Coming into this marathon, I had no idea how I would perform. About 7 weeks ago, my knee started bothering me so I took some time off. One day off turned into one week off turned into one month of very limited running in hope that my knee would stop bothering me. About 3 weeks ago, it became do or die time and I did a crash course 21 day training which peaked with an 18 mile run the weekend before this race; an 18 mile run which I struggled to complete with an average pace of 9:09 min/mi. Needless to say I was worried coming into this marathon that I might run 10 minute splits or not even finish.
The race started off really relaxed. There were a total of about 500 competitors for the full and half-marathon combined. The first 4 miles went off smoothly. I set out with an 8:00 min/mi pace and tried to keep my heart rate below my Zone 2 limit of 162.
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Unfortunately, after mile 4 my heart didn’t want to cooperate anymore. I felt great, but my heart rate was consistently around 165, peaking at 170. I kept telling myself that it was going to be a long day if I ran with that intensity the whole way so I slowed down, and slowed down, and slowed down over the course of several miles until I was running a 9:00 min/mi pace at mile
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But then, seemingly out of nowhere, the stars aligned. My heart rate monitor went on the fritz displaying really low numbers and I started consuming some of the EFS Gel that I had been carrying with me. That combined with passing the lead men who were on their way back into town (it was an out and back course) gave me a huge boost. I started cheering on everyone who was in front of me on their way back and then everyone behind me after I made the turn at mile 13.1. I got a huge rush of euphoria, the ‘runner’s high’ as they say, for 6 miles. Everything seemed to click, and it showed it my splits.
I was ecstatic. I was passing people left and right and cheering on anyone and everyone. But then, out of nowhere, the wheels fell off. My stomach got a sickening feeling and I threw up once, and then twice, and then a third and fourth time all while trying to maintain pace. I finally decided to stop and empty out my stomach for a solid 30 seconds before getting back at it. The last 9 miles were rough. I had planned on kicking up the pace for the last 6 miles but my legs didn’t agree with that plan. Every water stop seemed like a good place to walk and the finish line seemed like it would never come.
I gutted out those last miles and finished with a final time was 3:43:32, or an 8:32 min/mi pace. That time put me at 31/127 for males and 7/11 for my age group
Overall, I was satisfied with the way I ran. Considering that 4 months ago I wasn’t even running but was able to put up a respectable time gives me hope for the future. The conditions and course for this race were perfect and the only thing holding me back from a faster time was my preparation and determination. My only regret is that I didn’t run 2 seconds faster. Why’s that? Well I had bet a 58 year old guy that I work with that I would finish 35 minutes before he would (the difference in BQ times for our respective age groups). I finished with a time 3:43: 32, and he ran a 4:18:31, 34 minutes and 59 seconds slower than my time. I wasn’t pleased, but kept my end of the bet and bought him a chocolate malt (I know high stakes).
I think the Eisenhower Marathon was a perfect race for me. The weather was perfect and the course was really flat. Not enough can be said about how well this race was put together. It’s definitely a smaller race, but you lose nothing in quality. If you decide to run this marathon, make sure to show up the night before for the spaghetti dinner. It’s put on by the Knights of Columbus the Daughters of Isabella and provides great food and a friendly, small-town atmosphere to meet some fellow runners.
One last thing, apparently running a marathon is similar to playing sports as a kid in that everybody gets a medal for participating