On April 7, I went out and completed my fifth marathon. Despite the weather being a bit chilly, it turned out to be a great day and a great race.
I was really encouraged to have multiple people cheering me on. One can never fully voice how much encouragement you receive when there are people on the street cheering you on. The amount of energy that empowers your body when you hear voices you recognize, is tremendous. This particular race forced us to do a 13.1 mile loop twice, so it made it a bit easier for fans to find opportunities to see runners. Added to this, there quite a few switchbacks as we ran through the streets of a picturesque German town. There were multiple times where I ran past friends, and it was always a blessing. I never knew when I would see them, but could definitely hear their voices above those of the Germans, and appreciated their presence. Beside the cheering, the knowledge that people you know could appear around every corner, adds a sense of accountability. When the legs get tired and the body wants to stop, an extra ounce of motivation can be found through the thought, “I can’t stop. I don’t want them to see me walking!”
I have been training for this particular race since January 1. My entire training regimen has been far more relaxing than previous races, and I really came to enjoy that. The main aspect that made it more relaxing was my desired finishing time. Previously, I have always targeted a Boston Qualifying time (sub 3:10) this time from day 1 my goal was 3:30. Not too far from Boston, but significant enough that I didn’t feel as much pressure or stress to get my time down. Releasing myself from that pressure made me enjoy my training a bit more, and also made the actual run pretty fun. This race was all about getting another one under my belt, enjoying the experience, and of course… the freebies after the race!
My goal was to finish in 3 hours 30 minutes. I missed that by two minutes as I came across the line in 3:32. A huge part of me is absolutely fine with this. In the big picture of a mediocre marathon runner, two minutes slower than your goal is not bad at all. Unfortunately something inside of me is not entirely satisfied with my time. Perhaps I need to be less competitive. But, the main reason for my dissatisfaction is that I don’t feel as though my time accurately represents how well I actually ran. I realize a marathon is a full 26.2 miles, not 20. But, through my first twenty miles I was on pace to cross the line in 3:18 or 3:19. I had visions of setting a PR (3:17:24). But with about 6 miles to go, my body started shutting down. It wasn’t so much cramps in my legs, but exhaustion and an empty chest. My mind simply could not will my body to keep going at the pace I was carrying. Over my final 12km (little more than 6 miles) I averaged a full minute slower than I was averaging for the first 30km. (A marathon is 26.2 miles, or 42km…here in Europe distances are measured in km, sorry for bouncing back and forth). Finishing slower than I had been running for the overwhelming majority of the race, left a bitter taste in my mouth. I honestly felt like I ran better than a 3:32… but I have to keep reminding myself a marathon is 42km, not 30km. So, there is a bit of added motivation for when I start training for my next race. I haven’t picked one out yet, but have no doubts I will run at least one more in 2013.
All things considered, it was a great day. A great opportunity to get out there and do something I love.