This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sometimes the VOICES say some ree-donk-u-lus things. Like when they decided we should run the Dogwood Canyon 50k in a pink tutu. Or when they suggested that WE run it hard and try to compete. Naturally, I listened to their advice and away we went. The pink tutu brought in over $400 for the ACS and I finished the race strong, maintaining an 8:35 pace for 31 miles on some pretty rough terrain. Then THEY got really silly. HOW ABOUT A SUB 3 HOUR MARATHON?
Seemed like a reasonable suggestion. Except the marathon THEY had in mind was exactly one week after the 50k. Guess the VOICES haven't read Runner's World lately and forgot about the whole "recovery period" following a long distance event. But I'm not any smarter because there I was, a week later, lining up at the Bass Pro Marathon with the hope of breaking 3 hours. I struggled with a minor hamstring injury but pulled it off with a 2:58:52. Sweet- but only for a few days.
These FREAKS in my head started questioning everything. Was it a fluke? Could I do it again or was that just a lucky day? Was I REALLY a sub 3 marathoner? I had my doubts because my previous PR of 3:13:23 had held for 3 years and my best time last year was 3:15. So, being an IDIOT, I decided to find out at the White River Marathon in Cotter, AR. Great plan. With a new course that is flat and fast, this would be the perfect place to find out..... except for the fact that it was only 13 days after Bass Pro. Ree-donk-u-lus.
The goal was set and I was nervous. Training was tough because of the hamstring so I had to be easy for a week. But by last Thursday, I had strung together 3 consecutive days of 5 mile runs at a 6:30 pace and really felt confident that it would be okay. All I had to do now was maintain a less than 6:50 pace for 26.2 miles and it I could shut the VOICES up. Still seemed like a ree-donk-u-lus idea- but I was willing to give it a shot.
Standing at the starting line on Saturday morning, all the doubts were gone. I was focused on exactly what was necessary and I was ready to roll. The start was a little messed up because the horn malfunctioned and a quick yell of GO began the race- who knows when the clock started- and we were off. Within the first 100 yards, some genius pulled sideways into the road. WHAT?? They were trying to park. Why they were even allowed in this area is beyond me but he backed up in a hurry and everybody made it around him.
This is a small race with about 400 people total between 3 events. The 5k, 1/2 marathon and full marathon participants all start together with no organization to where everyone lines up. This always leads to the same scenario. The 50 yard dashers get up front and within a very short distance they are worn out and slowing down becoming obstacles for everyone else. Fortunately, I have ran plenty of these kinds of races and know what to expect. Be ready to dodge the adults and jump over the kids. Fun.
The first couple of miles went WAY too fast and we were rolling along at about a 6:20 pace. I backed off quite a bit but, as it turned out, not enough. The course was an out and back. Twice. This was different but kind of nice because most points on the course offered the motivation from other runners. I love throwing the WOOOOO!!! to people as they are pushing towards their goals. Motivates and inspires me to see someone who is struggling but still SMILING. This emphasizes how awesome it is to set a goal and go after it.
The first half went great but FAST. At the turn around point I was in 3rd place but the pace was too fast. My Garmin had me running a 1:27:30 for the the first 13.1 and this was faster than I had planned. Probably faster than I have ever ran that distance- not sure. This had me on pace for a 2:55 finish. I knew then that I would not have negative splits but I tried to maintain and just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
My pace did fall back some in the second half but not too bad. With a two-time out and back course, there were plenty of people on the course until about mile 18. Then it got LONELY. Once in a while I could catch a glimpse of a runner in front and as I neared the turn around at about mile 20 I could see the leaders as they started down the final 6 mile stretch. Mentally it was hard to maintain, knowing that I was in a solid 3rd but I kept plugging. After the final turn-around and around mile 21 it was nice to start seeing some other runners again. This really does help boost the motivation to finish strong.
As I watched the leaders at the turn-around I knew that my friend and training partner, Charley, would win. He has won this race the two previous years and was in fantastic marathon shape coming into this year. He was in second place at the time but I counted the distance between him and the leader. 20 seconds. I know Charley well enough to know that he would push with everything he had to get in front. This perked up my spirits knowing that he would win again and probably PR. He did- with a 2:49. Smokin' fast.
As I approached the final mile, a friend that had ran the 5k was on the course. He gave me some high fives and lots of motviation to finish hard. I hit the last mile at a 6:40 pace and finished in just under 2:58. Of course I won't know the "official time" until the race director posts them online but I know it was at least 2:58. This was another PR and I was beyond happy. Ran right through the volunteers handing out medals and found an open spot to roll a cart-wheel. I'm sure it sucked but so what? Better than torturing everyone with a non-coordinated happy dance.
Some of my friends have asked what I thought my time could be IF there wasn't a 50k and 2 Marathons within 3 weeks. My answer is this..... who cares?? Ree-donk-u-lus to even think about that. I broke 3 hours twice and have a new PR. It just doesn't matter because the past 20 days have been a blast and I wouldn't trade any of it for a minute or two off a PR. A sub 4:30 50k and two sub 3 hour marathons?? If I EVER complain about that please come punch me in the mouth. Please.