This was, as I said, my 6th National Guard Marathon. I trained super hard for the race this year, with my sights set on a sub 3 hour marathon. As race day approached, I felt this may not be within my grasps, but I still focused on running as best as I could. The end result: A very, very well run race.
It was quite chilly on race morning, and I elected to wear a long sleeve shirt with gloves and my Zensah recovery sleeves. I took off the long sleeve shirt and stayed in my singlet, but the temperature proved cool enough to leave the gloves on. I started off the marathon quite easily, doing the first mile in 8 flat. I picked up the pace after that, but had trouble doing anything quicker than 7:30 pace, worried about dying in the second half of the race. I hit the 5K mark in 24:48, quite different from last year’s 21:53 for the same split. I did my best to run quickly and efficiently, but not to the point it felt like a tempo run. I was enjoying the cool day out. All the spectators were bundled up quite well this year. I hit the 10K mark in 48:19, still over 3 minutes slower than last year, but but this time, I had “settled” into my pace and was running 7:30s consistently. After mile 7 I hit a big hill and blasted down the other side. As I continued through the first half, I wondered what my time would be. Could I hope for a 3:05 or better? I was running based purely on effort, and what I thought I could maintain for the whole marathon. After the 1st 10 miles I noticed my left quadricep muscle was aching. I hoped it wouldn’t cramp up later in the race. Not too long after that, I hit the half marathon mark in 1:40:12. I was quite off pace from last year (1:34) but I knew a solid performance in the latter portion of the race could more than make up for it. Once I knew the time for the half, I simply sought to beat my time from last year, 3:13:58, but by a large margin. I thought I could get close to 3:10 if everything worked to my advantage. This was not to be, but I’ll continue the story. Between the half marathon and the 18 mile mark, my goal was to maintain a 7:18 mile. From there, I would bump the pace down to 7:08 if my body would take it. Boy, did I surprise myself! I ran the stretch between the half marathon and the 25K mark at 7:12 pace. From the 25K mark to the 20 mile mark, I averaged 7:07. I was really hurting by this point. Nothing felt good, and my left quadricep felt like it was about to seize up on every step. I hoped it would keep working. From mile 20, it was guts or glory. I aimed to run every mile under 7 minutes. I paid dearly and nearly reached my pain threshold. I battled my body, which craved mercy. I do believe my experience of the course allowed my mind to push to the very end, a sort of subconscious effort, knowing exactly how far the finish was. As I sped past my hopelessly failing competition, I pushed into overdrive. I could see the stadium approaching, where I would soon be finishing at the 50 yard line. I dropped my pace down to flat 6 for the last 3/4 of a mile. I blasted into the stadium, setting a new Lincoln best of 3:12:20. My legs collapsed from muscle failure after crossing the finish line. I couldn’t even bear the thought of a massage, due to how much I hurt. It was my absolute best.
I didn’t make the All-Guard Team again this year (I would have had to run a 3:04 marathon to do so), but I did make the grade as an alternate, in case they need a spot filled for a race. My race was perfect. You can see my splits below, courtesy of MTEC results: