Sunday, January 15, 2012

(Trials) Week in Review

55ish miles
26.2 mile long run
2 days off
4 days in Houston

6 AFDs

The CRC Musketeers after the pre-race dinner

I'm not sure if the 'ol "Week in Review" post is necessary this week, but I guess I'm a creature of habit. It's worth noting that I took a day off on Thursday (unforeseen, due to a hellacious day of travel which even now pains me to recall) and of course Sunday after the race. While my legs were surprisingly not destroyed--surprising both due to the fact that I, you know, ran 26 miles for the second time ever, but also because almost the entire race course was made of concrete--my feet were a totally different story. Thanks to all the turns and the aforementioned concrete, Allison and Caitlin and I and I'm sure a hundred other people suffered from some pretty debilitating blisters. To make this even more graphic for you, I'll share that around mile 25 I felt one underneath the first metatarsal head on my right foot swelling and ballooning up with fluid. This, as you can imagine, made each pounding footfall increasingly more uncomfortable than the one that preceeded it. With less than half a mile to go until the finish, I suddenly stopped feeling it. Instead of being relieved, I realized with a sense of dread that this could only mean my blister had popped. It did, and it had, and I'm pretty sure a week from now I'll still wince at the memory every time I step down on it too hard. Ah, the glamorous life of a marathoner.

One other point of note, which may or may not be of interest to anyone except myself, is that it turns out I didn't slow down nearly as much as I thought during those final miles. On the contrary, the splits show that I stayed more or less on pace even though every sensory cue from my body
indicated otherwise. The slowest mile of the race was actually mile 14, when Caitlin and I took a break from leading our pack to let someone else take on a bit of the work. While we greatly appreciated her willingness to help, in hindsight this mile and the one immediately following it cost me almost 30 precious seconds. I'll never know whether this was the exact moment where my hopes of sub-2:40 were lost, but it definitely didn't help. See below for the play-by-play (and note that the first mile numbers don't match up due to the difference between chip time and gun time). Regardless, I read somewhere that only 34 women PR'ed at the Trials, and I'm proud to be included among them.

Meagan Overall Mile Splits
6:23 0:06:20
12:21 5:58:00
18:29 6:08:00
24:29:00 6:00:00
30:32:00 6:03:00
36:43:00 6:11:00
42:54:00 6:11:00
48:54:00 6:00:00
55:03:00 6:09:00
1:01:10 0:06:07
1:07:18 0:06:08
1:13:24 0:06:06
1:19:33 0:06:09
1:25:56 0:06:23
1:32:09 0:06:13
1:38:12 0:06:03
1:44:27 0:06:15
1:50:35 0:06:08
1:56:45 0:06:10
2:02:53 0:06:08
2:09:01 0:06:08
2:15:17 0:06:16
2:21:29 0:06:12
2:27:32 0:06:03
2:33:44 0:06:12
2:39:51 0:06:07
2:41:06 0:01:15

So, moving on: what's next? Such a simple question with no readily available answer. Much of this spring's training and racing depends on how quickly my body recovers from this weekend's little jaunt. Though highly out of character, I plan on taking a full week off with no running whatsoever, no matter what, effective immediately. It's rare for me to take more than one or two days off even over an extended period of time unless I'm injured, but this is a conscious decision that I think will benefit me tremendously in the coming months. Last year after Mercedes, I felt decent enough after the marathon that I ran 60 miles the following week and never really allowed myself any down time. In hindsight, I'm sure this is what led me to feel sluggish for months afterward any time I tried to run fast and probably also contributed to the fierce case of IT band syndrome that flared up in mid-March. So, in an effort to actually learn from my mistakes, I plan to be extremely cautious when coming back this time around. Forced rest won't be easy, especially considering how ingrained I've become in my daily routine, but I'm confident it's the right decision.

Enjoying some time with the parentals on Sunday morning

And so, at long last, the "2012 Olympic Trials" chapter of my training and racing has drawn to a close. It's hard to comprehend, after investing so much of my physical and emotional energy into this pursuit over the past year, that it can be brushed aside so easily. But although the race itself is now behind me, the entire experience has definitely renewed my will to train, to compete, to become a better and more experienced runner. I'm so excited to see what the coming year brings!

But first, I rest.