No PR, but the best marathon I’ve ever run race-management wise.
Going into taper, I had one real goal for this race–don’t make a mental mistake. I did a very crunched marathon training schedule from the end of September with less volume than I wanted, but I knew running a really smart race would give me a great shot at sub 4.
We were traveling to see family for Thanksgiving (and eating), and I only got a couple of workouts in during the last week. No real problems with that. Traveling is stressful on its own–pretty much counts as a workout–and it was time to rest anyway. Regardless, it can mess with your head a little to let your running fall off like that. But I was prepared for it.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the Miles of Love team meeting we had on Friday night before the race. I didn’t know we were going to have the chance to meet some of the families and kids that Miles of Love works with that night.
That was a game changer.
Meeting Jackson, Nolan, and Jarod (sweetest kids ever) and their families was an extra nudge going into the race. I’ve felt marathon pain before, and I knew it was nothing compared to what these kids have been through or what it must feel like to know your child is sick. But they were all smiling and in good spirits. Very inspiring.
There’s nothing I was going to face in a few hours time that was going to keep me from finishing with a smile on my face.
I’ll refer to last year’s race report for everything leading up to the race–all the same. The only real difference this year is that the #1 Contender for the Fastest Man on Davidia Drive picked up my race packet for me. It’s nice that they’ll let someone pick up a packed for you with a copy of a drivers license.
As I said in the short version, this is the best managed marathon I’ve ever run. Splits for the first 20 miles are below with bathroom breaks noted:
- Miles 1-5: 9:59, 9:31, 9:35, 9:17, 9:24 (BR)
- Miles 6-10: 9:09, 9:12, 9:13, 9:08, 9:14
- Miles 11-15: 8:59, 9:07, 9:00, 9:02, 9:13
- Miles 16-20: 9:35 (BR), 9:00, 9:04, 9:00, 9:06
So breaking it down scientifically…I hit mile 20 at 3:04:49. That’s pretty much what I wanted to do. I knew if I could get to mile 20 feeling good and still be within a couple of minutes of 3:03:00 I’d have a shot at turning it on for the last 10k and breaking 4:00:00. I was going to have to run at an 8:53 pace for the last 10k, which at the time I hit mile 20 seemed completely reasonable. I felt great–actually never felt this good at mile 20 before, so I decided to give it a shot. Here’s an abbreviated version of the self-talk in each of those miles:
- Mile 21 : Ok…speed up, but not too much. You don’t have to get it all back this mile. (9:01)
- Mile 22 : Um…didn’t I tell you to speed up? Re-double your effort. (9:00)
- Mile 23: You made a mental effort, and nothing happened physically. You’re now 14 seconds behind your original schedule, and you aren’t going to make 4:00:00. Physically, you felt like you poured the coals, but the reality is that you’re just plain tired. But you are still in this mentally, and that’s what is important. I’m going to allow you to walk two water stops between here and the finish, but there is no other walking allowed. That’s a bad precedent. (9:27)
- Mile 24: Here’s one of your walk breaks. Enjoy it. (10:15)
- Mile 25: Take your other walk break here. Savor it. Milk it. (10:39)
- Mile 26: Make it to the mile marker you are essentially done. The last 0.2 is through a tunnel of supporters. You will run faster there no matter what, and you won’t even feel it. (10:02)
- Last 0.2: Smile! (2:05)
I’ve been reading that a slight positive split is actually the optimal method for the marathon. I ran a 1 minute positive split on the back half. Very happy with this effort. I gave myself every opportunity to hit my goal, and I walked away knowing this is the best I could do that day. Maybe there were 30 seconds or so that could have been saved, but nothing that would make a real difference.
No regrets. No complaints. I don’t think I have mastered the marathon or anything like that, but I now know I can run one correctly. That puts a lot of pressure on for the next one.
Did I just type “next one”?
*** UPDATE ***
Can’t believe I forgot to mention how cool it was to run alongside Jeff Galloway for several miles on the first half of the race. He was doing a 30/15 run/walk and we were with him for quite a while. We were also with a lady who just wouldn’t leave the poor guy alone and let him run his race. The burdens of being a great running coach!
Post Race and Thank Yous
Biggest thanks to the people who supported me with donations to Miles of Love. I beat my fund raising goal, and our team beat our fund raising goal. You guys have no idea what an impact your donations are having on real families here locally. I’m not against making donations to large organizations at all, but when you can meet people who are impacted by your generosity within hours of the contribution it’s pretty amazing.
As always, thanks to the Fam for putting up with the training and coming out on race day. The medals for this race are crazy big and heavy, and it’s nice to have people who are more than willing to carry it around their necks so that I don’t have to.
And thanks again to the volunteers and handing out Gu, water, Gatorade, and cold towels on the course along with all the food and beverages post-race.
The Miles of Love team was also very lucky to have post-race catering by Vital Flair. UNBELIEVABLE ribs, a delicious omelette, burgers, snack food, champagne…everything you need to celebrate a race! Check these guys out if you have an event that needs some great food and friendly people to help out!