When I 1st started training for the ATT marathon, I had a goal of 3:15. (ATT = American Tobacco Trail, which is what I tend to call the marathon, even though that’s not its name!)
I knew 3:15 would be a big stretch for me, but I thought with Lucho coaching me, I might have a chance. However, throughout training, it seemed like 3:20 was going to be more realistic. But I never fully gave up on the 1st goal. Even when, about two weeks out, my legs felt a bit achy and tired on every run, especially when I bumped the speed to under 8:00/mile pace. And even when, a week out, my lungs started feeling congested and wheezy. Two days out, and one day out, I was definitely on the upswing. So what was in store?
I’ve not got a lot of pictures — only the ones Kelly and the kids took of me at mile 19 or so, and at the finish. But here I am at 19, still looking happy!
I came up on Tom, who has an amazing story as a brain cancer survivor. I was really surprised to see him, as I figured he’d be under 3:15, but there he was. We didn’t run together long as he was struggling a bit with too fast of a start, but still finished in a BQ time of 3:22.
So, what happened to me? The splits tell the story… I put the mile splits from my GPS next to the perfectly even splits of a 3:15, and show the time difference…
Now this isn’t quite fair — the mile splits are from my GPS, which was slightly off. It showed a total of 26.44 at the end, not 26.2. But this shows I had a conservative start (negative difference for the 1st few miles). In fact, I jumped in behind the 1:40 half marathon pace group for the 1st couple of miles — until they split off south on the ATT and the marathoners headed north. And then the differences pick up, where I’m fairly far ahead of a 3:15 as much as 2.5 minutes!
At the point the half marathoners turn south and the marathoners turn north, it’s a slight downhill — if you can call any rise or fall on the ATT a hill! As an old railroad bed, it’s never more than 1 or 2% grade max. But I let gravity pull me along, and even tried to hold back a bit. I wasn’t wearing a heart rate monitor, but just ran by feel. And the pace felt solid, but good. I know come mile 18 or 19 or 20, that pace would no longer feel so good, but it’s at that point when you have to rise and hold it..
I did have the GPS on so I could use that as a pacer, and I steadily saw my average pace go down, down, down. All the way until about mile 21, when it was 7:18/mile. And I thought “I’ve got 3:15! Unless I have an epic collapse!”
I even thought briefly at that time that 3:10 was within reach, but I wisely decided not to push it at all. In fact, I thought I’d back off a touch, to preserve the 3:15. But little did I know that the “climb” at mile 22 – 25 would do me in… It got really hard to hold the pace, but I was doing it!
And then we left the ATT and hit the roads. And there was this little hill, but this killer head wind. And I had to walk. Twice! You can see it in the elevation profile and pace graph below the splits. And you can see in my splits… I began to really suffer, and the buffer I had built faded oh so quickly…
|Mile||Split||Cumulative||3:15 Marathon Splits||Difference|
|27||0:03:07||3:16:45||3:15:03||-0:01:42||26.44 vs 26.2|
That last line shows the unfairness of using the Garmin mile splits, which were steadily increasing past exact mileage. Otherwise it would imply I lost 90s on the last 0.2 miles!
See those two jumps on the blue line? Just a few seconds of walking… You can see after I stopped kicking myself for walking I did pick up the pace back to sub 7:30, at least on the downhill, but it was too late…
Ah, it was so good to be done. The last 2-3 miles, I was hurting. Not a bonk — nutrition was solid, but I was so tired.
So, was I mentally weak? Or was the body really done? I feel I’m strong mentally — when it’s just about keeping going. Paddle for 38 hours straight? Sure. Run 24 hours around a 5k loop? Sure. But hitting that last 800 on an 10×800 interval session? That is hard! Or fighting through the pain and fatigue on mile 25 of a marathon at sub 7:30? Ugh. So I will be working on that aspect of my running!
Now I am in no way disappointed with a 3:17. 3:15 was always a big stretch for me. And yeah, to almost get it, only to fade so quickly — bummer. But I am happy with 3:17! An 11 minute PR! And such a great run for the 1st 2:50 or so. 🙂
(I really did want the cool BQ shirt, though!)