7th place – 2nd in age
The weather was horrible -- a steady rain pelted us all day, while a 20-m.p.h. headwind (gusts up to 32 m.p.h. according to the local news) beat the dogbleep out of us. A kind estimate is that at least 15 miles of the race were run into that steady, driving wind. During the first half of the race the wind just beat me up and there were instances where gusts blew me backwards. Once, I took two steps backward while trying to run forward. Meanwhile, I had to dodge puddles for much of the race lest my feet get more soaked than they were and make it even more uncomfortable.
Wind, more than anything, is the runner's enemy. I'm sure that it affected everyone's performance.
I ran the first 5 miles in 31 minutes, which was off my 29-minute goal; 10 miles in 64 instead of 59; and halfway in 1:25 instead of 1:17. Needless to say I felt like quitting for much of the first half because I was so discouraged by the headwind. I actually pulled back a few times during the first half hoping that I could save some energy for the back half.
It seemed to have worked.
Despite it being the hilliest and most difficult part of the course, I ran OK from miles 15 to 20, holding my place even though I hit 20 in a really slow 2:12 (my goal was 1:56 to 1:59). Somehow, though, I decided to get tough over the final 10k, remembering from my old days that I used to tell myself that I could "run the last 10k of a marathon in 40 minutes in my sleep."
Well, I was close.
I hit 21 in 2:19:49 after stopping to drink my Gatorade and Red Bull mix and followed that with 6:37, 6:35, 6:43, 6:34, to 8:00 for the last 1.2 miles. At 21 I told my wife -- who with her dad gallantly met me at miles 7, 14, and 21 with my drinks and encouragement (they were amazing... truly and honestly) -- that I was "going to try to run the last 5 in 33."
Instead, I ran the last 5.2 in 34:29.
I was close.
Nevertheless, from the 21st mile to the finish I jumped from 11th place to 7th and needed about another 100 yards to take over 6th place. I'm sure I would have done it, too, because the 6th-place finisher had three guys pacing him on foot and two others on a bike, who repeatedly checked my progress to inform him where I was. He had a support staff like Lance Armstrong last weekend in NYC last.
Minus the TV cameras, of course.
With less than 2 miles to go, it appeared as if one of the bike pacers doubled back to check on my progress before reporting back. I suppose they told him to hurry up because I was closing fast.
I doubt they told him that I ran 19 of the 26.2 miles by myself and ran tougher than he did.
Anyway, I'm disappointed with my time -- 2:54:21. Based on my workouts and the charts measuring my times and VO2, I definitely feel that I was in shape to run between 2:36 and 2:40. Had the conditions been better today I'm certain that I could have gone sub-2:45.
What can you do? The time sucks, but I was tough and I didn't quit. I'm not discouraged. In fact, if I continue training the way I did since taking my first step in March, I'll get there. Perhaps the ship has sailed on 2:22 -- I'm too old. However, 2:30 is reasonable and I'm pleased to report that I'm back.
And I'm not going anywhere.
One tactical error
Chuck Engle, yes the Chuck Engle, ran the race and finished 3rd in sub-2:48. Had I seen him at the start or during the cluster of the first few miles, I would have glued myself to him and worked with him for the duration.
Afterwards I had the pleasure of chatting with the great Mr. Engle – truly a badass and a true gentleman – and now I’m even a bigger fan than I was before.
For my money, Chuck Engle is much, much more impressive than that Dean dude. If only the mainstream media (wait… isn’t that me?) were aware of how much more difficult his feats are that the other guy. Running is easy and anyone can do it. Running fast and consistently is an achievement.
Down the road, I don't know. I'll have to sit down with my wife and map it out. I'll definitely train to race in some of the better-known local races and try to get some PRs and be competitive.
Another marathon? Maybe in the spring and definitely one for the Fall. I'm too old to focus on two hard efforts a year, but I really love training hard.
Short term I'm contemplating jumping in the Northern Central Trail Marathon on Nov. 25 if the weather is nice and other variables are conducive.