"The marathon can humble you"
Yea? No shit Bill Rodgers!
To be brief, I ran the Sugarloaf Marathon yesterday at the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain resort up here in Maine. http://www.sugarloaf.com/
I finished in 3:14, 4 minutes shy of my goal, 4 minutes shy of punching my ticket to the 2011 Boston Marathon. Goddammit!
I woke up around 4:45am on Sunday, got somewhere around 4-5 hours of sleep which was a pleasant surprise, as my nerves were insane in the brain! Had usual pre-race breakfast of a bagel smothered with peanut butter, a banana and all the coffee I get chug. The coffee did the trick, and um.."cleaned me out" as I needed.
The resort provides shuttles to the start (about 11 miles away), but after talking to a couple dudes I met at the dinner they said it's stupid to board a bus and wait at the start for an hour if you can just convince your wife to do it. Since my wife is fucking awesome, and the greatest human being on the planet she had no problem getting up early with me... I love her so much. So I laughed as I enjoyed my coffee and looked out the window as runners were herded onto school busses... suckers.
Race start is 7am, so at about 6:20 we hopped in our car and drove to the start... you have to drive the course in reverse to get there, so for every downhill we hit... it would be an uphill for me, yea that sucked. Got to the campground area which is the starting point, and it looks like LOTS of other people did the same, as runners are chillin' in their cars with other loving wives/husbands.
I'm instantly surprised about how warm it is already in Northwest Maine at 6:40am, and take my warm-ups off. Brianne (my wife), takes my warm-ups, kisses me goodbye, wishes me luck and says she'll see me at the 10k mark. I talk to 2-3 runners I recognize, but am too nervous to just chill so I go for an easy .5 run to loosen up until I hear a bull-horn yell "5 MINUTES!!!!"
So a weird thing about this race, it's not chip-timed... I'm not really down with that shit, so I lined up about 2 deep from the guy who won it last year. Then a dude (obviously a local) comes out in the middle of the road with a huge double-barrel shotgun.... umm, I guess this is the "start-gun". 5,4,3,2,1..BOOM! Tap the Garmin and Im off....
Mile 1 7:12
Wasted no time finding a fast pace. From my research, I planned on being super conservative in the first 5k and just use it as a warm-up, and I actually thought I was running slow…keeping it below 7:10 was a struggle as my feet wanted to propel me to the finish already. I eased back as much as possible, but with such a small crowd, there wasn’t much holding me back.
Mile 2 7:19
The pack starts to thin out as the fast people take off, the people that started too fast get passed, and us “leaders of the middle packers” start to settle in. Hit this mark with ease.
Mile 3 7:17
Ok, 5k down..and Im feeling awesome. There was a water stop somewhere right before this, and I grabbed a quick rinse of h2O.
Mile 4 7:18
This is the first time it hit me in my mind that “holy shit dude, you’re going to do this”. My splits were right exactly where I wanted them..a tad slower than 3:10 pace, but I was being conservative. It’s here I really settle in and meet this awesome dude named Jeremy. He’s from Boston, we talk sports, life, and about how we’re gonna chill out at 7:15ish pace and get this done.
Mile 5 7:23
We head through a small downtown area, with a few “fans”. A little slow.
Mile 6 7:11
Right before the marker Brianne is up ahead with a Hammer Gel and my water bottle… I run ahead of Jeremy and grab a gel and a swig of G2…. I throw my bottle back to my beautiful one-woman support crew, but I miss her and it breaks..oops.
Mile 7 7:20
Shit, here come some hills.
Mile 8 7:24
Steady, Jeremy and I keep eachother on task, checking in with eachother, talking about our tactics for the upcoming climb. Still feel awesome.
Mile 9 8:02
Big climb here, I cut my stride down, and stay in control going up this climb…. Figured if I got around 8min/mile I could still make it up on the downhill.
Mile 10 7:39
Climb evens out a bit, but these rolling hills suck.
Mile 11 7:12
Sweet, back on pace.
Mile 12 6:50
A COMPLETE downhill. Like, fucking gnarly, hold on tight, touch the brakes or you’re out of control downhill….
Mile 13 7:10
This brings you back past the resort, still cruising from the downhill, I meet Brianne again.. hop over to the side of the road and plant a huge kiss on her face. Some woman came up to her and said that was the sweetest thing she ever saw.
Mile 14 7:11
Still cruising. Hit the 13.1 mark at 1:35, just what I was looking for!
Mile 15 7:13
Stoked that Im right on pace, I continue thinking if I just take a few seconds off per mile, I’ll have no problem..
Mile 16 6:56
It’s downhill, the weather is beautiful and Jeremy and I are CRUISING! We laugh a little when we accidently get under 7min/mile again… this shit is easy (hah!)
Mile 17 7:03
At 16.2 we start talking about imagining that 10mile route you have, the one from your front door and back that is exactly 10 miles..and that’s all we have left! Start the countdown!
Mile 18 7:20
A tad slower than planned, but we are counting the single-digits to Boston!
Mile 19 7:18
Cruising, cant wait to see that 20 mile mark!
Mile 20 7:23
Something goes wrong, and my buddy starts falling back. For the past 6 miles we were joined by another dude, and we supported each other the whole way. Besides us 3, you can barely see anyone in front or behind us…. We are in no-mans land!
Mile 21 7:19
Jeremy is dropping back farther, and my new buddy and I say that we just cut that 10 mile route in half!
Mile 22 7:16
I feel my toe EXPLODE! (check out the pic). I’m still on time, but my foot hurts like a mutha… (this will be my last race in Nike!)
Mile 23 7:16
Doing my best to forget the pain, but now I’m all alone. Both my partners dropped off my pace, and the doubts start creeping in my mind. Looking back, I doubt if I’ll ever run such a small race again (at least not trying to BQ). Being alone in life is scary, being alone in a marathon is HELL!
Mile 24 7:22
More doubts creeping in my head, I start trying to do the math to figure out if Im close to a BQ or not? I should have prepped better and figured out my splits… goddammit why didn’t I do that??
I’m still running alone, but I’m creeping up on runners ahead…I think if I catch them they can get me to Boston, but it’s a mirage because they crashed and are jogging in..
Mile 25 7:31
Still alone, I realize a 3:10 is not going to happen, and to put it frankly… I said “fuck it”, started crying like a wimp, and basically gave up.
Mile 26 9:54 (seriously?!?)
Mentally I was gone, pissed, and hurt. Physically my legs burned, but I had more in them. I’ll admit right now I had more in me, and if you know me… it hurts to say that. I turn around and can see Jeremy around the bend, so I slow to that stupid walk/jog people do when they cross in front of you in a parking lot… he catches up and we both apologize to eachother for not getting us there.
There’s a waterstop somewhere before the marker, I stop grab a full cup of Gatorade, walk for a minute to collect myself and turn it on for the final .2 to the finish.
26.2- FINISH 2:20
Embarrassed as I see my wife cheering for me, she knew once she saw the clock strike 3:10 and I wasn’t in sight how angry I’d be. I try to smile for a picture or 2, but have a hard time being excited…
So, looking back I can already see mistakes (which is good), and writing this actually pissed me off. I had a BQ in my reach and I let it go, but I learned a ton about the distance and even more about my ability.
I’m not blaming the guys I ran with (I blame the desolate course) but when they dropped off it sucked. I’m 100% sure that if we could have stayed together, we’d have our rooms booked for next April.
Oh well! On the way home Brianne and I had a blast, we stopped for pizza, for ice cream, and hopped out of the car to take some beautiful landscape photography. When I got home, I put my feet up, watched the Celtics bet the Magic, Oh…and signed up for the Maine Marathon on Oct. 3rd… where I WILL get that BQ!
So, I made my return to running after an 8 year lay-off in June 2009. I weighed 205lbs, and wanted to get back in running shape, and beat my old PRs. I ran my first marathon just 5 months later in 3:36, and yesterday I dropped 22 minutes off that. I'm now 170lbs, and even though I'm faster/fitter than ever, I still have a ton of work to do, all things considered... that 3:14 doesnt seem too bad now!
Finally, I need to give major props to my amazing, beautiful, 16 week pregant wife Brianne for not only putting up with this stupid addiction I have, but supporting me 100%. I could never do this without her, and knowing that at 26.2, I win her. Every single time.
Not too shabby for only being a "runner" for 10.5 months huh? Jay-Z says it best... "On to tha next one.."