Heading into Operation Jack, I knew there would come a day that I would have zero desire to run, that I’d wonder why I came up with the idea to try to run 60 marathons this year, I’d wish I was anywhere but at the start line of a marathon and I’d view my race as 26.2 miles of nothing but work. Well, Sunday was that day, and the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on Portland, Oregon’s Suavie Island was the race.
I was homesick before I left, not in the mood to run and pretty tired. Six hours of sleep is my cutoff to function, and I didn’t get that in either of the two nights before the race. On top of that, while I was in Oregon, I heard about all sorts of fun things my wife Tiffany was doing with our three kids. That put me into a funk mentally and emotionally. I’ve reached a point where it’s been a long year, and I know I still have a ways to go.
So, I just didn’t want to run. When you’re not in the mood to run, 26.2 miles is a fairly long ways. But I have a job to do, so I went out and ran the race. I had one main goal for the race, to hit the half in between 1:34:30 and 1:35:00. I’m pacing the first half of the 3:10 group next week in Missoula, Montana, and this was my final dress rehearsal.
After the half, I had planned on cranking it up a little bit. The course was pancake flat, temperatures were in the high 50s and it was cloudy — perfect running conditions. That was the gameplan in the days leading up to the race. I really thought I was going to run a 3:09. But it’s tough for me to run a 3:09 when I don’t want to run.
Anyways, I took off planning to keep the miles in between 7:00 and 7:15 or so, the closer to 7:10 the better. 7:15 is the pace for 1:35, although I’m planning on being a tiny bit fast next week because the first half is a little easier than the second half, so I think the group will need to be about 30 seconds ahead halfway through.
I was virtually flawless for the first 11 miles. They were all between 7:01 and 7:14, and I think all but three or so were between 7:06 and 7:11. It’s fairly close to the edge of my ability, so it was a little tough, but not impossible as long as I stayed focused. I drifted off a little bit mentally in miles 12 and 13 and went 7:18 and 7:22. But when I hit halfway, 1:34:40 had elapsed. I’m pretty good with that and I’m ready for next week.
Of course, I still had 13.1 miles to go, but I was mentally checked out. The course was beautiful and I was in awe of the scenery. Suavie Island is a calm, serene island filled with nothing but farms. From what I could gather, most of the farms were berry farms. The run was just amazing, and I think I’d put the quality of scenery on this one above my three favorites so far this year — Catalina Island, Napa Valley and Charlottesville (Va.). It was that nice. I really loved it.
But like I said, I was checked out. I just wanted to be done and go home and I slowed down about 30 seconds/mile after the half. I didn’t intentionally slow down, but I don’t think my mind was letting my legs turn. My 7:15s were pretty much 7:45s the rest of the way, and I think I even had a couple of miles slower than 8:00.
I thought I was in line for something in the 3:20s, but I was surprised when I checked the elapsed time with two miles to go and it was a few seconds less than 3:02. I did quick math and figured that if I could turn two sub-7 miles I could still end up with another Boston qualifier. I tried to turn it on, but after 11 miles at 7:45ish pace, I couldn’t get it going. I ran hard, but never really kicked, because I knew with one mile to go that 3:16 was out of reach and 3:18 would have required a total collapse in the 26th mile.
I ended up finishing in somewhere around 3:17:31. I’m not sure of my official time, but I know it was a 3:17. And that was it, another marathon in the books. Operation Jack sputtered on again. 32 down, only 28 to go!
You see those bags under my eyes? I’m telling you, I was TIRED! Not even running a marathon could wake me up!
Me and friend Steve Walters after the race. Steve has the same running sickness that I do. This race gave him 88 lifetime marathons and ultramarathons.
I got to meet Operation Jack supporter Katey Williamson after the race, which was cool — she’s super nice. And you can tell from her sweatshirt that she has a pretty good sense of style.