There’s not a lot to analyze from my run in the Train 4 Autism Marathon Series, Race #2 from Saturday, because very early into the race, I picked a simple strategy and stuck to it. I aimed to have fun, and that’s exactly what I did.
If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been struggling with how I’m running lately. For my previous five marathons, I’ve struggled with lack of motivation, a slow pacing assignment (3:50), extremely hot weather, then two challenging courses. As would be expected, my times haven’t been good and I’ve been unnecessarily beating myself up over it.
Saturday’s race was the second in a series of three low-key races I’m putting on with a local race promoter named Charlie Alewine and there were a few people who came out to support the cause. I ran with one of them right at the start and immediately decided that rather than push the pace and go all-out, I’d spend the day running with people who were out there because of Operation Jack.
The course was six loops of a 4.38-mile course. We also added on a bit extra because my friend Sally, who I ran the first loop with, led us astray a tiny bit. No worries, I was out for a fun run.
I ran the first loop with Sally and my friend Ben. I run with Sally’s running group sometimes in the morning when I’m training, although that hasn’t been the case too much this year because my mid-week miles are way down. Ben, who was running the half-marathon, is one of my best friends. I used to have lunch with him every week, but he has a new job and a new work schedule and I haven’t seen him more than once or twice over the past three months or so. The three of us ran the first loop together and had a good time.
After that first loop, I waited for about three minutes for a runner named Lori who was running the half-marathon to finish the loop so I could run with her. I’d communicated with her online in the past, but aside from a two-minute conversation before the start of the race, I had never met her. I ran the second and third loops with her and had a good time. She’s really nice and fun to run with.
She’s a pretty good runner and picked up the pace a little bit as we were going along. We ran down Sally and Ben midway through the third lap and Ben switched over and ran with us. We all chatted and they finished strong, hitting the half in right around 1:45. I waited again for Sally and she came by about a minute later, but she was insistent that I keep on going at my own pace, so I did.
A few minutes later, I caught up with my friend Jeff, who was out to run the half. He won the race in 1:32 or 1:33 and was in the middle of running 6.9 miles afterwards to get 20 in for the day. We ran together for most of the fourth loop, and finally he told me to take off because he wanted to back off a bit. So, I ran the the last 2+ loops on my own. I was at about 16 or 17 miles before I even thought about the fact that I was running a marathon. I had just been out running, talking with friends, having a good time.
I had been running at roughly an 8:05 pace or so for most of the time and when you’re locked into a groove for that long, it’s tough to really step it up at that point. I ran a few miles down closer to 7:30 or so, but my legs weren’t having it. I fatigued a bit (I swear, I’m human!) and kept working on the final two loops at about an 8:30 pace.
I had no idea what time range I was in, but I checked with about a mile to go and I could see I was looking at about a 3:35 if I didn’t step it up. I wanted at least a 3:34 so I started to move at about a 7:10 pace and could tell with about a 1/2 mile to go that I could get a 3:33 if I found another gear. I got it down to about a 6:40 pace and finished in 3:33:47. Due to the small field (there were only about 30 people in the half and full), that was good for first overall, but that wasn’t any kind of big deal. I call it “first finisher” a whole lot more than I call it “winner”.
From a straight-up running perspective, I can look at this and see that I went 3:33 with about four minutes of stop time and about 2/10 of a mile out of the way and know that it could have been an effortless 3:27 or 3:28. So, to know that I can do that right now is good. The legs still work a little bit.
All-in-all, the best part is that I went out and had fun. I really needed a day like this. And of course, with no travel for this race, I was home and on my weekend by noon on Saturday. Does it get any better than this?
Me and Jeff at the finish. That Angels gnome has been EVERYWHERE!
Me and Sally at the finish.