There are a lot of things I can do right now, but the one thing I CAN'T do:
To sum it up, the race went really well.
I'll be blabbering on about a lot of different things, many of which I think attributed to the success of the race, but it was really all of these small things in combination that made the race a good one.
The night before I was in bed early, but couldn't sleep. Probably got about 5 1/2 hours total, which might be good for some people, but not for me. Oh well, I was up early enough to watch some post game interviews from CU's win against Kansas.
We left on time and had everything we needed and got to the race about an hour early. Nothing to do except wait. It was chilly but not too bad, considering the high for the day was over 80. I knew it would warm up, so I started without any peripherals. No warm weather ones, anyway. I still had my iPod holder, which worked just fine.
Now I know...you have to get in line for the bathrooms, like, an hour before, otherwise you aren't getting anywhere. I tried to get in line with about 18min til the start...
Went by a tree...too bad there is no place to hide when you are at a large event like this...
Got to the start squeezed my way to the front after the wheelchair start. Finally. Relieved to be at the start, everything I needed. 2 minutes to relax.
The only thing I was determined to do was to start slow. By slow, I mean, at a reasonable pace. Everyone knows that they can't start out really fast and still have a good race. Everyone knows that with all the race day excitement and adrenaline, it is REALLY EASY to start to fast, cause what feels super slow is actually still too fast (I'm sure that at least 5 million people can confirm this).
From what I saw (and maybe a lot of the people I saw were relay runners) but a lot of people started way too fast. There must have been 100 people who ran that first mile in 6:30 or less and based on the race results, not many of them maintained that for the next 25 miles. It was a little unnerving to watch and then to feel slow and mentally to try and stay at the right pace.
Well, I must have been blinded by the excitement, cause I didn't see a mile marker til mile 5. Seriously. And I am obsessed with knowing my exact times and pacing, so I was looking for the markers...
It's hard to judge if you are going too fast for the first couple miles when you don't see the markers. I was really getting nervous. I even asked someone around mile 3 what the markers looked like, cause I hadn't seen any. He said they were written on the street with chalk or something. They weren't. Don't know what happened. I saw every one of them from mile 5 on (except 8. again. must have been really distracted).
Point being, I went out only a little faster than I would have liked. Not much. Then from mile 5 through mile 18 I was able to monitor my speed and stay pretty consistent. I had family (including wife and son) run to several spots around the course. Not an easy thing to do for a city marathon with lots of road closures. The cheering is helpful and it gave me something to look forward too.
I took in water and gatorade at every opportunity. Well, once I didn't take gatorade, cause I had a GU in my hand. There were times when I felt full and like I did not want any more, but I grabbed the cups and kept drinking at every chance. Fortunately I finished before it got to hot, but regardless, I think it turned out to be a good decision. At the expo on Saturday, they had several high profile runners give presentations, and we watched Alan Culpepper. He talked about race plans and preparation and mentioned the need to take in fluids and electrolytes. But his point was that you have to do it based on what you know, not on how you feel during the race, so even when you are burping up the last aid station's gatorade, if you know what you need to do, then you just drink/eat the right things regardless of how you feel or what "sounds good" mid-race.
I did that, and I never once felt thirsty. Never once felt like hydration or electrolytes or calories or lack thereof were an issue.
The course was a fun one. I never run in the city and it was strange to be on the roads and to pass police officers at every intersection who were directing traffic. By the last miles, when there are few spectators because everyone is at the finish or at some earlier mile marker, it wasn't as fun. But at least by then, the race was almost over.
To avoid rambling on too much more:
Things just fell into place. I stayed consistent with my pacing. No injuries or abnormal pains set in (plenty of normal pains, but that goes without saying).
Didn't have to go to the bathroom mid-race, or anything. The closest thing I got to a mishap was dropping my GU packet. I picked it up and almost cut someone off. But that was it.
I kept expecting fatigue to set in. I spent miles 5 through 16 wondering when I would break down. It didn't happen. Miles 16 - 21 were the most fun, because it began to sink in that I could hold the pace. I was significantly under 3hour pace, and by mile 22, baring a complete breakdown, I was going to be fine.
I didn't kill myself sprinting over the last mile, but just stayed at about 6:50pace for the last 1.2 and was glad to be done.
26.2 in 2:57:15 (net time)
16th overall. 2nd in the 18-24 age group.
Told ya. I can't complain at all.
The worst part was stopping at the end! Did I miss this part, or have people said this 100 times? I expected the stopping part to be the best but instead I crossed the finish line and my muscles instantly felt tight, sore, beat up, everything. Worse than at any point in the race. No wonder everyone looks awful at the end of a marathon.
Whatever the case, I got my medal and made my way through to the main area, so I could eat and sit and relax and stretch.
I'll save my analysis of training/ results for later, but I am glad that the race turned out like it did. Definitely won't be my last marathon. I hope to relax for a while and then stay in shape with a medium amount of running over the winter. And we'll go from there.