Today, December 5, 2010, I ran my 6th marathon and 4th marathon this year. My goal from my first marathon has been to get a sub-4. 3:59:59 would be unreal for me.
In my first marathon I injured my knee and it took me about 5:20 to complete as I had trouble running. I could not run for about 6 months after the knee injury.
I sort of healed (still wear a brace on my knee and it does get painful at times) and then started running again. I wanted a sub-4 in my second marathon, but fell off pace by mile 16 and finished with a 4:16:08.
Earlier this year, I ran Oakland and San Diego. In Oakland, I got sick the week before (very sick). I still ran and was on pace for a sub-4 . . . until mile 20. It was all downhill from there. Finished at 4:17:58. For San Diego I again tried for a sub-4. It was hot and I again fell off between mile 16 and 18. Finished with a 4:21:11.
Then, in early November of this year I ran the Morgan Hill Marathon. This was a “training run”. I did not try to get a sub-4, but it is always in the back of my mind. I ran a PR of 4:09:55.
I had only 1 goal for CIM. A sub-4. 3:59:59.
This year has been great because of my baby girl, Brooklyn. It has been a great year to watch her grow (she turns 1 on Dec. 19th). Yet, with work, teaching and a baby at home . . . it is hard to get runs in. I do the best I can. I have many late night runs at 11pm start time when I have to get up early.
Training for CIM has been tough. Mostly because of time. But, running feels so good. It makes me feel healthy and also something that I can control (to some extent). Yet, when you don’t reach a goal, you feel horrible even if you did something special (completed a marathon).
I’ve had some bad events occur at work which were out of my control. Running a sub-4, I felt was something that I could control. Something that I could push for and strive for. And, I knew if I did not get it at CIM, I would try again. Yet, I really wanted it at CIM.
My plan was simple: start behind the 4 hour pace group and keep them within reach. I did not want to run in front of the 4 hour pace group because I wanted to use them to control my pace. I also did not want to be in front of them and get passed by them (that has occurred in the past and it feels devastating).
I looked to my Garmin often, but my pace was set by trying to stay within 5 feet and 30 feet of the 4 hour pace group. I did good the first half. No real problems. Felt strong. One of the issues I had with CIM was that the water stations were so crowed. Maybe, because I was generally running behind the 4 hour pace group (large crowd), but it was very difficult to get water. I had to stop on a number of occasions just to get the water. The 4 hour pace group would get a little ahead of me (maybe 100 meters). That was okay for the first half. I would just pick up the pace and catch up.
About mile 16 I could feel myself getting tired. I told myself just stay with them. Yet, my legs were getting heavy. Just before the mile 18 marker there was another water stop. My handheld was getting very low so I needed water. However, the water station was packed and I had to go to the water table and pick up a few cups to fill my water bottle. The tired legs then got the best of me. I continued to walk for a little while. I’m not sure how long. I saw a post a head and said I will run when I get to that post. I did.
However, the 4 hour pace group was now far ahead. I was also struggling. I was going slower. I felt like crying. Soon, I could barely see the 4 hour pace group. They had to be 1/4 mile in front of me by the time mile 19 had come. I thought I had blown it. All those late night runs. All the tempo and speed workouts. The long runs. The training marathon. I thought I was not going to do. But, I looked at my Garman and I knew I still had a chance. My Garmin was at a 9:08 pace. I told myself to push hard. I told myself that it was not over. I could do this. I was exhausted, but I dug deep. I fought to not fall any further off.
By mile 20 I was feeling a little better. I had lowered my avg pace to 9:07. I could also see the 4 hour group was a little closer. I told myself that I would push hard. I would try to catch them by mile 22. I pushed hard. Though, I needed more water. I had to slow down at another water station at mile 22 (this was a big issue – I felt – not enough tables. The stations were too crowed and you were forced to stop). This time I started running as soon as I could (after getting the water).
I kept gaining on the pace group. By mile 23 I caught them. I told the 4 hour pacer that I was not going to fall behind him. I skipped the water stops at mile 23.5, 24.5 and 25.3. I told myself that unless I pass out, I’m not stopping and I’m not slowing down. I had fought off the urge for a restroom break all race. I could feel some urge to go to the bathroom, but I told myself that I won’t even look at a porta potty. Fortunately I was able to fight off any urge and did not have to go . . . while running (but I would have). :)
Miles 22-25 were maybe the hardest miles I have ever ran. I was tired. I wanted to slow down. I wanted to walk. But, I was not going to slow down. I knew I had this. I just had to push. And, I pushed as hard as I could. I’m not a fast runner (as far a BQ runner), but I do the best I can with the time I have to train. Keeping pace those last 3 miles was tough. Yet, I did it. I even went a little a head of the pace group. Soon I saw mile 25. I knew that I could run a mile at this pace. I focused and kept looking at my watch counting down each .25. Then, I got to mile 26. I knew I had this. I ran solid the last .2 I did not speed up. I was not trying to get a few extra seconds faster. I was trying to enjoy it. I crossed the finish line at 3:59:12. I nearly cried.
It felt incredible. To work so hard for something and to fight through that horrible mile 18-19, I felt amazing.
It was my hardest race. I dug deep.
I’m so thankful for everyone of the blogs that I read, the few people that read my blog, all of my running friends, and my great family. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time and effort. I needed the support that I received from so many sources.
What made CIM so great was having running friends there. To meet with before the race, during the race and after the race. They are awesome people!
I feel silly to be so happy and nearly tearful to have just a sub-4. It’s not a BQ. It is something that many runners get. Yet, it was a goal I’ve had since I started running. It was something that for me was special.