Mark S. ran: A new PR by 4:51 (no ...

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  • 26 miles
  • 03:20 time
  • 07:36 pace
  • 3106 calories
  •  
  •  
  • 3910 ft climb
  • 0 max hr
  • 0 avg hr
    • Currently /5 Effort.
    effort /5
good Towpath Marathon 26.32 mi 03:20 07:36 pace

A new PR by 4:51 (no BQ). I'll post a true race report probably tomorrow, but for now I'm spent. Have a good night, everyone!

UPDATE
Here’s the abridged version of my race report: I had been training for and planning to run the Wineglass marathon on 9/30, but when my wife got sick and needed to be hospitalized 5 days before the race, I abandoned those plans. Once she was better and in consultation with her, I decided to run Towpath. I told only a very few people that I was running because I didn’t know how it would go and just wanted to do it for myself. This was a BQ (3:10) or bust attempt, so I was going to hold 7:15 pace for as long as possible and hope for the best. As it was, I went bust. By the time I hit 20, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it, so I quickly recalculated so that I could still get a decent PR (previous was 3:25:01) without running the risk of completely blowing up. I didn’t go in with a plan B, so I’m actually a bit amazed I was able to do the mental gymnastics on this one 20 miles in. I decided to walk for exactly 1 minute at every half mile and run the rest. I did that all the way to the finish, and came in at 3:20:10 for a nearly 5 minute PR. I gave it everything I had and am pleased with the result. My BQ will come eventually. I keep chipping away.

Long version: I was a complete wreck going in. I don’t know exactly what it was, but for the first time ever I was scared leading up to the race. I’ve had nerves before, but this was different. Was it because of the pace I was trying to run? Because of what happened in the two weeks leading up? Because I hadn’t truly raced a marathon in 2 years? The answer to each is probably yes. I had been super confident going into Wineglass, but just a week later my confidence was completely shaken. I knew I was prepared for the distance and ready to run, but something was missing. In those last 90 minutes as I sat in my car waiting for the start, I made a complete transformation. I’ve never had a game face like that before. When I got out of my car, I was ready. This race was mine.

When I got to the start, I recognized Greg S., the Towpath defending champ and a DM friend of a couple of my friends. I introduced myself, wished him luck, and found my spot behind the line. Side note, Greg ran a superb race, even faster than last year, and came in 2nd overall! After a few brief announcements, we were off. That’s why I love small races. No pomp. No circumstance. Just line up and go. The first mile was on roads with the remainder on the towpath trail. I did a great job of controlling my pace that first mile, just a few seconds fast, so things were looking good.

For the first few miles I was perfectly relaxed. I intentionally gave back a few seconds on the 2nd mile and then fell into my pace. Around mile 3 I joined up with a few other runners. One was a guy from Slippery Rock who I ended up talking to for a while. Eventually the topic of Boston came up, and he said that he didn’t realize that registration was still open. He was a bit older than me, so he only needed at 3:25. We were dead on 3:10 pace, so he decided to fall back to try to preserve the 3:25 without risking blowing up. Unfortunately, I later found out that he finished in 3:46. The moral of the story kids is that the marathon is a cruel bitch. Never underestimate the distance.

The first turnaround was at about mile 9, and at this point I still felt great. Actually, I was feeling better and better. I was really having to fight my pace to slow down. For miles 10 and 11, I started to get a bit emotional because I thought I had it. But I pushed that waaaaaay down because I knew that the race hadn’t even begun yet. How true that would be because at about the halfway point I noticed for the first time that my legs were getting a little tired. But this was BQ or bust. And besides, I’ve had races where I got a 2nd wind. So onward I plowed. At 17 we came back by the finish and started our 2nd out and back. I could feel it starting to slip away, but my pace was still okay. Except I think mile 17 was long. I was still holding pace, but I went from about 20 seconds ahead of pace to about 20 behind. There’s no way I lost that much in one mile. As it turns out, I do think the course was long. No, I’m not one of those Garmin slaves who thinks that every course is long. I understand how that works with tangents, etc. However, nearly all of the additional distance that I recorded came in that mile, and my split for that “mile” was about 8 minutes. I also was very conscious of running the tangents for the entire race, and it’s hard not to on a 12 foot wide trail.

The reason I went into that much detail about mile 17 is because that played a significant part in the next 3 miles. While I knew that the mile marker was likely off, I was concerned that it might have been correct and that I needed to make up some time. And I did that. I tried chipping away at it each of the next 3 miles, and by 20 I was back on pace overall. But that was it. I was done. Spent. Exhausted. You name it. I could go no more. My tank was empty. Well, at least it was empty for 7:15 pace. So after some quick recalculations, I came up with a plan to still get a PR. I knew I could still run but not all out. I figured I could run at an 8:00 pace but that I would still likely cramp if I ran it all the way in. So I decided to walk for exactly 1 minute every half mile. Then I would run to the next half mile. Doing so would put me somewhere around a 9:00 pace for the last 6.2 and would get me a 5 minute PR.

That turned out to be a great plan, and I followed it perfectly. Yes, it was demoralizing to seemingly be going backwards as I got passed by several runners, but I just kept plugging away. I focused my attention on shorter runs around home and relating the distance remaining to those runs. That always helps me get through it. It’s much easier to think about running the four closest cul-de-sacs in my neighborhood than it is to think about running 3 more miles. I say that this was a great plan because it was only in the last couple of miles where I got any twinges of cramps. With some funky steps and a change in gait I was able to ward them off, but as soon as I crossed the finish line my legs seized up on me. I’m just grateful that I managed to stay upright. I was in a fog though. I wandered around for about 5 minutes looking for food and water. Little did I know or realize that I walked right past it at the finish line. Several huge tables were right there. But that’s marathon brain for you. When you lay it all out and leave everything on the course, your brain turns to mush.

In the end that probably wasn’t as fast as I could have gone had I started out slower, but this wasn’t about running my fastest time. I took my shot at Boston, and I gave it everything I had. I have no regrets about it, and I’m very pleased with my new PR. I’ll get there, and it’s much closer than it’s ever been. Heck, if you had told me after my first marathon in 2003 when I finished in over 5 hours that I’d ever run a 3:20, I would have told you that you were a liar.

1: 7:08
2: 7:22
3: 7:19
4: 7:19
5: 7:11
6: 7:12
7: 7:10
8: 7:06
9: 7:10
10: 7:07
11: 7:12
12: 7:12
13: 7:23
14: 7:08
15: 7:17
16: 7:16
17: 7:17
18: 7:02
19: 7:20
20: 7:27
21: 8:13
22: 8:49
23: 8:48
24: 8:50
25: 8:58
26: 9:00
.32: 2:59

  • Shannon H.
    Shannon H. You're an Inspiration
    You're an Inspiration:

    I can't wait to read your race report. You are so awesome!

    almost 2 years ago

  • Amy O.
    Amy O.

    Wow! Fantastic Mark!

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Kelly K.
    Kelly K. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    Awesome!

    almost 2 years ago

  • Caron
    Caron

    Amazing TIME!!

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • David H.
    David H. Congrats
    Congrats:

    Enjoy your rest!

    almost 2 years ago

  • Amber C.
    Amber C. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    Way to go Mark! BTW- what's BQ?

    almost 2 years ago

  • Greg S.
    Greg S.

    Nice job out there Mark, you looked solid - nice to have met you, recover well, sorry about the missed BQ but congrats on the PR, always a great accomplishment.

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Tammie K.
    Tammie K.

    3:20 is so impressive! Awesome job today!

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Erica R.
    Erica R.

    Awesome! Congrats on your PR!!

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    Thank you, all! Amber, BQ is a Boston Marathon qualifying time. For me that is 3:10. That was my ultimate goal. I stayed on that pace until I was absolutely certain that it wasn't going to happen which was at mile 20. At that point I made a strategy change to preserve the PR and keep from completely blowing up. Every half mile mark I walked for 1 minute and ran the rest. I did that all the way in. That turned out to be the best I could do because at the end I was really fighting cramps.

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    Thankfully, my legs didn't lock up until 5 steps after the finish. Had I tried for 3:15 or so from the start, I likely would have gotten it, but this was about BQ or bust. But no regrets. I gave it everything I had and am very pleased.

    almost 2 years ago Like

  • Katie S.
    Katie S.

    Really impressive Mark. And sneaky... ;-)

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Mike K.
    Mike K. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    Way to PR Mark - job well done - you worked your ass off for the PR enjoy it.

    almost 2 years ago

  • Robyn S.
    Robyn S. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    Great Job Mark!

    almost 2 years ago

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    Thanks, Katie, Mike, and Robyn!

    almost 2 years ago Like

  • Kimberly P.
    Kimberly P. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    It's still a PR! Awesome job and way to race smart!

    almost 2 years ago

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    Thanks, Kim!

    almost 2 years ago Like

  • Jennifer S.
    Jennifer S. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    Congratulations on your new PR!! And way to work with adversity and a sudden change in plans. It's hard not to get shaken up by something like that.

    almost 2 years ago

  • David S.
    David S.

    Congrats again Mark, way to run with your heart. Enjoy the PR and recovery and then let's get ready to go after it again

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    Thanks, Jen and Dave! Dave, I'm already thinking about it. This is starting out to be the quickest and best recovery I've ever had. I've got some soreness, but nowhere near what I normally have. More importantly though is that I'm not mentally exhausted or still running that race in my head. I've already moved on and switched my focus forward. I guess that's because in this race there's not really anything that I regret. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn't have changed anything about my approach.

    almost 2 years ago Like

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    I even nailed my fluids, nutrition, and electrolytes which have been a problem for me in the past. Now it's just about getting faster.

    almost 2 years ago Like

  • Linda H.
    Linda H.

    How inspirational. You have already taught us so much and you continue to do so with insight such as this report. Thanks coach.

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Jason I.
    Jason I.

    Way to go Mark...awesome job all around and congrats on the PR!

    almost 2 years ago Like1 person

  • Caron
    Caron You're an Inspiration
    You're an Inspiration:

    Great recap!

    almost 2 years ago

  • Keith S.
    Keith S. Great Performance
    Great Performance:

    just read this Mark, great report and a battle indeed, very well done and inspirational stuff

    almost 2 years ago

  • Mark S.
    Mark S.

    Thanks, Keith!

    almost 2 years ago Like