrr races as well. Thank you for stopping by the blog.
Holy crap, I am never running a marathon. That sounds like torture! Haha. Good for you on the pushing through! I am beyond impressed! I just can't even imagine running hills in humidity with none of my mental tricks to fall back on. I am definitely a planner when it comes to food an exercise. In all other areas of life I am a major FU.
No, no Cameo- not all marathons are like this. It sort of was torture but now I can understand why. While I finished I think my head, sans mental tricks, may have been the weakest link. I think one pinch less planning, a little more "FU" would've been better. Does that make sense?
Congrats on finishing… this brings me back to cross country days when I would push myself so hard I would get sick at the end of each race.
I used to be a planner but now I exercise randomly… I enjoy going on long walks with the kids!!
Lisa let's just say I wasn't far from getting sick, we'll leave it at that. A long walk sounds perfect-maybe tomorrow.
I am so grateful to you for sharing this. This happened to me last weekend at the Air Force marathon. There aren't many spectators on the half course as the entirety of the race is on an active USAF base. There were good clocks and water stops, but I didn't feel euphoria at the right point. I got a shot of hormones at mile 5 and felt that elation, but I knew it was too early. I am a planner all the way – my friends and family joke. I'm not sure how I will handle the Des Moines marathon on Oct 16. I was wondering about doing myself a favor and leaving my Garmin at home. I'm an analytical planner…if I leave it home, I'm really left with no choice. Oh, I panic just thinking about it. Enough about me. Good on you for finishing the race rather than dropping out. Less planning, more FU indeed. That should be my motto for the upcoming race. Come run the Des Moines half with me, Lauren. It's f.l.a.t.
Congratulations on finishing! (despite the race not going exactly how you pictured)
I think it's awesome that you and your husband race together!
Do some relaxing yoga this week 🙂
Congratulations on the race! I've never run a formal race before but I think I'd probably have to wing it…anything else would just be too stressful!
I wouldn't breathe deeply either – I don't blame you.
Congrats, Lauren! It sounded really tough but you made it! Go disciplined of you to persist until the end of each song. I was laughing at the visual of the woman 'swimming freestyle'!
but your ran a marathon pretty awesome in my book 🙂
So proud of you for finishing! Your tenacity is inspirational.
I'm a planner all the way. Just reading this post had me breaking out in hives. So impressed you were able to finish. My fitness goal is a half marathon in January, which I've already started planning for. Being in Miami, good to know Garmins may be sensitive to heat/humidity. Again, congrats on finishing what sounds like one of the most unorganized races ever!
(and hope you don't mind the exclamation point at the end).
Congrats, Lauren! Good for you for toughing it out! It seems like everyone had a tough day, and the course's repetitive route certainly didn't help…
Agreed Sofia, nothing like retracing your steps when you're running a marathon. Mariel my Garmin is a little old and even sweat can make it stop working. I'm moving over to Nike. There are waterproof Garmin's though. Marie/Rebecca thank you. Sam, the freestyle lady was dangerous (and a little annoying). Funny in retrospect.
First off, congrats on completing a marathon! You are amazing!
I have only ran one half and I had no concept of time. We did try to figure it out based on our phone but I would have liked a tracker just to help motivate me.
You could totally do a full Kristen and Vegas is a good one to try, just saying.
Congrats on finishing!
I'm definitely a planner, and I know it would sometimes probably be good if I were a bit more easy going… I don't run much, but I know that not knowing the time/my pace would drive me crazy… Again, great job. And I love that you can now look at it at a learning lesson! Even if it involves more planning… 🙂
It's all trial and error, the only way to do it. Andrea, doesn't surprise me you're a planner. ha.
I'm sorry the race didn't go as planned, but that's so awesome that you still finished. Marathons are no joke (obviously)! I'm a planner, so I know how the smallest thing can set you off.
BTW, I read your name this morning in one of Yahoo Health News about non dairy milk. I am not sure they quoted you in the right way though (as a con for coconut milk because of its saturated fat).
Congrats Lauren – it may not have been what you wanted it to be, but it will help you later. I felt this way during my half in Ohio – while scenic – there were no clocks at mile markers and no people to cheer us on (plus it was a small race). After a while, it was just tedious. And I'm pretty sure that was my head messing with me. Regardless, you did a great job and as Coach Rafter always said "Forget what you have done and worry about what you have the opportunity to DO."
agree with coach rafter! Still happy I did it and it is what it is. It's not as though I am a professional runner, right?
A huge congratulations to you for running, and finishing the marathon! It may have not been your best race, or even a fun race, but you did it!! Very cool! I wish I could say I was a planner, but I tend to wing things more often than not. Hope you can enjoy a (somewhat) relaxing week. Wish you were here at FNCE!
Thanks EA, can't wait to hear about FNCE. Interesting seeing who's a planner vrs not. I think creative/non planner often go together.
As the saying goes "what doesn't kill us only makes us stronger!" right? Good job on finishing the race! I must say I felt your pain reading this post. I'm running my first 1/2 in 12 days and am thankful that the course is known for being flat and fast (Kelowna, BC, Canada). I'm trying not to have a time expectation but would like to finish in under 2 & 1/2 hours. Whatever the outcome this will be the race that all the others are measured against 🙂 congrats again!
and not to be doom and gloom jenny, this was an exception. Most races are…dare I say fun and energizing? Good luck to you, fast and flat are great words for runners/courses.
Wow, congrats! Way to hang in there!
I'm shocked that the race wasn't better manned with volunteers. I think the marathon we have coming up (the Columbus Marathon) has water stations every 2 miles. I hear that there are plenty of people who hang out and cheer on the runner.
(Sadly, I was going to do the 1/2, but ended up with a stress fracture in my foot…bad foot, first adventure racing on uneven terrain is suspected)
Water and cheering, 2 ingredients missing from my experience. Kelly so sorry about your foot, uneven terrain is difficult to handle. As hard as it is, there are always other races. It's more important you heal correctly and don't do too much too soon.
I still think it's awesome that you ran another marathon and didn't train hard for it! Marathons are killer! Plus your time was awesome in my book. If I was there I would have cheered for you 😀
So awesome that you finished the race with how you felt. I think I would have been thrown off too (although I've never run a marathon). I have a hard time when fitness plans go off track. My first instinct is to just give up, which I know is horrible. I have actually been fighting this off and on all year because I have had health issues that keep pushing me off plan. The post I'm working on right now is actually about how I need to get over my "all or nothing" mindset and just do something even when it's not what I had planned.
You should be proud of yourself and Congratulations on finishing the race!!
Good for you! Sounds like you earned this one without much help along the way. I remember when my husband ran Chicago, and it was such an enlivened community. I've never been a runner, but I had great fun cheering at the side. I guess it gave us all our place. I am a planner for sure, but once the party starts I have to let go of the plan and let the party evolve as it chooses (okay would be a race in this case). Hard but good transition. I guess a plan is like a goal, just having it in place does give traction even if the path veers a bit. I imagine you learned, and will continue to upon reflection, so much from this experience. But really, cheers from here. Wish you could have heard them Saturday.
Oh man, what a tough one. And you are one of my toughest (in a good way) friends. Congrats for gritting it out, girl. You are my hero!
Thanks Meg, not sure about here but I'm generally not a whiner. This, unlike our 20-miler in the rain, wasn't fun. Oh well.