Charleston Marathon Recap – No BQ For Me :(

There’s a theme going on here with my last several marathons. Bonk. It’s a weird sort of bonk and I can’t quite figure it out, but I have my suspicions, now that I’ve had a day to think about it. Yeah, I figured it out. So here’s my race report…

My husband and I drove to Charleston the morning before the race. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from our house, and I have had a really sick cat who needed to go to the vet for fluids, so we got a late start. We headed down and chatted, ate, and had a nice, relaxing trip. We went to packet pickup, which was busy and really easy to access. I think the expo would have been significantly better had a band not been performing in the school gym where expo was located. It was so loud. And loud music when you’re trying to wander around booths and get your race stuff and chat with people is just stressful. Basically, all people were doing was signaling, “WHAT?!??”.

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I hope they nix the band in the future – no one liked it, and this doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have enjoyed the band at the finish line, OUTSIDE.

I got my stuff, saw some fellow Wilmington peeps, and we headed to the hotel to hang out. My sister kept the kids, so it was nice to watch tv, and go to dinner when we felt like it. I had my traditional burger, and honestly I had no nerves. I was determined, I was scared (to face the pain), but I was more determined than scared. I was worried about how warm and humid it might be, but I figured I would take my Base Rocket Fuel and salt, and I would be fine.  It’s all about dealing with the obstacles, not letting them deal with you. That was my attitude going into the race. I was ready to tear it up.

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My goal times and some other “inspiring” words of encouragement.

On race morning, I did my traditional thing, ate peanut butter on bread, a banana, drank some OJ, and we headed to the race start about 90 minutes prior. I had some nerves, but it was more determination than fear. No traffic, plenty of parking, we were there. A friend of mine needed a Garmin charge cord, so I took that to her, tried to exchange my medium shirt for a large, which is highly annoying since I’m not a large person, so I didn’t think I needed to order a large shirt. I found a few friends from Wilmington at the start, got a kiss from my hubby who was running the half, and soon, we were on our way. They got the race started right at 8. Awesome.

I was warm. It was over 50 degrees when we started, which means tank and shorts for me. I had gloves because of the waiting, plus I tucked one of my gu’s in one. I was trying something completely different for this race, and I knew it was going to be warmer and more humid than I feel I race well in, so I carried Base Rocket Fuel with me. This stuff boosted me big time during Ironman, and I’ve been using it, the salts, and the Base Energy for almost a month while training. I had two small containers, one in my hand, one in a “holster” hooked on my shorts. I was leery of carrying, but I was willing to throw the containers when empty or if they got annoying.

The first mile was pretty crowded, but it thinned out enough where I didn’t have to weave in and out around the 9+ minute mile people. By mile three, I was pretty sweaty. The temps were fairly cool and we had a breeze/wind, so that was good, but the sun was out in full force, and I was warming up quickly. “Adjust to it, Kelli. You just need to adjust.” I was keeping at a fairly even pace at 8:15’s, and I slowly built up some time over the miles. I enjoyed the course as we weaved through the battery and beautiful historic homes on the water front, then along the southern part of the Charleston peninsula. And then the course dried up. It went from a pretty downtown area with spectators to industrial with no one. I knew there were a lot of turns, and that was ok, I just needed to watch my tangents so I didn’t end up running 27 miles!

The full and half split the first time at mile 9, and we fullers headed into the abyss of the naval yard and Cooper River Marina. There was a push on the way out, and looking back, this was where I realized the day was unwinding. I was optimistic though – just push, keep going, don’t give up, don’t be a p****, how bad do you want it, you’re doing it, you’re on pace, don’t fuck it up, so many people believe in you, you believe in you – these were the thoughts in my head. I was keeping pace, but it seemed harder, and I didn’t know why. At mile 12, we went onto a concrete dock and turned around and headed back into the most boring course ever. Ugh. The good thing is that I saw two people I knew along the way, so just seeing them made me happy.

At that point, I was racing. I thought I was hydrating. By then, I had drank my 7ish oz of Rocket Fuel, a few licks of Base salt, and had two of my gu’s. I was super sweaty, or rather, I was salty. I felt like I was doing the right thing. At mile 14, I was only maybe 20 seconds off my goal pace, but I felt like I was losing time. I felt like it was getting harder and harder to just keep at an 8:30 pace.

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Mile 16

I wasn’t going to give up. But soon, I knew I lost my goal. I knew it was not going to work. I didn’t understand what happened though. No, I don’t like warm weather, and it doesn’t like me, but I was FIGHTING! Isn’t that supposed to work? Isn’t that enough? Willing yourself to fight, to push, to work harder than you feel you can, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do to race your best? Well, it simply wasn’t enough for me that day.

I cried. I hyperventilated. I felt like I let everyone down, my coach, my family, my teammates. I let the haters win – yes, I know there’s people out there happy I didn’t meet my goal. I’m a laughing stock. Kelli failed yet again. Can’t she get it right? Was my one BQ a fluke? All that time. All that money. All the hopes and dreams and faith it would work this time. Gone. I failed before I crossed the finish line, and I was angry. Frustrated. Tired of failing. Did I not want it badly enough? So many other people can do this, what the hell am I doing wrong? Did I already reach my peak? Am I just not a BQ marathon runner anymore?

But around mile 18, I still had some fight. I knew I could still run a good time, so go for it. I wouldn’t let myself quit, as I desperately wanted to walk off the course, make up some story about a sprained ankle, but I was there to fight. So I fought. It was a battle where I was prepared to duke it out to the end, but I had no ammunition. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was like so many other marathons – I could no make my body do what I knew it could do. It wasn’t muscular. THAT is something I can push through. This was something else, something else that bogged me down. I allowed myself one tantrum. 20 seconds. That was it. Carry on.

As I went through cycles of good running, some walking, and some shuffling, I dreaded the finish line. And then I didn’t. And as I turned about a hundred thousand times on the course to that line, I knew I had to keep going, keep fighting, and finish with a smile. It was a marathon for goodness sake, and I was going to finish in under four hours. Time goals aside, finishing a marathon is something to be proud of, no matter how long it takes. So I had a feeling of pride as I ran the last few miles. I guess I let go of what other people thought about me, and let myself feel the true feelings that I had – disappointment mixed with pride. One of my favorite songs came on, and I turned up the volume, then hit rewind and listened to it again. I should have been finishing at that point. Damn.

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A race picture with BOTH feet off the ground. Keeper!!

I enjoyed the last .2 miles of this marathon. The crowd was good, you could hear the finish line announcer, and then I saw my husband and friend, Wendy, cheering me on. I choked up, as I knew he knew how much I wanted this race. And he’s always there for me, always cheering me on, supporting me through my races, my crazy ideas, and he always calls me amazing. He is my rock.  And I finished my race in 3:54:06. No, I did not meet my goal, but I ran a marathon. And for that, I am super proud.

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Marathon 9 in the books!

The after party was pretty awesome. They had shrimp and grits (I just had the grits but they hit the spot), beer, mimosas, an amazing band, and just a fun atmosphere in the North Charleston downtown area. I found my fellow blogger, Running Wild and his other pacer, and we chatted a bit and hung out as we rested up. Cool peeps.

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Paul, another cool pacer guy, and me

Because we needed to head home, I went to the school just next to the finish, showered, and we took a shuttle back to the start to get our car and head home.

So now that I’ve had a few days to digest the race, what went wrong? Again. Well, after I thought about it, boggled over it for hours, I realized I wasn’t doing the one thing that I knew I needed to do. Drink. I had the perfect drink. I had it with me. I was literally holding the key in my hand. And as I tell you how much I had to drink the first half, I’m going to hear tons of you face-palm yourselves because how can a person, a smart person, a COACH herself, be so clueless? Each race is a lesson learned, whether it be of what to do or what NOT to do. So I learned that drinking 7 oz in the first 13-14 miles of a marathon isn’t enough. Here, I’ll do it for you.

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I heard my coach do this over the phone.

So now what? What am I going to do? Well, I’m going to read a lot about hydration and recover. I’m not sure if I’m going to go ahead with my other race plans or adjust based on the fact that I was really dumb about hydration when I knew I needed to drink more. Why didn’t I drink more? Well, honestly, I thought I was. I had Rocket Fuel. I had salt. I was going to ADJUST. I’ve never drank much during races before and that worked for me, right? Hah, no, that’s why I’ve bonked the last three. I never did before and it worked when it was cold out. It wasn’t cold the last three marathons, and I didn’t adjust. You always learn something when you race. Yeah, I learned how not to be a dumbass.

Categories: go for your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running with friends, temper tantrum, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

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22 thoughts on “Charleston Marathon Recap – No BQ For Me :(

  1. That image of the cat: yes. Every bad mile feels like that.
    But I like the attitude you come away with… sure, you didn’t meet your goal. But! You ran a marathon. GO you!

  2. Thank you! That’s how I feel about it, disappointment aside. It’s just another link in the chain.

  3. *hugs* I’m really sorry you didn’t have the race you wanted. It looked like you still put up a fight and had a good time. A lot of people really struggled on Saturday, including some of the faster guys (i.e., the Without Limits guys) and a lot of marathoners. I think the heat played a big part for the marathoners because temps were great for the half, but that sun was hot after about 10-10:30 AM.

    I don’t think your BQ was a fluke. You can never have a fluke good time, but you can have a fluke bad time due to conditions, hydration, fueling, training, etc. The good times are always the result of hard work and not flukes, and you BQed once and can do it again. Hope your recovery goes well!

    • Congrats on your PR!!!! That’s pretty darned awesome! And thanks for the comments. I did fight, but just made a pretty critical rookie error that I knew better to make. Ahhh, it’s nothing new for me. Next time.

  4. Angela Nichols Leonard

    Crap. This hurts to read. I’m so impressed by your ability to logically analyze the problems you encountered. Now, you can make some changes for THE NEXT TIME! Of course, there will be a next time! Keep fighting.

  5. Gary

    I have absolutely NO doubt that you will learn from this and come out stronger for your next race.

  6. Nancy

    So sorry you had a bad race. I do think you need to read up on hydration and how it affects your body. Even if you had finished the 7oz that isn’t enough for the first half. It helps me if I draw lines on my bottle and drink that amount at every mile split. I am a heavy sweater but even if you aren’t 7 oz isn’t enough. You will do the research and get it next time!

    • Yes, I already know I was WAY under for even one hour. I just never “thought” I needed it, which is why I’ve had such issues the last three marathons! Seems so simple. I already have a plan to handle this in the next race, sooner than later 🙂

  7. I know this feeling so well. I’m sorry you didn’t have the race you wanted, but it was most definitely not a fluke before. You are so strong and amazing!! don’t ever forget that!

  8. Well, your race report doesn’t sound so different from my Wineglass. I thought I was fueling enough, but when I saw the bottles were both more than half full (and I should’ve needed to consume at least 3 full bottles), I knew what went wrong. But in the midst of the bonk, I was so freaking confused. I actually muttered aloud in disbelief, “I actually can’t do this?!” Because my legs would not listen to my commands and I was getting clumsy and tripping like I had straw for legs. And, yes, I damn well knew better. I guess I needed to do things the hard way.

    So, major, major hugs to you. You’re still my hero and a great role model to me. Rest up and be kind to yourself. You are a rock star and Ironman!

    • PS this Judy ain’t Judge Judy-ing you 😉

      • This makes me laugh. The Judge Judy part. Why must we learn the hard way?? Why do we put ourselves through this? Ha, well, I know the reason. I’m feeling good and plan to tackle this thing here sooner than later. That straw leg feeling stinks, doesn’t it. I really, honestly never put two and two together and figured out it was from lack of liquid. I have nutrition down, just really missed the hydration part in a very glaring way. It makes me feel better, relieved I guess, that it was something outside of my athletic ability that railroaded me these last three times. Oh, how we must learn!!! Maybe this will teach someone else of what not to do! Hope you’re doing well!!

      • You won’t make the same mistake again. 🙂

        Do you have another attempt planned for soon?

  9. I agree with the panel of judges above…. You are a rock star, an Ironman, and above all else, a tough chick out there on the road. You kicked some serious tail in Charleston! Conditions were not easy, and you managed to complete your 9th marathon! Did you hear me? Your NINTH MARATHON! Most people can only dream of that! You conquered it. You rock, sister! And always a pleasure bumping into you at races!

    • Hey thanks! Looks like I’ll be doing my 10th marathon here soon :0 I feel good and am learning (YET AGAIN) what I need to do. I feel better that it was something outside of my physical ability that railroaded me this time. Again. Good to see you, and I’m sure I’ll see you again before too long!

  10. Aww Kelli, I am so sorry that you did not have the race you had hoped for. Of course your first BQ was not a fluke. You will do it again, but next time you will have more knowledge from this race and know what to do for hydration. Hopefully recovery goes well and you can make a good decision on what races to include on your calendar. You finished strong and that was a huge accomplishment, I know having just endured a horrible marathon.

  11. As someone who has learned harsh lessons mid-race, I know how much it sucks when things don’t go your way. We are stubborn animals and sometimes we decide to improvise or go against the plan for whatever reason. Call it impulse. But at least we can have our post-mortem and learn from it. And like you said, you ran a marathon! How hilarious (or insane) is it that what many people do just once in their lifetime as a testament to the invulnerability of the human drive is something that we do several times a year? And somehow we can be disappointed when we finish?

    It’s a fun thing to put in perspective, and I’m glad you did. You finished in 3:54, which is a great time by ANY standard. Time to relax and see what new adventures await.

  12. Congratulations on another marathon in the books! That is a pretty amazing time considering IMFL was not too long ago 😉

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