Ever hear the one about the tortoise and the hare?

  • This was printed in November of 2013 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 25th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

Speed kills.

Speed can cause things to go out of control. Speed can cause a crash. Speed — as

counter-intuitive as it may sound — can ruin a marathon.

I paid the price Sunday for speeding.

Although I’m in a ton of pain after finishing my second full marathon — my muscles are

screaming at me and my right foot is riddled with blisters — it pains me even more to

have to write that I failed, again, to meet my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

The Two Cities Marathon began in Fresno’s Woodward Park and traveled out to Old

Town Clovis and back, and then along Friant Road nearly to Willow and back. It’s a fast

and flat course that makes it a prime Boston Qualifier.

I had potential of running a perfect race. I was healthy, well rested and on my home turf. I

train on the trail, so I know it well. I had my race fuel down to a science; I knew at

exactly which miles I should take my energy gels, and I had my energy gels packed into

my race pouch based on the amount of caffeine they contained.

I put a temporary tattoo on my arm, called a Pace Tat, which listed Mile 1 through Mile

26 with an elapsed time next to each that would keep me on pace to run a 3 hour and 30

minute marathon — five minutes faster than my BQ time.

Everything was planned out and perfect. I just needed to stick to the plan.

Then I blew it.

Instead of trusting in myself and my plan, I decided at the last minute to trust in someone

who I thought would be a better pacer. Our first mile clocked in at 6 minutes, 46 seconds.

Our second and third miles weren’t much slower.

By Mile 3 I knew I had ruined my race. No matter how much I slowed down at that point,

I wasn’t going to get that much-needed energy back. So I stayed with my pacer, running

too-fast miles in hopes of “banking time” for when I would eventually slow down mid-

race.

Marathoners are shaking their heads right now, because they all know that banking time

never works. Never. I knew that. But knowing something and following it are two

different things.

For at least the first ten miles of the 26.2-mile race, I kept hearing spectators shout,

“You’re the first girl!” and “Great job first girl!”

First girl? How could that be? Could I really be in the lead? Could I have a chance at

winning the $1,500 prize for being the first woman to cross the finish line?

Of course not.

It was true — I was leading the females for the first half of the race. But I never had a

chance at winning the purse. Not after starting out so fast.

I think the woman who eventually won that money passed me somewhere around Mile 14

or 15. Between that point and Mile 26, 11 more women passed me.

I was the speedy hare that was being taught a lesson by all of the steady-paced tortoises.

I should’ve been a tortoise.

Out of the dozen women who finished the marathon ahead of me, eight of them qualified

for Boston. In total, 13 women who ran the race BQ’d. I should have been one of them,

but my speed killed me.

I ended up popping a foot-full of blisters after the race. Both of my hamstrings cramped

at some point during the last three miles and they still don’t feel the same. I have to fall

onto the toilet and fall into my car and fall onto the bed because my quadriceps are still

completely fatigued and won’t let me lower myself down slowly. Every muscle in my

body aches.

But none of that — nothing — compares to the pain of knowing that I ruined my race,

and an almost certain BQ, within the first three miles.

I’m not consoled by the fact that I ran a PR (personal record) of 3:53:05, beating my first

marathon time by a little more than eight minutes.

It doesn’t even cheer me up that I brought home a 3rd place award for my age group.

Okay, maybe just a little.

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