I went for it. I put it all out on the line… and crashed.
If the saying is sub-4 or bust? Well, I busted. Don’t get me wrong. I am more than thrilled with my PR. As a matter of fact, it was a 15-minute PR and that is a HUGE chunk of time to shave off a marathon… especially if you “busted” on the last 6 miles.
Here is where it begins.
My goal was to finish sub 4 hours at this past weekend’s Two Cities Marathon in Fresno. It was a flat and fast course that was optimal for setting a PR. Through most of my training, I have found comfort in my pace being 8:30-9 minutes, with several of my times being closer to lower 8 minute miles. The strategy was to start out between the 3:45 and 4:00 pacers and hold 8:30 for as long as I could, then ease into 9-9:30 minute miles once I started to feel fatigued. I always start out fast and I’m not a consistent or negative split kind of racer. I was playing into the “type” of runner I am. Go with it.
Here is how it broke down
Mile 1: 8:31
Mile 2: 8.32
Mile 3: 8:32
Mile 4: 8:36
Mile 5: 8:33
Mile 6: 8:30
Mile 7: 8:22
Mile 8: 8:37
Mile 9: 8:39
Mile 10: 8:36
Look at that. Clock work, or what? I was in the zone for the first 10 miles with thoughts of glory awaiting me at the finish line. This was also the point I was expecting to meet up with wifey and The First Lady. When I didn’t see them, it sort of broke my concentration. I didn’t want them to be waiting for me after I had already passed, so I stopped and texted them to let them know I had passed mile 10 in case they were still in transit.
Mile 11: 8:57 — the extra 30 was for the text.
Mile 12: 9:10 — here is where I saw them, stopped to give hugs and kisses.
Mile 13: 8:55
Mile 13.1: 1:55:31
At this point I have lost my focus on the 8:30 splits. When I took out my phone to text, it messed with the volume and for some reason the volume was going up and down on my iPod… extremely annoying. Not making excuses, just providing context.
Mile 14: 8:47
Mile 15: 8:52
Mile 16: 9:03
Mile 17: 9:09
At this point, I am starting to fall apart mentally. My legs are trying to keep a 9 minute pace which is what my goal was at this point. The problem is, it has been a mental battle since mile 11 to find my energy. I have hit the mental wall, way too early.
Mile 18: 9:32
Mile 19: 9:59
Mile 20: 10:09
Mile 21: 9:38
That dip back down into 9:30 was from hitting the turnaround on an out-and-back layout from mile 16. It was only a 4-mile stretch, but it felt like forever and was killing my mental game.
At mile 20, I was at 2:59:53 — that means if I hit 10 minute miles for the last 6, I’ve got sub-4 with a tiny sprint to the finish. I was this close. All I had to do was just keep moving forward. Just keep the legs moving.
Mile 22: 10:36 — ugh, c’mon.
Mile 23: 12:50 — I can feel it slipping away and take several long walk breaks. I’m drinking a lot of water and am mentally toast.
At this point, I have come to grips with sub-4 NOT happening. My legs are feeling extremely heavy and I’ve been losing the mental battle since mile 13. I sit down on a curb. THAT’S RIGHT. I sat down and stared at my watch for 10-15 seconds. I needed to give up on sub-4 dreams. I needed to watch it slip away so that I could focus on what I needed to do to finish. I busted out my phone, texted the wife to let her know I was slowing and to expect around 4:10.
Mile 24: 14:22 — this was the sit down mile, but let’s call this the “re-focus mile.“
Mile 25: 10:51 — it was slow, but I ran most of this mile with walks through a water station or 2.
Mile 26: 9:40 — mentally back in it with a mile to go… trying for the sub 4:10
.2 — 7:56 (this was more of a 1/2 mile pace. My total milage for the race was 26.45, but that’s a good kick to the finish, cramp in the leg and all.)
Finish time: 4:09:28 — a 15-minute PR
My plan was spot on, even if it fell apart. I expected to hold my 8:30 pace until mile 15-16 and wanted to maintain the last 10 at 9-930. I was off by 6 miles. I hit my wall way too early and never recovered. Heck, even if I was able to hold 10’s the last 6 miles I would have hit my goal. The plan was good (sounds like line from a bank robbery movie). But with a marathon, anything can happen. Running really is a mental battle and my battle started too soon on race day. I hit the mental wall at mile 11 and hit the physical wall at mile 20. My legs just didn’t want to run anymore.
I aimed high. I went for it and I can hold my head up saying that I put it ALL out there. I know that my training is working when I can shave 15 minutes off my marathon time and feel like I could have finished better.
Thank you for all the well wishes and congratulations on Facebook and Twitter. I thought of all of you while I was running. Seriously. I felt like since I put it out there on the interwebs, that I needed to make it happen. It definitely made some of those miles easier to manage.
A major shout out to (my friend? twitter pal? I’m never sure of these things) @jessicapatrice on finishing top 10 for women and 1st in her AG. I got to hang out and talk with her pre-race and was happy to see a familiar face on race day and on the course.
Also, an online shout out to @RoadBunner — I saw her twice on the course, both times screamed “ROAD BUNNER!” with no luck. I wasn’t 100% sure it was her. I met her for half a second once, but knew she was racing. It was a lucky guess with her Oiselle gear. She looked strong and fast. We figured out the confusion on twitter afterwards… gotta love social media.
I’ll post a ton of pictures tomorrow of the swag, meeting an olympian and the best finish line moment, ever.
Comment away… good or bad.