“Truth is, you can probably run faster…Sometimes, the truth hurts.”
I saw this on a shirt as I was walking to the start line of the Walt Disney World Marathon Sunday morning. It was 4:45am. My alarm had gone off at 2:45am. I felt like a frozen zombie. The half marathon scheduled for Saturday had been canceled due to a pretty wicked electrical storm that came through on Friday night. Many runners decided to do a virtual half marathon later on Saturday once the storm had passed, but I decided to shift to a different plan of ‘actually running’ the marathon…rather than just moseying through it like I have done in years past. So, Saturday night, I decided I was going to push to PR the marathon. Which was ridiculous…that’s something you plan for, not something that whimsically happens. I haven’t put in more than 14 miles since the Marine Corps Marathon at the end of October, and, while my training has been going very well, there is a HUGE difference between averaging an 8:30 pace over 14 miles, or hitting 7:30s during 5 milers, and actually sustaining those paces through 26 miles. But, why the hell not? My legs had felt fresh through the 5k and 10k, Thursday and Friday, respectively, so I figured you never know if you can do something until you try, right? My goal wasn’t lofty; shaving 2 minutes and 52 seconds off a marathon shouldn’t be that hard, right? That’s….hold, please…let me math…6.5 seconds off per mile? No biggie! hahahahahaha….sad face…So, anyways, new goal, run a 3:50 marathon!
Sunday morning, I see this dang shirt. Like, really? A shirt? In my head I was thinking about how shitty 2016 had been and, in that moment, decided I wouldn’t just try for a 3:50, but instead I would go however fast my legs would take me…Fuck it, Boston Qualify! How crazy would that be?! Super Crazy! How realistic?! Completely Non-realistic! But, who cares?! Screw 2016! So, gun goes off and I settle in and start clicking in the mid-8:30s. Coach had told me to stay within the 8:30-8:50 range. I figured, at any pace like that, I would crash around mile 17 or so, but at least I would have given it a shot. Mile 5 comes around and I drop into the 8:20s..oops…time to slow down, re-focus…take a few pictures..strategy, right? Obviously, I planned this out! Bahaha… Mile 10..still in the 8:20s…feeling good, but this is on par with my last, and only, 14 mile training run from a few weeks ago, so not terribly surprising. Mile 15, I drop into the 8:10s…what the hell, Legs? Where did you guys come from? Mile 16, I bust out out an 8:01…Mayday! Mayday! Mile 18, the 7:40s show up…DANGER, DANGER! At this point, every red flag in my brain is going off in preparation for a complete and total final 10k melt down(Hello, Marine Corps!) While 19-21 were back to a more realistic pace, low to mid-8s, I didn’t really start having problems until the final 5k. Yay! I tried to math while I was running to see what was still a realistic goal, but let’s get actually real..I can’t do that…anyone who has run with me knows how terrible I am at just plain mathing…mathing and running is crazy talk. I had an idea that I would still be very much under my last Marathon PR, but I really had no idea by how much. So, the final 3 miles were rough. My left leg decided all these whimsical shenanigans were enough and gave me a very clear middle finger. I gave a pep talk to lazy righty and asked it to actually pull some weight, literally, for a few miles. My worst mile was Mile 26…at a 9:15. Final time: 3:46:35….a 6 minute and 23 second Personal Record. Boom! Not a Boston time, but closer than I was and putting Boston into actual sight! This is my year. I’m ready for the truth! Let’s go, Boston!!!