Carlsbad Marathon Recap

In the week leading up to the marathon, a few friends asked me how i was feeling - nervous, excited, ready? My response was the same each time, 96% excited & ready, 4% nervous. I had put in the work and trained my butt off. In terms of runs, there was only one or two that i cut early; i really felt like i had given it everything i had. The taper wasn’t super fun, my legs were tired and shorter runs were making me feel like 26.2 might not be possible. I had to keep reminding myself to trust the process and trust my coach. I’m a numbers person, so i tallied up my mileage and truly felt like the numbers were in my favor. I was capable of running 26.2.

I carbo-loaded for three days leading up to the marathon including a lot of pizza the night before. I had been eating pizza quite a bit during training and I knew that my stomach was use to it. I didn’t want to try anything new and risk upsetting my stomach. Two days before the race we had gone to Olive Garden and I had gotten a pasta with a creamy mushroom sauce and I regretted that; my stomach was NOT happy. I definitely didn’t want a repeat of that.

Race Day:

3:30 AM - Wake up, start the coffee, wash my face, put my contacts in, grab a bagel, a cup of water and pour myself a cup of coffee. Start pumping. The nerves were a little more present than they had been the night before so I only managed half a plain bagel and half a cup of coffee in the 25 minutes it took to pump. I pour the rest into a thermos, finished packing up the car, and got dressed. I woke up Colton, and got William situated in the car. We set out for Carlsbad, having about a 75 minute drive, i sipped on coffee and willed my bowels to get the show on the road.

5:40 AM - We arrive, I met up with Mary. We took a short warm up jog to get the legs warm. With a quick pit-stop at the port-a-pots, we made our way to the starting line. Mary was questioning whether she was ready; i did my best to reassure her. We lined up with the 4:00 pacer.

6:13 AM - the star spangled banner played; I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I was here because I trained for this. I took a quick inventory of my body and felt confident in my legs and mind. I felt warm and awake, despite the time.

6:15 AM - the race starts and we shuffle to the line before starting to run (with our actual start time of 6:17). The first little bit was downhill; Mary and i falling in nicely behind the the pacers. Mile one came in a little fast for the 9:09 pace but i chalked it up to the mob mentality of the beginning. Mile two my feet were getting kicked from the close proximity of the pack we were running in so we distanced ourself from the pacers a bit. Mile 3 had a small hill and a couple turns but I was finding my groove. I knew from longer training runs that it generally took 3-5 miles to fine a groove, so i was happy to be finding it earlier than later. This pace felt do-able, even effortless. I was surprised I was able to chat with Mary through these miles, I took that as a good sign, only to realize later that this was naive.

6:42 AM - We cross the first timing strip. The strip was a bit before the actual 3 mile marker, but it had me listed at 8:28 min/mi. This was a lot quicker than the 9:09 i was aiming to run. I told myself I could slow down but the cruise felt good so I just went with it. Miles 4-13 ticked by in the same fashion. At mile 9 we crossed another timing strip, i had slowed to 8:36 min/mi. This still seemed great so I just kept going with it. I was happy I had just set a new half marathon PR (1:56!) but I could tell the miles were starting to wear on me. I felt okay but the effortlessness of the run was coming to end, i was starting to work for the paces. Mile 14 i FINALLY saw Colton (I was convinced William was hurt because we had talking about meeting at mile 12…) I still felt strong and in control but it was work now.

8:33 AM - Another timing strip at mile 15.7 - this time i was clocking in at 8:43 min/mi. I had felt myself slow a bit, but was working hard for those paces and I was happy with the sub 9 pace. Miles 15-17 were the same story, I felt okay, I was working to keep a steady pace. Mile 18 the wheels started falling off. My hips were tight and my quads were feeling the early quicker pace. Mile 19 was the last turnaround on the double loop - after this it was in the homestretch, that gave me some mental fuel.

9:13 AM - 19.8 had another timing strip, clocking me at 8:55 min/mi. A far cry from the 8:28 i had been running. 10k more, and I knew this was going to be the hardest part of the entire race. I kept reminding myself ‘you are strong. you knew this would hurt. this what you came here to do’. Mile 20 had an uphill, i held on to any resemblance of the pace i had, I told myself this hill was my wall and it wasn’t going to break me. Miles 21-23 had more wall moments and each time I told myself to break through, instead of letting it break me. I knew Colton was around mile 23, so i broke the remaining miles into shorter goals - the next one being “just get to Colton.” When i saw Colton he yelled out ‘you have 3 miles and 30 minutes to break 4!’. I felt tough, 3 more miles, that’s nothing, you could do that in your sleep.

9:57 AM - The pacers passed us. I tried to keep up but that just wasn’t in my cards, my hips were screaming and mentally I had given up on the sub-4 goal - I just wanted to finish. Mile 25 came, I could still see the 4:00 pacer ahead. I had one mile left and I knew if i didn’t give it everything, every last drop in my tank, I would be so mad at myself. I told myself to keep them in my sights and make a move at the last .2. I saw the mile 26 marker and started my sprint. The pacers must have been a little ahead because they finished just a little ahead of me, even with sprinting the last .2.

10:16 AM - “This girl is looking strong, she’s finishing really strong! She’s got a huge smile on her face, #520, Jessica. GREAT JOB JESSICA!” The announcer was reading my face, and I was taking in the moment. The clock started before I actually crossed the start line so when I crossed it read 4:00:34. I was so happy to have finished a marathon that the fact i hadn’t run sub-4 wasn’t even on my mind. I started to tear up. I took a step and thought ‘oh my lord’. My legs were screaming! i hobbled my way up the chute and found a curb to sit on. I peeled off my socks and shoes to make sure my toenails were still there. That’s when i realized that ‘hey, we didn’t cross the start line right away… i wonder what our actual times were?’ Mary looked it up for me and sure enough - 3:59.43. I had accomplished a sub-4 marathon on my marathon debut.

When i told my coach I was going to run a marathon I had these goals: C) finish - B) Finish without walking & A) Finish under 4:30. Crushed it.

Wiping the salt off my face… Never been so happy to be so sweaty.

Wiping the salt off my face… Never been so happy to be so sweaty.

Mary told me she was going to run another marathon in March… I think she’s crazy.

Mary told me she was going to run another marathon in March… I think she’s crazy.

The best running bud I could have asked for.

The best running bud I could have asked for.

Jessica KennellyComment