Often after a race I find myself in the strangest of moods. A runner’s high is great. It’s unexplainable to anyone who doesn’t run. Coming down off that high, though, is tough. Yesterday wasn’t so bad. I came back home energized, ready to sign up for another race, ready to make plans for next year, ready to just keep going. Since I didn’t run too hard, I wanted the “what’s next” part of running to be right now. It can sort of happen like that, but like a year ago at this time, I’m finding that I don’t really want “what’s next” to be a half marathon. At least this year I want to run; last year at this time I was tired of running.
So today I’ve really come crashing down off my weekend experience. While a few weeks ago I was ready to not do the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half again I realize that this is very much a “vacation race.” I had a lot of fun just getting away, hanging out with my 10-month-old son on the beach, eating dinner each night with my mom and stepdad — but it felt like it was a day too short. I wish I would’ve taken a longer stroll on the beach with my wife the last night there; I wanted my son to play in the sand for another half hour on Sunday. I didn’t want to work today and rainy weather didn’t help. I wanted to stay home and plan … I wanted to plan my now-annual Shamrock Half Marathon trip; I wanted to plan next Labor Day weekend at the beach again. I wanted “what’s next” to be right now.
But I can’t rush these things. I have a real world to get back to and I have some work to do with my running besides just wanting to race. I don’t want to run for the sake of running, which has sort of happened this summer. So as far as what’s next, a big focus for me has to do with not worrying about racing. Yet at the same time for me to improve my running in these “big” events, I have to race in something. Nothing beats the experience of running with large groups of people.
So for right now, my running is going back to basics. I want to get faster — I want to get back to my sub 8-minute mile race paces from 2007. In order to do that I need to do speed work. So starting next week at least once a week, one day of running will be devoted to speed – intervals, fartleks, tempo runs. Something other than my current one-speed pace. I am not going to do a “big” fall race, meaning the Richmond Half Marathon is out. However, that weekend (Nov. 14) also has an 8k that I plan on doing. I’d like my “long” runs to be in the 5-6 mile range this fall, so a mid-November almost 5-miler would be ideal. That gives me two months to work on my speed issues and to attempt a PR at that distance. A turkey trot in Ohio is likely later that month and maybe, just maybe, I’ll return to my roots in Bedford for the Christmas Classic that I’ve done a few times.
That pretty much leads me into next year. I mentioned the new Blue Ridge Marathon several weeks ago, but that event is out. It’s too costly for me to commit to right now. Plus that course is the toughest course I’ve ever seen. And, quite honestly, the marathon itch still isn’t there for me. My main goal is to set a PR in the half marathon and, to me, there’s no better course to do it on than one I’ve already done three times — the Shamrock Half Marathon in March.
A lot of runners like to travel to different cities for events. I often get that desire from time to time, but at this point in my life I’m starting to enjoy this tradition. The trip to Virginia Beach in March these past few years have been a lot of fun. While it’s cold, it’s an awesome time to go when not many tourists are around. Everything is still open, just minus the people. And after two years in a row of being at the beach on Labor Day, I’m pretty sure that next year I’d like to do it a third time. And since race entries do nothing but go up throughout the year, there’s no better time than now to plan out 2010.
If I’m going to have a tradition with running then two half marathons a year in two completely different times of the year in one great place only two hours from home is a nice tradition to have.
In my few years of running longer distances, I’ve made it clear that I really don’t like 10ks all that much. I can’t really pinpoint why — to me that distance is just weird. For a 5k, you can just go all out — if you screw up at the start, there’s no way to make up for it. For a half marathon, there’s plenty of a time to make up for lost time or let yourself recover if you start too fast. The 10k … well, that in between distance just hasn’t appealed to me.
Until yesterday, I had only done four 10ks since I started running in 2004 – compare that to 12 5ks and six half marathons. Even when I train, I prefer the distances of 5 miles or 8 miles. But yesterday, my view of the 10k changed … slightly.
As I initially reported with a short entry, I set a PR in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. My chip time was 48:11, 21 seconds faster than my very first 10k at the end of 2006. After having a very satisfying race last week, this was the icing on the cake. I had no idea what to expect yesterday. Six days removed from a half marathon, I knew my legs felt rested, but still a bit tired. I ran only once during the week for a little more than a mile. I figured that after the first mile I knew I would either push it or just lay back and enjoy the scenery of Richmond’s Monument Avenue and the 26,000-plus people who finished.
Well, I hit the first mile in 7:43. I felt great, but I wondered if maybe I started too fast. The next mile was also 7:43. At this point I figured I would try to keep that pace to get to halfway and then see what happens. Mile three was a tad slower at 7:54, but I was still feeling good and was pumped that I was maintaining a sub 8-minute mile pace. It was the first time in a long time that I have felt an adrenaline rush in a race. I hit mile four in 7:46. At this point, my legs tried to tell me to slow down — they were screaming at me for doing two races two weeks in a row, but I kept pushing. I hit mile five at 7:57 — at this point I knew I had to push it if I was going to set a PR. I didn’t want to miss a PR by 30 seconds, but I knew it would be close if I didn’t step it up. Push it or walk and get nowhere near a PR.
With this race and so many people, there’s a lot of weaving in and out almost the whole time. There were lots of people in the first few waves that shouldn’t have been up there and there were lots of people in the waves behind me that should have been closer to the front. That made the last mile very interesting. I pretty much tried to keep pace with people as they passed me — I knew they were in that last mile frame of mind, so I blocked out my tired body and just went with the flow. I hit mile six in 7:37. With 0.2 to go, I knew I had this PR in the bag. I finished the last two-tenths in 1:29. My legs were hating me, but I was so happy.
At a 7:45 pace, this is my first race at a sub 8-minute mile pace since August 2007 in a 5k. While I did set a PR last summer in a 4-mile race, this one feels a lot more satisfying. I’ve come a long way in a year after being hurt and running this race last year in 51:43.
As for what’s next, I am content with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach being the next “big” race for me. Between now and then, though, I have some things I’d like to tackle with speed work and shorter distances to get me to what I really want this year — a PR in the half marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll or later in the fall.
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Lastly, this race was a fundrasier for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. Donations are accepted for a while — if you’d like to donate to my efforts, click here. Both sides of my family have been impacted by cancer, so I’m not just raising money for the sake of raising money. Every little bit means a lot to me.
I’ve been waiting a while to say this — I set a PR today! According to my watch, I did today’s Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k in 48:12, which is 20 seconds faster than a 10k in late 2006. I’m sure my chip time will be different by a second or two. This is just my fifth 10k, but I am extremely happy (maybe an understatement) with how today went. Since I’m pressed for time right now, I can’t do a full race report, but I promise to get to it soon!
Why do races have such an emotional draw to them? On Sunday there was the big excitement of completing the race. My thoughts were immediately on the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half that’s not until September; I was thinking about next March’s Shamrock; there were thoughts on other races this year; and there were, briefly, marathon thoughts.
On Monday I was sleepy, but sad to leave the beach. Despite Virginia Beach looking like a ghost town, I really wanted to stay another couple of days. It’s like I didn’t have enough time to just do nothing. Maybe that’ll happen in September. Today it was back to work. With my legs still a tad sore, sitting all day long was not my idea of fun. While trying to concentrate on working and happily telling stories about the weekend, my thoughts race back to “What’s next?” and when I can I take time off again to run. I really want to run; I have fallen back in love with running and I can’t wait to continue.
As I mentioned yesterday, the infamous question of “What’s next?” gets answered pretty quickly. In my quickest turnaround time ever for an event, I am doing the Monument Avenue 10k this weekend in Richmond. Like last year, I am doing this as a fundraiser for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. To date, I have raised $0. I avoided promoting this just in case something bad happened this weekend and I wouldn’t be able to run. Now that I have survived, I know I can run the 10k in a few days just fine. I might not run it hard, but the fight against cancer keeps me going.
Last year I raised $1,000; this year my goal is just $500. With a short time frame (although most of my donations last year were in the final days) and a weaker economy, I didn’t want to set such a high goal again this year. This is your chance to prove me wrong! To donate, click here (this site has been very sketchy tonight, so if it’s not working, try again later). Donations can be given for a few weeks after the race. For more on the VCU Massey Cancer Center, click here.
My goals for this race will not focus on time – I just want to have a good run and enjoy my surroundings. I have led the way at work to having a 10k “team” – we won’t be running together as a team, but we’ll all have T-shirts – and I’ll be representing the Lynchburg College “team” as well. The great thing about this race is that I don’t feel so selfish doing it. Rain is in the forecast – last year it rained almost the whole time. It’s the only race in which I’ve experienced rain too. Go figure.
So after Saturday, I have the “What’s next?” question all over again. Originally I had planned to do the Charlottesville 10 Miler on April 4, but I think I want to enjoy a break from long running for a short time. Cross training has been kind to me, so I think the next few weeks will focus on that and not running so much. But like I said, I fell back in love with running this weekend, so don’t expect me to stay away from it for too long. My pattern with running seems to be that I get into a very analytical stage for about a month after a race, but I do need some time to think about things.
This may be the least that I have to say about an actual race, but for the time I was running there’s really not much to say. I finished today’s Sweetheart 8k in 40:01, just a tad more than 8 minutes a mile. Like last year, the initial half-mile uphill was the make-or-break point for this race. I handled it OK, getting the first mile in at 8:17. The next mile was mostly downhill and I was rolling along at just over 7 minutes. The rest of the race was up and down, as were my times. In the end though, I felt good about what I had done despite not breaking last year’s time. For me, this was a test of my race shape. I’ll give myself a B-minus. I feel good about what I can do in the next five weeks to have a good half marathon. A PR may be out of reach at this point, but it may set me up for a good rest of the year.
On the flip side of things, I’m not trying to use this an excuse for running slower than I wanted, but the temperature at race start was about 30 degrees. It felt flippin’ cold after near-record highs earlier this week. It was nearly a 30-degree swing in temperatures from running outside last week. Another issue that I couldn’t control was the start of the race — it started 10 minutes late. WTF?? I have NEVER started a race that late … two, maybe three minutes, but 10 minutes? After warming up, I was ready to go … not stand around and wait for the thing to start.
I hate to talk bad about the local running club’s races, but this isn’t the first somewhat unorganized event I’ve attended. On top of the late start, there were only two portapotties for more than 300 finishers – fortunately I didn’t have to pee, but … and there was a long line for water and the usual after-race treats — something I had not seen before at a community race. Usually water is pretty accessible, but not today for some reason.
All in all, though, today was a very good day. I got in some speedwork, but I wasn’t as fast as I’d like. I ended up getting in 6.3 miles total today and after another run tomorrow, I’ll have more than 20 miles for the week. After taking off time from thinking about racing for a while and resting up my body, I think I kind of expected today’s results. I hit the reset button on my own with running, and it’s up to me to stay focused and get back to where I was a couple of years ago. It will be done …
(Funny thing… after writing all this I just went back and read last year’s post about this race. Eerily similar, including my use of bold and italics, minus the race complaints. Click here to check it out.)
It’s tough to try and have a race report for a race I didn’t “race.” Instead, the easiest thing I can say is that I ran a comfortable 51:43 in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k. Things would have been a lot different if I had been able to run in the past few weeks; if it wasn’t raining; if I would’ve been able to wear my new shoes; if I would’ve remembered my watch; and if I hadn’t had several beers last night at the Lynchburg College Alumni Association “happy hour.”
In the end, I ran this harder than I thought I would, partly because I felt I had to after raising $700 for the VCU Massey Cancer Center. I couldn’t just take it easy the whole time knowing that I had done my part. To some, it might not seem like a big deal, but to me it was. In the end, I wish I would’ve done more in the last few weeks. It’s crazy how much endurance I felt like I lost, but I was happy to be consistent the whole time – I had a 25:47 5k split. In the end, the rain wasn’t nearly as bad as forecasted, but the humidity was awful. In the end, remembering my watch might’ve made a difference too. Imagine starting more than 14 minutes after the clock began and trying to do the subtraction every mile on how fast I was going. After a couple of miles, I stopped worrying about it and enjoyed a slower-than-usual race pace, but slightly faster-than-usual training pace. In the end, my new shoes would’ve been nice, but I wasn’t going to ruin them in the rain. And in the end, I could’ve used one less Yuengling last night, but it was mighty tasty. And besides, I had already planned to not “race” hard.
My foot did OK … it’s feeling very indifferent at the moment. I think I’m ready for a solid week of bike riding and not worrying about hitting the pavement. It might not have been the smartest thing to run on it, but it really doesn’t feel any different five hours later. It was awesome to be a part of this huge, huge race. It’s the first race I’ve done that had wave starts, and it was so much better than being in corrals. It was nice to be among a steady group of people running around the same pace as me.
The Richmond Sports Backers do an excellent job of putting together events, and the beginning of this one was suburb. There was ample water on the course, and the finishing area made it very easy to find my wife afterward.
Now, it’s time to make the switch to Magic Hat the rest of the day.
I’ve never been a person to donate anything besides worn out clothes, and I’ve never been one to take part in a fundraiser. That’s all about to change.
Today I signed up for the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k that’s in early April. It’s one of the largest 10k races in America. I also signed up for a 10-week training program that will hopefully help me train for the Shamrock Half Marathon. It’ll give me a chance to meet a few more runners as well, plus give me an opportunity to run with a group once a week. The timing of the 10k works well this year with it being three weeks after the half marathon. I wanted to do it last year, but the two races were too close together. I also signed up for it because I still hate the thought of running a 10k, even after doing a marathon. It’s a challenge I hope to overcome in 2008. Plus I wanted to do it just to do it — everyone tells me it’s an awesome experience.
But this race will bring on much more meaning to mean as I have signed up to do fundraising for Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center. As I have talked about before, my life has been touched by cancer in the past few years with an uncle, my dad and grandfather all having cancer. To me, this is finally a chance to fight the disease. To contribute to my effort, click here. (Please let me know if that link doesn’t work!) I have set a goal of raising $1,000. Every dollar counts, so if you’d like to make a donation, please check it out. If I can give a few dollars ($50 to be exact), anyone can. I plan to give a little more as the race draws closer.
So there you have a second “big” race for me in 2008. My main focus will still be on doing well in the half marathon in March though. I hate 10ks, so here’s to hoping the Monument Avenue 10k will be the beginning of positive comments on that distance. I’m still hoping to do a 10k on Jan. 1, but don’t expect me to be happy about it.
This blog started as something to hold me accountable for the Richmond Marathon. What started as a journey to just another race turned into a story of so much more. Just two days after running 26.2 miles, I feel like I can really do anything I set my mind to … except walking down stairs!
This is my 101st post. I couldn’t have timed it better by having 100 posts ending with the marathon report. Number 101 is like a starting over number … a what’s next type of thing. Back in April when I started this blog, I thought I knew so much about running and was treating the marathon the same way I had approached all other races. But a marathon the first time around is about pushing your limits and taking your body to the edge. It tests you just as much mentally as it does physically. It makes you think about everything you’ve ever done in your life — if you’re a person who has regretted things along the way, it turns you into a no regrets type of person. It puts the “life’s too short” cliche into reality. Life is too short to waste time on a lot of things. Life is too short to have regrets.
Who knows why it takes training and running a marathon for the first time to realize these things, but it just does. Life is like a marathon — there are ups and downs, fast times and slow times, times where you feel the best you’ve ever felt and times you question your own sanity. And it all works out in the end.
By sitting at home today and getting rest, and unable to do much since I can’t walk normal, I keep asking myself, “What’s next?” I don’t like the term “off season” — once you’re hooked, there’s downtime, where training continues in a lesser way. My approach to 2007 was: run the Shamrock Half Marathon and see how I feel. Well, I ran it, then was marathon bound. All races in between were for training. And that’s the biggest thing that’s changed about me this year — focus on the big event, but keep running races for speed training and running with large groups of people.
Before I worry about 2008 besides the Shamrock again, I have a goal to meet before Dec. 31 this year — hitting 1,000 miles for the year. It wasn’t a goal I had until recently, but it’ll be a great way to close out the year. I’m at 924.3 now and will resume that journey (slowly) on Saturday or Sunday. After I hit 1,000 miles, I’ll fill you in on the rest of 2008.
I can now say what many people never say in their lives – I am a marathoner. Even if I never do one again, I am a marathoner. Yesterday was truly an unbelievable experience. From the start to the numbness near the end, I took it all in.
The weather before the race was nice and cool. It wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, but cold enough to start with gloves and a thin long-sleeve shirt underneath my Livestrong shirt. I planned to toss those aside when I would see my wife and family and my friend Jon at the party zones creatively set up by the Richmond Sports Backers. After I walked around a bit with everybody, I said my goodbyes and then did a little more walking around, just amazed at the thousands of people getting ready to do this. Then, fortunately, I saw a familiar face — I knew my old friend Travis (in the photo below), who I used to play basketball with, was running, but I hadn’t gotten in touch with him. But among the sea of people, there he was along with a guy he had been training with. Their goal times were between 4-4:30, so it was perfect to run this race with them.
The start of the race was odd — it just started. The speakers weren’t loud enough where we were to hear the national anthem or the gun to start the race. We were suddenly walking forward. No one was pushing or in a rush, but as soon as we hit the start line, the running began. It was nice having someone to run with — we were basically chatting about old times in Bedford and catching up on other things in life. We hit the first mile in 9:15. Everything felt great — the weather was still good and no one around us was running too hard or too slow it seemed. We hit the next two miles just under 9 minutes and kept getting that strong urge to pee. I knew I would have to at some point, but I was hoping to wait until closer to half way. But this couldn’t wait.
About half way between mile 3 and 4 I sped up to get to the port-a-potties and hope that I’d time it out where Travis and his friend would go by as I finished. It was perfect, although I ended up peeing next to the port-a-potty along with about half a dozen other guys. After a quick mile of 8:33 thanks to having to pee, we maintained a good pace by hitting the next miles at 9:16 and 9 minutes. Between miles 6 and 7 were downhill and clocked in at 8:42. I managed to take off my gloves, stuff them in my pocket, then take off the long-sleeved shirt without missing a beat. I then held onto my gloves and shirt until I spotted my group at the party zone. I had an easy hand-off of my clothes to Jon. And to my surprise, my group had made some signs — I should have never mentioned running like a gazelle last week.
The next mile made its way up a small hill to the Huguenot Bridge — the first uphill of the race and everyone stopped talking until we were crossing the bridge. It was the first chance to see the James River, and on an overcast, slightly foggy morning, it was a very awesome view. After crossing the bridge, the course went down Riverside Drive to run alongside the mighty James. It was like running on a back country road — so nice and peaceful, and the miles were just going by so quickly it seemed. Miles 8, 9 and 10 were: 9:15, 8:58, 9:20. It was a comfortable pace — basically about the same as my training pace on normal runs.
After we hit the double digits and strolled through a neighborhood and got to Forest Hill Avenue, I was wishing I had my gloves back. My hands were cold. The sun came out oh so briefly somewhere along there, but the weather, overall, was still good. When we hit the double digits, I was hoping my family made it to the next party zone at mile 12.9 so I could exchange hats. Even though I wasn’t sweating all that much, getting something drier on my head was going to be welcome. Miles 11 and 12 were in 9:04 and 9:15.
In previous races I’ve done, I rarely pay attention to the crowds, but not for this race. Everyone seemed more genuine in their support for this event. This wasn’t a race — it was an experience, and I think for many spectators it was an experience, too, rather than usual clapping and shouting “Go runners!” So, as I was in awe of the spectators, I saw my group at the next party zone from at least 50 yards away. I stopped briefly to make sure the exchange went easily. To my surprise my sister, brother-in-law and dad had made it to this stop as well. I hit mile 13 in 9:22, and hit the half-way point just under 2 hours chip time.
This whole time I had not gotten caught up in my time or trying to figure everything out with finishing at a certain time. My #1 goal was to finish and somewhere in the 4 hour range would be all the better. But it was the half-way point when I started hitting distances in a race that I hadn’t done before (that 30k just doesn’t count in my books), I realized what an experience this was turning into. This wasn’t like a 5k or the half marathon where I was worried about goal times — this was becoming a life-changing day, on top of the already life-changing training. That all being said, at halfway, I briefly thought that if I kept that pace I’d be under 4 hours, but I pushed those thoughts aside knowing that this wasn’t a race against time.
After a 9:14 mile to mile 14, I began to pull away from Travis. Conversations had pretty much stopped anyway, as the mental part of the marathon started to take over. At mile 14, I grabbed two Clif gels that were being handed out. I chewed one (I really don’t like Clif gels, but they seem to work the best) and put the other in my pocket that I took a few miles later. Up to this point I had taken two PowerBar gels at mile 2, and somewhere around mile 8 or 9. Plus I had taken an Advil at the same time of the second gel.
I did mile 15 in 9:30 when the weather started to change. Coming across the bridge back into the city, the wind was in my face. Wind? That wasn’t in the forecast, but sure enough that wind kept going and going and wasn’t in our backs for the rest of the race. It was always coming from the side or directly in our face. Between miles 15 and 16 seemed so long. Was this bridge ever going to end!! It was a great view — the James to the left, the city skyline to the right. The sun was trying to poke through again, making for some cool rays of sunshine. But along the never-ending bridge, there were no spectators, just cars whizzing by, with a few occasionally honking their horns. Surprisingly when I hit mile 16, I was just under 9:30 for the mile. That was the longest 9-plus minutes of running I had ever done.
The next few miles were nice because I was in familiar territory running by VCU and my office. As I hit mile 19, I could tell I was slowing, but everything seemed to be in check. (Mile 17-19 were 9:37, 9:46, 9:49.) My feet were hurting just a bit, but nothing major. And just before mile 20 was a hill — I dreaded that hill. It was at this point I began to see people stopping to stretch, or just flat out walk up the hill. I had come that far that I was not going to walk until the next water stop. I hit mile 20 in 10:30, then slowly walked through the water stop. Even though I had gotten lots of water or Powerade at every stop, and I was feeling great as far as thirst went, I took this water stop for all it was worth. Two cups of water and a cup of Powerade to go, please. I walked about another 100 yards taking every drop of fluid in those cups. About 10 other people were doing the same thing. And this is the point that everybody talks about — after mile 20.
Every block or so, at least one person was stretching or rubbing their legs. It was at this point, the numbness started in my legs. Nothing hurt really, except my feet just a bit. It was at this point when I started thinking about everything in my life, looking for things to push me the final few miles. My feet were hurting — my grandmother who passed away earlier this year always complained about her feet. Was this her way to keep me going? That’s what I thought.
With the walk break for the water, I hit mile 21 in 11:14. I thought it would be 15 minutes. I wasn’t looking at my watch except at the mile markers. I didn’t want to know my pace at this point. I felt like I was pushing myself, except I hit mile 22 in 10:18. I hadn’t ran a training run that slow since I was running the hills in Lynchburg. But I kept running, not looking too hard at the people stretching. I didn’t want my mind to force my legs into a cramp. I don’t remember if it was mile 22 or 23, but I walked through another water stop, grabbing two cups of water and a Powerade. I also kept cursing the wind. Miles 23 and 24 were in 10:19 and 10:17.
Less than a 5k to go, I was telling myself. I’ve ran plenty of 5ks, I can push myself through this. I had all kinds of thoughts running through my head. I thought a lot about my late Uncle John and wondered what he would’ve thought of this. It was kind of eerie, but a single ray of sunshine was poking through the clouds when I was thinking about him. It was proving the point to me that running a marathon for the first time wasn’t about what the final time was, but about this experience of putting your body through something amazing. It’s just so hard to describe.
I was trying to go faster, but I hit mile 25 in 10:40. What!?!? I was pushing myself, but I just wasn’t going faster. By this time, the numbing had spread to my arms and hands and I was freezing. Between miles 23 and 25, I was running with arms to the side, moving them up and down and squeezing my hands trying to get rid of this numbing feeling. It was like someone else was inside me doing the running, but it was my mind carrying the body along. You hear how much running is a mental thing — the final 6 miles of a marathon is 90 percent mental.
When I hit mile 25, I knew it was a little more than a mile, with much of it downhill. “It’s all downhill from here,” is what the spectators were saying. It’s easy for them to say. But as I rounded the final turn, I started seeing people who had already finished and they were showing their support for us who were finishing an hour after them. So truly the marathon does end! The final mile they kept saying … I can run faster for the final mile can’t I? Sure, I was flying, or so I thought, going down that hill. Mile 26 was 11:04. At this point, I knew I had less than a lap around a track and I wasn’t going to stop now. The last .2 miles, I managed an 8:13 pace, so yes, finally, my body was doing what my mind asked it to do.
At mile 25, I knew I wanted to beat 4:15. Finishing within 15 minutes of my ideal time would be great after 26.2 miles. I managed to have a chip time of just under 4:13. As I cross the finish line, there was no standard arms-in-the-air celebration. I think I tried, but seriously, my arms were numb from the race and the coldness. After I crossed, I just stopped for about 30 seconds and thought, I did it. I really did it. I thought maybe I’d cry, but I just didn’t have the energy to. On my first step after stopping, I was like, I can walk! I got a Mylar blanket, which immediately helped the cold feeling. I got the chip snapped off my foot — I couldn’t even lift my right leg to help out the guy cutting them off.
I grabbed my finisher’s medal, and looked back for a second — I really did it, I kept thinking. After getting the medal, I opted to skip the photo op with the SunTrust logos all over the place. I wanted to talk … or at least see a familiar face. It had been a couple of hours of silence, except for a few comments with other runners along the way. I quickly saw my wife and my dad and they asked how it was. I didn’t have an answer. I was hungry … and cold.
The unfriendliest part of America’s Friendliest Marathon is after the race. You have to walk downhill to get some food. I got a slice of pizza, a banana and a Powerade, then walked back up the hill. I warmed up briefly in the host hotel lobby, and I was ready to go home. I still didn’t know what to say about my experience. I briefly looked for Travis afterward, and for fellow blogger Jason, but it was just too cold and windy to stick around. I think most people around there felt the same way.
So, while I could still walk reasonably well, I took a shower while my wife ordered pizza for my mom and stepdad and Jon (and me). I came downstairs and rolled The Stick over my legs. I began telling a few stories about my experience, but it was still hard to put into words. More than 24 hours later, it’s still hard to come up with the proper words as to what it meant to me and what it was like. The physical parts are easy — I can barely walk. I slept downstairs just because I didn’t want to walk down them early this morning. My elbows are actually sore — after running for 4 hours, I guess it makes sense. I actually am less sore than I thought I would be, but it’s still not pleasant. Last night I would sleep for a couple hours, wake up, physically pick my legs up and put them in a different position and repeat 2 hours later.
But as far as what this does to me mentally … it’ll take a while to put into words. I want to again thank everyone for their support these past few months, and for coming out yesterday. It means so much to me.
So, now what? At one point this summer, I swore off training for a marathon again. But that was when it was 90 degrees and had a horrible long run. Training is the hard part — the experience of the marathon is priceless. It’s a time commitment that I don’t have right now or next summer. I miss my weekends, and I have a house that I’d like to spend time on next summer. I really like half marathons from a racing standpoint, and that’s what I’m focusing on next in March. Like I said last year at this time, any decision on a marathon is going to have to wait.
I’ll take this PR and this experience for all its worth. If I never do another one, I have absolutely no regrets on what has happened in the past few months and yesterday. If I could do yesterday all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing (except for keeping my gloves). I can’t ask for anything better than this feeling I have right now. I am a marathoner.
4:12:51. What an experience. I’ll give a full race report soon, but I wanted to get my time on here. And after 26.2 miles, it’s definitely not about the time. Those who have done this probably know what I’m talking about. For now there is pizza to be eaten, beer to drink and … more beer to drink. Maybe I’ll catch a nap in between the beers. It’s time to enjoy myself and to celebrate.