Martian Marathon Race Report

So were you surprised? 🙂

We decided to incorporate a full marathon as a “training run” this time around. The main reason for keeping it a big secret was to keep it as low-key as possible; after my last marathon blew up in my face, I needed to get my confidence back and wanted to avoid any expectations or pressure. Plus it’s kind of fun to say “Surprise, I ran a marathon!” 🙂 So this was the true reason for running conservatively at Around the Bay last weekend.

The Martian Marathon was on Saturday, April 2nd in Dearborn, MI. I was able to meet up with some awesome bloggers while in town, but I’ll save that for my weekend recap in a separate post!

I didn’t taper, with the exception of keeping my runs easy from Thursday on-ward. In fact, this concludes three very heavy weeks of training (96 KM, 98 KM and 99 KM) and I just ran a personal monthly mileage record in March. I treated the race simply as a glorified long run – with some bling!

Race morning was very low-key, which was nice. We had no trouble getting to the park where the race started and finished, just down the street from out hotel. After scoping things out, we hung out in the car keeping warm for a while. The full marathon was starting at 7:15 and we were able to use the washrooms (no lines!) then stroll over to the starting area with just a few minutes to go. There were about 400 runners in the full, with the half starting later.

They were all decked out in the “martian” theme with blow-up aliens all over the place. There were also martian mile-markers and little aliens tied onto pylons along the route.

My plan was to run a comfortable and conservative first half (~2:00) and goal MRP for the second half (~1:50).

I started to get slightly nervous (more anxious) while standing with hubs waiting for the start, but nothing like my usual pre-race panic. Knowing that I was starting off at an easy pace helped keep me at ease. As I went through the motions of checking my Garmin and shoelaces, I caught Steph walking by. I had been keeping an eye out for her, but she’s tiny and hard to find to spot in a crowd. I was so happy to see her for a quick hug and chat. Her first words were: “I thought you were running the half!” Hehe.

A few seconds later, we were off. The course was a lightly rolling out-and-back on a closed off two-lane road through a park. It was pretty quiet out there, but the scenery was nice and it wasn’t crowded at all. I found that it was very well-supported for such a small event.

The first half was all about patience and discipline. I was using a 2:00 half marathon pace band (with mile splits) and checking my Garmin frequently to keep myself in line. I chatted with a fellow Canadian briefly (we were wearing the same race shirt) but for the most part, I was just zoned out with my music and pretending that I was cruising along on any old long run.

I was feeling great and holding back, knowing that the real work would be starting soon. I started getting anxious for the half way mark and turn-around; I had a feeling it was going to be a good day but I was ready to get find out for sure.

I took a quick pee break around KM 17 and refilled my water bottle at the next water station (I was carrying my 22-oz Nathan handheld).

First half kilometre splits:

KM1 – 5:36 (salt)
KM2 – 5:33
KM3 – 5:40
KM4 – 5:32
KM5 – 5:41
KM6 – 5:37
KM7 – 5:41
KM8 – 5:37 (gu)
KM9 – 5:41
KM10 – 5:32
KM11 – 5:31
KM12 – 5:41
KM13 – 5:37
KM14 – 5:37 (salt)
KM15 – 5:35
KM16 – 5:34 (gu)
KM17 – 5:54 (washroom)
KM18 – 5:28
KM19 – 5:40
KM20 – 5:32
KM21 – 5:39

Half Marathon split: ~1:59 (5:38/KM = 9:05/mi)

After crossing the half way mark, it was time to pick it up to MRP. The goal was 5:13/KM (8:23/mi). I focused on finding the pace that I’ve been practising to see how it felt on the back half of a marathon.

I changed my Garmin display to show current pace and average lap pace, so which prevented me from thinking too much about my overall pace/time/distance. I took it one click at a time, which helped a great deal mentally.

I locked in the pace and found I was able to settle in easily. How’s this for consistency?
22K – 5:12
23K – 5:12
24K – 5:13 (gu)
25K – 5:13
26K – 5:13
27K – 5:13
28K – 5:13 (salt)
29K – 5:12
30K – 5:14
31K – 5:11
32K – 5:12 (gu)

They were ticking by quite easily. I assessed how I was feeling frequently and the answer was great. I was strong and in control, not feeling tired at all. As each mile ticked by I kept expecting it to get tough, but it never did. I forced myself not to go any faster until mile 20, and then I could pick it up slightly as long as it still felt good.

33K – 5:08
34K – 5:07
35K – 5:02
36K – 5:01
37K – 5:03 (half gu)

I could not believe how effortless the pace was feeling. I was passing people all over the place, which was great for morale – not that I needed it! I felt amazing and I was on top of the world. We caught up to some half marathoners at this point, and it got a little crowded but nothing unmanageable.

I was counting down the kilometres and miles and kept waiting to hit “the wall” but it never happened. I was only getting stronger.
There were times that I thought I should hold back, since this was supposed to be a “training run” after all, but I figured that as long as the pace was feeling comfortable, I should go with it.

For the last few miles, we moved onto narrower paved paths and it became very congested with the half marathoners. I had to go off the path frequently to get around people, but it only fueled my fire to get to the finish.

38K – 4:57
39K – 4:56
40K – 4:56
41K – 4:49
42K – 4:35

I held back tears as I passed the mile 25 marker. I was in disbelief. I was about to finish the race of my life and I had plenty left in the tank. I didn’t know it was possible to finish a marathon feeling this good!

I kept an eye out for hubs as I rounded the final corner and I knew he was ecstatic to see me.

I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face and couldn’t take my eyes off the clock.

Second half split: ~1:47 (5:04/KM = 8:10/mi)

Chip time: 3:46:06, a 12m50s PR!

I made my way through the finish chute and Runner Nic spotted me! She had been watching out for me and we finally got our long-awaited hug & pic.

I collected my awesome alien medal and found hubs. I was ecstatic to learn that he had also killed it with a 3:18:30 PR following a similar pacing strategy, also feeling strong til the finish.

We were the 2 fastest Canadians in the race!
(So what if there were only 8…)


Chip time: 3:46:06
Pace: 5:21/KM (8:37/mi)
Overall: 129/419
F25-29: 4/24 
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67 thoughts on “Martian Marathon Race Report

  1. You – and the hubs- are just awesome runners! Congrats again on a great race. Fastest Canadians.. love it! There should be an extra medal for that..

  2. i forgive you for keeping this a secret because clearly it was worth it!! i bet not having the pressure made a big difference, too. i'm so, so, so proud of you! love hearing how effortless it was for you, too. this is definitely your year for that BQ! huge PR and a huge congrats! and 4th in AG…awesome. you better still be smiling!!! congrats to mark, too!! speedster!

  3. Awesome job! I wonder if you did so well because you didn't put any pressure on yourself with this race? It seems that, sometimes, the stress and anxiety that accompany our "A" races undermine our performances.

  4. Congrats! For both of you, you are reaping the dividends of hard training. You paces are great, and the methodical approach to negative splits is smart racing. Putting the pieces together for race day when you hold the same pace for the whole race will be the next step, but I think you got it. Lets hope for great weather for May 15! (I'll be doing Toronto).

  5. I am gob-smacked. Firstly that you ran a full and secondly – that negative split!! Wow. I knew you were heading towards a marathon PB sometime soon. Congratulations.

  6. I think it's basically the coolest thing ever that you two were the top two Canadians! (I'm hoping that I'm first place Arizonian at my 5k in 2 weeks, but I'll probably be the only one – take what I can get!)

  7. Way to go, Marlene! It's been incredibly fun to follow your training and see how fast you've become. I have no doubt that the Mississauga Marathon will be another perfect race for you. 🙂

  8. Marlene I am sooo happy for you!! Congrats on such a great race! Super sneaky on the marathon! I was so surprised! Your training is amazing and you are running so strong! keep it up! You definitely inspire me to run faster! I even thought of you during my race today!

  9. What a fantastic recap! Congrats Marlene…I loved reading this and I had a huge smile on my face. I'm just so excited for you! The perfect race for sure…you are so strong and so ready 🙂

  10. I kept looking over and saw you in the corral for the marathon and said to my husband "What is she doing" I thought….. Steller performance! Good job!

  11. Congrats on an AWESOME race, and holy smokes but those km times are consistent! It was great meeting you and yeah, we should have thought to take a picture! Next time. 🙂

  12. That was one of the best post race hugs ive ever got! Ill never forget our meet cute! 😉 i'm glad we are so close! We could easily meet up for a girls weekend this summer!! I feel like ive know you forever!!! 🙂 I'm so happy for you and SO proud of you! I'm glad you had the race of your dreams! In this case, secrets do make friends!!! Love you marlene! amazing, amazing job!

  13. What an amazing race!! The no pressure run off feel works to perfection. You were relaxed and just went with it and WOW!!!!Love the MArtian theme and that Mark Pr'd also.. Yes Steph is a tiny human.. YOU ROCK!! This has to be the best confidence builder EVER..

  14. Congrats to both you and the hubs! The Martian race sounded like a fun one. When I first read the title i thought it said Martini Marathon.. lol! That would have been fun too! 🙂 You did great Marlene!!

  15. Wow! What an amazing negative split! Good work out there! You are becoming one fast speedy gonzales! Good training and proper pacing makes all the difference at the end of a race, doesn't it :)I can't wait to see how you to at Mississauga…

  16. Fantastic run, well done! With all the training you’ve been doing you had to get a perfect race somewhere. You both rock, congratulations!

  17. Terrific! Must be all of the radiation in the MI air! The slower you go at first always leads to a faster finish. Plus, you were probably running extremely relaxed. Awesome PR!

  18. So amazing!!!! I can't believe you chose a marathon as a "training run" and still had so much energy at the end! Reading this reminded me of how strong/shocked I felt last weekend – you keep expecting some sort of downfall, but lo and behold, your legs were more than ready for the challenge 🙂 Congrats, girl!!!!

  19. I know I've already said it a million times in various places but I am just so damn proud of you. You showed massive restraint and discipline the first Half and stuck with your plan to execute a massive negative split and even bigger PR! I wish I could've been there to see you Finish but was happy I got to hug you after! Can't wait to meet up for a race again when I'm up and running!!!

  20. I thought maybe you were running a 5k so that you could get an official 5k PR. This was so much bigger and you got a massive PR! Congratulations! I loved reading your recap. I can just imagine how you were feeling during the second half of the race. You look thrilled in that picture near the end of the race.I love how pervasive the martian theme was. It looks fun!Congratulations to your husband on his huge PR, too!

  21. AWESOME!! I would LOVE to use your exact strategy to run a marathon. I have been horrible about keeping up with reading blogs. I'm going to go back and read through your training. You are so fast! You are running the pace I WISH I could run.Congratulations!

  22. I had tears reading this, you are amazing! And I am so happy for you & know you made the right choice now to keep it a secerect – now I forgive you!You are only getting stronger and smarter – you were little miss conistant – and you even stopped, peed & got water! Holy cow! You are going to rock your goal race!Congrats again, I am sooooo damn proud of you!Enjoy the rest day!

  23. Congratulations! It sounds like you executed your race plan to perfection. I can't wait to see how you do in your goal race if you can crush your PR in a training run!

  24. WOOOOHOOO Marlene. You did AMAZING! All that hard work is definitely paying off. You are just rockin' it lately. I bow to you running queen.

  25. Congrats on the PR! It is a great course, and I loved being able to hang out in the car until the start too. We seriously lucked out with the weather for this race! You may have seen me, I was the lady laying flat on my back in front of the port of potties by the finish line.

  26. Pingback: Martian Invasion of Races: 10K race report | Mission to a(nother) Marathon

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