Bayshore Marathon: Race Report! – The Shu Box

Long Journey: Many readers know I’ve had “qualify for Boston marathon” on some sort of life list for many years now. Interestingly, that target has gotten more difficult in some ways as I’ve approached it — in 2009 when I ran Thunder Road in 3:48:xx, the BQ time for my “under 35” age group was 3:40.

In 2024, the BQ time for my 40-44 age group is . . . 3:40!

(Probable reasons: super shoes, popularity of Boston and marathons in general, downhill marathons ie Revel races)

I ran my first marathon in 2005 (in 4:01) and learned how much I loved the challenge of training and racing. However, running has had major ups and downs for me over the years! I was incredibly well-trained for a marathon (similar to current fitness) in 2007, and then got an achilles injury ~2 weeks out from race day. In 2008 I had major hip issues, and an MRI showed a torn labrum (very common but at the time I wondered if I would ever really able to run/train again). In 2009, I ran my prior PR and then started to try to get pregnant and found that marathon training and fertility (at that time!) didn’t mix and left marathons behind the next 14.5 years (and 3 kids!).

I did a few half marathons when the kids were younger — one at 6 months postpartum, and the last in January 2020 before the world shut down. I never trained particularly hard for these efforts (maybe 20-40 mpw) but I enjoyed doing them. When we had babies/toddlers, I didn’t really feel like our schedules/phase of parenthood was particularly conducive to marathon training so I just figured I’d wait.

In 2020, I didn’t run at all; I focused on strength training (my BeachBody phase!). In 2021, I realized I missed it. And in September 2022, I ran a 5K as fast as I could and was really disappointed in my pace (9:03 average with a positive split – that third mile at 9:15/mi).

I came home a bit disappointed and wondered if all of my best running years were behind me. I even posted to Reddit (thread here!) asking others if improvement after age 40 was possible. Most people said yes, especially if one was not optimally trained before.

So, I decided to try. I gradually increased my mileage and in February 2023 ran the A1A half marathon in 1:58 (not my best, but sub-9 pace — faster than that September 5K). And then two things happened:

1- I became friends with and started running in a group of women. This brought a social aspect I didn’t know I was missing, and I loved it! One of the women (Jacy) is a former D1 collegiate runner who is still blazing fast but also super encouraging and never complains about slow paces (hey, keep your easy days easy, right?!). I run with this group every M/W. These aren’t speed workouts but usually a moderate effort AND also a super fun way to add conversation and camaraderie to running for me.

2- I hired a coach, Drew from Microcosm. I told him what my goals were and he didn’t think they were totally crazy, and so off we went into training. This is all virtual – he just tells me what to run on a google sheet (generally effort based, not pace) and I do it! Josh and I both started training for the Jacksonville Marathon in December 2023. Drew started piling on milage pretty early (50+ mpw, lots of 16-18 mi runs on Saturdays) and my body started adapting. I was doing some tempo miles at close to 8 minute pace — unheard of in recent years!

Setback: Everything was going well until I had a freak accident involving my car (thankfully no one was hurt and nothing was damaged except me!) on October 19th. It took me basically until January to be able to run pain-free and normally again. It was very frustrating to have built up so much fitness and then feel like I was losing it. We did rent a Peloton bike for 2-3 months, which I think helped!

2024 Training: As mentioned, by January I was doing pretty well. I started running consistent 50+ mpw weeks, usually over 6 days. I was also strength training ~2x/week. I ran the A1A half in 1:46 (though course was officially long and so probably was more like 1:44) – either way a PR and a huge improvement over the prior year. Drew ramped my mileage back up after a quick recovery and aside from one major down week when we went skiing, my mileage held steady at ~60+ most weeks until the race, with 2 weeks at 70 mpw and then a pretty tiny taper (66, then 56, then race week!).

I did a lot of long runs with MP miles in them and a few long interval workouts (mile repeats, 2 mile repeats, etc). I did not do any high-end speedwork (400m, 800m, etc). I did some weeks with a hill day, which was on the treadmill or at a local park that has manmade hills (south FL does not have any significant natural elevation!).

Bayshore Marathon Race Report The Shu

Okay, so THAT is your background!! Fast forward to this Thursday . . .

Pre-Race: We flew up to Traverse City on Thursday! The trip ended up taking most of the day, and we spent it reading and eating a lot of carbs while flying. I followed the 3-day carb load from Meghann Featherstun’s calculator (here). The first two days I tracked fairly accurate and on day 3 I just estimated, but I’m pretty sure I approached or exceeded the goal of 385 grams/day.

I honestly did feel kind of weighed down and puffy by the end of it but I survived. And I felt incredibly springy and energetic on a little 2 mile shakeout on Friday, so I figured it was working.

THE RACE!

I wore: Adidas short tights, a Rabbit tank, a FlipBelt, and ASICS Metaspeed Edge Paris. All worked out except I did end up with significant chafing (even though I had none in 20-mile training runs!). I stuffed 8 giant Gu Liquid Endurance gels in the pockets of the shorts and my FlipBelt.

I felt so great in the early miles of this race. I felt like I was running 9 minute pace, and my watch said I was running 8 minute pace. I could actually feel what seemed like built up fuel storage in my legs. I kept repeating to myself “I can do this all day!”. The temperature was 59F and humid at the start — from my Floridian perspective this was basically heaven.

I listened Taylor Swift from miles 1-8, which was nice and chill and reminded me to just cruise and not push. Then my playlist shifted to more uptempo music. There were some very gentle rolling slopes on the course (overall elevation gain and loss was ~400 feet) and the views of the water were gorgeous! There weren’t any true hills to speak of which was good since I definitely don’t train on them all that often!

I kept cruising, looking forward to seeing Josh around the ~12.5 mi point, since it’s an out and back and he was going at a pace a bit ahead of mine. That was super fun (I yelled something like YOU’RE DOING AWESOME!!!) and then the 13.1 mi turnaround came up quickly after. I took a gel every 3 miles, which meant 8 total throughout the race!! Every single one seemed to help provide a bit of a pick me up, and I never had any nausea or cramping, so I would do this exact plan again. I took in water (probably 1-2 oz) by pinching the cup and continuing to run at every water stop, approximately every 1.5 miles of the course.

I felt honestly GREAT until around mile 20, but I had some fear of what was to come so I tried to hold back. Mile 21 it started to feel a bit harder, though doable. I didn’t slow down much but I kept having worries about “what if something happens and I just can’t keep doing it?”. I used my gel miles as milestones, telling myself just get to 24 and then it’s soooo close to the end!

I sort of stopped looking at my splits at this point because I didn’t want to see high numbers and get discouraged — but honestly looking back it wasn’t so bad! I did start doing some bargaining with myself thinking “hey, if you run this part a little slower it won’t really impact your time THAT much.” Ha! The mind games we play . . .

The end of the race was kind of funny in that the directions weren’t totally obvious and there was not much crowd support until the very end, so I just followed the one woman fairly close to me up ahead. I’m glad she was there or I might have started to feel confused about where to go! The final ~200m of the race are on the high school track – that part was SOOO much fun. I looked up at the clock to see 3:34:something and started choking up a bit, because I was so excited to finally meet my BQ goal. I crossed the line in 3:35:01 and immediately saw Josh!!! He looked happy and said he had a good race too – he ran 3:19:51. Funnily enough that puts us at 4:59 and 5:09 under our Boston cutoff times, respectively. (So either we would both get in or not, unless the cutoff happens to fall at like 5:05!!).

But we were super happy just to meet the qualifying standard, a very longstanding goal for each of us.

Bayshore Marathon Race Report The Shu
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Bayshore Marathon Race Report The Shu
this was a before pic. We took like no pictures! Hopefully I’ll get at least one decent official race pic. (Though historically I find them all hideous and unflattering. Ha!)

So what’s next? I will save that for a future post!! But if you’ve read this far, thank you for cheering me on in this fun journey. I don’t think there’s anything particularly heroic about marathon training (vs anything else one might choose to do!) but it’s incredibly satisfying to work gradually towards a goal and see it come to fruition. And the moment of finishing is just sooooo much fun. I very much hope to do it again!!


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