Over the last few weeks I had been thinking about dropping out of the marathon routine and concentrate on 1/2 marathons. I had (notice the past-tense) many reasons for this decision. Included among them were:
1) I'm tired
2) My last couple marathons have taken a larger toll on me than the ones before
3) I'm tired
4) 1/2 marathons are only 1/2 as long as full marathons
Backed by these iron-clad reasons I decided that after the OKC marathon I would take the rest of the year off of marathons and train for 13.1 mile races.
All that went out the window, though, at about mile 4 of the A2A marathon last weekend. You see, the A2A marathon is a point to point course that runs Southward and we had a 30-40 mile-per-hour North wind on Sunday. This wonderful, God-sent, wind was pushing me along nicely at a 7:44 minute per mile pace and I was feeling great! Feeling great at a marathon I had only planned on running for training and hadn't considered ever running hard! So of course I had to run the rest of it hard. I had no choice. The running Gods had given me perfect conditions and I've learned over the past few years that you just don't cross the running Gods.
So I decided that I would attempt a PR and I set my mind on the task at hand. It was WONDERFUL! I felt like a marathoner again. I was pushing myself and myself was responding. I found a new running partner around mile 9 and she pulled me through to mile 19 at a wonderfully fast and steady pace. I went through 20 miles in 2:44, which is my fastest 20 miler ever!
I set a 20 mile PR during a marathon!!!! It was deliciously painful. The harder I pushed the more my body responded. I hadn't felt like this in over a year. It was just like I remembered and it was intoxicating. I had a PR in my grasp and was seriously considering the possibility of breaking the 3:30 barrier.
That's when my legs finally woke up and realized that they were taking a beating. Remember that I hadn't really put much thought into this marathon? Well part of that non-thinking was the decision to wear shoes that were 2 years old. They are wonderful shoes and I've put tons of miles on them so I figured an easy 26 more miles wouldn't hurt. I didn't anticipate running this hard and the toll that would take on my legs without having some good cushioning between my feet and the road.
So after mile 22 each step I took starting sending sharp pains from my knees to my hips. As I continued on the pain got sharper and my pace slowed to a crawl. Even at that crawl my lower body was screaming for me to stop. It's funny how easily my mind slipped out of the euphoria of a possible PR and into survival mode. My finishing time didn't even enter my thoughts those last few miles. All I could think about was how much my legs hurt. In hindsight that was probably a good thing since any mental depression would have added to my pain and it would have been harder to make it.
The race finished on a high school track and they made us run a complete lap to reach the finish. The problem with this was that Paula told me we had run 26.2 miles well before entering the track! That last quarter mile put me at 26.6 miles and my legs did NOT need any additional mileage that day. I finished in 3:37 which is my second fastest marathon.
So here I am with a great race under my belt and that old feeling of joy that comes from a nice, painful 26.2 miles. Just when I decide on something I have to go and have a good race! Oh well, I'll roll with it and see what OKC brings. If it goes well, I may be forced to continue with marathons this year.
On the plus side, my knee hurts now and I can't run for a week or two. Maybe this break will put me back in the 1/2 marathon mode. Oh, who am I kidding, it'll heal quickly and I'll be running again soon. Heck I'll probably break that 3:30 barrier this year. Shucks...
Thanks for listening