Sunday, September 21, 2008

Doing your best

This week has been a blur. I was focus on getting a few key projects done and on the running side of the equation, was looking at how I was going to run the Long Beach Marathon in October. But at 12:30 on Monday afternoon that all changed. I was notified that one of the primary runners on our Los Angeles AFB Team was out because of medical reason and that they needed me to step up to fill out the team.

On Thursday we flew out to Dayton, Ohio for the race. This was to be my twentieth marathon. So there was no doubt in my mind that I could complete the distance the question was how fast could I do it?

Back in October 1977, I ran my first marathon in Waynesboro, Virginia. I was a sophomore in college at the time. I ran the first half of the race perfect, but after the 18 mile mark, I fell apart and struggled to finish the race in 3 hours and 30 minutes. It would be seven years before, I would attempt my second. In 1984, I ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon that celebrated the 100 anniversary of the local newspaper. Although it was a November race the heat was a major handicap as I finished in 3:52.

In 1986, I began a program that took three years with the goal of breaking the 3 hour mark for a marathon. Over the next two and a half years, I ran two marathons each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The result was a 3:07 at the Marine Corp Marathon in 1988. But before I had the chance to do the last one in the spring of 89, I joined the Air Force and was unable to finish the plan.

Since then my running has been erratic and never focused. That was until this past year. In February 2007, a friend of mine who lost his leg, but ran the 2006 Marine Corp Marathon, inspired me to get back into the sport with a purpose. The goal I formed was to run 5 marathons in 12 months. So I started training while deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

So here are the five marathons:

1. Marine Corp Marathon, 29 Oct 2007, goal to finish, ran 5:24
2. Los Angeles Marathon, 2 Mar 2008, goal was to run with a group of was about friendship...not time
3. Big Sur Marathon, 27 Apr 2008, goal to run 5:00, ran 4:59:23.
4. Palos Verde Marathon, 17 May 2008, goal to run 4:40, ran 4:39:49.
5. Rock-n-Roll Marathon in San Diego, 1 Jun 2008, goal to run 4:20, ran 4:20:58.

So the goal was accomplished. My focus this summer was to help my daughter (#3) run her first half marathon. She did that on 31 Aug.

On Labor Day, I sat down to focus my running for this next year. My new goal was to see how fast I could run a marathon. Part of this goal was because I had been selected as alternate for the base team to run the Air Force Marathon. The challenge that it presented me with was: "How fast could I go? "

I had the Air Force Marathon penciled in on the calendar, but never expected to run. Then last Monday happen and threw all my plans off. I hadn't focused on preparing for the race. So now the question was: Do I run it fast or do I just run it?

So what happen? I started off the race on Saturday with an easy pace of about 10:00 per mile. But then in the second mile I found myself wanting to push the pace. I fought the feeling, knowing that I hadn’t run over 14 miles in the past two months. But then at about 10 miles, I realized that I was still feeling strong…so I gave into the desire to push. And push I did. At about 20 miles the heat and sunlight started to drain me and the lack of training started to take their toll on me. Still I hung in there and ran a 4:10:40. I have to go back to 1994 to find a marathon that fast in my logs. So I know I still have some ability to run fast. Saturday race provide that to me.

This race on Saturday has helped me focus my running even more. I know I am capable of running a fast marathon. Maybe the 3 hour mark is reachable…but the goal for this year is run 3:45. So stay tune…

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