Another day, another marathon. In my case, that was the truth Sunday. After running the Kansas City Marathon the day before, I continued along the Operation Jack train with my 50th full marathon of the year, the Rock ‘N Roll Denver Marathon.
I didn’t expect a lot out myself heading into the race. My previous three races were 3:28, 3:29 and 3:29, plus this was the day after a 3:29 and it was up at altitude. I was a little bit afraid that I wouldn’t even have a 3:40 in me. I was really hoping to go sub-3:30. Realistically, I thought I was good for about a 3:36.
This was my 78th lifetime marathon, but I’m still getting the hang of these things. I never seem to pace them correctly, and while I try to alter my strategy to find the right recipe, I always seem to have problems. Today, I figured I’d go out conservatively, trying to run in the 7:30 range and adjust as the run went on.
It was weird starting out at that pace. Aside from when I’ve paced at slower rates, I’ve never set out intentionally holding the pace slower than a Boston qualifying speed. But I knew I needed to take care of myself and avoid blowing up. Long, slow death marches are no fun in marathons. I really didn’t want one of those in my second marathon of the weekend!
I got rolling and felt fairly OK. I started thinking about how I felt like I normally do and realized that my legs are completely fatigued right now whether or not I run a marathon the day before, so it was business as usual. I was a little cautious, however, because of the altitude.
Things were going fine and I enjoyed the early part of the course as we snaked through downtown Denver. I really didn’t struggle much. The course got a little boring as we started to go through a typical Rock ‘N Roll course. There were out and backs in industrial areas and we spent a fair amount of time snaking through a park to tick off miles.
At about mile 16, I started to have problems with my right knee. I’ve been experiencing some issues with my IT band in that area lately, and over the past couple of years, I’ve had tendinitis flare-ups. That tendinitis frequently surfaces when I run doubles, like I did this weekend, and a combination of those two conditions made my knee buckle sporadically over the final 10 miles.
I’d be running, and then all of a sudden, my knee would buckle and I’d have to stride with an exaggerated hop for 10 or so steps. When I dealt with that, my pace dropped. When I felt a little stronger, I did my best to push like I was kicking because I knew my knee would give at any time and I wanted to bank time while I could.
I was fairly disappointed with the race as it went along. I didn’t think that the course did much to highlight Denver (Rock ‘N Roll courses are good at being boring) and there weren’t as many bands out as there typically are for one of their events.
But the biggest problem I had with this course was that it was long. I’ve run 78 marathons now, so I know that the distance comes up long because of tangents. But I know when miles are long and there was one early in the race that was off (somewhere around 3 or 4, I don’t remember), and the “mile” between 23 and 24 was closer to 1.15 miles. We went up and back on a boring overpass and I’m completely convinced the turnaround was too far out.
I was ahead of the 3:30 pace, even looking close to a 3:27, but when I hit mile marker 24, I knew I was going to be getting a time for 26.4. I hate that and was pretty mad. But I kept on pushing and hopping, intent on going sub-3:30. I really wanted to be faster than my 3:29:38 from Kansas City on Saturday.
When I hit what I knew was 26.2, I was at 3:27:56. But I had to keep moving. I pushed up the last little bit to the finish, and crossed the mat 3:29:28 after I started, a 10-second improvement from Saturday. I was pretty happy with that. I don’t have a ton in me right now, but I know I gave it a good effort and I was happy about that.
So there you have it. I’ve now completed 50 full marathons this year. I like the look of that number. It looks kind of cool. And you know what I really like? Only 11 to go!
Yep, I was there!
This is what 50 medals looks like.