If running were a college class, this was my capstone. 26.2 miles. Looking at that number it seems ridiculous. Thinking back to it, it seems less ridiculous. I had logged 23 miles in a day since I can’t count, but that was spaced over 2 runs that day, but eh. I was never a logical thinker.
I had 3 goals.
1) FINISH. I wanted this one, and a DNF wasn’t an option. At all. And I needed and knew I would beat the 6 hour cut off.
2) Dont shit myself. I’d seen this happen FAR TOO OFTEN working the Finish of the NYC marathon. I determined this was unacceptable.
3) If I checked off Goal 1 and 2? Gun for under 5 hours.
My attack plan was simple. Get good and loose, and build slowly. Gradually build to my best miles, and throw them down between miles 13 and 21, then grind to the finish.
A calm, controlled start would be key. And seconds in, it was clear that wouldn’t happen.
I felt TOO good while warming up. I was geeked up, but I was trying to stay within myself. I was bouncing around, hoping in vain to keep it reigned in at the start.
That plan was dead on arrival. The National Anthem was MAGNIFICENT, and it segued directly in to NO SLEEP TIL BROOKLYN and the crowd and the runners were singing along in the starting paddock and that as they say was that.
I threw down 9 pretty solid miles before I realized what I was doing, and then faced with the reality that I had just blew my strategy, I figured I’d press the ‘advantage’ and go as hard as I could and hope the reserves of determination to see this thing to the end would carry me through.
The revised plan was relying on hope. Hope isnt a strategy, as my left calf reminded me in mile 12.
Even though I’ve shed 50 pounds, I still need to drop another 20ish to be at the race weight I want. I was really wishing I had time to lose that 20 pounds as morning crept towards afternoon and I was still laboring. each lap was a 5k. and I was just mentally checking off the distance. Every 2 or 3 miles, I’d pull up and stretch out my calf. I stuck to my fuel and hydration targets, and when I got to mile 19 or 20, I KNEW I was finishing. Mile 23 was the last climb up Battle Pass, and when I broke it, I knew I was home. However, the 6th time up that hill took the last vestiges of what I had.
The remaining 3.5 miles were pure unadulterated hell. I’m accustomed to finishing strong. That wasn’t the case here. I was physically beaten. I kept turning over the engine and nothing would happen. I’d be able to almost… ALMOST get back up to my racing speed… and then the calf would lock back up again after maybe a half mile. The last 3.5 miles took 48:08. I was dead. Utterly dead. Compare that with my best race day miles which were sub 9:30, and you can see how bad the drop off was.
That said, I took off like I had a rocket up my ass when I saw that finish line.
Maybe it was the promised donuts and hot chocolate? :)
Anyhow, there were several takeaways:
I trained like this like I’ve never trained before. I followed a plan. I tapered. I did everything by the book for the most part.
There’s more training refinements to make though, more speedwork, more hill repeats.
Sticking to a damn race strategy would be nice too. Maybe a flatter course?
The training was way more intensive and longer than I anticipated, as was the recovery. I was completely dead for 3 days, I finally felt like myself his evening.
that said, the biggest takeaway was: i can handle 26.2 miles in under 5 hours. Big CHECK to all 3 goals :)
The outpouring of support and helpful advice was amazing, as were the heartfelt congratulations from friends, treasured running peers, and family. I was moved to tears more than once.
Now to get faster, stronger, and BETTER, and do it again.