SPOILER ALERT: I'm going to Boston!
Just in case you didn't want to read this whole report, I saved you the hassle with the spoiler, but if you want to re-run this race with me, please read on... it was wicked.
Saturday morning I woke up after a great nights sleep, and to my surprise Brianne went to my running trail (Kennebec River Rail Trail) with me, and although she's 8.5 months pregnant she walked a couple miles while I did a very easy 3 miles to shake out my nerves. From there, we had an awesome breakfast at A1 Diner, got our stuff together for the trip and we were off.
Portland is 50min from our house, could we have just stayed at home and woke up early? Yea, of course. But, it's my marathon, and I didn't want to chance ANYTHING, so we grabbed a hotel room in Freeport (15min from race). whateva..
The expo/pick-up was at the University of Southern Maine, which is my wife's alma-mater, so she was thrilled to walk the campus again and show me some of the sites, it was cool to hear some of her stories, even if all I was thinking about was the race... (sorry baby).
Grabbed my race packet, walked around real quick and bounced ASAP for some veggie-pizza and an organic IPA at Flatbread, then hit the hotel to put my feet up and watch Notre Dame trounce BC!
my wheels on raceday.. Saucony Fastwitch (awesome shoe)
So, I know I have some friends whom have kids, so they can relate...but trying to get some sleep before a marathon, next to a pregnant wife (no matter how beautiful she is) is rough. So after a solid 2-3 hours of shut eye, Im up at 5am ready to go.
Usual pre-marathon bagel w/PB, banana and some coffee to get going, and we are off to the start. Brianne walked me to the start area and took my warm-ups, we had our little pre-race moment, and I kissed her belly to get some luck from Abrahm. I told him his dad wouldn't let him down today, and I nearly cried...
It's about 46 degrees now, which is chilly but perfect for the start.. so I head out for an easy warm-up. Did a mix of jogging/walking/active stretching for about 3/4 mile before lining up in the pack. Found my friend Aaron who was running the half, and we decided to run the first mile together to warm up.
I never heard the director talk or give announcements, just heard a canon BOOM.. and we're off...
Mile 1 - 7:21
Glad I started a few rows deep, kept me from going out too fast. I thought I was running a lot slower than this, as I went by feel vs. my Garmin early on. Estimate it took me 10-15 seconds to cross the start mat (finish time says it took 9). Aaron and I take it super easy, and joke around as we easily pass a lot of people. At the mile 1 mark I tell him to go to work, he's only got 12 more to do, and I've got 25!
Mile 2- 7:03
Mile 3 - 7:03
Mile 4 - 7:00
Mile 5- 7:02
Mile 6 - 7:08
Mile 7 - 7:06
These early miles always seem to go by so damn fast! I was trying to run 7:10 miles, but these low 7s felt so easy, felt like I should just go with the flow. I wore my Crow Athletics race singlet, manly because I really like the club philosophy, and also because wearing all black worked well for Johnny Cash. The advantage of wearing a Crow singlet in Maine, is that people recognize it and I got a lot of cheers because of it.. dope.
Somewhere around here was the turnaround for the half runners, so I got a real big boost seeing some of the half-leaders turn around and head back to Portland. My friend Bunker was in 2nd place and I was stoked to see him, he finished a disappointing 2nd due to injury.
It was funny after the turnaround.... because it went from real noisy... to dead silence, now it was just the marathoners. Time to do work.
Mile 8 - 7:13
Aside from mile 1, this was my slowest mile so far (but still on great pace), due to a slight incline...
Mile 9 - 7:09
Hit mile 9 knowing I have one more to go before my friend Bob Wiles was planning on jumping in to pace the last 16 with me. Without embarrassing him, google his running results... dude is fast. From my hometown, and played high school football with me, and also never started running until almost 30 (just like me). He inspires the shit outta me!
Mile 10 - 7:12
This mile is a tad slower because it was so much downhill I had to hold back a little, out of nowhere Bob jumps in with me and we are off... 10 mile warm-up was over.
Mile 11- 6:59
Mile 12 - 7:02
The boost of energy I got when Bob jumped in showed with these mile times. It was great to have him with me, and really calmed me down. I mentioned we are running these a bit fast, and he tells me to run how I feel and not worry about the watch. I like that. Somewhere here I pop a Hammer Gel, tasted like crap.
The cool thing about having a pacer who is capable of a 2:45 marathon, was that he'd cruise up ahead... grab my fluids for me and run next to me with them... THATS service!
Mile 13 - 7:02
Right before the mile 13 marker is the most odd section Ive ever seen on a race, you do down a short dirt road for maybe 75 yards, turn around a cone, run back, then continue down the main route. Weird...
Timing mat was at the 13.1 marker and I cross in 1:33, perfect! Bob says "Ok, 7 mile warm-up, then we got a 10k race.."
Mile 14 - 7:02
Mile 15 - 7:12
Mile 16 - 6:54
These miles seemed to tick off rather easy, we were now headed back towards Portland and I was passing a lot of runners both in front of me, and those who were behind us who had not yet hit the turnaround.
Mile 17 - 7:22
This is one of the biggest climbs of the day, and caused us to drop off pace a bit, Bob assured me we were OK, we had banked enough time, and a slow mile wasn't going to effect much. Real happy at this being a "slow" mile!
Mile 18 - 6:56
Another fast mile (would be the last one)
Mile 19 - 7:17
Mile 20 - 7:18
These miles clicked off as I knew it was about to become a 10k race. We start talking about the only thing that matters now is how far under 3:10 I'm going... I liked the thought of that. I'm still passing a few runners whom went out too fast. Until....
Mile 21 - 7:40
I start to doubt myself. I developed the most horrible side-stitch ever during this mile. I can't get a full load of oxygen, I can't swallow anymore Gatorade, and I tried to take my 2nd (and final HammerGel), but as soon as it hits my lips I nearly puke. 7:45 pace feels like 5k race pace to me right now, and my mind is yelling at me to quit.... no fucking way.
Mile 22 - 7:28
Mile 23 - 7:35
Mile 24 - 7:26
Try to focus on my legs, as they actually felt fine. Which is attributed to my fitness and training... but still, the stitch has overcome my body/mind. I know I have enough time "banked" that a few 7:30-7:45 miles will still PROBABLY get me to Boston, but it's getting scary.
Mile 25 - 7:32
Some math lets me figure out I can get it if I just keep this pace, no matter how much my stomach hurts... I'm getting it, which is a decision I made 5 miles ago... and I was not going to stop.
Mile 26 - 7:15
With one mile out I knew I had it. I just needed to harden the fuck up & keep running. Heading into Portland I knew the finish was going to be within sight soon, as the cheers grew louder, the crowd more dense, then finally... the most fantastic thing I have ever seen THE CLOCK!
It read 3:09:XX, and was within striking distance..... I had calculated I was :18 seconds off (chip time/gun time) so knew I had a bit of play. I did my best Kevin Garnett, as I nearly ripped my singlet off before going into victory pose as I crossed the mat. The clock reads 3:10:10, my Garmin read 3:10:00. I know it's a BQ, but inside I'm praying for a 3:09:59 (why... because it just sounds better!).
punched my ticket to Beantown
So there ya have it. I BQ'd. Come to found out, that side-stitch was a strained muscle in my abdominals. Never would have thought my only injury in a marathon would be ABOVE the waist. The pain was worse about 48 hours after the marathon, and it took some adjusting to find a comfortable spot to sleep for a few nights, as I write this in Friday morning it's feeling better... and I plan on heading out for some easy miles this weekend.
I started running in late-June 2009, 15 months (and 35lbs.) later I qualified for Boston. As happy as I am with what I just did, I am in no way satisfied... and can't stop thinking about how much more work I have to do to find out what I'm really capable of. For now, I'm going to enjoy this.
Whats the future hold? Well, running is on the backburner for a while, because in a few weeks I'm going to be a father, (he's due on Halloween!). I can not wait to welcome Abrahm into the world, and I hope he is proud to know his dad is a runner, a legit runner, who he'll see run Boston.
my support team at the finish