With Matt's weekly mileage consistently 50-60 he was ready. The weather was predicted to be warm, and it was. The low was in the 60's and high around 70's during the race. Matt pushed himself to the limit and won his age group and had a 14 min p.r. Was it enough to qualify? Read Matt's report to find out!
I awoke a few mins before my alarm went off, got dressed, had a nice pee color indicating I was properly hydrated thus far. The 2nd good omen of the day came in the form of a nice deuce, after which the morning script continued, teeth brushed… oh, yeah… I forgot my dang toothbrush… it’s now been added to my race-gear checksheet!
Last pre-race meal was the baggie of Ancient Grains granola cereal, my high protein, low glycemic index pre-race-breakfast for the last 20 races or so, which I’d packed with me to carefully control that factor. It sat well in my stomach – just enough to prevent hunger becoming a stomach issue, but not enough to require much digestive effort.
photo courtesy www.competitor.com
I hustled with 10mins pre-start from the crowds in Corral4, where the potties were, all the way up to the first corral, and did some strides on the sidewalk next to the chute… yeah, me and the elite Kenyans hangin’ out, doing strides, warmups… trading racing stories… the usual…
I wanted the 3:13:30 so badly -- was giving every ounce of power for last 5 but needed a lot more. There were 4 miles of the 26 that did me in. For the slowest miles, I wonder if I were to use the mode on my Garmin where it nags me if my pace slows below 7:30, and perhaps I’d catch myself slacking before too late to lose the mile avg.
Course was pretty windy, which I have to admit had some body-temp control advantages, but was a big factor for several SE-facing stretches trying to maintain pace – the slowest 4 miles had the most SE facing fraction.
Here’s the course and the splits. Lotsa turns, and I reminded myself to be maniacal about running the tangents, but it wasn’t enough as I seemed to have an extra .02-.03 per mile, getting a 0.3mile total Garmin bonus. At that delta, I needed an extra 7-10secs/mile faster pace on my Garmin pace to hit the real course avg pace for my BQ, a 7:13-7:16/mi instead of 7:23, which, at that temp is the difference between sub-treshold and super-threshold (Lactate), so that math messed a lot with my brain. I knew I’d need to be aggressive and risky for this heat, but didn’t want to push and take more risk than required to prevent a blow up.
Race to the Finish:
Joe’s a metronome in these races, so I decided to stick to his six and hang on. He pulled ahead of me through 18-19 when my pace fell off a little (probably two of the three miles most responsible for missing my BQ L), but I slowly reeled him back in and toward the end… mile 24 or so (I don’t remember exactly)… my 2x caffeine gel really kicked in (and I think I did the math on how fast I’d need to go now to make my time…), and I passed him and he yelled that I might need to tow him in to the finish. I think I laughed at how ridiculous that sounded, but I never looked back and just kept accelerating and didn’t see him again until the finish chute.
I remembered these last couple miles of the course from our drive, and knew we were getting close. It was starting to get pretty densely packed with slower half-marathoners, who shared the last 4 miles of the course with us, and some were oblivious and I had to do some dodging and weaving, but several saw/heard me coming and yelled ahead “marathoner coming through” and people opened up a space for me which I thought was very cool, as I’m not sure I was in control of my politeness-filter and was thinking unkind thoughts as I weaved around a barricade 3-wide of runners doing 13’s…
I’d preplanned my anaerobic kick to be the last left turn which takes you up a hill, but about a tenth from that turn I heard a spectator/volunteer yell out “600meters to the finish!” I knew I could hang full power for 600m, so hit the gas early (though I think I should have kicked earlier…) and gave it everything I had up to that turn, powered up that hill like it wasn’t even there (all those runs up Scenic paying off here, hereby thanking Jerie’s Kids, my morning Shipmates!), and turned the last right. I got a little boost of energy when I saw all the pictures on the course left side showing the faces of the Mercy Project beneficiaries, Ghana kids rescued from slavery, and gave it everything I had as I crested that hill, taking one last look at my watch showing it was going to be very close to 3:15. I then saw the finish arch ahead a little downhill, and was in an all-out sprint, doing 5:20-something pace (blew my mind I could still do 7’s pace much less 5’s at this point!) and I could start to make out the course clock.
It nearly broke my heart when it ticked from 3:14:xx to 3:15:00… and kept going… I crossed the finish and surprisingly remembered to stop my Garmin … 3:15:14. 14 seconds over my BQ requirement, sad, but arguably 1:34 over what I really needed to safely make the cutoff for 2016.
A medal appeared on my neck and a finisher shirt appeared in my hand, neither of which I remember happening. Putting my man-card on the table here… I’ve had races where I was overcome with some weird happy-sad emotion blast and had tears well up and some sobbing that quickly passed. Google says it’s the endorphins combined with an adrenalin let-down or something. Today I pretty much balled my delirious head off, soaking my new shirt with tears and snot, some of the emotion being this chemical thing, but also I let a little go, too, for missing by such a little margin something I wanted so badly to nail.
Thanks again to Jim for awesome hospitality; Eliot and Malka for driving and company; Erik and Trailroots for my training plan and keeping me uninjured; Jerie and Big and the Kids for the regular M,W,Th morning company to get my mileage up, which I’m certain was a huge key to this PR; my family for supporting my obsession; and I think most of all to Joe Terracina and his metronome for the pull most of the race and the great company on course.
3M Race… train through AustinM (but run it as a training run)… then pray for cold weather forArmy Marathon 2 weeks later, 3/1 for my 3:13:30 for reals