I ran long. I did not finish where I wanted, but I finished and I think I have learned a lot from it. Here are the splits and finishing times:

  •  10K – 7:13 Pace
  • Half – 7:37 Pace
  • 18.6 – 8:28 Pace
  • 26.2 – 9:18 Pace
  • Finished at 4:03:17

At the start of the race, I felt great.  At the 7:13 pace, miles just seemed like they were rolling by really fast.  It wasn’t long before we were at the 5K mark, then the 5 mile mark.  I still felt pretty good after 10K.  When we started to cut through Overton park at about mile 8 or 9 is when the pace group started getting further and further away from me.  Until then I had held my goal pace of 7:14 which is really fast, and I am really happy that I was able to do that. Then I started to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the pace group so I just told myself to back off and find a little slower pace to try to hold for the rest of the race.  I thought I could still come away with a really decent PR.

That strategy worked ok until the halfway point.  At 13.1, the wheels started coming off.  More pace groups started passing me.  The 3:15 group, then the 3:25 group.  Every time a group passed me I got more discouraged.  I was getting slower and slower.  I really wanted to quit, but I knew that wasn’t an option.  I just wanted to make it to mile 17 where I knew I had a protein shake waiting for me.  I knew that would help me get through the rest of this race.  My quads were cramping bad when I came to the 17 mile aid station and got my shake.  I walked while I drank my shake and listened to my coach encourage me.  He told me I was still doing good, and I could still get away with a PR.  I was gassed out though.  I was really worried that I wouldn’t finish.  By mile 19, the 3:30 and 3:45 pace groups had passed me and I was physically out of this run.  My left toes were cramping up really bad and my upper right leg was killing me.  I kept waiting for a second wind, but it never came.  I just had to power through the last few miles.  That mental game that every runner knows about was upon me.  Just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other until the finish line gets here.  That was it.

I finally got to the last few hundred meters of the run, and finished the race.  4 hours and 3 minutes.  13 minutes slower than last year.  I was really beating myself up.  I’m in better shape than I was a year ago…how could this be?  Anyway, it was then that I realized why we were all running this race to begin with.  The kids at St. Jude.   It’s really idiotic for me to be beating myself up about running a 26.2 mile race slower than I did a year ago when there are kids and families here that have actual serious problems to worry about.  So, reality check.  Figure out what you can learn from this and get back to training.

I conversed with my coach for a little while and then met my wife at the food and beverage area.  My wife achieved a big PR on the Half Marathon, and she didn’t even train for it. Go figure… This brings me to one of my biggest lessons from this race.  Don’t stress yourself out about it. Relax and do your best. Last year was my first Marathon.  I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t worried about pace time or pace groups or anything else except finishing the race and I did great!  Not many people come out of their first Marathon with a sub 4 hour time.  So, next time I won’t stress out about it.  I’ll set a couple of different goals and if I make them I make them.  If not, I’ll learn from it.

One of the things I heard someone say a couple of days before the race was that if you aren’t worried that you are going too slow in the first part of the race, then you are going too fast.  I was going WAY too fast at the beginning of this race.  It’s great that I made it as far as I did, but it wiped me out for the rest of the race.  I have to stay calm next time and just relax and enjoy the first half of the race.  Then make my move on the back half.

There are a lot of things still going through my mind, and I have a lot of training to do.  Sylamore 50K is next, and that should be fun.  I’m thinking about doing the Germantown Half to see if I can keep a nice pace for the half.  Maybe beat the 1:39 I made at St. Jude.  We’ll see.  All in all it was a great race as usual.  Really enjoyed seeing the kids on the run through the St. Jude campus.  Very inspiring.  Until next year…

Lift Heavy Run Long!