If you read my blog on Friday, you know I ran race No. 4 of Operation Jack with a heavy heart. Last Tuesday, a man I knew passed away suddenly. We weren’t best friends or anything like that, but I had met him enough times and his daughter has been in my son Ben’s class the past two years and this really shook me up.
This race was dedicated to him. He really liked what I was doing with Operation Jack and I wanted to make him proud. I really wanted to go back down into the sub-3:10 range, but my body is still adapting to this schedule. This was my fourth all-out marathon in 17 days, so I’m not fresh. My goal was to run hard, stay at the right heart rate and not go easy at all when it got tough. There’s no going back on this race and I wanted to make it count.
I started off fine, running within myself the way I wanted to. I wanted to keep my heart rate between 170 and 173, not letting it slip when I fatigued as I’ve been doing lately. Unfortunately, I could tell by about two miles in that my legs hated me. It’s not like there’s no good reason for me to feel fatigue that early, but it was pretty startling nonetheless. I knew right then it was going to be a long, painful day.
I kept pounding out the miles and fighting to keep my heart rate high enough. The problem with fatigue is that it’s just too painful to run hard enough to get that heart rate up. But I kept pressing and pressing because I had to. I was actually pretty happy with how I was doing. It was a very uncomfortable run, but I felt like I was doing a good job accomplishing my goal, which was to put forth an effort that would make Peter proud.
As the miles ticked off, I feel like I did a decent job fighting through fatigue. I also dealt with side stitches on-and-off from mile 7 until well into the 20s. I’ve been getting those a lot lately, so I’m getting kind of used to them. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but at least they didn’t wreck me like they have in the past. I hit the half right around 1:35:10 or so and for as lousy as I felt, I was pretty happy about that.
I held strong for quite a while, running pretty good miles. I was just on the outside of 3:10 looking in, maintaining a 7:18 average pace (3:10 requires a 7:16 or something like that) through the high teens.
But I started to slow a bit at around 21. I was getting pain all up and down the back of both legs, and really feeling beat down. I don’t think any of my miles were slower than 8:00, but some of them crept up there pretty close to 7:50. Once the race starts hitting 18 or 19, I can tell what my time range is going to be. I thought I was looking at a 3:12 for a while, but that gradually crept up to a 3:16 or so. I knew I wouldn’t hit the 3:10, but I wanted a Boston qualifier (3:15:59) and I really wanted to beat my fastest time of the year, 3:13:58.
Between 22 and 25, I wasn’t happy with how hard I was running. My heart rate slipped into the low 160s and I was really struggling to turn the wheels. But right before I crossed the 25-mile marker, I decided I was going all-out and giving it everything I could. I was pretty happy with how I’d run for Peter to that point, but that last mile was for him.
I got the heart rate up into the 180s and went crazy hard. My legs hurt, I was totally toast, and my breathing was pretty labored. I was almost wondering if I was going too hard. But I didn’t worry about it. I just went. I started picking off people, one after another, so I started counting. Oh, and just so you know, in a race like this at the pace I run, there aren’t a ton of people around me when I run. They probably average 20-30 yards apart. Occasionally there are a few nearby each other, but typically they’re pretty spread out.
The more people I passed, the more I didn’t want anybody to return the favor, and I know that when you pass somebody near the end, it makes you a target. Well, I passed 27 people in that final mile. Nobody passed me. It was a good mile, and a great way to end the race. I went 3:13:56, beating my best Operation Jack time (so far) by two seconds. I was very happy with how I ran and battled through pain to get it done. My speed isn’t all there and I’m obviously not 100 percent, but I’m actually pretty happy with how I ran. I’m sure Peter is, too.
4 down, 56 to go!