By now, many of you know I had set goals of breaking 3 hours at the marathon yesterday. However, performances at this marathon can definitely be hindered by the chaotic and unpredictable weather of the greater Lincoln/Omaha area.
I trained super hard for the race this year, placing my training emphasis on lower weekly mileage and long, fast efforts. It was apparent that even though my time was long off my “A” goal, I had drastic improvements over last year. I was on track to break 3 hours for the 1st 8 miles (given the grade-adjusted splits I was following) but I started to ease off a little after this to ensure a good kick towards the finish. I hit the 1/2 marathon in 1:32:15 or so and knew that if my strength didn’t falter, I would get the negative split I often am able to pull off. Unfortunately, the wind picked up at this time and I had a good 15 to 20 MPH headwind for the next 5 miles. I slowed a little bit each mile, averaging 7:20 a mile or so. My legs were getting extremely tired just trying to maintain. I thought powerful thoughts, of Heidi and Ethan cheering me on and all the support I’ve been getting on Facebook the last few months. As the first runners started to pass me on this out-and-back section, I couldn’t help but count the number of guard runners that were in front of me. When I reached the turnaround point at 19 miles or so, I realize I was almost certainly in the top 40 National Guard men, which would essentially “make the grade” for the elite team. Even though my muscles were very, very tight, I pushed as hard as I could without locking up. I ran with this Guard runner named Ron (from Colorado) and we helped push each other to the finish. I pulled away the closer I got. The muscles were starting to spasm as I drove them into the ground. My whole being was in pain. The only thing I could think of was “this is only temporary, my last 6 months have been for this pathetically short 3 hour run. I have to make it count.” Varinka Enslinger, a very fast runner who has been on the elite team for a few years now, passed me at mile 25. That is what really crippled me. I pushed very hard, and just about every step was an agonizing cramp on my left calf. I didn’t care, I was almost done. I ran with everything I had. As I sprinted into the stadium, pushing my max and to my full potential, I started screaming, mostly due to pain but also because of excitement to be done. 3:07:34, a huge new PR over my old one at the Mayor’s Marathon (a downhill course) in 2010.
Thanks to everyone for believing in me.