Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Race Recap: Hartford Marathon

6:00 AM, Hartford, CT
Saturday morning in Hartford could not have been more beautiful.  The air was crisp and cool.  The sun was just starting to rise.  It was perfect weather for a marathon.  With an 8:00 start, I had gotten got plenty of sleep.  Things were looking really good.  The Hartford Marathon staff was totally dialed in.  There was an orange jacket everywhere I looked, happily telling me where to check my bag, how to get to the start and wishing me good luck.  Thanks to them, my stress level was zilch.  There were tons of port-o-pottys and there were no lines.  All of it was almost too good to be true.  And it was awesome.  As I waited at the start, I was thinking two things: first - don't go out too fast. And second - I wonder what this song is that's playing over the loud speaker and whether I could ask this person next to me to Shazam it with their iPhone.  (I did not do this, but I really wanted to).  The horn blew and right from the get-go, I tucked in with the 3:15 pace group, something I'd done at my last marathon that had worked really well for me.  We did some quirky zigging, and zagging and a bit of surging to get our group into a secure place which made me a little nervous, but after a couple miles we finally settled in.  And then, at mile 3, my pacer jetted off to the side to go to the bathroom.  Hmmm.  Okay.  I guess I will just plow ahead.  I jumped in with a group of 4 men that had been running with the same pacer.  After a couple more miles I noticed we were cruising at a 7:15 pace.  What to do?  My thoughts were all over the map:
---> Is this too fast?  Can I hold this?  Probably not.  But I feel SO good.  Maybe I can hang on.  Maybe this time is different?  Maybe??  
And then I had to pee.  I could not stop thinking about it.  In all my marathons, I have never had to duck out to use the bathroom.  I did not want to break my stride and lose my group, but with each water stop I worried that it would get worse, so I decided it had to be done.  I made it quick and tried to jump right back in, but I had lost my crew and my groove.  First bleep on the radar.  I settled back in and for the next ten miles or so, I maintained a pretty solid rhythm.  I was running steady 7:20-7:25 miles and I was feeling strong.  And then, well, then I wasn't.  At mile 18 my mind started to mess with me.  I was beginning to get tired and the message I kept hearing was "this is so damn hard, Rebecca, maybe you should just stop and take a break."  My brain was sending the same message to my legs and they were happy to oblige.  I was so pissed off; willing myself to block out these thoughts and forge on.  But with each mile it was getting harder to fight.  I started to stop at the water stations and take several gulps of gatorade, hoping the fuel would trick (or drown out) my brain.   No such luck.  By mile 22, I had slowed to a shuffle, my stomach had too much liquid in it and the cramps were in full force.  It was touch and go.  And it wasn't pretty.  Finally, I made it to mile 25.  Hallelujah.  I almost cried I was so happy to see that number.  My time at this point was 3:10.  I poured my heart and soul into the final 1.2 miles to cross the line in 3:21:27.
My coolest medal, by far.
Was I was pleased with my time? Sure.  But I was really disappointed with how I felt through those last 8 miles.  It was not a joyful race.  In the end, I was mad at myself, mad at my legs, mad at my obsession with running, just mad.  This was not the outcome I had been hoping for.  But, all that said, it could have been worse.  A lot worse.  As my coach told me later that evening, "The marathon is a tough animal.  Rarely does it 100% reflect your capabilities, but we keep going at it to try to get one of those near perfect runs."  I train for these monsters for four months of the year.  I've done it seven times now.  I work my tail off and push myself beyond my comfort zone on a regular basis.  And then...then, I cross my fingers and hope for the best.  Sometimes it all comes together.  Sometimes it doesn't.  And yet, I still do it.  There is something about the challenge that is appealing to me.  Even more so, when things don't go as planned.  As my husband said when I was talking through it with him post-race, "That's the thing, Rebecca.  When you PR, you're always going to wonder whether you could have gone a little faster or pushed a little harder.  When you crash and burn, you wonder what went wrong and how you can change it.  And there will always be a next time.  You know it and I know it.  He's right.  I do know it.  Later that night, I called my mom to give her the low down.  She listened quietly as I gave her the play by play.  When I was done she said, "well, I'm sorry it didn't go as well as you'd hoped.  But, they can't all be perfect.  And you're life is still pretty darn good."  I won't lie and say I wasn't a little annoyed by her response.  But, it's only because I knew she was right.  Life does go on and I'm still happy, healthy and lucky as hell.  And running will always have a lot to do with this.

Rosie's first post-race comment:
"Good job mom.  Can we go get ice cream now?"

Listen to this:
Tidal Wave - Sub Focus feat. Alpines 


  1. You are amazing in my book, regardless! Celebrate what went well, your journey, and the outpouring of support from your family that loves you and knows you. Well done, girl!!

  2. I wish I could run a marathon in 3:21
    but I wont be running a marathon anytime soon, just isn't for me.
    But well done, and be proud of yourself.
    Great song too, singer reminds me of Sarah McLachlan