The big indicator that this wouldn't be the race where i'd attempt a BQ was about two weeks ago, the weekend after Thanksgiving. I was going out for a 13 miler. The first few steps told me this run wouldn't go so well. It was that hamstring problem that I probably exacerbated a few days before by running a 8 miler with the last few miles fast -- the last mile in 6:20.
I cut that 13 miler down to 6 miles and took several walk breaks. I was on the verge of hobbling. I took days off. I used the Stick and I started to take some ibuprofen in the hopes that rest would heal it. In the week where I should have been ramping up training with 48 miles, I cut it back to recover. Not only was my hamstring bothering me, but my right knee was tender in spots. A summer of running was catching up to me.
I was able to fit in a 12 miler a week before marathon day. It was done at a 8 mile pace and it felt okay. Just ok. In the next few days, I did a few miles at 7:30 pace and one mile at 7:18. I skipped the dress rehearsal.
So I entered DC with an attitude that this would not be an A or even B goal race but how many marathon chances would I have. I never ruled out going for broke. Believe me, I did all the usual things I do before a marathon -- carb up very well, hydrate, stay away from alcohol and get plenty of rest. The expo was nice and I was starting to get excited. I talked to JellyP on Saturday afternoon and I spoke about taking an almost apathetic approach to this marathon. Maybe it was best if I took it easy as long as I ended up smiling at the end. I started to also feel a tingling in the back of my throat that by Saturday afternoon, i was thinking that it would quickly progress into a cold. I think I'm fighting it back even as I type this.
After 6 straight meals of high carbs, I settled into bed by 9:30 and I slept pretty well, waking up several times as R was still up working. Up at 4 a.m. and switched back to a bagel with peanut butter and a banana for breakfast. Over the past three days, I've been hydrating with electrolyte rich drinks (the low-calorie kind that comes in tablet form that you dissolve in water.). i've been upping sodium intake also by chomping on pretzels.
I was out the door a little after 6 a.m and took the metro to the race site. It went by pretty quick. Took a pee break, checked in my bag, got by bag back because I forgot to switch to my sunglasses '(glad I did) and took another pee break on the way to the start line. I lined up in the 3:00 to 3:19 area.
Here's was the goal. I put on a 3:15 pace band and I wanted to go out at a 3:10 pace and 'fade' to a 3:15. I thought that given my level of tiredness and not being accustomed to 3:15 or even 3:20 at this point, i don't think if I ran with the 3:20s that I would able to ramp up to a 3:15. I know, it's not a great strategy but I figured I 'go for it' and see how the day went.