So, this race was a total mystery for me, and my plan was to run a 3:20. Very conservative, since I had no idea of my fitness level after coming back from the flu three weeks ago (all indications were not looking good, so a 3:20 would be thrilling).
Using Runner’s Connect, I cobbled together my own pace band at a 3:19 target. This was a huge help, as it tipped me off to when hills were coming and what to expect with each mile. Other things that helped were drinking 3 liters of water before the race (due to the forecast), wearing sunscreen, a white hat, and drinking water and then dumping it on my head every mile (in addition to the sports drink I carried).
For the first 4 miles I had no idea how I was running because my GPS watch never synched. My watch said I was running 9:00/mile but I knew I was running faster than that – too fast, as I realized after the first mile, and then the second… First 5K was at 7:22, too fast. I settled over the next 15K, averaging about 7:33/mi. My half was at 1:38:02, and I felt good. I felt I could sustain the pace and decided to see how I felt at 18 or 20 to see if I could go faster. The next 5K (25K) was at 7:29, and it was after this that I felt like I could go a little faster. The next 5K was at 7:27 and at this point, mile 18, I felt way too good, like I should have been much more tired and sore.
I picked up the pace, running the next 3 miles at 7:15, and still, I felt really strong and ran the next 5K at 6:58 (almost at mile 25). I was passing people left and right. Not just the walkers, but other runners. A lot of them. I was weaving to pass people, picking them off in bunches, and it was exhilarating. Sustaining this pace was hard, but awesome. I had never approached a finish quite like this. Usually, I’m the one getting passed. Not today. For the last 1.2, I ran a 7:04 – my goal pace before I got sick.
I finished with a 3:13:04 and am really proud of this result. I had negative splits of 3 minutes, gained primarily in the last 7-8 miles or so, I beat my goal time by 7 minutes, and BQ’d by 12. Wow!
Coach, your advice on how to handle the last 3 weeks after coming back from the flu and to take a lower intensity taper were invaluable. I didn’t have the calf cramps that plagued me the last two marathons, despite not being too far off those previous times and the very strong finish. Erin and Greg – your recommendation to add easy runs to my routine also hugely helped. I can’t thank the three of you enough for your help and support. Without your guidance, I know I wouldn’t be grinning like I am right now.
I rocked the yellow today, and for those last 6 miles did the jersey proud. Thank you!