18 Weeks Total
8 weeks with more than 80 running miles
2 week in a row at 100 running miles
10 runs of 20 miles or more
2 runs of full marathon distance
Finish Time 2:49:46
5th/354 Age Group (40-45 male)
Negative Split (My first in a marathon)
1st half 1:25:15
2nd half 1:24:31
The best short description of this race would have to be the perfect end to the perfect training cycle. The long description follows.
My goal for this race was simple. Crush my PR by running under 2:50 and show the marathon who's boss. Based on my training and tune up races everything looked to be set. All I had to do was go out and execute. Then the weather forecast stared coming in. Cold and windy. In fact the forecasted winds were 15 to 20 MPH and the wind chill a cold 18* for the start and it wasn't going to warm up much.
At first I was a bit disheartened but then I decided I had worked way too hard to sacrifice my goal and the first thing I had to do to not make that sacrifice was change my attitude and embrace the challenge. No problem, I have long associated distance running with work. That's how I look at it and it drives me. I have never shied away from hard work, in fact my entire life I have embraced it. From Thursday on all I could think when I thought about the race was that I just needed to "Be the Work Horse." A work horse doesn't care what obstacles are placed in front of it it just puts its head down and does the required work.
The weather not with standing the very first thing that I noted about this race was the complete lack of any anxiety what-so-ever. I always get nervous before races. I put a lot of pressure on myself to reach my goals and the people closest to me sacrifice a lot to allow me to prepare to meet those goals. Also, I know it is going to hurt. Pain is just part of it.
My training went better than expected so I knew the goals were within reach and I have become very comfortable friends with the pain of racing. I no longer fear it at all. So, in the days and hours leading up I felt nothing but calm confidence. I was prepared, sure it would hurt but I know how to deal with that pain and I know it will end when the work is done.
I carb loaded like a champ this time. I spent an entire 3 days loading up and calculated my specific needs and made sure I hit that number each of the 3 days.
We stayed downtown near the start. I was up at 5:00 AM to eat breakfast and top off my stores. It was cold so we stayed in the hotel until the very last minute and walked down to gear check where I was meeting Garrett. Garrett and I had planned to work together to run under 2:50.
We lined up in the corrals and Garret took the role of pace maker and told me we were going try to run an even or negative split. That we would run each mile at 6:30. Each mile starts a new race and it lasts for 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Then we run the last 10k with everything we have left. I've seen Garrett pace and I've seen Garrett race. He's good at both so I put my trust in his strategy. With that we were off.
I could list all of the splits but the fact is they all came in close to the goal of 6:30. In mile 6 we hit about 6:20 and I exclaimed "time in the bank!" but Garrett was having none of it and chided me "There is no bank! This is a new race."
Based on twitter and facebook everyone was worried about the wind. Honestly it didn't play that big of a role. I really only noticed a couple of times and when I did notice it I just focused on the Work Horse. There is enough architecture and turns on the course that you never really have to deal with a full on headwind.
Nothing to remarkable about the race, just working hard but well within my capabilities. I never once felt like the goal was over my head or out of reach and the miles were just clicking off. Much like I noticed the lack of anxiety in the days and hours before the race I noticed this thing they call the marathon no longer felt daunting. It felt completely doable.
Running is funny. I have met more people and made more friends in the short time I have been running than I did the entire rest of my life. If you are a runner then running is a big part of your life so when you meet other runners you already have a lot in common. I was already running with Garrett who I met during the 2013 Carmel Marathon and I got the opportunity to run with a local running coach I met via twitter for a few miles as well.
We had passed Glenn while we were still downtown. I knew it was him from the "Work Works", a phrase I've seen him use several times, on the back of his singlet. By mile 9 he had caught back up with us and he stayed with us through about mile 17 when we passed his wife and she gave him a big boost with a little encouragement. I know the feeling well myself and have blogged about it many times. To see another guy's wife have the same kind of effect on his race as mine has on mine was pretty neat. Anyway He picked it up here and started separating.
For me at mile 22 it was go time. I was amazed at how good, how strong I felt. "It's only four more miles" is something I think I have said in every marathon. This is the first time I bought the "only" part of it though. I honestly couldn't believe that this thing was almost over.
|About mile 23 and I felt very strong!|
|It's all about guts!|
I shifted into the last gear I had and thanks to Garrett's flawless pacing I was able to drop down about 7 seconds per mile into the low 6:20's. About mile 23 I see my wife and youngest daughter holding a sign asking "Do you have the guts?" Meaning, could I dig deep enough and suffer long enough to finish this thing out and meet my goal or would I wimp out and let myself off the hook? All I can do is point to the sign and nod my head. Oh yeah, I've got this! Hannah runs with me for about 300 or 400 feet I can hear her but I am too focused to acknowledge. Did I mention it was go time? I was on pace but I had no time to spare. This would have to be a perfectly executed race from here to the finish.
I hit Meridian St and notice that Garrett has dropped off. He got me this far and now I've got to close this thing. "Head down, get to work", "Be the work horse", "This is what it's all been about" just kept repeating over and over in my head. I began to pass a few runners here and this solidified the feeling of being in control. At some point in the last few weeks the idea of "showing the marathon who is boss" got into my head and that is exactly what I planned on doing.
I make the turn onto New York. A PR is in the bag but I'm getting a little nervous that I'm going to cross at like 2:50:30 or something. I know I'm between 25 and the finish but at this point I am not sure where I am at in that final stretch and my goal could get submarined. So I dig in harder. And boy did I my last mile was my fastest at 6:16.
I hit the turn for West St, check my watch and felt confident that I've got the goal in hand but still go ahead and find that very last gear and start to kick. Then I see Charlie! Back to the friends I've made while running, Charlie is the backbone of Club Kokomo Road Runners, our local running club. Charlie always makes me smile and didn't disappoint me here. He exclaims "Christian!" as he reaches out for a high five. I oblige and return an exclamation of "Charlie!"
Hit the timing mat, pause the watch, Sign of the Cross. It is done! 2:49:46! Goal met, PR set. Congrats to and from other runners and I turn around and wait for Garrett. He crosses in about a minute and we celebrate, both of us glad to be done.
|Garrett's flawless pacing played a key role in my strong marathon. I learned a lot from him this day that will serve me well in marathons to come.|
Here I sit just a few days later. I am ready to get back to it. I'm going to work on some top end speed through the end of December and then I'll turn my focus to April and the Carmel Marathon. I'm thinking that a 2:47:xx marathon in April is very doable.