Olympic Trials Race Recap

Well, it’s over. I completed my first marathon on Saturday at the Olympic Trials in Houston. I ran a 2:35:57 to place 17th. I made some mistakes to learn from but feel I pulled through solidly.
As expected the first mile was more of a warm-up for the rest of the race which was pretty nice. The entire field went through in around 6:15 and then the party was over as the pace dropped down significantly to the 5:30s. The first 2.2 miles wove through the city, complete with sharp turns, lots of powerful wind, and bursts of sun that would have been blinding without sunglasses. My Oakley Commits really helped shield my eyes from the wind and helped with the solar glare, plus they just look good. I hung with that lead group for a couple more miles before I realized it would be smart to stick to more of my goal pace in the 5:40 range. Magda and Clara Grandt had the same plan so we were the chase pack of 3 for the next few miles. I felt great at this point especially having this little group to run with. I took only a few sips from my first bottle and then took a PowerGel from my second bottle. At about mile 8 we ran a 5:35 which I would guess hurt me a little because I then started to fall off the group. I switched back to the 5:45 range and held that for the next 5 miles or so while running with Dot, Melissa, and Blake. I still felt strong at this point but wasn’t doing a great job with taking my fluids. I had no problem taking my PowerGels though. At 20k I went through in 1:11 and was instantly struck with a stabbing, right side, stomach stitch, something that also happened at mile 3 of Gate River this past year. It hurt enough to almost double me over and really threw me off pace and my group. It was scary because I didn’t know how long it would last. I quickly focused on long deep breaths, my form, and telling myself it wouldn’t last long. It worked and the stitch went away within a half mile. I went through 13 miles at around 1:14 but my little group was long gone and I needed to try and get back on pace as best as I could. I ended up running alone for the next 6 or 7 miles until a group of three came along. Two of those three were good friends of mine, Clara Petterson and Ali Williams. I was clearly suffering because Clara told me to hang with them. I said I’d try and I did for about the next 3 or 4 miles which really saved me. Unfortunately I started to feel the effects of not getting enough fluids and maybe those fast early miles. I wasn’t thinking clearly at all and my legs started to feel stiff and heavy. All three women started to pull away at around mile 22 to 23. I really wasn’t thinking clearly because I started looking at the men’s clock and thought I was on pace for a 3 hour marathon which hurt my spirits a little. I managed to keep some focus on maintaining form and just getting to that finish line. I crossed the line still thinking I had just run around 2:50. I didn’t even realize that I ran 2:35 until Clara assured me that we all ran in the 2:35 range. It’s crazy to think that all I had to do was look at my watch but when you’re depleted crazy things can happen. I made my way up to the athlete warm-up room to get my stuff and find Artie. I took my shoes off and realized I might need some medical assistance. My feet were torn up, covered with blood blisters, and the toenail of my big toe had been pushed back. I felt all of this happening just on the first loop but was able to ignore it for the rest of the race.
All and all I feel like I held up real well for my first marathon. I of course had visions of being in the top 10 and a slightly faster time but it’s the marathon and a lot can happen to change your plans. I’m anxious to do another one to correct my mistakes and run much faster. Right now I just need to wind down from the massive build up before winding back up for the Olympic track trials this June in Eugene.

2 thoughts on “Olympic Trials Race Recap

  1. Rebecca,

    I remember you as an 800 runner at Nashoba High, when I coached at Bromfield and we used to do workouts on your track because Harvard didn’t have one. You were excellent then, but your progress from there has been awesome! I was following the results of the trials because I’ve worked off and on with Michelle (Lilienthal) Frey who I coached when she was in high school in Iowa. GREAT marathon debut, even with the difficulties you describe here. Those struggles, and that time certainly suggest you have real upsides in the marathon!! From my own (much slower) personal marathon experience and from Michelle’s, I’m guessing those early quick miles may have in fact been the source of a good deal of your later difficulty. It is amazing how just 10-15 seconds per mile, spread over 8-12 miles in the first half can come back to bite you in the end. They feel so easy at the time, and like you’re just building up a cushion or on the verge of a breakout performance. The marathon really seems to be one race that it pays to stick to the script and even split if at all possible.

    All that said, I applaud your awesome race and tremendous career and it is FABULOUS to see someone I remember from Nashoba HS running at such a high level!

  2. Hi,
    As an X-teviotdale Harrier from the time of Alberto Salazar , Steve Ovett and Steve Cram who I was at the start with at road races in the UK[only the start mind you] . I ran London 82 [2:58] and a 1:12 half once . Just wanted to say Chapeau and well done 2:35 is one heck of a time. My old training buddy , a commonwealth games 300m steeplechase runner called Colin Hume spent 4 years at Memphis State University, he still holds the University record for the 1500m, good luck on your quest for London Olympic gold.
    Fun Run Robbie

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