Leading up to
was an interesting process. After TRR, I had to deal with some MAJOR fatigue issues which affected my ability to train. Looking back, I would guess that it took somewhere between 3.5 to 4 weeks to get my energy levels back to “normal”. That leaves me about 2 weeks to train… oh wait, I have to taper… so that leaves me no real time to train. Chicago
In all honesty, I thought most of the training had already been done. I just wanted about 3 to 4 weeks to “sharpen” things up with some speedwork & tempo runs. Unfortunately, my fatigue just didn’t allow for that. As such, I went into
a little leery of what might happen… I thought it was possible I could have a great race, but I wouldn’t have put money on it. Chicago
So race day is here. The forecast called for temps in the 80s and high humidity. With both my training and the weather in mind, I decided that I wanted to be very conservative early and just work into the race. My plan was to run the first mile at a pace I felt VERY comfortable doing… and hope it was close 5:15min/mile. If that happened, I would just hold the pace.. If it was faster, so be it.. if it was slower, then I would push the pace to see how it felt and make a decision on whether I could maintain it over the entire course.
As I made my way into the Elite Development corral area, I felt a bit like a cow with his herd as I was pressed up against my fellow competitors. Then they allowed the Corral A folks to come up and suddenly I felt more like I was in a mosh-pit at a Metallica concert getting shoved from every direction. Taking in the smell of B.O. and Icy Hot, I kept thinking…”Dude, this a marathon.. not 100m dash.”.. but that is just the mentality of some folks I guess.
The gun went off and I shoved my way through the sea of slower runners that felt compelled to get in front of me 5seconds before.. Hopping to the outside, I settled into a pace I felt was comfortable and hoped that the pace was “fast”.
When I came through mile 1, I looked at my watch… 5:37. Yikes. That was A LOT slower than I thought it would be. At that point, I decided to push the pace to see where that would put me.
As I pushed through mile 2, I felt myself working a fair amount. My split for mile 2 was 5:13. At that point, I did some quick thinking… I knew I could hold that 5:13 to 5:17 pace for the next 10 to 12miles, but I was dead certain that today, I had no chance of finishing if I did. So I decided to slide back into mid 5:20s, which still wasn’t exactly comfortable, but it felt good enough that I thought I could maintain that pace to the finish.
The miles slowly passed and several times I contemplated dropping out. I just didn’t have it. My right hip was tight, my left foot & knee hurt, and I had zero “juice”. I have only dropped out of one race my entire life.. a 10k Cross Country race in College in which I had the flu and was running with a 102degree temperature. I HATE dropping out, so I kept telling myself that wasn’t an option ... and pushed ahead.
I was able to maintain 5:25 pace through the half way point, but I could feel the heat starting to take it’s toll.. and my body was already feeling kind rough.
My pace started to slide as I entered what I think is the hardest part of the
Marathon distance… Mile 15 through 20. For me, it becomes a mental battle of staying on pace during these miles. Even though I grunted and pushed through this section my pace slid into the 5:45 to 5:50 range.
I recall at mile 18 that I had to focus on “shortening my stride” and focusing on turnover. I usually start thinking this around mile 22.. so that’s not a good sign, but what can you do.. keep moving forward.
The last 3miles were down right painful. Though my breathing was fine, my body felt like a pile of hamburger… ground-up. I hobbled my way to the finish and crossed the line in 2hrs 29min 6sec.
Sometimes at the end of a race when I don’t meet my goals, I automatically slide into a depressed state that can take weeks to pull out of. Today, that didn’t happen. I was just happy that I made it to the finish. The time was nowhere near what I think I am capable of running… but today was just not my day and I still found a way to dig-deep and gut out a respectable finish. The time may not be the result that I have dreamed about over the past 6 months, but the effort and determination that I had to draw upon were just as big of an accomplishment to me.