Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

The San Francisco Marathon

The San Francisco Marathon kicked my butt.  Period.  I knew it would be hard for several reasons.
  1. No specific training for this hilly course.  During the last three months nearly all my runs have been on tracks.  That kind of training is not going to get one far on the streets of San Francisco. 
  2. The course itself is tough.  Races like these are often thought of as "hilly in the first half, flat in the second".  That's not entirely true.  My experience has shown that these are even more difficult (for me!) because your energy and legs are spent by the time you get to that "flat part of the course".  It doesn't seem to matter how conservative you are in the beginning miles, you can't underestimate the beating of relentless hills -- often steep, too! 
  3. Third, race size.  I don't care how many waves there are or where you are in your wave, in a race this size it's going to be hard to find your groove.  Crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge and back is an incredible experience, except at this race everyone is squeezed into one lane of traffic, the metal connector plates are slick, and you are pretty much stuck running with whomever you are next to when you start the bridge.  And you are just hoping that no one is walking or stopping to take photos -- but they are.
Splits from my GPS watch are as follows:
1- 8:22
2- 8:57
3- 8:39
4- 8:28
5- 8:32
6- 9:26
7- 8:50
8- 8:27
9- 8:40
10- 8:34
11- 8:49
12- 9:12
13- 9:13
14- 8:35
15- 9:20
16- 9:25
17- 9:33
18- 9:22
19- 9:20
20- 9:52
21- 10:30
22- 8:33
23- 10:15
24- 11:00
25- 11:40
26- 11:21
27- 9:29
Final- 26.90 miles, 4:12:17

Mile 7 maybe?  Coming off Golden Gate Bridge on the Marin County side

Walkers on GGB
2nd half runners
Course monitors
Post GG Park
You are in the lead

<< will update race details later! >>

Official race stats:

Full Marathon
Runner DetailsRace Results
Name:Cherl Willardson
Hometown:Corvallis, OR
Overall:1989 out of 6025
Women: 413 out of 2038
F 40-44: 47 out of 292
Age/Grade: 56.60% Place: 1212
Finish: 4:12:11 Pace: 9:38
Chip Time:4:12:11
Gun Time:4:27:17
Split Times
2.5:20:35 Pace: 8:14
5.5 Mi:48:41 Pace: 8:52
7.5 Mi:1:06:59 Pace: 8:56
13.3 Mi:1:58:39 Pace: 8:56
17.1 Mi:2:36:42 Pace: 9:10
23.5 Mi:3:40:44 Pace: 9:24

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Monday, June 01, 2015

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Pacific Northwest Marathon

The Pacific Northwest Marathon on Saturday, May 2nd, in Eugene, Oregon was finally the one!  I ran a Boston Marathon qualifying race and made my goal!  Amazing.

This was a race I was really excited to sign up for.  I have run the Eugene Marathon and loved it.  But since the year I ran it, they had moved it to the summer and it looked like they would continue to hold it in the summer.  Well, knowing how I don't run well in the heat, I was really happy to see this new offering in Eugene during the Spring.  And since it was the inaugural race, they offered the marsthon for just $60.  Sixty bucks!  You can't beat that price.

Training kicked off well.  I've enjoyed following the Hansons plan for the past year and knew that it was the plan that I would follow again.  Something about those tough and long tempo runs sandwiched between days of other long runs really gives me confidence.  I was training well and even kicked it up a notch after I ran Roaring Run Half Marathon in January and finished in 1:41 (a new PR).  Another PR at the Portland Shamrock 15K (1:12 on a challenging course!) in March sealed the deal.  I was going for it.  I started following the 3:30 marathon workout.

Now, I knew a 3:30 was a bit of a stretch but I questioned whether that was just a mental block.  Like, I hadn't run a marathon faster than 3:52 and in my mind, I first had to run a 3:50, then a 3:45, you know... baby steps to reach my Boston time of 3:45.  Yet, I had a great HM time and thought I should at least try.  If nothing else, training for a 3:30 would leave me with a 15 minute cushion for those later miles that are always so tough for me.

In the weeks leading up to the marathon, family life started to get messy.  A new opportunity for Mike meant that we would likely be moving to an unknown, unfamiliar area and all the stuff that moving a family entails is a lot of work and so stressful.  I started finding my runs to be an even more needed outlet.  I really began to give my runs and the quality of those runs priority.  I needed them for my mental state!

The week of the marathon was not one of my best and more relaxing tapers.  We told our extended family that we are moving faraway to another state.  I did not drink fluids obsessively, like I always do to hydrate well before a big effort.  I did not abstain from alcohol.  Nothing tastes better to me after a hard day's work than a cold beer.  Two a night felt like a good amount.  I did not get to bed early.  I went out one night with friends to hear another friend's band play.  I did not always make the best decisions regarding what I ate.  A huge plate of tater tots all by myself?  Sure!  I painted the patio on my hands and knees.  I weeded the entire yard, including all the ivy sneaking in from my neighbor's yard.  I spread an entire trailer load of bark.  I spent hours packing up things, organizing, anything to declutter our house in preparation to list it.  I helped move out furniture that had sold at our garage sale and on craigslist.  I prepared out house to be listed for sale Thursday morning.  Race day was Saturday.

Thursday, I was tired.  Like, just plain physically and emotionally exhausted.  I had a few minor freak outs.  Most notably to the young gas attendant when he asked how my day was going.  I'm pretty sure he didn't ask anyone else that that day.  He cleaned my windows and that made my day a little better.  I appreciated that and thanked him.

Friday, I limited myself to one hour first thing in the morning to tidying up the house.  I made beds, cleaned the bathrooms, changed the linens on my bed, cleaned up the kitchen... basically spent an hour working furiously, but then that was it.  I got a pedicure, picked up the kids early from school and took them out to a nice lunch, and spent the afternoon in the hammock listening to the kids play on the patio with one of Meredith's friends.  It was all very relaxing, and peaceful.  I started to actually think about this marathon and what my strategy should be.

I decided I would copy my friend Kelly and run the first 20 at an "easier" pace.  The last 6.2/10k I would pick it up if I could but the earlier 20 would give me just a little in the bank that I could use in the end, if needed.  So my plan was to start at an 8:30 pace for 20 miles.  I ate a lot of pasta and bread at dinner, gulped down more electrolytes, laid out my race stuff, and got into bed at 8pm.  I was fast asleep before 8:30pm and did not wake again until just before my 4:30am alarm.  I think the physical work all week had taken its toll.  Thursday and Friday nights were SOLID sleep nights.  I rarely have those before a race.

My friend Evelyn came over just before 5am race morning so we could drive together.  It was her first marathon and that just makes me giddy.  She's a trail runner and has run up to 18 and 20 mile races but road racing a marathon was new territory for her.  We stopped by Starbucks to get some coffee and then headed down to Eugene. 

We had an hour to get ourselves ready, use the port-o-potties, meet up with friends, etc. before the 7am race start.  Temperature was perfect for me.  A little cool when I stripped off my warm clothes, but I knew a mile into the race I would appreciate having worn a tank top and shorts.  I carried 4 GU packs in my belt and carried a 20oz sport top water bottle.  I do this on longer warms and/or warmer days so I'm used to carrying the weight and shifting it from one hand to the other. 

Race morning was perfect.  When I saw that it was optimal temperature for me, and that my GPS watch was actually going to work, and that my iPod was actually going to play music for me... well, it looked like my stars were aligning.  Yay!

I started too fast.  I fell in behind Kelly because I knew she'd be running 8:20s for the first 20 miles.  It was race morning and I was excited so ignoring my 8:30s plan for her faster pace sounded perfectly reasonable.  Before the race I had talked to a Corvallis friend whose plan was to run 8s and she was trying to convince me to run that pace with her.  We had both run the Portland Marathon last October and finished within a minute of each other.  Since we had both been training with the Hansons 3:30 plan, she thought I should man up and run with her.  In the end, she finished in 3:36.  So anyway, when she passed me at mile 7 or 8, she told me I was running 8:05s.  What!?  I knew Kelly had started fast but I wasn't paying that close attention to what that actually meant.  I began to step it down a notch.

My splits:
1-   8:05
2-   8:02
3-   8:10
4-   8:06
5-   8:06
6-   8:06
7-   8:02
8-   8:10
9-   8:17
10- 8:21
11-  8:23
12-  8:19
13-  8:23
14-  8:18
15-  8:17
16-  8:18
17-  8:20
18-  8:23
19-  8:17
20-  8:25
21-  8:26
22-  8:45
23-  8:55
24-  9:07
25-  9:17
26-  9:10
27-  5:25 (.63 miles)
TOTAL 26.63 miles, 3:43:56  (official was 3:43:50)

I felt really strong and confident until mile 22.  Miles 0-8 were pure excitement and joy to be running and just trying to find my pace.  Miles 9-15 were run solely to get the miles done, enjoy the river view, and do the turn around.  Mile 16-23 were run with this woman Kate.  She told me she was very competitive and since I caught her from behind, I think it really helped her because she stuck with me until mile 23 when I stopped every so briefly for a cup of Gatorade (she went on and finished a little before me -- I think she realized her goal of 3:40 may not happen unless she gave it all she had).  I could feel my calves tightening and knew I hadn't had enough electrolytes.  Each GU made my stomach churn for a mile so I stopped taking them after the third one.  When I "stopped" for Gatorade (honestly, I wouldn't even call it a stop... it was a pause), I stumbled.  I started to fall forward so I grabbed the cup and kept running.  At that point, I knew I had better not stop no matter how hard it got.  And it got hard. 

Mile 24 was misplaced.  A woman came charging up behind me at that marker and asked me if my watch was reading the course long, too.  At that point, my watch read 24.79 miles.  Soon after, we crossed mile 25 and my watch read 25.30.  Mile 24 was in the wrong spot.  The entire course read long on my watch.  So when I crossed mile 25 in 3:30, I knew I had 15 minutes to get in under my goal but I didn't know if I needed to cover 1.2 miles or 1.8 miles because my watch was reading the course long.  It was crazy. 

A Corvallis friend who is an incredible runner came running towards me around mile 26.3 (by my watch).  She stayed two feet ahead of me, encouraging me the whole time.  She only ran with me for less than a 1/4 of a mile, but it made a huge difference.  When she peeled off she said, "Girl, you've got this!  It's just one loop on the track.  That's all you have left.  ONE LOOP OF THE TRACK."  And I picked it up, got one last encouragement when I passed another runner at the last corner ("Go for it! Finish strong!"), and finished as strong as I could.  I saw Kelly's friends cheering and snapping photos on the side and that made me smile.  I watched the clock the whole time as I passed under the finish. 

With so many Corvallis runners there, it really felt like a party at the finish line.  Everyone ran so well, many ran BQs and PRs.  Female friends swept the podium.  It was really great!  Reflecting back now a day after the race, I really enjoyed it and appreciate all the effort that went into making this race happen.  I hope it returns next year for others to enjoy.

** Official results have my time at 3:43:50 with an average overall pace of 8:30.  When I plug those numbers into a pace calculator, I get a distance of 26.33 miles.  I guess that's legit but I would have preferred a slightly shorter race.
** Best part of this race: running it with so many friends.  Corvallis had a very large (and fast) contingent show up from our HOTV running group.  My dear running friend Evelyn ran her first marathon and that's always exciting.  I was happy to be a part of that experience.  And, of course, my long time running friend Kelly was there and ran a fantastic race.  She's always pushing me and I know for a fact that it has improved my running.