Four Minutes Away

I didn’t post yesterday because I didn’t have it in me. This whole week I’ve been stressing over the race to a ridiculous degree. Truth be told, after reading race recaps over the last week I wasn’t pumped up – I was doubtful of my abilities, my training and my readiness to hit my goals.

All week I tried to get my head in the race. I wrote a post about it. I reached out to Aron (from Runner’s Rambles)  for advice and tips. I watched Spirit of the Marathon.

I tried, but for some reason I really doubted I could do it. And that helped seal my fate.

But, that wasn’t all of it. I’m not going to blame coming in 4:01 minutes over goal completely on my mental state. But, it did not help. And it was very hard to stay positive when it got hard during the race.

I knew that not going into the race confident would hurt me – and that scared me more than actually not being confident.

Yesterday I hit up the expo. It was anti-climactic. I don’t know about anyone else, but I enjoy the expo for some free loot and it was kinda slim. IMG_2358

I ended up running around like a crazy person trying to get my shirt for race day. I ordered a shirt online a while back and it came on Friday. But, it was too big and I knew I shouldn’t wear it like that given chafing and overall comfort.

As expected I had a hard time sleeping last night. It’s always hard to sleep before race day! Jitters!!!

Finally my alarm went off at 4:20am this morning and I got ready and fueled up with a cinnamon roll with AB&PB and coffee.

IMG_2377 These things are so good! It basically cinnamon raisin bread in this shape.IMG_2381

I filled my water bottle with Gu Brew.  The plan was to drink it all by mile 11 or 12 and hand it off to Ben. He was planning to see me at that point anyways and it was a good amount of time.IMG_2376 

We drove to Long Beach and Ben dropped me off near the Start. He usually drives somewhere to take a nap and get breakfast before he finds a spot to cheer for me :)

I lined up near the 4 hour pace group. I didn’t formally announce it on the blog because I’m very superstitious, but my goal was to break 4 hours.

My first marathon was 4:15:38

and my second was 4:27:0?

But, I had some super strong long runs where I averaged 9:06 pace and knew that sub 4 hours was an attainable goal. I would have to pace about 9:10 to do it, but some of my long runs were faster than many training plans have to run long runs to hit goal.

It was my first 20 miler that gave me the confidence to shoot for it. Unfortunately, a few less than stellar runs after that shook my confidence more.

None-the-less, I knew that I really truly wanted to break 4 hours. So, I grabbed a 4 hour pace band at went for it. IMG_2414

I started off feeling slow, but that was actually for the best. I am really bad about pacing myself so my legs being a little heavy made me start off at the pace I probably should have anyways.

I did really well the first 15 miles or so and was on pace to do it! Ben saw me at mile 12 and I felt good. I actually got him a pace band too so he’d know if I was on target or not and when to expect me at the finish.IMG_2390

Here I’m handing off my water bottle to him. I only wanted to use it for the first half and then use water stations, but it ran out a little early and ended up double fisting.IMG_2391

At this point I was about 3 to 4 minutes in front of the 4:00 pace group. He knew about my goals and was keeping close track of my times and the 4 hour pacer.

Looking at the pace band and my Garmin I finally thought I could do it! 


IMG_2394But, at mile 17 I hit a wall and started to slow down.

I saw the 4:00 pace group. I told the leader I was going to try and stay with them.

Then, I saw the 4:00 pacer run away and I couldn’t keep up :(

I kept her in eyesight for a few solid miles. But, I walked through the aide stations and the distance between us increased.

My heart sunk, but I knew all was not lost. I tried to use the pace band to figure out if I could make it up. I tried really hard to get back to a 9:10 pace, but I didn’t make myself. *At this point I think I could have pushed it a little more, but I’m not sure because I am not used to pushing myself on long runs or in speed work so I can’t really say.

At Mile 24 Ben got a text that I was at 3:42:13. That would mean I would have to run sub 9 minute miles to break 4 hours.

I still wanted to give it a good shot so I kept running (you know, as opposed to sitting on the curb crying and ripping my bib off in a tragic rant of failure).

Around  mile 23 I started getting cramps in my leg right above the knee toward the inside. It began as a twitch (like when your eye twitches randomly), but grew. I stopped near a light pole for balance and stretched my quads a bit.

Luckily, I was able to keep running after that small stretch :) It happened again a mile later, but at that point I was so close to the end I just ran through it.

I crossed the finish like at 4:04:00.

Pace: 9:19

I was exactly 4 minutes from goal.

Since I felt a little defeated I got so happy when I saw my family cheering for me near the home stretch! I started to wave and smile. Yah! IMG_2395 Then, I remembered I was almost done and wanted to rip the band-aid off.IMG_2398

My family saw me towards the finish and I met up with them as soon as I pulled it together past the finish line. There were a few tears, but not many as I didn’t want to hyperventilate and was still breathing heavy. I just felt really defeated.IMG_2400

Matt and I with the sign he was holding.IMG_2404

Ben made the “Si, Se Puede” sign. I loved it :)

IMG_2406 And the view from the back of my shirt. IMG_2402

Ben was super supportive this entire training cycle and I love him so much for it. IMG_2408 After the race I hobbled back to the car and iced my knee while eating a banana. I felt a little nauseous and was not hungry at all, but knew I should eat something. IMG_2417 Then, I went back to my mom’s for a shower before food. I am always DRENCHED after a long run. Drenched.

Finally it was time to eat! We went to BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House. Ben was starving so we shared nachos. They weren’t very good, but I wasn’t feeling picky.IMG_2418

I stole the salad that came with Ben’s food.IMG_2421

The rest of my peeps and I shared a vegetarian pizza on whole wheat crust. The waiter said ww crust  is new and I love that they have it. IMG_2425 Our toppings were onions, mushrooms and bell peppers. It was no Chicago deep dish, but again I wasn’t feeling picky.IMG_2423

And because the reason you go to BJ’s is not the pizza at all, but the Pizookie… we ordered the Chocolate Chunk Pizookie and it comes warm with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. IMG_2428 Ben said it felt like this meal was a marathon of eating and around course 18 he thought he hit the wall.

Yeah, until we got the Pizzookie and then everyone was all over that!IMG_2427 Now we’re relaxing at my mom’s. Ben needed a nap because he said, “I’m very tired from watching my wife run a marathon today.”

Poor thing.IMG_2432

After coming off the high of running a marathon I’m going to think about what I could differently next time. But the rest of today is for relaxing and celebrating my accomplishment.

Sometimes in life you want something more than you’ve wanted anything else, And sometimes you try harder than you ever have before, And sometimes you pray real hard for something…

And you still don’t get it.

But you live to try again. And that’s the point of life.

I’ll bounce back fast because life is short and it must go on…

Before I sign off I really want to thank everyone for their support and positive thoughts. I read every single comment and email and it always makes me feel really good to know there is someone sitting at their computer taking the time to say something nice to me :)

Thank you for reading.


  1. says

    Nice job. I honestly think the “damn, did I psyche myself out of this?” feeling is the WORST when you’re pretty damn close to meeting your goal. Its frustrating and depressing. But the best thing you can do is use it for motivation!

    A PR by more than 10 minutes is an awesome thing – you’re well on your wall to sub 4 :)

  2. says

    i think you did stellarly. and my favorite line of this whole recap? “I still wanted to give it a good shot so I kept running” <– that is hardcore and awesome. congrats :)

  3. adriana says

    I hope you’re not disappointed over a time of 4:04! that is an AWESOME time and you took over ten minutes off your PR!

  4. says

    I know I already told you, but I am SO proud of you! I got teary eyed reading this. I know you’re slightly disappointed that you missed your goal, but regardless, you did AMAZING. I mean, look at how much time you took off from your last marathon!! You have always been one of my biggest running inspirations and continue to be today. I ♥ you. :)

    Have a good night relaxing and celebrating your accomplishment!

  5. griselda says

    You did great! :) Its funny I’m so proud of you..I was thinking about it all day. I love that you stay positive all the time, its a wonderful thing.

  6. says

    I’m not a marathoner but I have so much respect for people who get out there and GO. You beat your previous two times and did awesome — that’s worth being proud of — and now you’ll push yourself even harder next time.

  7. says

    Girl, it’s 4 minutes. Running a marathon in 4 hours and 4 miutes is nothing to scoff at. YOU DID AMAZING. Seriously. You look great and ran a kick ass marathon. You rock.

  8. says

    I’ve decided we need to live by each other so we can push each other in training. I have no idea how to push myself in marathons either, and you’re right, if we don’t do it during training how will we know how to do it during the race. Come to West Palm Beach on December 11 and run that marathon with me. Please. Pretty please?

  9. says

    I know it sucks when you see a goal fly out the window, but seriously, 4:04 is incredible…an 11 minute PR! That’s huge!

    You will get sub-4. And it will be so much sweeter when you do because of today.

  10. says

    Congratulations Monica! I know you’re a wee bit disappointed, but I wish you wouldn’t be. You did an incredible job and ran a great race. A four hour marathon is seriously amazing. Please don’t forget that.

    Rest up!

  11. says

    Just ran the Detroit Free Press half Marathon today and missed my goal by a whopping 7 minutes :( ….but I’m ok with it (including the fact that there were several bottlenecks at the first US/CDN border crossing…), but have already decided that I’m absolutely going to make my goal at my next run in 7 or so weeks – the Las Vegas Rock and Roll (half) Marathon! Can’t wait to do it better December 5!!!!

  12. says

    I was waiting to hear frm you all day! Via Twitter! Finally Evan and I had to check your marathon site, after I informed him of what marathon you ran…
    Gah! He can’t recall anything!
    You are amazing as always 😉
    Poor ben, he deserves a medal!

  13. says

    thanks for your recap. i understand the goal time, but there’s next time, right?

    i ran nike today. my first marathon. it was painful. but we both did it (4:20 for me).

    and FYI, now my boyfriend is pooped out on the couch as he too, was exhausted from running the last 100 feet near the finish :)
    um, PS can I get a Run Eat Repeat T shirt?

  14. Jaclyn says

    I’m a longtime reader, but have never posted. But today, I felt compelled to today to tell you this – be proud! You just ran a freaking marathon!! Don’t let those 4min destroy an amazing accomplishment.

  15. Jen says

    Congratulations! I agree with everyone else – be proud! A marathon is no small feat. Gaw, I only wish I would run a third of that distance without wanting to lie on the roadside and sink into the sidewalk.

    By the way, those cinnamon raisin bread thingies you been munchin’ on look freakin’ delicious. /drool

  16. says

    Congratulations, Monica! I know you didn’t meet your ultimate goal, but you should be super proud of yourself; that’s an amazing time!

  17. says

    Congratulations! I am in awe. Um, while you may be disappointed about not finishing under 4, I certainly hope you understand that YOU.
    A badass.
    For reals.

  18. Jennifer says

    Congratulations! You really are an inspiration for many of your readers (me included)! I’m sorry you did not meet your time goal.

  19. amy says

    you ran hard for FOUR HOURS straight. you are awesome. please try not to fret, your time was amazing.
    amy from los angeles

  20. says

    Excellent job! You are a speed demon! Whenever I did really well in a swimming event, but did not reach my goals, but coaches always told me to be “happy, but not satisfied.” That is, you SHOULD be proud of yourself and you should use that happy feeling to push yourself to do even better next time!

  21. Amanda says

    You did great! You set s PR….. it will hit you eventually. Sorry you felt so mentally defeated, thats tough to overcome.

  22. says

    Having missed my BQ time (3:50) by 11 minutes, even if it was a PR, is upsetting so I understand exactly what you are going through. Yes, I’m proud I ran well and finished in tough conditions, blah blah blah
    I’m a week out from my marathon now and still feel a little ticked by my final 4 miles–I actually did rip my pace band off during my run and threw it on the ground (!!) when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to make it. But I am proud of finishing!
    My husband said the same thing–this marathon business of yours is wearing me out!
    Anyway, congrats on a mighty fine PR. Seriously. That is fantastic! You will break the sub-4!

  23. says

    Monica, you beat your previous times by a lot! Many people get slower and slower as they go on! I’m so impressed that you improved your time by so much!

  24. says

    I can understand how you feel about not accomplishing that goal. I’d feel the same way with stressing myself out. I’ve done that with just 5k’s! I just wanted to say that a 4:04:00 marathon time is AWESOME!!

  25. says

    I understand your disappointment, but remember… it’s four minutes. In the scope of the fact that you ran a freakin’ marathon this morning, that’s nothing! You are awesome!!! :) Don’t forget that important thing!

  26. Carolyn says

    The first thing I thought when reading this is, “Is she REALLY this hard on herself?” Not only did you shave tons of time off your previous marathon times, but you also have had a ton of stuff going on. Hellllooooo…moving, new jobs, intuitive eating, etc etc etc! None of this is easy, and most people probably would have stopped training and started living off fast food since they didn’t have time to pack healthy meals everyday.

    I know what it’s like to not accomplish your goal, after my half I felt that I was super slow, blah blah yada yada. Instead of thinking “Hey, I just ran a ridiculously long race. I am amazing.” Why must we beat ourselves up?! :)

    Anywho, just wanted to say, great job and you are very inspiring! Keep it up!

    • says

      I don’t know why I laughed at your, “Is she really this hard on herself?” comment.
      Maybe I am. Not sure.
      But, I’m still very proud of myself too, I should have been more clear :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  27. says

    I completely understand your disappointment – I did the same thing my last half marathon.

    BUT YOU RAN AN ENTIRE MARATHON! Be very proud of yourself – take some time and relax. You did amazingly!

    Congratulations again!

  28. meg c says

    totally understand why you are disappointed, but remember you did PR! that is an amazing accomplishment in itself. congrats on finishing, the pr, and for pushing yourself to do your best!

  29. says

    I’m more a reader than a commenter but I just wanted to say, you still did freaking awesome in the marathon even if you didn’t reach your goal. So inspired by you, I’m sure you’ll break the 4 hours, but enjoy your PR!

  30. says

    I love these pictures. You look great after running for 4 hours. I look horrible after one mile.

    How cute is your little brother with his sign! I love it!

    YES PIZOOKIES are the best thing about BJs.

    I want you to know that I am totally impressed by you! You inspire me everyday. (That sounds super cheesy but I don’t mean it to be!)

  31. Susan says

    I’m sorry you didn’t get the time you were hoping for but WOW you still did amazing!!! And looked good doing it 😉

  32. says

    Wow, you did amazing!! I’m sorry you were a bit off your goal pace, and I know all that really matters is what YOUR goal was but I have to admit that in my eyes you are ridiculously fast. I honestly don’t think I could run that fast even for a half marathon, and what you accomplished is truly an amazing, inspirational feat to me. Way to go!!! :)

  33. says

    Awesome job, Monica! I think you are a total rockstar for finishing in 4:04 – you inspire me for my 1st half marathon this December! Hope you had a super relaxing evening. :)

  34. says

    holy hell woman, BE PROUD OF YOURSELF! let’s make a list:

    2. it was your THIRD marathon
    3. you set a new PR!

    you are an inspiration to us all. shit, i can’t run farther than 10k (well, i never have yet).. i am so, so, so proud of you!

  35. María says

    First time here, I understand your feeling of frustation but on the other hand, 4:04 is still an amazing time AND your PR!

  36. Lived in Wien! says

    Mazel Tov, Monica! Celebrate this HUUUUUGE accomplishment! 2 marathons! That is much more than most athletes complete. You are awesome and amazing.

  37. says

    CoNgratulations! I know the 4 minutes sucks, but at least you are close enough that it’s doable.

    And … When I used to hear about the Pizookie and people said it was from BJ’s I thought they mean the whole sale retailer like Costco.

  38. says

    Not sure if you noticed but you SET AN 11 MINUTE PR GIRL! Major congrats. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Marathons are just too unpredictable. On a different day, you might have gone 3:54 instead of 4:04. That’s why us marathoners are psycho and sign up for our next one as soon as we cross the finish line. :)

    Seriously though, take a breather, figure out if you want some time off from running, and be very proud of your accomplishment! You rock!

  39. Ida says

    Congrats on the PR! I’m sorry the race didn’t go how you wanted, but you did really well. I’m sure the bq isn’t too far off! Also, your blog is so fun to read. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

  40. says

    Congratulations on the killer PR! I did 4:04 when I was shooting for a sub 4 in my first marathon, and the next time I took 6 minutes off to run a 3:58- i just KNOW you have it in you, and you’ll do it next time!

  41. Nadine says

    Its funny, I think only people who run can understand how DEFEATING it feels to miss a goal by ‘only 4 minutes’ but the truth is 4 minutes in the running world is a LONG time, especially when you ACTUALLY cut 11 minutes off your previous PR –you ran a great race, and I think that being able to look back on it and objectively learning how you can do it better *next time* is the name of the game. Most people never run one marathon in their lifetime, so be proud of a huge accomplishment!

  42. says

    Missing goals SUCKS. So wallow as long as you want. You worked hard, and unfortunately “A” for effort doesn’t count.

    BUT. At some point, I hope you step back and realize that you accomplished more in 4:04 than many people will accomplish in their entire lives. And you inspire me to get my booty out the door and keep trying for my own (much slower) PRs and PDRs.

  43. says

    P.S. — when I said “A” for effort doesn’t count…I was just wallowing with you. But it counts in a major way. Every step counts. So just take that with a grain of salt…it FEELS like effort doesn’t count. But look how many comments you’re getting! You think people would respond the same way if you were a rockstar that none of us could relate to?

  44. says

    An 11 minute PR is awesome! Congrats & don’t be discouraged. You will break 4:00 in your next race, you seem to have the willpower & motivation to reach your goal. Enjoy the next few days of rest :)

  45. Allison says

    GIRL! 4 minutes off goal is NOTHING, and doing a marathon in 4:04 is an AMAZING accomplishment! I know it sucks to set a goal and not reach it, but you must be proud of all the hard work. Try to dwell on your accomplishments, NOT your defeats. You amaze me!

  46. Sally Kate says

    Monica, I ran a half yesterday and had the slowest time of any race yet this year, but I had a blast with one of my best friends running it. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesnt. But 4:04 is NOTHING to sneeze at! You rocked it and had an amazing PR!! I definitly think this is the sort of thing where you “shoot for the moon and land among the stars!” I also know that when you set a goal its depressing when you dont make it, and sometimes you just need a giant chocochunk to make you feel a little bit better about the world :)

  47. says

    Congrats! I’m sure it’s difficult to think about those four minutes, but you still rocked 26.2 miles and set a new PR! Impressive!

    I think the Pizookie is the perfect way to refuel after a marathon. I wish I had one :)

  48. says

    I think that is great progress! Sometimes I get down when I don’t reach the exact goal I was aiming for, but I have to remember that what I did do was great too!

    Dinner and dessert looks amazing. Ok, especially the dessert!!

  49. says

    I know you’re disappointed. I’d be disappointed too if I was that close to reaching my goal! But you did it and that should be the important thing!

  50. Allison W. says

    Congratulations!!!! I’ve been a reader for a few months, and it seems funny to say this, but I’m so proud of you! Running a marathon is no joke – you’re awesome!

  51. says

    i know it might be hard to see the good in it right now (trust me i have been there many times) but you PRed by ELEVEN minutes and were so close to sub 4! you have to KNOW you can do it know, just gotta get that confidence behind it. you did great out there and looked awesome when i saw you at mile 23!! i am very proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself. recover well girlie, it will be yours next time for sure.

  52. says

    Sorry I missed you yesterday! You shouldn’t feel bad – a 4:04 is a tremendous effort. And I remember that hill back at mile 17 well. It’s where I blew chow on my 4:45 last year.

    Great effort. As you say – time to dust off an do it again. What’s up next? L.A.?

  53. says

    What a wonderful race post. Thank you for the details. I feel very inspired by your story. thank you for posting so much. It helps fuel me when I don’t think I have anything left in me.
    Great work on 4:04. SuperWoman to me!

  54. says

    Congratulations on a great PR!!! I know it’s so disappointing to miss your goal but you should still be so proud. 4:04 is an amazing time.

  55. says

    Wow that is so awesome! You PR’ed big time and ALMOST broke 4:00. Next time for sure!!

    I had a similar experience with the 4:30 pace group when I did my first full on October 10. I slowly saw them getting further and further away from me and it kind of broke my heart and REALLY discouraged me.

    But damn, 4:04 is an AWESOME TIME! I have a feeling next time you will break 4:00 😉 Way to go!!!

  56. Ashley says

    You really did awesome, give yourself some more credit, Monica! I know it’s frustrating to be so close though. You will do it next time and you had huge improvement from your PR, great job!!

  57. says

    Focus not on falling short of your goals but rather celebrate the HUGE PR you scored!!!! So proud of you for that and for not giving up! Live to run another day and don’t ever let a single race define you as a runner. You know that sub-4 is in you and you’ll achieve it soon enough!

  58. Susan says

    It’s so interesting to me how you feel defeated after running a marathon. I would be jumping up and down with excitement. I wish you could celebrate your accomplishment, not that you didn’t acheive the arbitrary time set by you……I am in awe of anybody who finisheds a marathon. You did awesome!!!! Be proud of yourself girl…

  59. says

    Excellent Job! You should be really proud of yourself since you still PR’d! I had a goal of getting under 4 hours as well yesterday and didn’t quite reach it but it’s still such an accomplishment that you can’t help but feel proud of yourself! Enjoy your week of recovery! :)

  60. s says

    psh. i’m proud of you. and, yknow, your running adventures are inspiring to me (i break 3 miles on a good day 😉 but i’m working on that!)

  61. Maren says

    Monica! I am sooooo proud of you! You are amazing! I am so happy and excited for you! That’s so great that you finished in a little over 4 hours!!! CONGRATS GIRL!!!!

  62. says

    Be very proud that you have trained and completed a couple marathons. It’s an exclusive club and you’re in it twice.

    Don’t worry about the time, you finished with an impressive time. We know you did your best and thats the best thing you can do.

    Enjoy and celebrate your accomplishment.

  63. says

    Congrats on finishing your marathon! I had the same exact feeling when I started to calculate whether I was going to break my PR of 2:21 for a half. Once I realized it wasn’t going to happen around mile 9, I was really bummed out. I was never convinced it would happen, especially since that PR was at the Pasadena half on a course that’s basically where I do all my training. I also had a running partner for that entire race which kept me going when I would have otherwise taken it slower. It also kinds of bums me out that I don’t have another race planned so there’s no real make-up situations anytime soon. Good luck on your upcoming race schedule and anyone who can run four 4 hours straight is an amazing athlete and superstar!

  64. says

    Hi Monica,

    I saw your shirt with your URL during the race and watched you gradually run away…I was also trying to stay with the 4 hour pace group but just couldn’t do it….same thing that happened at SFM (4:06 ), however this time I cramped up badly and had to walk a lot (4:25). But I still had a great time!

    But seriously, it’s crazy to be disappointed too much about 4 minutes in 4 hours! You’ll get there…just a matter of time.

    Love all the food ideas on your blog! Since losing weight and running I also have taken on much more cooking experiments….the more ideas the better!

    Keep up the cooking and running and blogging,

  65. says

    I’m so glad you linked, I got so busy last week I missed it! Congrats on the 3rd! How fantastic. I feel your pain though, it sucks to not achieve it, it will however, be that much sweeter when you do since it was so hard.

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