One of my most vivid memories from high school was having to complete the 3-mile run in under 21 minutes on the track to make the varsity soccer team. I did it, but just barely (it hurt!), and I can remember teammates puking after they crossed the finish-line.
I’m way more competitive with myself than I am with other people, so my 37-year old self with an additional 10-15 pounds on his frame is feeling pretty happy that he managed blow his teenage self away by running 13.1 miles at 6:41 pace yesterday (not to mention how I feel relative to the considerably overweight me who couldn’t even run 3 miles period just 5 years ago!). Just goes to show that some things can get better with age
I went into the race yesterday more confident than I have ever been before any race I’ve run. Why? It wasn’t because of my shoes (though I do love the Saucony Grid Type A5, and they worked out great I the race!), it wasn’t because of my form, it was because I had put in the work. I had trained as hard for this race as any I’ve ever run, and was pushed constantly by my coach Caleb Masland (check him out here, and here’s another post I wrote about working with Caleb – he trained 3 of us to new PR’s yesterday!). My long runs might not have exceeded 14, but I did more speedwork and quality runs these past 3 months than in any previous training cycle, and my mileage in July and August both exceeded previously monthly bests. About 3-4 weeks ago I ran a 14 miler in which about 8 of the miles were well below my half-marathon PR pace (6:51/mile). I was ready for this one, and I knew it.
My goal heading into the race was to shoot for a 2-minute PR. My previous half PR was 1:29:47, and I’ve long felt that was one of the best races I have ever run – it was going to be a tough one to top. Heading into yesterday it was almost two years to the day since I’d been able to put the letters “PR” in a race recap, and a new best was long overdue.
The story of the race itself was merely one of executing my plan, and I managed to do so flawlessly. My goal was to head out around 6:40 pace and hold that steady for as long as possible. I knew the course was ideal for me since I BQ’d at Smuttynose in 2010, and it once again didn’t let me down. It was raining and cool, but that was actually a plus during the race (not so much after finishing…). There were a few small hills that slowed me a bit, by my splits were remarkably consistent (see below), and I was banking about 10 seconds per mile on my previous PR. My only cause for concern was that I wasn’t cutting the turns consistently so my Garmin was measuring the course long – I knew I’d have to correct for that in the home stretch. Correct I did, managing my two fastest splits in miles 12 and 13. In fact, my strong finish makes me wonder if I was a bit too conservative with early pacing, but I’m not going to complain!
Crossing the finish line in 1:27:36 felt incredible and once again reminded me what can be accomplished when you put in the work. I tend to get so caught up in discussing shoes and form that it’s easy to forget that training is really the most important factor when it comes to race performance – you either do what it takes and meet your goal, or you slack off and fall short. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as accomplishing exactly what you set out to do. In fact, the only negative is now this makes me wonder if a sub-3:00 marathon might actually be possible for me…time will tell, but for now it’s time to relax a bit. Just need to make sure the winter doesn’t kill my fitness – thus my goal for the next six months (in addition to taking down my 5K PR) is to simply keep moving and working hard in prep to get back at it in the Spring!