Flash forward one year. It's Saturday, the day before the race and I call it a race, because that's how I approach it. It's not a jog, it's not a relaxed event, it's lets see what my body can do. I spend the day watching my son play two soccer games. I do my best to stay in the shade, but I know I should have been holed up in my house like a vampire.
|The swag: prefer the jacket from last year over the flip-flops|
Sunday morning I eat half a bagel/fried egg sandwich and drink some coffee. I get out of my car and step into great weather for a 6:15 a.m. start. Unlike last year, I spend 30 minutes warming up and stretching. I then march up to the very front of the start. I say good luck to a Japanese man running his 187th marathon and then we begin.
As usual, I go out too fast, but a little bit less too fast that normal. I try to dial it back, but I feel good, but hey it's only mile four. I'm out in front, with about 40 people ahead of me. It's great to not have to spend the first few miles of the race weaving around people.
I'm not a big fan of the course itself. The detour off the coast and onto Palomar Airport Road takes you into a bit of a wasteland. Around mile seven I strip off the arm warmers I made out of a pair of old soccer socks and throw them onto the street. At 13.1, I'm at 1:29. My goal pace is 3:00. I'm on track, but I know it's going to get harder, not easier, as the miles click by.
At mile 18, my feet are hurting. I'm running in Nike 3.0, and thinking next time I need plusher shoes. My pace is still holding. There is still a chance to break three hours. At mile 23, the wheels come off the bus, my pace drops from around 6:55 a mile to 7:16. At mile 24, I want to give up and stop. But I press on and run a 7:28 mile. Last year, I was walking at this point, which makes me feel a bit better.
At mile 25, I'm really struggling. By this time, the marathon course has merged in with the half-marathon course. Runners are passing me and I can't tell if they are marathoners or half-marathoners. I wonder how many places I'm losing. I have my worst mile, with a 7:51. I now have 1.2 miles left. My spirits lift. I push on, posting a 7:19 for the last mile.
I finish in 3:06:10 (7:07 per mile), a full 61 minutes faster than last year. I don't meet my goal pace, but I met my primary goal of going sub 3:15 and I qualify for Boston. I take 38th overall and can still walk. Not bad. I'm happy with the result.
Post-race I realize I wasn't strong enough. The fade at mile 23 was probably due to not having enough long runs. Running the San Diego Half-Marathon at race pace three weeks before was probably not a good idea either. Looking forward, I'm going to focus on speed, strength and stretching.
With that, I'd like to give a shout out to Debi Doyle of SEHRC for running the marathon in 3:47:47. Great job Debi!
San Elijo Hills Running Club