Before I go on, don't get me wrong--I still want to run the "Big City" events: NYC, Chicago (again, to redeem myself), Twin Cities. But the more I run the smaller events, the more I love them (and the more I look forward to some trail races). Milwaukee was no different.
On Friday my parents and sister (Kathy) picked up my bib (lucky #55!!)and bag from the expo, so I can't say much about that, other than the fact that Dick Beardsley was the speaker. From what I've heard about him at both Milwaukee and Grandma's, he shares an amazing story, which includes:
- "Hi, I'm Dick, and I'm a drug addict."
- "I remember the night before sitting in a hotel saying, ‘you know what Dick, if you ever want to have that chance and to see if you can run with the big boys, you need to forget about time, go with that lead pack and stay with them as long as you can.'
The next morning I got up, no splits on my arms, went out with the lead pack and hung with them for about 15 miles and finished, I think 9th and PR'd by 3 or 4 minutes. After that, every marathon I went into it, I went into it with the idea I didn't care how fast I'd run, I'm going for the win. And I knew if I could run with that lead group, ultimately it was going to be a fast time anyhow. That was my strategy."
Talk about inspiring!Having the expo out of the way on Saturday, I was lucky enough to experience a fantastic Saturday with my family-which includes my parents and my 3 older sisters and their families. Our Saturday included a fantastic breakfast at the Exchange Bank (my favorite place for coffee), a trip to my office, a fantastic dinner, and also a great campfire, with "pudgie pies" for dessert.
I was in bed by 8:15 and sleeping soundly by 9:00. Sunday was going to be a good day.
Sunday morning started with some coffee and my personal breakfast of champions (Chicken & Stars soup) and a very relaxing 35 minute drive to the start line. I almost fell asleep on the way to the start line and was worried--I'd never been that relaxed on the way to a marathon.
The marathon starts at Grafton High School, where you can wait inside for the event to start. While waiting, I was lucky enough to hear what appears to be this year's marathon theme song: "STAND UP" by a yet-unknown band. I couldn't help but jump around a bit.
At promptly 8:00 I was on my way, wondering what the day would include. As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to run a BQ (3:10:59) but had been above my expectations lately, so I was also prepared for a letdown in results.
I tried to stay right around the magic pace of 7:15 a mile, and was, for the most part, successful. I passed the halfway point in 1:35:24 and felt fantastic. I tend to judge my current condition by my breathing rhythm (of two inhales and a quick exhale. If I'm down to a 1:1 inhale to exhale ratio, I know I'm pushing too hard), and through the halfway point I was feeling really relaxed.
That changed, for some reason, by mile 16. Suddenly I was 2 minutes under my pace (Planned Pace: 1:56, Actual Time: 1:58+). I really don't know what happened, but this threw me off a bit. How did I fall 2 minutes off pace in less than 3 miles? Still, it wasn't anything to get too upset about, so I just decided to make up the 2 minutes in the next mile.
I know, dumb idea.
But, it worked. I came into Mile 18 back on pace (Planned Pace: 2:10:30, Actual Pace: 2:10:40). Unfortunately, at Mile 20 I was slow again by a minute (2:24:45). What the hell!?
This time, I held back a bit. I knew that Mile 23 included a killer downhill so I decided that at that point I would pick up the pace. While the expected downhill wasn't all that steep, I still used it as a trampoline to a faster pace.
Coming down the stretch the course takes you right next to Lake Michigan. Unfortunately that also included a pretty stiff headwind. And my legs were feeling it. However, after glancing at my watch at mile 24, I knew I had 17 minutes to make it to a BQ, and about 15 minutes to PR!
Finally, I was at the home stretch. At first sight of the finishing chute, I went into my finishing kick. Too early. I pulled back a bit, but about 15 seconds later it was time. I was in full sprint, arms pumping (flailing wildly), legs churning (barely keeping up), chest pumping (about to puke), and flying down the chute. I have no idea what time I finished in, but knew that it was a PR. And a negative split PR to boot (I ran a 7:14 avg pace through 20 miles, and finished in 3:08:19, for a 7:11 avg pace). Within 30 seconds I was hugging Ellie and...
Life. Was. Good.
If you haven't run a marathon, I'm not sure you can understand what the finishing chute is like. For me, it's one of those moments that I live for. After 26.1 miles of running, I still was able to finish strong. I get emotional. I get the "runner's high." I get exactly what I was looking for over all those training miles.
Today, it was a Personal Best and a Boston Qualifier. And it was shared by family. It doesn't get any better than that!
We finished the day with a fantastic pint (okay, several pints) and a meal at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Downtown Milwaukee. Unfortunately, we also had the opportunity to watch both the Brewers and the Packers lose. All is not bad, though. After all, at the least the Brewers were still playing! (Take THAT, Twins and sCrubs fans!)