At the end of September I ran the Fort4Fitness marathon in Fort Wayne. This was their second year hosting the marathon and my second year running it (you can see my post from 2016 here). I like this marathon because it’s close to my house (I get up race morning and drive down), the parking is amazing, it’s pretty affordable, I get to see Kimberly, and last year the post-race food was awesome. My only complaint in 2016 was the looped course – we ended up coming back around behind the start of every other race (10k, half, and 4 mile), which meant you spent a lot of time weaving around people (including a TON of walkers and strollers for the 4 mile).
I came in to the race feeling really good about my training – I was consistently hitting sub 9 pace in long runs. I normally don’t have a goal for a race other than PR and have fun, but this year I went in with a sub-4 goal, which I knew would be challenging for me, but doable.
Race morning I drove down with my coffee and breakfast. I got my packet and sat in the car while I pinned on my bib. The weather was cool and perfect. I walked to the start and got ready to run. I planned to start with the 4 hour pace group and then, if possible, move away from them in the back end of the race. The first mile in we already hit a snag – the race was being directed incorrectly, so we were running the last loop first. Not a huge deal, but the last loop is a little longer than the first, which meant that instead of looping around in front of every other race we would, once again, be looping in behind them. ARGH. I figured we would probably get directions to do the first loop at the end, but I wasn’t sure and it was annoying to go through every mile marker and split and know I was actually ahead of what it read. In any case, I saw Kimberly at mile 4 and got to run with her for a few minutes, which was awesome. I felt strong at that point and it was exciting to see someone I knew.
We kept trucking around and I was still feeling good and running a bit ahead of the 4 hour pace group. I love some of the neighborhoods the race goes through – people really show up and cheer and put on music and have signs and inflatables, tissues and snacks, etc. It’s really great. Around mile 15 I started to feel like I was flagging a bit and my stomach felt really off. I tried some gatorade at a water station to see if that would help… it definitely was NOT the right choice. By mile 17 I felt awful – my stomach felt crampy and I was really tired. I knew I needed to eat and drink more but my stomach didn’t want anything. At mile 19 I used a port-a-potty (I think the first time I’ve ever used one midrace?). I was walking a little here and there but mostly running, although my pace was slipping. The 4 hour pace team passed me somewhere, but I’m not sure where. I knew sub-4 was gone, so I tried to focus on just PRing (and really just freaking finishing). I rolled in at 4:16:29 – a new PR but definitely not the sub-4 I thought I could do.
Post-race I mostly felt frustrated. I knew a PR was great and I was happy with it, but I also felt frustrated that I didn’t do all I knew I could do. Still, it’s one race. I’ve had a string of great races since the fall of 2012, PRing each time, so maybe it’s just par for the course to have a lackluster one in the midst. They can’t all be stellar and a PR is still a PR! Since the race I’ve thought about running a marathon on my own, just to hit sub 4 and prove to myself that I can, but I’m still debating if I really feel like doing that or if I just want to table it for now and go hard for it in the spring. We’ll see.
As for the Fort Wayne marathon, I’m on the fence if I’ll do it again if they don’t make some course changes. They did direct us to do the first loop last, so we got the correct race distance, but the looping of the course does not work. And while the location is awesome and the free race photos are great, the post race food was pretty disappointing this year – generic pretzels and granola bars, bananas, apples, and chocolate milk. It’s not terrible, but compared to their first year it was a huge difference (and so much worse).
One more thing, I did receive an email from the race saying I won a prize in my age group (I got 5th or 6th?) and that they’d be letting me know more soon… that was a couple weeks ago. I emailed them again to check in about it or see if it was a mistake and still haven’t heard anything… so that’s neat.
Race #10 in the books. I have ideas for what I’d like to do for 2018 but nothing definite yet. Stay tuned…