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February 01, 2011

Claudia Becque - In the Hunt....Race Postscript

Written by Claudia Becque

Houston, We have a problem....


I believed the third time would be the charm.  My time to make a huge breakthrough, that big PR, my time to get after it.  My legs and lungs had a completely different plan.


Approaching the race, I was confident in my race plan and hard work.  I landed on Thursday, excited to meet some friends racing Saturday's USA Half Marathon Championships, loaded up with some good carbs and got a restful night of sleep.  Friday, I rose for a quick run with some friends, then back to the hotel for a good long nap and off for run #2.  I felt stale and sluggish, but knew that dinner with the other runners would give me some pep.  I never feel great during taper, but something just felt off.  Saturday morning, Tom and I ran a pre-race workout, cheering on Ryan Hall and Jen Rhines as they passed us at mile 12 of the Championship.  I rested while my excitement grew, knowing all I had to do was follow the pacer and enjoy the journey to mile 20 and then let the race begin.  Unbeknownst to be, I would have never seen mile 20 or for that matter really even enjoy the run.


I woke Sunday morning feeling relaxed, rested and ready to go for it.  I was ready to show what all those months of training had done.  The weather was a bit warm, but the forecasted storms held off and the race would start on time.  After a pre-race prayer and national anthem with the other 22,000 runners, we were off.


I tucked in behind my pacers and joined the three other woman dreaming of a sub 2:40 marathon.  I was thankful for the tall guys to block the wind and do all the hard work, but by mile 2 I knew there was something wrong.  I didn't get nervous, as many of my training runs started sluggish but would settle into my rhythm.  I continued on, but my breathing was labored and the pace feeling fast.  I would fall off the pacers and then sprint back up to them, but by mile 11, my sprint wasn't strong enough to catch back on to them and off they went.


I told myself to stay on this pace and I would run a 2:41 marathon, still a huge PR.  The road was slippery and every step I took felt like I was going backwards.  Each mile got progressively slower but I still didn't give up. At mile 16, I saw Tom and continued on, but at mile 17 we made the decision to shut it down.  DNF.  Those three letters are the most painful thing to see together, especially next to my name.


I was numb... embarrassed... disappointed... in shock.  I wasn't injured, didn't have stomach issues or muscle cramps.  What was happening to me?  I was stale.  Mentally, I was ready, physically my body wanted a break. Deep down in my heart, I believe if I ran a marathon a week or two prior to Houston, I would have achieved my goal.


I am still extremely disappointed, but am trying to keep perspective.  Marathons, whether good or bad, are a learning experience.  I learned that with a strong running base I need a shorter training cycle.  I learned that no matter how hard you train or focus on all the little stuff, it all depends on that day.  I will be thankful for the learning experience in Houston this year when I return to toe the line at the Olympic Trials in 2012.


A final thanks all of my training partners, family, friends, Coach Tom and Dena, and a big thank you to my number one supporter, Paul.  He biked with me during my long runs and paced on his bike during my hard long workouts.  He cooked for me, cleaned the house, did laundry, and was there when I wanted to hide after the race.


Thanks for taking this trip with me. I hope you learned something too.

Last modified on March 31, 2011