Definitions of "Providence" according to

1. The foreseeing care and guidance of god or nature over the creatures of the earth.
2. God, esp. when conceived as omnisciently directing the universe and the affairs of humankind with wise benevolence.
3. A manifestation of divine care or direction.

4. Provident or prudent management of resources; prudence.
5. Foresight; provident care.

I'm not a religious or even a particularly spiritual person, but running the Providence Marathon today, I figured it couldn't hurt to think that maybe the stars would align and this would be my day to qualify for Boston. I've trained more this winter than ever before for a marathon. My half marathon times have been awesome for me. This could be it!

Not the case.

I ran a great race, right on pace give or take a few seconds, through the first 20 miles. 20 miles on pace! I'm very proud of that. Keeping that pace after mile 20... not easy in 80 degree temperatures.

While the rest of Rhode Island was enjoying the lovely sunshine and warm temps in their flip flops and shorts, those of us running the Providence Marathon were cursing. Why, of all days, did we have to have this weather?

You see it's not just the heat that's bad. It's what the heat does to you. Or to me at least. I take water and Gatorade from every fuel station I pass, but I don't drink all of it because I have a sensitive stomach. By mile 21 in 80 degree temperatures, my body was CRAVING fluids. I tried to take more earlier, but I knew it would come down to one problem or another -- stomach pain or dehydration. 

When I passed some waterways in the 20 mile range, I was tempted to jump in. I'm not even kidding. I was overheating. The next aid station I hit, I walked through it and drank several cups of fluids. Another big mistake. I started running just past the last volunteer handing out Gatorade and 30 seconds later thought I was going to throw up everything I just drank. I didn't, but that feeling never went away.

Another issue for me: I absolutely hate long stretches of roads or trails. A long stretch where I can see like 1/2 mile down the road is a nightmare for me. I thrive on courses with lots of scenery, spectators, twists and turns. Providence Marathon did not have a lot that, other than a couple of twists and turns. Very few spectators. A lot of residential streets and bike trails. A lot of boredom for me. Some people may love that. I just can't stand it. Too much time to think about every step.

So, combine the heat, my exhaustion, my nausea, my boredom with the lack of spectators and long stretches of straightaways... And I had a bad race. Or at least worse than I would have hoped.

But even with all that said, all of those excuses, I still think it was a mental battle I should have overcome. I had a few miles early on, including a few on some big hills, when I could have gone a little slower. Not much, but a little. That may have helped stay on pace till mile 22 or 23 at least, so I would have had fewer miles to suffer through in the heat at the end.

I also psyched myself out. Looking back at my Garmin stats, my 8:20ish pace dropped to 8:45 at mile 20. I remember it freaking me out, because I didn't have that much space to play with to qualify for Boston, so I tried to run the next mile fast. My "fast" at that point was only 8:35. Just a half hour earlier my fast was around 8:00 pace. I started really freaking out. I started to think maybe I won't be able to do this... THAT did me in. Once that thought entered my head everything in my body hurt. I started noticing every pain, every blister, my dizziness from the heat, my heavy legs, my heavy clothes from dumping a glass of water on myself... Just awful. I let in that seed of doubt and I let everything get to me.

Not my wisest move.

I honestly don't know that I could have BQed today, even if I overcame all of those mental and physical challenges, but I think I could have done better.

I'll just chalk up this race to more marathon experience. I'm glad I did it. And I'm looking forward to the next one even more.

Final time: 3:51:32 -- 7 seconds behind my NYC Marathon time, 10 minutes and 33 seconds away from Boston qualifying time.


05/03/2010 08:39

As I commented on your Dailymile update, sorry this was such a struggle. I can completely understand what you are saying about the mental challenges - once you start recognizing that "fast" is no longer as fast, it gets tough. And the conditions were ruthless, I'm sure there were a great many who didn't hit their goals or potential strictly due to the heat and humidity.

One other idea - before your next marathon, try a blog post on the 10 things you did right in your training. This time, you wrote about 10 things you learned in your coaching class that you did wrong. I just wonder if focusing more on what went well might give you an extra mental edge heading into the race.

As I'm sure you are coming to realize, this is still a strong performance (and if you still doubt that, why don't you check out your age group & overall placement - I bet you'll be positively surprised), and there will be plenty more opportunities to reach your goal.

05/04/2010 02:46

You'll get there...the heat was absolutely brutal, especially in those last few miles. I too came up about 10 minutes short, but I too some positives from this race as well...I'm looking forward to running a nice, flat course in October.

05/04/2010 08:56

I think you did a great job. It was hot out there. Don't get down...and don't get nuts about the next races!

05/04/2010 12:30

Thank you for the comments, everyone. Greg, you're absolutely right on the negativity. After I took that class, I felt like I may as well have been sitting on the couch the past 6 months! My thoughts went south and I never fully believed that I was as prepared as I could have been.

Now that I've had a few days to get over it, I'm feeling better. I think I ran a smart race for the most part, much smarter than NY. It wasn't enough to cut it, but I'll be better off for it next time.

Thank you again for the great feedback.

05/08/2010 18:38

Hey - thanks for your race report. Really neat reading about another's quest for a Boston qualifying time. I'm up for try #2 a week Sunday. In reality it is probably just a try at for PB due to injury recover, but who knows...Fall 2010 sounds okay too.

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