Monday, October 4, 2010
Bad news: I did not qualify for Boston. That would have taken a 3:10:59 marathon. Good news: I set a new personal record! Three hours, thirteen minutes, and thirty-five seconds is my fastest marathon time out of my thirteen marathons. On one hand, I wish I had qualified for Boston, but on the other hand, I feel elated that I ran my best race to date. I can't be disappointed with my time or effort.
I started out smart as I noticed the 3:10 pacer took the group out a bit fast. I ran my race at the beginning and kept the pack in sight. By mile five, I had caught up and was solidly in the pack. I mainly focused on my breathing, the course, the conversation with others in the pack, and the song stuck in my head ("Let it Rock"). We hit the halfway mark at 1:34 even, which was a minute faster than the 1:35 goal. I felt good and stuck with the group and the pace. I think running with them kept me on pace for as long as possible. Kudos to Pacer Craig who for his first time pacing the 3:10 folks, did mainly a good job. B+ for Craig, and I emailed my feedback to the pace team captain.
At mile 15, I started to feel really good thinking about what it would be like to cross in 3:10 and the joy I'd experience. It was the longest I had stayed close to this pace group, and I started to envision the rest of the race and repeated in my mind: "Hold on until the mile 20 marker; just stick with the group until mile 23; take your last Gu; then with 3.2 miles to go if you are on pace, do not quit as you can do it especially if you are that close to your goal!"
I made it past the mile 20 marker still with the group, but not too long after, as we got off the long road and onto a community park trail, my thighs really tightened up and I couldn't turn my legs over to keep pace. I ran mile 20 in 7:22, and that was the last sub 8 minute mile I ran. The rest were right around 8:00, as I slugged it through the rest. I knew I was still on pace for a PR - all I had to do was not give up. That echoed through my head: PR if you just keep your legs moving; PR if you just keep your legs moving; PR - just move those legs! With less than two miles to go, I found that last bit inside of me to hold steady. It was now a question of 3:14 or 3:13; did I want to call myself a 3:13 marathoner? If yes, then just keep the legs moving.
I kept those legs moving. I even switched into that last gear as I hear the rephrase of my email signature: "Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough." - Hal Higdon
The last mile was simply a test of wills. I wanted the race to be over, but I wasn't quite at the finish line. "Just keep those legs moving!" I finally saw the footbridge, and then the legs moved even faster - whatever I had left. I love finishing strong, so I ran over the bridge to the finish line shouting, "PR!" as I raised my arms in the arm to a loud crowd - it was amazing! I had accomplished my goal of running a marathon faster than I had, and I can now call myself a 3:13 marathoner!
I waited by the finish line a few minutes until my trip-mate, Jennifer, crossed the line, gasping for air. She set a new PR for herself but more than half an hour and crossed well under her goal of 3:20. There, we hung out at the finish line festival, grabbed some of the food, and went to the Y to shower. After, we went to a local bar to drink while we waited for Ken and Hilary to finish the race, shower, then join us. I had three Rogue Dead Guy Ales - how appropriate!
I never root against anyone at a marathon, but I sent bad wishes to the guy wearing the Free West Bank (front) Free Gaza (back) shirt. He probably ran a sub 3 marathon, and the pace group I was with agreed that it was an odd choice to make such a political statement at a race.
I am scheduled to run NYC in five weeks. I still need to put together a good recovery plan. My legs are sore and I hope to run a little by Wednesday. I also do not know if I should try again at NYC or what my goal should be or if I should just run it and not worry about time and enjoy the experience. But, I can answer that the next few days. Tonight: Good beer from Churchkey!