Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Until We Meet Again

Dear Marathon,

It's with great sadness that I write to tell you we need to see other people for the rest of this year. I don't want to break up. Please don't get me wrong. I enjoy our time together. Even though we have had some big fights, I still love you dearly. But there's this other guy who has been courting me...the half Ironman.

I know, I know. I have been cheating on you with his little brother, the sprint triathlon. You see though, I think he'll make me a better person for you. It was during this time that I ran my fastest 5K ever. And really, that just makes me a better athlete in the long run. He's helping me be a better runner for you.

I wish I could find a way to spend time with you while I'm getting ready for my half Ironman debut in October, but I can't be all things to everyone. And certainly won't give you the time you deserve while I'm spending hours on that bike.

I know you're jealous of Enrique, but don't be. He's a good guy and only wants me to be a better runner for you.

You will still be in my dreams. A day won't go by where I won't think about all the good times we have had, especially last weekend. But I promise you that next year, we'll spend time together again. Next year, we're going to have a big year. I promise you I'll run faster than ever. I know how you work now. I know how to give you the training and respect you deserve. But more importantly, I know to never give up on you. Remember Saturday? I never gave up.

So until we meet again...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

7 Seconds of Separation

Martian Marathon - Dearborn, MI
April 2, 2011
Marathon #5, State #4

7 seconds -- The time it takes to pour a cup of coffee. The time it takes swipe your credit card at the grocery store. The time it takes to order a Starbucks coffee. 7 seconds -- The time that separates me from being a member of the Sub 4 marathon club. The club all newbie marathoners dream of. The club I so desperately have been trying to earn my membership into.

I thought I got my membership yesterday. I ran the race of my life. I ran strong and hard. With meters to go, I saw that finish line clock just turn 3:59. So I ran as hard as I could. I knew I had this. I saw the clock when I crossed. It said 3:59:45. I was so happy. I did it. I was in the club! Event volunteers congratulated me on my sub 4.

Wait, not so fast. The official results posted. I read them in horror. 4:00:06? Where did those 7 seconds come from? It's not April Fool's. And this isn't funny.

I don't understand the clock discrepancy. I sent an email to the race director. Who am I sure could really care less about my 7 seconds. Turns out the half marathon course was 13.4. They're busy dealing with that.

I gave myself 5 min to flog myself and think, what if I didn't pee at mile 11, what if I ran harder those last two miles. Then, I thought, no. Nothing is raining on my parade. Eff those 7 seconds. I ran the race of my life and I am going to be proud and enjoy this moment.

For the first time in my short running career, I RACED this marathon. There were no walk breaks, there was no whining about hurting, there was no crying, there was no doubt in my mind that I gave it all I had.

Steve and I worked up an even spilt plan, which had zero wiggle room. The goal was to come in right under 4, a 9:07 pace.

He is like clockwork. I tell him a pace and he is spot on. I let him work his magic. If I stayed next to him, I knew we would be there.

We hit the half marathon turn and we were dead on at 1:59 and some change. I still feel really fresh. Around mile 17, I start pulling ahead. He yells at me to come back. I decided it was time to kick up the pace, slightly. I knew if I hit 20 and felt good, a 55 min 10k was in the bag.

I hit 20. Feel a little tired in the legs, but running on pace.

Mile 22, the hip flexors are tight and I hurt, but nothing was going to stop me today. Today was my day, my race.

Mile 23, my pace slows slightly. The slower half marathoners (100% are walking) are now running with us, the road is very narrow. I had to conserve every ounce of energy to keep pushing. Usually I would run around people. But I couldn't today. So I would yell out, "On your left!" I am sure they were a little miffed.

Mile 25 and 26 are 9:40 pace now. That's ok. I can still come in right under the gun. I see the turn into the finish. My friend Ken yells, "200 left at the turn, sprint!"

I see the clock, I see 3:59 in my future. Balls to the walls 5:40 pace sprint. The sprint-so-hard-you-want-to-puke sprint.

So I enjoyed my club membership for a few hours until the official results were posted. And then learned it was a preview.

I have no regrets about yesterday. None. I ran strong. I didn't leave anything out there. I am not second guessing myself. I earned an 11-minute PR and I know with the right training and day, it will happen. But next marathon goal won't be to eek out a sub 4 just under the wire, I smell a 3:50.

Martian Marathon by smlundsberg at Garmin Connect - Details