Okay, I may have said lied a little when I said I'd tell you about the race the next day. I got a little busy at the end of the week. Thurdsay was a typical Thursday; work, class, dinner with friends. Friday followed with work and a trip down to Fort Wayne for some dinner, drinks, and a training run run Saturday morning. FW has a pretty cool trail system called the Greenway which seems to permeate the entire town. It was nice little trip with some great conversation, and for the first time in over a month, a relaxing, mid long weekend run, that I didn't have to stress about. At all. As much fun as racing has been, I needed this little aside so I could retain some mental health. I spent yesterday afternoon/night at a good friends for his first "Homebrew Festival", which means a bunch of friends, food, and beer. It was a good end to the weekend, and pretty cool that all the beer was made by someone at the party. I brewed an Amber Ale with my dad a month ago for this party and I'm happy to say it turned out pretty well.
So here I am, on a day with no real plans, and only one goal. To tell you how last weekends race went. (about damn time too!)
I could tell as I lined up behind the starting line that it was a smaller race field that the past couple. The 6 AM start time was early, but kind of nice because the temps were still fairly cool. We got lucky this year weather wise, in other years the early start is necessary due to heat, and sometimes that isn't even enough.
I went into the race knowing that the odds of it going well probably weren't in my favor. I'd never pushed myself this hard before, and based on past experience, I would not have back to back successful marathons, let alone on back to back weekends. That being said, I decided to try and improve on my time from last Bayshore. I decided to go out quicker than I had the previous week, and if feeling okay at the half, keep dropping my time. I definitely went out quicker. About 15 seconds per mile quicker than I had planned for the first two. Oops. Still I was feeling okay, so I decided to maintain that pace and just go with the flow.
The first half of the race follows the half marathon course, which I ran last year, so I was familiar with all of the out and backs (which can get annoying!). The marathon course finally split off just before the half way point and headed back south of campus. I was starting to feel a little tired at this point but not bad, still well enough to keep going, and I was reciting my mantras in my head. I was alternating between what I have used before "It doesn't matter how fast you go at the beginning, if you don't carry it to the finish", and my new mantra that I am borrowing from Rob at Bayshore, "Just keep picking em' up and putting em' down, picking em' up, putting em' down".
The miles were starting to pile up and I could feel the two previous race weekends bearing down on me as the course turned alongside the St. Joseph River. I could see runners on the other side of the river and knew we would at some point be crossing it. The lead runner flew past me on his way back towards the finish, having already crossed the river and run out to the 18 mile mark and come back across the river.
Now I had crossed the river, and in doing so came upon the biggest surprise of the day. I was downwind from a runner who was a foot and a half off the trail, squatting, shorts half mast, and pinching off a loaf into the river. That's right, no waiting for a porta-pottie for this guy, and apparently no need of shit tickets either. That's right, no wipe. I imagine he was feeling a bit "raw" at the end of the race. Just like the honey badger, "he don't care, he don't give a shit".
I started counting runners on their return journey as they passed me so when I got to the turn around point I knew I was running right around 34th. I was happy with this assesment, but didn't know If I'd be able to hold on to it as I saw the packs or runners gaining on me after I made the turn. I was carrying a 7:15 average at this point, but that wouldn't last.
Miles 23 through 25 were a struggle to maintain an 8:00 pace and my mantra was the only thing keeping me moving forward. The marathon course merged back inline with the half, and 10k courses for the last mile or so. Those races started after the marathon so I was beginning to catch the super slow 10k'ers and the 1:40 half marathoners. I had to weave a little but not terribly and honestly it was nice to be passing people, because I had not done much of that out of the course for a while. Some quick math in my head told me that if I keep up at least 8 min pace for that last mile, I would have a new PR, again, and in my name this time! Now this was the only thing going through my head. I pulled on whatever energy still remained from that pre race donut and the four GU's consumed at 5 mile intervals.
I managed to get down to a 7:23 pace for the last mile, and 5:59 pace for the last .3! Just picking em' up and putting em' down!
I crossed the finish line in 3:11:51, a new PR, in my own name, on the field of my favorite football team, on a gorgeous day, and just a week after setting another PR. Complete bliss. I grabbed a couple cups of fluids, plopped down on the grass, removed my shoes and socks and waited for Dan to finish the 1/2 marathon. It wasn't long, maybe a minute and he joined me as we awaited the arrival of our friend Brenda.
I was surprisingly feeling better after this race than any othe marathon! Do they get easier everytime? Maybe, but probably not. I'm sure I will have more races that don't go as planned in the future, but for the time being I am going to enjoy the feelings of accomplishment from the past month. I've made some new friends in my running endeavors, celebrated personal achievements, and learned a lot about myself.
So what's next on my plan? I think it's time for a reset of sorts. I'm thinking of a 5k next weekend in town, and the 23rd I'm gonna take on a 10 miler in Northville, before heading to my cousins graduation party. Hopefully I'll get to see Spike and the Redhead at the race! Other than those two races I'm gonna take it easy for the month of June. Run when I feel like it, for as long as I feel like it. Just kind of recharge an regroup before starting my training for fall. What am I planning for the fall? Who knows! There are a couple of ideas floating around in this head of mine, but clearly my plans can change from one week to the next so it's anyones guess. I'd like to run Indy Monumental again, and I've told a friend that I would pace her there to a BQ so that one is pretty much locked in, but now I've got to find a race for me, because I too would like to achieve the coveted Boston Qualifier. 3:04:59 or bust. After Cleveland I wasn't sure it was possible. Two weeks and two marathons later, and I'm knocking on the door. Come hell or high water that door will open for me. You can count on it.