I had only run greater than 20 miles twice since the Fall 50 last October. I only ran a total of 13 miles in a two week span in early May. Recently, my goal pace (6:52) was feeling kind of tough.
I really didn't have any chance to break 3 hours, right?
Well, I couldn't help myself and I went for it. My main thought the days leading up to the race was to "Get to 20 in decent shape."
So, I started by making sure to get to the halfway point in decent shape...even if that meant I was a bit behind on time. I took in about 400 calories from the 15 minutes before the race started to the halfway point (in the form of 1 gel before the race and 300 calories of CarboPro in my handheld), and I was sure to stay ahead of the game on salt, so I took an SCap (300 mg salt) every 40 minutes.
The course was flat and fast, on a bike path, and right next to Lake Michigan, so it was a bit breezy and cool. The last couple miles before the 13.1 mile turnaound was on a limestone bike path through the woods, and it was beautiful!
So, at 13.1, I was at 1:30:23 and in 6th place. Not bad, I thought...but GET TO MILE 20 IN GOOD SHAPE!
Between 13 and 17 I took in another 300 calories of CarboPro, and really started to feel it! While I noticed some 'cardiac drift' occurring with my heart rate, I still felt pretty strong and actually was noticing my pace was speeding up!
Finally, at Mile 20, I did some math and found I had to run a 41 minute 10k to break 3 hours. Some urgency took over at that point, but I kept plugging away...running 6:35 miles at 20, 23, and 26--the fastest mile splits of the day!
What a feeling to come in to the finishing chute! My arms went up, I closed my eyes, and smiled. Finally, a Sub 3 marathon.
While I said I'd be done with road marathons completely after breaking 3 hours...this was such a good event, I might make an exception next June. But for now, my PR stands at 2:59:24, and it's off to the trails for the fall!