Monday, November 19, 2018

Route 66 Marathon

Two weeks out from the marathon our family was hit with a tummy bug which left me worried I'd get sick the week of the marathon. Having a late November goal race is a little tricky as a teacher and a parent of little kids because it's when all the yucky stuff starts going around! I started taking a probiotic daily and was washing my hands like crazy! My hands are already chapped from all the hand washing and it's not even winter yet! The whole week leading up to the race, I was so excited for the marathon I had a hard time falling asleep. I think my taper also had something to do with that. It was the most excited I've been about a single event since Ty and my wedding. I felt like a kid anticipating Christmas. I knew I was capable of running a really great race and I couldn't wait to get out there and do just that. I made it to Saturday without getting sick so I felt pretty confident I would be fine for race day. Saturday night I laid in bed struggling to fall asleep. Then right after I'd drifted off I heard Carter calling out for help. He'd gotten sick in his bed. As I changed his sheets and Ty cleaned him off in the tub, I felt my stomach turning over. I immediately became paranoid. Then I realized I had forgotten to take my probiotic that morning so I took one then. Once we were back in bed I laid there worrying I would get sick partway through the marathon. Finally I told myself, if I got really sick I'd just drop out of the race and try to find another marathon to run. Carter didn't get sick again that night so in the morning I was confident that if I ended up sick, it might just mean one porta potty stop and then I'd be okay.
At the race expo.
Carter taking our picture.
My big dream goal was to break 3:30 and qualify for Boston, but I also really wanted to run a PR. I knew if I ran a PR but didn't BQ I'd be disappointed because I really believed I could run under 3:30. With a 22 mile long run relaxed on a course with 1,000 feet of elevation gain in an average of 8:15 pace and a 20 mile long run workout with an average pace of 8:08, I had the training runs to back up my beliefs. My plan was to run the first half of the race in 8:00 pace and come through the half-marathon in 1:45. I knew I'd really need to run a smidge under 8:00 pace because it's impossible to run the tangents perfectly so I always end up about 1/10th of a mile over by the half-way point. On a perfect day I believed I could then back that up with my second half at 7:45 pace which would be around 1:41:30 for the second half-marathon. I told Ty on a perfect day with a great race, I thought I was capable of running 3:26:30 or so. Even without a perfect day I was confident I could maintain 8:00 pace for the second half of the race. I knew it would all come down to the first half of the race and how comfortable 8:00 pace felt. That night as I set my alarm I read the label one last time, "It's time for a new PR!" I had been reading that label every morning as I turned off my alarm for 16 weeks. This time when I woke up I would actually be going out to get that PR instead of just putting in the work to get there! I went to sleep with a smile on my face as I visualized the race.
Ty and mom making signs on Saturday night for her to hold the next day.
We left the house around 7:15 for the 8:00 race, gotta love hometown races! Thomas and I stopped off at the bathroom and Ty went to gear check to check in clothes for after the race. He knew since my parents would be out cheering for us in the marathon, they may not make it to the finish line for him in the half. It would work out perfectly for them to pick up Thomas because he'd finish before Jeremy and I turned off for the full marathon (the courses don't split until about 12.5 miles in) so they could pick him up and get back over to cheer for us. We found Jeremy in the start corral and I passed my warm ups over the fence to mom. I had gone back and forth on whether to wear shorts or tights. The temperature at the start was 34 degrees which would be shorts weather for me, but the feels like was 27 degrees. Once we got out there I was so glad I'd decided on tights, thanks to the wonderful advice of my friend, Sara! It was misting which made it feel even colder and the wind was decently strong and biting. I was so pumped up and almost couldn't contain myself before the race, I was so eager to get going! When they shot the gun for the start, they also shot the confetti cannons which is just awesome every time and never gets old! I love it. We took off and I scanned the right side of the road for mom, dad, and the kids. I waved at them and just couldn't stop smiling. Marathon day was finally here! My friends I run with and did the OKC Marathon Relay with were doing the marathon relay and April, who was running the first leg, was planning to find me at the start so we could start together. We never found each other in the start corral.

The first mile has the most amount of downhill of any mile in the course so the race goes out fast. Jeremy took out ahead of me and by the end of the first mile I couldn't see him but I didn't worry about him like I did last year. I just figured he was going to rock the race! I went through the first mile in 7:47. The pace felt really relaxed. During mile 2 I saw April and she cheered for me. We chatted a little back and forth as she went past me. My 2nd mile was 8:00. During mile 3 I caught Jeremy and we smiled and told each other good job. My 3rd mile was 7:50. I was pleased that once I fell into pace I was able to run consistently what I needed. I didn't worry about being under 8:00 pace early because I felt really strong and I wasn't going to hold myself back from a pace that felt right. I love that they haven't changed the course much in the last few years because I know it really well and enjoy looking forward to certain sections where I know there will be a water stop or quite a few spectators. My favorite part of the first section of the race is going through Cascia Hall. I went through mile 4 in 7:56 and then we had the biggest climb on the course at Woodward Park. Mile 5 was 8:11 and I didn't really even pay attention to that. I knew with all the hills in the first half of the race my splits would be up and down and I was okay with that. That ended up being only one of 3 miles in the race that wasn't under 8:00. The other two were 8:00 on the dot! I ate my first Gu at mile 5 and planned to eat one at 5, 10, 15, and 20. I took water at every water stop. Around in here I saw Alicia who was running the 2nd leg of the relay and was cheering before heading to her relay spot. It was awesome to see her and she cheered for me like crazy! I saw one of my favorite signs around in here that said, "Should I call you an Uber?"
Running past the Philbrook Museum around mile 4.
During mile 6 we ran down Peoria and as we were turning onto Peoria I passed 3 ladies running the half-marathon. They were talking amongst themselves about whether we'd get to run by The Gathering Place, our new park built on Riverside. I told them we would and we even got to run through the new tunnels on Riverside. Then I complimented one of the ladies on her black and white striped tights and she got all excited telling me where she got them and all their neat features. It was fun! There's a place that has spin classes and they pull the bikes out onto the road to cheer. They were pumping music and going nuts. A funny sign there was, "Keep going! Keep going! (That's what she said.)" We also ran past the running store whose race team I run on. I enjoyed seeing friends I run with and had the biggest smile on my face. I had pulled my gloves off and tucked them into the waistband of the tights. I thought about passing them off to mom and dad when I saw them but then thought about it and we hadn't run into the wind yet so I decided to keep them in case I needed to put them back on later. I'm glad I did because I wore them for most of the second half of the race. With the wind at our backs, I'd take them off. Then when we'd turn back into the wind, I'd put them back on. It was hard not to speed up too much during mile 6 because it was flat and there were so many spectators. I had to rein myself in a bit and still went through that mile in 7:42. I really wasn't paying too much attention to my mile splits on my watch. I was looking at the course clocks at each mile and calculating what I needed to be at according to it. I was glad I was shooting for a nice round 8:00 pace because it was pretty easy to calculate. I had planned on sticking with a 3:30 pacer for a while but the fastest pace group they had available was 3:40. I went through the 10k mark in 49:15. I knew I needed to be around 50 minutes there but I wasn't sure exactly.

Mile 7 was 7:47 and then going down 41st Street toward Riverside I saw mom, dad, and the kids. I had thought I saw them at different points because I was searching the spectators for a blue coat since my mom was wearing a blue coat and saw some before. This time I knew it was them because mom started yelling for me as I came into view. It was so much fun to see them and I was quite excited. We turned onto Riverside and the wind was directly in our faces. I was passing a lot of people who slowed in the wind. I would get up behind someone thinking I might be able to draft but they'd slow down. Miles 8, 9, and 10 were all down Riverside into the wind. This was the only section of the course where I felt a little nervous about picking up the pace during the second half of the race but I told myself even if I just maintained that would be okay. Miles 8-10 were 7:53, 7:56, and 7:58. Then we had the dreaded out and back on Southwest Blvd which usually is awful because the wind is really strong there but the wind was in our face on the way back, not the way out so it didn't seem as bad. Before the turn around I saw Audrey, in the relay, going back the other way and cheered for her. Then I saw Jeremy after I turned around and cheered for him. He looked great! I went through mile 11 in 7:58 and started getting excited that we were close to the half-marathon point where I could start picking it up a bit. I went through mile 12 in 7:46. Then the half-marathon and marathon split. I could see Audrey ahead of me and I was catching up to her. I was excited that I could get her to draft off me and go with me and help her. I went through mile 13 in 7:50 and then the half-marathon mark in 1:44:03. I was excited that I was already a minute under pace and felt like I could pick it up. I decided since I ran under 1:45 pace I wouldn't drop down to 7:45 pace right away but hold steady for a while before speeding up. I passed Audrey a little after the half-marathon mark and told her to come with me, but then realized I was running under 8:00 pace which was her goal.
Thomas passed his gloves off before Riverside and regretted it.
Caught putting my gloves back on during the back portion of Southwest Blvd.
Around mile 14 I saw my family again and asked Thomas how his race went. He said he finished in 1:37. We went through the Utica Square area and there were tons of gloves abandoned by the side of the road. I turned to the guy beside me and said, "It's a glove cemetery," while laughing. He asked me if I was Liz Cox and when I said yes, told me to tell Ty he said hi. I asked if he worked with Ty and he said he used to at Flight Safety. I asked his name, it was Kevin, and we chatted a little bit. He said he'd been looking for the 3:30 pace group but couldn't find it. I told him there wasn't one, the fastest pace group was 3:40. He said he'd just use me as his pacer. We ended up running together from around mile 14 to mile 20 which was nice! I was still having a pretty easy time calculating what time I needed at each mile by taking 1:20 for 10 and adding the time for the number in the ones place. I kept telling myself, make it to mile 20 and then see what you've got left that last 10k. Paige, in the relay, passed me around mile 17 and it was fun to watch her power by until she was out of view. She also cheered for me which was nice. Having my friends in the relay was like have a cheer crew out on the course. Miles 14-20 were 7:38, 7:46, 7:48, 7:53, 7:50, 7:59, and 7:44. By the 20 mile mark I was 2 minutes under pace.I got really excited when we went over the timing mat at mile 20 and told Kevin, "Only a 10k to go! We've got this!" Then I took off and he didn't go with me. I felt great and really started pushing the pace. I was a little worried about how I'd feel at mile 22 because that's when I really started to struggle last year, but the struggle never came. It's amazing how training really well for a marathon can make the last few miles feel so much easier!
Jeremy running past the hospital he was at when he was in a coma.
Mile 21 was 7:36 and I thought back to the 20 mile long run where I ran 12 miles at 7:38 pace in between 4 warm up and 4 cool down miles. I told myself it wasn't unreasonable to think I could finish the last 10k at 7:30-7:40 pace. There were some big hills in this section but once I dropped under 7:40 pace I was just cruising and feeling great. I hadn't thought about the fact that running 7:30 pace I'd essentially be gaining a minute under pace every 2 miles. I just kept telling myself every second you can pick up gives you a better chance of actually getting into Boston! Mile 22 was 7:30 and then I saw mom, dad, and the kids again around mile 23 or 24. I saw mom first and asked her how Ty finished. She said she wasn't sure but the last she'd seen he'd been ahead of a friend of mine who finished in 2:04. His goal was to break 2 hours and I was confident he had done it. When I got to dad he said, "Looking good! Way to hit pace!" I told him I was actually 3 minutes under pace. He got really pumped up and that was one of my favorite moments of the race. Just the sheer excitement he had when I told him how much under pace I was! Thomas told me my friend, Morgan (in the relay), was just a little bit ahead of me. I couldn't see her but thought it would be fun if I could catch up close to her so I could see the relay team finish.
3/5ths of our awesome cheer crew!
I was blowing past people the whole last 10k and I felt awesome. I continued to smile at and thank the volunteers and police officers out on the course. Once guy I ran past yelled, "That's they way to do it! Still smiling at the end!" Really I couldn't stop smiling because I was crushing it! I was so excited and didn't really even think about what it meant for my time, I just focused on dropping my pace as much as I could to ensure I would actually get into Boston. Miles 23 and 24 were 7:31 and 7:29. Then mile 25 had some tough hills and I ran it in 7:43. I was a little disappointed after the fact I hadn't run it 4 seconds faster so my whole last 10k could have been under 7:40 pace. At the time I didn't care as I was just giving it everything I had! I could see Morgan ahead of me and I could tell I was gaining on her. The timing was perfect because as I was coming up behind her the rest of the team was coming onto the course to run to the finish with her. They all started going nuts and screaming at me to catch up to them and run it in with them. I went through mile 26 in 7:19. When I pulled up beside them, they all started screaming and going nuts. It got me so pumped up I took off and finished the last section of the race in 6:50 pace. Somewhere in the finishing stretch I saw Ty leaning over the fence, cheering for me and super excited. I finished and turned around to walk through the corral with my friends. We took a picture together and they stopped but I needed to keep walking so I went on. I saw Ty waiting for me beside the corral fence and that's when everything hit me and I got emotional. I started crying as I walked over to him and he teared up a little bit. I reached over the fence to hug him and just clung onto him. That was one of my other favorite moments of the race. Sharing that special time with Ty. He told me he finished the half-marathon in 1:58 something and I was so proud. I told him we both ran PRs on the same day for the first time ever! It was the absolute best feeling! Alicia's husband ran over behind Ty and told me I beat the relay team, he couldn't believe it.

Smiles at the finish line.
Sprinting in to the finish line.
I like this picture because you can see my friends finishing the relay right behind me.
My friends finishing the relay as I walk away from the finish line.
Post-race pictures with my running buddies!
I made it through the chute and I feel like dad and Thomas were there along with Ty but they may have met us later. I told Ty I was really good at estimating what I could run as I had predicted a 3:26 on a great day and that's what I ran. Ty said I actually ran a 3:25 and I couldn't believe it so I went to the results tent and had my results printed out. Ty was right! I'd finished in 3:25:27! Dad said mom was in the car with the kids because they were getting really cold. We walked up to watch Jeremy finish. Thomas told me Jeremy had been a little bit behind the 3:40 pacer and I couldn't believe it! I figured Jeremy would finish around 4 hours! Last year he ran 4:20:19. I saw some people finishing around Jeremy who I hadn't passed until toward the end of the race. I thought that was crazy! I'd always thought that people who ran really strong last 10ks of a marathon were just freaks of nature and were meant to run the marathon. I thought of them as separate from me. I was so proud of how I had executed the race! We all got really emotional as we saw Jeremy turn the corner toward the finish line and I found myself getting choked up as I screamed to cheer him on. He looked so amazing. Last year as he finished he looked really rough but this year, although his form was different than before his accident, he looked strong. I was so proud and just amazed by his will and courage.
Thomas took this picture of dad cheering Jeremy on and it was my favorite picture of the day!
We met Jeremy at the end of the corral and then walked back to the car where mom was with the kids. Thomas finished the half-marathon in 1:37:11. I had predicted a 1:35-1:36 for him so I was super close! That put him 9th out of 195 in his age group and 87th out of 4,475 overall! Ty ran a huge PR of 1:58:12, placing 64th out of 195 in his age group and 649th overall. I finished the marathon in 3:25:27 which my Garmin showed as 7:46 pace and 26.42 miles. I really tried to focus on running the tangents this year but it's so hard and really after the half-marathon my mind was elsewhere and if I ran the tangent it was simply out of habit. It's so hard not to be significantly over in a marathon with lots of turns. All my Strava friends who ran also had at least 26.4 miles. That put me 10th overall female out of 662, 59th out of 1,379 total finishers, and 2nd out of 80 in my age group. Jeremy finished in 3:45:13, 24th out of 85 in his age group and 154th overall! He averaged 8:36 miles which is just unbelievable to me! He continues to inspire me and to remind me that running isn't all about PRs and certain places, but just about the joy and love of the run. What he has been able to do, thanks to his positive attitude and not getting down about running slower than he used to, is a great example for all of us!

I ended up running the first half of the race in 1:44:03 and the second half in 1:41:27. I was proud to once again negative split the marathon, that's really the way to go if you can do it. It feels so much better! Now with this time I can finally let go to that little bit of regret I've always felt about not finishing out the marathon when I'd run 22 miles of the Hogeye Marathon Relay and was on pace to run a 3:27. Who cares if I could have run a 3:27 that day because I beat that time on Sunday. That's really the only running-related regret I've ever had so it's really nice to be able to let it go and move on to my next marathon goal. This race was so much about qualifying for Boston but there was also this part of me that wanted to run under 3:27 so I could let go of that lingering "what if," what if I'd finished out that race, what would my marathon PR be? Because that would no longer be my PR! No on to bigger and better things, Boston 2020!
After the race I ate lunch and then laid down with Elise at naptime. Mom, Ty, and I all went grocery shopping together and then met everyone else for dinner. Once our food came and I smelled it, I felt really nauseous and thought maybe it was because I was so hungry but then when I tried to eat I struggled. I felt like I was going to throw up but I couldn't. Later that night Elise was in bed and then yelled that she felt like she was going to throw up so we helped her get to the bathroom. She probably threw up about 7 times between 10:30 and 11:00pm. She wanted to sleep in bed with us since she wasn't feeling good which made it hard for me to sleep. I finally was able to throw up around 11:30 and got some relief. It was so difficult trying to sleep while I felt nauseous and was sore enough it was hard to move positions. When I felt like I needed to throw up, it was hard to move fast enough to get into the bathroom. At one point I woke up so hungry I couldn't sleep so I got up and drank some Powerade. The moment I took the last sip in my glass I had to run to the bathroom and I threw up all my Powerade and some other food from earlier in the day. Nothing like burning 2,600 calories and then not being able to keep any food down! I was just so glad I didn't get sick until after the race. That's all I wanted, was to get through the race. I'm so glad the tummy bug held out until the evening for me! Even though I'm still not feeling 100%, I'm riding the high of running a 13 minute PR and beating the time that I thought might be a wild dream. It's still somewhat unbelievable to me how perfectly the race went and how awesome I felt that last 10k. There's really nothing like knowing you are already beating your goal and then continuing to crush it by even more in the last miles of the race! I'm so thankful for Ty who has been an amazing support through my training process, Thomas who ran long runs with me, my parents who support all of our ventures and cheered us on during the race, and Jeremy who reminds me what it's all about. The craziest part of it all? I'm already thinking about what I could do to run faster next time! Until then, I'll revel in this glory!

Read about my marathon last year here, 2016's half-marathon here, 2015's half-marathon here, and a post with the run-down of every Route 66 Marathon race we've done here.


  1. I loved reading about this! You had one heck of a race! Isn't it amazing how good the final 10K can feel? You are certainly a marathoner! And I also know you can go faster...I've told you before I see a 3:10 coming for you (then it's a slippery slope and you'll have to go for a 3:0X, then a sub-3:00, etc., haha!). You'll take a little time off simply by running a straighter marathon - my Garmin would read 26.4-26.5 in races like Bass Pro and Prairie Fire, but read 26.21 at CIM and 26.22 at Grandma's. I am so glad you didn't get sick until after the race, but that had to do a number on your recovery. Ty, Jeremy, and Thomas all ran awesome too - great day for you all! I hope no one in you family is puking now and that you have a great Thanksgiving!

    1. It was amazing, everything just came together perfectly for my race. I couldn't be happier and when I think over the race I can't think of anything I could have done differently. It was one of the most flawless races I've ever run. It is funny how you immediately think, I could go faster. It was awesome to feel so great the last 10k but that also made me feel like maybe I have room to grow. Now I wonder if sub-3:20 is possible. This course is not easy, there's over 800 feet of elevation gain so that plays a role as well.

      Thomas said it perfectly, we had 4 people run races and every single one of us had a great race. That's pretty race! Thomas ran under 1:40 for the first time in 10 years, Jeremy took 35 minutes off his time from last year, and Ty broke 2:00 for the first time! It was really awesome! All that is more impressive when you consider how windy it was!

      Ty is sick now and both my parents got it. I feel so bad because they came to spectate and take care of the kids for us and then went home and got sick! Hopefully everyone will be better by Thanksgiving. I've been surprised that this has been my best post-marathon recovery out of all 5 I've run. I think a huge part of that has to do with training. This was the best training cycle I've ever had going into the marathon and the hardest I've ever worked for one!

    2. Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone is well now.

      I think you’re right about marathon recovery going better when you’re well-trained (the negative split also helps recovery IMO!). It is such a good feeling to feel like you couldn’t have done anything better in a race and I am glad you got to experience that with this one! Those are the rare white unicorn experiences that you never forget. 😊

    3. I will definitely never forget the feeling of that last 10k. I felt like a machine. It was awesome! We are all finally healthy, thankfully! Happy Thanksgiving!!!!