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Race Lesson Learned
Running a marathon the week before your wedding is probably a BIT ambitious.
Date: August 30, 2015
Location: Quebec City, QC Canada
My Time: 3:58:00
It was seven days before our wedding. Instead of obsessing over last-minute details and finalizing wedding logistics, Matt and I were devising our race strategy and carbo-loading. We had decided to rid ourselves of pre-wedding anxiety by doing what we do best: running a marathon.
Related: Wedding Ideas For Runner Nerds
Our pre-wedding race idea was also fueled by necessity. We both wanted to qualify for Boston, and this was our last chance to do so for the 2016 race. Because of our limited time frame, race options were in short supply. It was the end of August, and many of the races we considered were slated to have incredibly high temperatures. So with a relatively flat course and moderate temperatures, we settled on the Quebec City Marathon.
With a mixture of anxiety about our upcoming nuptials and concern about the need to BQ, we landed in Quebec. The day before the race, after quick shake-out runs, we embarked on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Quebec. It was the perfect way to see the city while resting our legs for race day.
On race morning we boarded another bus, this one transporting us the 26.2 miles from the finish line to the start of the race. I got a little psyched out, knowing I had to run the entire distance we were currently driving.
As I began the race, the first thing I noticed were the mile markers. All miles were marked in kilometers, counting down, instead of up. Meaning that at the race start, I was informed that I only had 42km left to run, which seemed wildly overwhelming. I successfully distracted myself by joining a pace group, led by a middle-aged man sporting bunny ears and a white fluffy tail. I fell into a comfortable cadence, chasing after my rabbit. I knew that a BQ was mine, if I could just maintain my current pace.
However, with eight miles to go, I started feeling a bit off. And that’s when I realized what I’d forgotten to do. In the midst of wedding planning and marathon training, I neglected to devise a race-day nutrition plan. So at mile 18, completely famished, I guzzled down the course-provided fuel option: a Gu and some lemon-lime Gatorade. This would be the very last time I consumed Gu; it was that horrible. For the remainder of the race, I suffered from what I affectionately dubbed the Gurps: Gu burps.
My attack of the Gurps, a lovely mixture of stomach acid, Gatorade, and Gu, caused me to lose all sight of my pace group bunny and all hopes of obtaining a BQ. In order to get a qualifying time, I needed to run a sub-marathon pace for the last five miles while still battling the Gurps, which I knew was impossible.
Instead of a futile quest for a BQ, I resolved to enjoy the race. I also focused on things I could look forward to post-race: my wedding and honeymoon, to name a couple! Though neither of us obtained a BQ, we are proud that we completed a marathon the week before our wedding. We also learned an important lesson from this experience. Races in the midst of major life events are wonderful. However, it’s best to run these races for enjoyment instead of trying to achieve lofty or time-specific goals.