My month-long slowdown continued Saturday in the Charlottesville Marathon in Charlottesville, Virginia, although fortunately, so did my ability to shake it off and not really worry about it. I know that all I can really do is go out and give it my all. Today, my all was worth a 3:21 marathon.
The course was probably the most scenic I’ve ever run, and that includes the incredible Catalina Marathon I ran last month. We ran through the University of Virginia, which has a beautiful campus. We went out into the plush countryside and passed ranch and after ranch bordered by white wooden fences. We ran several miles on roads tunneled by bright green trees. We spent four of the miles running along a path that was also tunneled by trees and bordered a pretty wide river. Even when we spent a little bit of time running through some unsavory parts of town, it was pretty scenic.
I know it sounds like I’m gushing, and that’s because I am. I HIGHLY recommend this course, even if you don’t live nearby. There’s one downside (well, more like 8-10 downsides). There are quite a few challenging hills to climb. Nothing like Catalina, but still, I wouldn’t call this course easy at all. It’s worth it, though.
I decided to push by heart rate today instead of trying to hold a pace. Monday in Boston will be completely by heart rate, so no sense not doing that today. I caught little glimpses of how I’m doing, and I feel pretty comfortable with my ability right now. I just don’t feel comfortable with my ability to maximize my ability, or something like that.
I felt pretty good early on, staying on track early and maintaining an average pace in the low 7s. I wasn’t scared to push the pace quicker than 6:30 when the declines allowed, and I took what the course gave me. Of course, just as quick as the course gave me, it took away.
I train on hills every day, but for some reason, I just can’t race on them. We went through a pretty nice gradual downhill about 5 or 6 miles in, but we went up a pretty tough uphill right after that, and that was the beginning of the end for me. I struggled and never got it back. We did a turnaround, and I didn’t move as fast as I’d have liked to coming back down. And when we went back up that gradual downhill, I was pretty much done.
I hit the half right around 1:35:30, which I was OK with, but I knew I was moving in the wrong direction. There were plenty of hills in the second half that continued to wreck me, but that’s what marathons will do to you, I guess. The weather was fine — mid 60s and not sunny. But I just couldn’t hang on over the final six miles. My back started to hurt a little bit and my legs were pretty stiff. I was certainly enjoying the run, though.
I barely had any kick at the end, but I guess I can’t really do much more than I’m capable of, which is what I feel like I did today. I think my time was 3:21:24 or something like that. It’s not really about me, though. It’s about reaching people for Operation Jack and Train 4 Autism. Today, I had a guy come up to me during the race and tell me he’s been following along and he really digs what I do, which was cool. Also, after the race, a local TV crew interviewed me for a little bit for their show today, so hopefully that reaches people, too.
After the race.
So, I guess, 19 down, 41 to go. Time to go to Boston.