A Tale of Two Marathons
If you are reading very closely, you may recall that Dale and I ran a marathon in June. The Tollenseseelauf in Neubrandenburg. It was hilly, it was painful, it had every kind of paving surface (or lack thereof) known to modern man. With Dale’s able assistance I did NOT lie down crying on the side of a hill at mile 21 and give up. I finished in 4:55 or so.
I had trained for that marathon, at least I thought I had. I had run two 18-mile runs before it was time to pack up and go to Germany and be with my family and meet my students. I planned on running more long miles there, but other than 12 gorgeous miles in Leipzig around the Copsbudener See, I just didn’t get to it. So I will admit that my training was not ideal. And of course I will admit that the course was totally brutal (did I tell you about the finishers’ shirts that read: the toughest in the north?!?) But I was still disappointed with my time–almost 5 hours, what’s up with that! I felt like that marathon ran me, instead of me running it.
So back to the drawing board I went. This fall, I registered for the Dallas White Rock Marathon waaay back in August and spend the semester really following a good training plan. Tons of runs over 15 miles; two 20-milers. Most of these miles were alone, with just Steve-my-ipod to keep me company. I noticed certain patterns: with each successively longer run, I ran out of steam later and later. Thought at first the last few miles of a 15-miler were killer, I easily ran the first 15 miles of an 18-miler a few weeks later. I lost weight and felt pretty strong. A back spasm a few weeks before the marathon sent me into the capable hands of a local chiropractor, who kneaded me back into fighting shape.
The morning of the marathon in Dallas was COLD and my toes lost touch with reality waiting for my corral to get to the starting line. Dale had convinced me to run without Steve-my-ipod, which was a good choice (earbuds for 4+ hours are not comfortable) but I had not thought to pack or wear a watch. So off I run, into unfamiliar territory, with no running buddies, and no device other than my breath and my muscles to tell me if I’m pushing the pace or slacking off. I had my head on a swivel for one of the two pace groups I had seen in the starting corrals: 4’30” and 4’15”, to see if I was in their ballpark at all–but with such a huge start, I lost sight of them at the beginning.
Dale and the kids met me at mile 10, which gave me the opportunity to discard my fleece vest and gloves. I then wished at mile 12 that I had them again–running around the lake was chilly and windy. It was great to have the girls run with me for a while, though–very cheery. At mile 15 I encountered the 4’30” pace group: they caught up with me. I suppose that told me what I needed to know about my pace: I was slowing down a bit. The 4’30” group leader, Star, did a great job keeping us focussed or preoccupied, whatever the occasion called for and it was really good to have a group to stick with over the last ten miles of the race.
Just like with my long training runs, I felt great until four miles from the end, which means that I ran 22 miles without wanting to die! The last four miles were a slog and I worked hard to keep my footfalls soft and my form good. Dale and the girls met me at around mile 25 and Greta ran with me for 200 yards or so, which was far more invigorating than I would have expected 🙂
I finished in 4:31:05, which is just about spot on with the mental target I had set for myself. I had this strange fantasy that the thrill of the crowd would speed me along and I would magically be able to run 26 consecutive 10-minute-miles, but I ran the race I trained for. I am pleased. I also have a very swank finisher’s medal!
Dale is thinking about shaving 10 minutes off his PR to qualify for Boston. For me, I think 2010 and its two marathons is going to segue into 2011 and more intensive yoga practice. I will keep running, of course, focussing on speed and shorter distances. I think the 13.1 miles of a half marathon is pretty perfect. Maybe I can drop my 2:09 to 2 hours flat . . .?