You will cross the finish line in under 4 hours. YOU WILL NOT WALK-RUN ONCE.
The race started with much more promise. I paired myself with my goal pace runner. I was well within my comfortable range of pace. Two weeks before I ran 22 miles at a pace 30 faster. I thought I have this.
And I did, up until mile 13.1. That’s where the half marathon participants peeled off and we full marathon runners continued the trudge up a steady incline of a street. I felt really good. I peeled off a layer of shirt. I got a little ahead of the pace group but thought I won’t get that far ahead. At mile 16 I looked back and could no longer see the small cluster of bouncing white and pink balloons on a stick amidst the runners.
My enthusiasm got the better of me. I started to worry. I started to slow down.
Two miles later ( a nice little U-turn through a college football stadium) my legs started to stiffen. You are tired, my brain said. You need to slow down. You need to walk.
I tried to fight it. I got between mile 19 and 20 where another hill appeared. With only the whining in my head I finally gave in. I walked, but just for a moment, I told myself. My legs cooled, muscles stiffened, and I entered a familiar pattern of walking, stretching, and running.
The pace group I started with bobbed right past me. I was angry and disappointed. The one bright moment in it all was around mile 23 when a running coach came up beside me and ran a quarter-mile with me. It was the best quarter-mile of my last half. He talked me through the pain and focused me on the finish. Shortly after he peeled back to go help someone else though, I was back to focusing in on my legs. Back to the walk-run.
By the end of the race I was already back to planning for the next race. What can I do different? What did I do wrong?
Ninety-nine percent of my problem with the end of marathons is mental. I am sure of it. I give in too easily to the soreness. I forget that yes, those last six miles are probably going to hurt. I get overly enthusiastic and ahead of pace. I’m a pack runner who pushes too far ahead alone. Looking at the official splits of the race I was 4 to 5 minutes ahead of my goal time at 13.1 with the pace group. I ended up 25 mintues behind it.
So next time, hopefully, is better discipline and perhaps a pair of ear buds just in case I need the distraction.
I don’t know how many races I will hold this determination and optimism, but it is still there. Two days after the marathon I hobbled for two miles. My ITband was tight. I felt like crap. But I did it, and started a new strength training regime at the gym. Thursday I comfortably ran 4 miles, no pain.
Do you have stories of hitting the wall, repeatedly? Did you ever overcome the problem? How? I’d love a little direction and inspiration.