Posted this to the wrong thread...
Good weeks, guys. Nice double-digit focus, Smoove.
M: 8 at 7:01 overall
W: 6 at 6:48 overall
T: 5.5 at 6:46 overall
Sat: Richmond Marathon...2:52:30, with about a 3-minute negative split...PR by 9:56...45th overall and 3rd in 45-49
I posted this in last week's thread, but thought it might be useful here, too.
Okay, now for the full story...
As usual, sleep was not great the night prior, but I did get solid sleep on the penultimate night. Hotel room seemed fine, but then I woke up feeling hot. Here is the story with my watch...I forgot to bring my trusty alarm clock, and so I used the one in the room. This was one of those odd types that has a gray background with black numerals, and it could not been seen in the dark. So, I kept my Garmin on the nightstand. I woke up, and I thought I had pressed the button for the light, but it was the button that sets or turns off the chime feature (for mile splits, etc). Thus, I did not know it, but I went into the race with a silent watch. Also, it did not get the signal until well into the second mile. My watch shows 24.87 miles, and I figure I ran about 26.3, and so it picked it up about 1.5 in, but it seemed like more than that.
I ran along wondering why my watch did not chime, and then I figured it out after about four miles. Ran with a gal that said she was shooting for sub-3. Told her what happened with my watch, and so she gave me a few splits. I felt okay, but the watch thing threw me off. My running felt good, but I felt a little unsettled. Ran with her until about 7 or 8, keeping about 6:45 pace, and it felt pretty easy. Tossed my knit hat just after 8, and had my head band underneath. Ended up running with my little knit gloves the whole way.
The far side of the river was a bit dull, and I got a little bored. I caught a group of about eight runners, and overheard them talking about "2:55," and so I thought: "Let's see what can do with these guys." At 10 or 11, one of them, unfortunately, had to go. Yes, I saw him veer off into the woods to go pee-pee. He was right next to me (to my left), and I felt sorry for him. Amazingly, he caught back up to us about 4 or 5 miles later. Things shifted and changed with this group, with me being both toward the back and then the front, but we went along toward the half mark and toward the long bridge over the James River (a key juncture). I saw that I was just under 1:28 at the half, and was glad I was feeling fine, but I was very much wanting to get to the two key spots that come later in the race: miles 16-18 after the bridge, which are mostly uphill, and then the north-facing (against the wind) 18-21 segment. I was not getting antsy, but I just really wanted to know the answer to the questions: would I survive or fade on the 16-18 climb? and how would it go once I am pointed straight north thereafter? I wanted to get to the meat of the race.
By now, we were in the mid-6:30s and rolling along. The run across the bridge felt good, and I was starting to feel like "outsiderunner." The guy who runs outside, and runs lots of hills. As I approached the 16 sign, I could see the pitch in the pavement, and I felt ready to go. As we went along, I could see guys start to fade on the incline. We were a group of about 12 over the bridge, and I could sense things changing. I gravitated to the front, and spotted this guy (who has passed me earlier) up ahead. I thought: go for it. And I did. I dropped the group and caught the guy ahead. Ran right behind him until the turn just after 18. The climb went much better than I had thought. Ran 6:30-6:40 pace, and was happy about it, knowing that it was mostly uphill. I did not have split chimes, but did check my current pace occasionally, and whenever I did, the number displayed was encouraging. Since I began running with a GPS watch (three years ago), I have always used the mile splits, and nothing else. So, I was unaccustomed to this scenario, but was running fine. I really felt as if I were running by feel and it felt great.
After the roller in 19 (an overpass) I felt good, as it did not put a dent in me. There, I left that guy I had been running with and headed toward another group, a small one. I got to them (four guys), and felt good, but I had a decision to make. I knew the 20 marker would be coming, and I could feel a northerly breeze. Going into the race, I really wanted to push in the final 10k. I could either stick with these guys at 6:35-6:40 pace and cruise along, or I could go out on my own, and probably end up going solo the rest of the way, as things were really strung out at this point. Veering right, I went out on my own. I felt some breeze, but it did not bother me. As I got near the 20 mark, I could hear music playing. Prior to the race, I had hoped to hear some fast-paced, high-energy music in the last 10k, and, if I could pick one song, it would be "You Should be Dancing," from the film, Saturday Night Fever. As I approached the big speakers and the DJ, I could not believe it--they were blasting "You Should be Dancing." I ran by with a huge smile on my face, and, in slow, clear words, I yelled to the spectators: "This is my favorite song!" At that moment, it surely was. I thought of Travolta "taking over" (as one character says in the film), and commanding that dance floor--solo. I ran along in the same manner, completely pumped.
I got to 21 feeling very good, and knew I had finally gotten to my southward turn. I had seen the 2:13:xx at 20, and wanted to build on that, but keep things within reason. By now, I had been waiting for a "wall" to come, but there was no sign of one coming. I was picking up speed, and started passing people, one by one. My joy was starting to build. Miles 22 and 23 went by without incident--and, best of all, no sign of a wall coming. I felt great, almost as if I were jogging. I could not believe it, as by now I was running 6:20s (though I did not know it at the time). I started checking my current pace, and would see "6:10" and "6:00," and would think: "That has to be wrong." This guy in a red singlet came up on me. These were the first footsteps I had heard in my final push. As he pulled up to me, I could tell he felt as fresh as I did. I ran with with for about a mile, and then let him go, as I had some slight soreness in my right calf, and did not want to risk things. I knew I was running a big PR. The 24th and 25th miles were just super. I started to feel my calf less, and just picked up some more speed. As I neared the 25 sign, I spotted a photographer on the right, and pumped my fist in sheer joy. The last 1.2 were indescribable. No wall at all, and just fast running. I headed home with this guy in a white shirt. I knew the final turn was coming and started to dig in. I heard a course marshal tell us "Six-tenths to go!" Could not believe how good I felt. Said to the guy next to me, "Come on, man." He looked at me with a stare and went with me. I spotted the clock and a huge feeling of joy filled my body. I was thinking 2:54, but the "2:52" overwhelmed me. We sprinted to the line. I felt I could have continued running.
As per my watch (again 24.87 miles), I went 6:32, 6:27, 6:22, 6:26, 6:19, 6:15, 6:14 in the last seven. Was 5:13 over that last .87, which included about an 8-second slow down to gather myself and stop the watch. By what I have calculated, I was under 6:00 in that last last mile (25.2-26.2)...probably around 5:45.
Sorry for being so long-winded, but it was a marathon. :-)