Sunday, March 21, was a tough day for me, to say the least. I thought I was ready to tackle this race especially after having such a frustrating run at Marine Corps in the fall..
Boy, was I WRONG.
The gun went off, and I stormed to the front with 3-4 other guys and felt terrific. Honestly, I really believed I was ready to win this damn race. I went through the first mile in 5:41. But at mile 8, I began to slip. I fell back to 6th place. Still, though, I felt OK. I felt relatively comfortable through the half(1:17:20)...not what I wanted to go through at(I was aiming for 1:14-1:15ish)...but still, I said to myself, OK...you're not as fit as you thought you were...that's OK...shoot for 2:34-2:35 now, and run a solid second half.
At mile 16, I began to fall apart. I no longer had the same turnover, and was slowing up to a moderate pace. A few runners passed me. I was now 8th at this point. Still, I kept movin. I went through 20 miles in 2:03:00, obviously slowing considerably. I was jogging at this point. More runners passed. I was done. I did not have the strength to race the marathon today. I realized it with hurt. At Mile 21, I started to walk..
I walked and thought. I thought about a lot of things, my life, my goals, my future...what path I am on. I thought about why am I still doing this? Why am I walking? Why not drop out? Am I really cut out for this distance? Maybe I'm not as strong as I think I am...What's the point?
But then, another thought occured to me..it was that I love running. And, if I love running, I am going to still finish this race/run and treat it as any other day. Nothing more..
I ended up walking for 4 miles(mile 21-25). People were still kindly cheering for me, saying I was doing great, to keep going. I smiled at them, but behind the smile, deep thoughts were churning. I was really dissapointed. Why, why, why, did I ask myself, do I enter in these marathons and not do well? Why can't I know when I am not ready? Because I am clearly not prepared for this today!!
I ran the last 1.2 miles, actually passing a lot of people who passed me early on, and finished in 3:27:30.
I gave this a lot of thought afterwards, and still am. But all in all, I have come up with the conclusion that I need prioritize the marathon better. Because, the truth is, it's not like I'm injured, or ill, or anything like that. I am 100% healthy, and I have taught myself how to stay injury free by listening to my body after years of frustrating injuries earlier in my career. For the past 3 years I have been injury-free and training well-running PRs of 10K-13.1. But there is another piece to this that I am learning now. It is to prioritize. If I really want to run a great marathon, and by that I mean a 2:25 or better... I am going to have to prioritize it as the number one race and not throw any races in front of it. I have been making this mistake. The Colonial Half Marathon took too much out of me to race the 26.2 well. 26.2 is an entirely different distance than 13.1-an entirely different race. Now, don't get me wrong, I do not regret running the Colonial Half...I think I was meant to run that race and it was a terrific race/confidence lifter for me. I PRed, and have no regrets. At the same time, I needed to choose between the 2...or just run Colonial as a training run...which I clearly didn't..I PRed on a hilly course. I think I chose Colonial over Shamrock...but I still wanted to do Shamrock. I did not understand at the time that I wouldn't be able to do both..
Maybe I should have chosen Shamrock over Colonial? But if so, and if I ran a fast marathon...I have a feeling I wouldn't have wanted to race for another 2 months. A 2:30 marathon takes so much more out of you than a 1:12 half marathon...even though the performances are roughly equivalent.
So again, prioritizing comes here. I think, even though I believe I have a great marathon in my legs, that this Spring the main focus for me is 10M/13.1M racing. I think I am actually in really really good 10M/13.1M shape right now.
I took Monday off, and will run tomorrow. I actually don't feel that bad. So, I'll take it slow this week, but also regroup and get ready for a few more races I have set in April.
So, back to prioritizing. I have changed my schedule of races a bit. I scratched San Diego. I am still doing Cherry Blossom and Dismal Swamp Half as I think I have a very fast 10M/13.1M in my legs still. I will also do Pike's Peak as my last race in April. I will then take all of May off and do a small handful of short races(5K, 8K) over the summer(June-July). But after that, I will prioritize Chicago. I will not race at all in August or September, and will not do any races leading up to Chicago. Chicago will be the main focus and I will put all of my energy/strength into that race. I will raise the mileage to where it needs to be as well.
Chicago is the race where I have a chance to run the race of my life.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish.