In years past, I would start to get serious about Boston preparation in November. Last year I felt like I peaked too early, then I got hurt. This year I started getting serious for Eugene in December and tried to be very conscious of my body to avoid injury. Thankfully, I had a great 4 months of training. I was racing a few times a month and doing pretty well. My confidence was high.
My original target for the race was 6:20 min/mile...or just under 2:46:00. But by the time the race rolled around, I figured I would take a shot at sub-2:40:00! The hardest part about it was probably believing I was capable. A couple years ago I never would have believed it was possible...I was struggling to break 3:00:00. I had run 2:52:13 (Newport '08) and 2:52:54 (Boston '09)...and I knew I could do better than that, but how much better. I had recently run a couple sub 17 minute 5Ks (16:55 and 16:43), and I was doing my Yasso 800s just under 2:40 and mile repeats just under 5:40...that helped me believe. And most importantly I had two guys really talking me up and building my confidence...the Pain Train and Eric Jensen...thanks, guys.
On race morning, my parents drove my sister and me down to the race (Will came too). On the way down we talked a little about race strategy. Basically, I believe we both agreed to "go for it" and see what happens. We got dropped off at the Hilton and took the shuttle over to the start. It was near ideal conditions. At the start I wished Kristin good luck and worked my way up to the front...even got to see William right before we took off.
I decided not to wear my Garmin during the race. It always messes with my mind when the mile markers don't match the watch. And it's also very deflating to continuously watch your mile pace or overall pace going up near the end of the race (that's usually how it goes for me, anyway). So for the first mile I wasn't exactly sure how fast I was going...first mile...5:47! Well, that's too fast. Early on I felt a little tight, but it worked itself out pretty quickly...in general, I felt really good...it was a beautiful day...everything was great. So naturally I had to let someone know it. Around mile 7 I talked briefly with a guy who was running his first marathon and his plan was to try and stick to a 6:00 min/mile pace. After hearing this, I started seriously thinking about what I was doing...I decided I too would see how long I could keep it up, even though I was pretty sure it was too fast. I wanted to try to get to 20 miles in under 2 hours.
Speaking of running too fast...I'm not sure if the half marathon split was really at 13.1 miles. It seemed like it was right at 13 miles during the race. Either way, it was a half marathon PR for me! According to the results, I ran 1:17:27...almost a minute faster than my previous best...1:18:23. You don't usually do that in a marathon, right?
I had lots of support during the race which always helps...a few miles into the race I saw Will and my parents and then saw them again after we turned and headed back toward the start. I was a little surprised to see Eric near mile 9...felt bad that he wasn't able to run the race. William and Jason were somewhere near mile 11. By that time it was becoming clear I was running a suicide pace and I let them know it. It wasn't so effortless anymore. And I saw them again somewhere after mile 16, when I started to fall off the pace. It was a weird feeling...I could feel myself slowly slowing down, and it felt like there was nothing I could do about it...that was as fast as I could go at that moment.
I ended up hitting 20 miles in 2:00:20...close. By this point the mile markers seemed to be so far apart...I was looking at my watch frequently. Around 22 miles things were getting worse and it was really starting to hurt...somehow I managed to average just under 7:00 minute miles from 22 to 26. Not bad, considering, but I'd say I got passed by about 10 guys during this stretch. There honestly were times when I felt if I took a misstep I was going to fall over. And another thing I noticed was that my head felt like it weighed about 500 pounds. That has actually become a very good indicator of when it's all over for me. Once the head goes back, I'm done. It's too bad I was so done before I even got to the finish, because I feel like I didn't get to appreciate the finish on the Hayward Field track. This picture at the finish says it all...credit to the photographer, Rick Russell...what a shot!
I finished in 2:42:51...over a 9 minute PR, and relatively close to sub-2:40. Now it's even more in the realm of possibility...I quickly signed up for the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on the 4th of July. Hopefully I can get back on track and be ready for that race...start more conservatively and see what happens.
Once again, I was so impressed by Kristin's marathon...it's hard to put into words. She ran great at Portland last October...3:58:15. Afterwards, I started planting ideas in her head about qualifying for Boston, but I knew that would be asking a lot in her very next marathon...to take over 17 minutes off her best time. Realistically, I thought she should work her way up to it over a couple races. Well, she went for it at Eugene, alright...wow, she blew any thought I had out of the water with an over 20 minute PR...3:37:45. Boston qualifier! We definitely have to go back to Boston next April...we'll register early! Running is so dang rewarding. Work hard and it seems like almost anything is possible. I love it.