I ran the Dallas half marathon in 2015 with a 2:29:20 negative split with a 2:30:00 goal. I had to suffer to make it happen. As I signed up for the marathon distance I was prepared to suffer twice as long. As I heard many times, from many different athletes, “the Marathon ain’t no joke.”
I had the distinct pleasure of racing with@ in 2016. This group took my previous athletic training to another level. The spring and summer were filled grueling training, a Colorado training camp, and great teammates guided by accomplished and competent coaches. After establishing a base of training as a self-coached athlete, I approached Coach Ben Drezek to become a coached-athlete. Why so long? To be honest I didn’t want waste my money or coaches time until I reached a fitness level where actual training could begin without wasting valuable time-resources.
Best decision I’ve made in my athletic career. Outcome? Fall training was injury free – the first rule of getting to the starting line.
Fast forward to December 11, 2016
Heading to the official start line, I was prepared (Heart, mind, body and spirit). This is the way that I wanted to come in this race. The morning was foggy and approximately 50 degree. 4:30 breakfast of peanut butter, tortilla and a banana. With added nutrition at 8:00a for the 8:30a start.
As I moved from my car for an 8:10 corral closure I knew it was going to be a successful day. Suffering, yes. On the top of my right shoe is written “ETS” – Embrace the Suck. No doubt of finishing.
I set goal times: 5:20:15 – a 12:15 pace. Where would disappointment begin? 5:30:00. What was the best hope: 5:15:00 – this was a 12:00 pace.
to 5k: DON’T Run. Pace was too fast and I had to physically slow myself down. I found a slower runner and stuck behind them for a 1/4 mile just to get me recentered. 5k split: 12:13.
to 10k: I remember distinctly this part of the course last year. Misery. This part of the course heads uphill and it’s easy to get discouraged. Today, I lost those miles. I didn’t feel them. I just counted mile makers. Water/gatorade at mile 3 and six. 10k split: 12:17.
to 15k: All uphill: I worried over this part of the course pre-race, but I had done my study of the courses. Water/gatorade and nutrition in this stretch (1x). 15k split: 12:10.
to Half: This is a downhill to level stretch. No fear here. Cruising. Nine miles behind me – easy. Now I can stretch it out a bit and head to the finish line. Honestly, the thought crossed my head. Briefly. I was running easy, no hotspots, no “real” aches, and nutrition on point. Keep to the plan, keep to the plan, keep to the plan. Water and gatorade every other mile. Mile 13/Half split: 12:20.
to 20 miles: Long time on the feet, but everything was falling into place. 17 to 22 is the toughest part of this marathon. I felt great as we moved from the flat (into the 15 mph southern wind) and onto the climb back into Dallas. I expected a slowdown, but, my pace continued to quicken – perceived effort was up a little, but I was planning a negative split. My first half of the race discipline was now paying dividends. Feeling good – let’s stretch the legs. 20mile split: 12:09.
to the finish: I’m ahead of my goal time by at least a couple of minutes moving off of the climb, nutrition had a few problems (incorrectly relied on an aid station) but I was in the driver’s seat. Mile 22 – 23 was contemplation – what now? Settle, or attack? Attacking meant and possibly heroic crash before the finish line. Yep, attack it is. I treated the mile 23 marker as a new 5k start line. A tired start, but a start. Outcome? My last 10k (6.1 miles) was finished at a 11:26 pace….I gained time each mile from 20 to 26.2.
How tired? Bone tired. The wind nearly pushed me down at the top of a hill and in sight of the finish line. But, I left everything that I had on the course. Mind, body and spirit.
Marathon in the future? Sure. Longer? Maybe. But next “A race” is Ironman Arizona (@) in November 2016….a marathon after swimming and biking.
FINISH TIME: 5:15:17
FIVE MINUTE BETTER THAN GOAL! Preparation! Thanks Coach!