What can I say. It was a day for no excuses...and I have none. My goal was to be in the 4:30-4:35 time zone, so I'll take my 4:30:35. So no excuses from me...just a unbelievable filling of accomplishment, given that this is the first race of my "season."
The weather forecast had been calling for cold and rain showers, so I was mentally preparing myself for a hard run. I've run a cold and wet marathon before, actually back at the 1994 Marine Corps Marathon. If you remember that was the year Oprah decided to run. The rain soaked everything and the temperature was in the 50s...making it feel like 30. But today we just had the challenge of cold temperatures. We started the race a little after 7 am with temps in the lower 30's and finished just after 11 with the temp at 40 degrees, combine with a nice north wind, it felt like 34. But the sun was out and that made a big difference.
I was also very happy with my run plan. My plan going in to the race was to hold 10:00 to 10:30 mile paces for the first 20 miles and then try to push the pace at the end. But because of the hill between 4 and 5, I actually had a 11:30 mile through that section. So I ended up going through the half way point at 4:17 which was about 2 minutes slower then I was looking for. I kept reminding myself not to panic and keep those 10:00 miles coming. Because I was using Jeff Galloway's Run/Walk method at a (4 minute to 1 minute ratio) I was running around the 4:30 pace group. But at the 19 mile mark, I was not able to catch up with the group and they opened a huge lead on me going down towards the US Coast Guard Building around the 20 mile mark. Again my fear that I had miss something hit me and I wanted to run faster.
So I did some self talk at that point saying to myself if I was really slowing down and the watch was off, then I needed to relax. Getting upset and worried about the pace would only slow me down, so I closed my eyes for a few feet during my next walk and took a few deep breaths. Then I started back. As we crossed the bridge over the river at 21 miles, I had caught back up with the 4:30 group. The lead melted away. (When I looked at my splits for that time they were 10:23, 10:21, 10:29 but then when I caught them again it was 10:10.) So at the 23 mile marker I started to pick up the pace. But 24 to 25 was a hill and I could only pull up it at 10:50/mile, then 25 to 26 was 9:06/mile and the final 2/10 to the finish was at 8:32/mile place. My final half marathon was 2:13, giving me the 4:30:35 finish. And the 4:30 pace group...I don't know where they finished but it wasn't 4:30, because they never got back in front of me.
What this marathon taught me..."Don't Panic." Keep to your plan and trust that your training and prep did its job. Also...pray helps a lot. Thanks for the great weather God!