The first thing you'll probably notice about today's installment is the lack of pictures. That's because this is where this marathon thing started getting serious. I hit the half point at 2:23 and a few seconds. This put me somewhere around 30 to 45 seconds behind goal. The growing pain in my quads was telling me there could be trouble ahead. I settled in for another 13 plus miles.
Mile 13: 11:31
Mile 14: 11:44
Mile 15: 11:12
Avg pace after 15 miles: 11:05 ugh
They say that a marathon is as much mental as it is physical. I was starting to feel like I was beat. My goal pace was a thing of the past. And I wasn't speeding up. Nor did I have the legs left to speed up. Somewhere in here "they" threw in a hill too. Not that it was really a hill, but in my state it was the final blow. It was time to exercise my brain. What follows is the honest truth. I started thinking. Not about all the miles that I had run and the hours that I had put in. About making this happen. About not giving in. About all of you who had been sending well wishes and encouragement the past weeks. About how bad this Marathon play list was that was blaring in my head. About HTFU wimp!
Then, I made the turn at mile 16 and saw her. Chicrunner was coming down the street. I can tell you she was *not* smiling. She had determination written on her face. I shouted and she turned and feebly smiled, but it was obvious that she had something else in mind. She passed like the wind - several hundred yards in front of the 4:15 pace group.
I turned and bore down. I thought about one thing - mile 18....
Mile 16: 11:44
Mile 17: 12:39
Mile 18: 13:53
Avg pace after 18 miles: 11:22
Just past mile 18, we turned onto the campus of California State University, Long Beach. I also came to the realization that there was nothing I was going to do to recover and make my 4:45 goal. It was time to enjoy the rest of this thing we call a Marathon.
Long Beach State was one of the highlights of this marathon. Students were out in force to cheer us on! I slowed down and took some video as I passed through.
This also had to be the longest mile on the course. It seemed like it went on forever and ever. But, I lumbered up the hill at the back of campus, came back down a steepish little decline, and popped off the campus to mile 19. And there she was again! Ingrid - this time with Renee cheering us on! I pulled up for some PB&J sandwiches and a handshake (yeah - I'm not hugging anyone either when I'm a sweat soaked mess). I could not believe what an emotional pickup it was to see their smiling faces and hear their screams and cheering! I've got to admit now. Even if I'm not running a local marathon - I'm going to be there on my bike to cheer my friends on! Thank you Ingrid and Renee!
At that point, it was time to put my head down, and get my feet moving (now ever so slow and getting slower). I was relegated to power walking and slow jogging at this point. My target? You guessed it! Gel/Endurolyte packet at mile 21!
Mile 19: 12:26
Mile 20: 13:29
Mile 21: 11:58
Avg pace after 21 miles: 11:32
I was actually enjoying myself. Now - don't get me wrong. There was pain. My quads were thrashed. My back was tired. But - I was also amazed. There were no cramps. No blisters or hot spots on my feet. I was amazed at how mile 20 had just come and gone. I was now out in that "no man's" land that we don't train for. I was slowing down with each successive mile, but, unlike San Diego, I was in control. I was passing through mile 22. Remembering that last hill before mile 23. Running (that's actually a stretch) the other direction at the split. Focusing on Mile 24 for my last gel.
Mile 22: 13:10
Mile 23: 13:01
Mile 24: 13:32
Avg pace after 24 miles: 11:45
At this point I was pretty much spent. My "running" had turned into part time brisk walk, part time jog. But there were only two miles left. I had all the motivation that I needed. I was doing it this time on *my* terms. Maybe not at *my* pace, but the Marathon Monster had not beat me down.
Mile 25: 14:24
Mile 26: 14:24
Avg pace after 26 miles: 11:58
I wish there was someway to accurately describe the last two tenths for someone who hasn't been there before. My first time through in 2008 was like a relief. I remember just being numb. I don't remember any emotion. I remember just wanting to get off my feet. I was in serious pain. Blistered feet. Cramping calves. Nauseous.
This time though was like night and day. I took my camera out and made sure it was flipped into video mode. I was aware of my surroundings. I made the left turn into the finish chute. I dug down and started running again. I started passing people. That digital clock was pulling me in. I heard people yelling. At me! For me! "Go go!" "You've earned it!" "Yeah!" I heard my name! It was my son and daughter standing right at the finish! I still get choked up reliving the final .2. Excuse me while I dab away some tears.
I hit the finish line with arms raised. This time victory! And yes. This time there was emotion. The course did not chew me up and spit me out. I had to make some compromises, but I finished. And I finished on my feet.
Final 0.2: 6:10 (This time was actually for the final .55, and can you believe it? I forgot to turn the watch off when I crossed the line!)
Final time: 5:16:31 for a 12:05 average. My Garmin actually read 26.55 when said and done. the difference of .35 miles can easily add up over the course by not hitting the tangents at the curves, zigzagging through runners, detouring to say hi to people etc.
To be honest, the post race was just kind of bleh. I was interested in one thing. WATER!!! I made it through the chute, had a metal put over my neck, and grabbed a couple bottles of water. There was plenty of food, recovery drinks, etc., but to be honest the last thing I felt like was eating. I found a nice place on the grass and took a load off my feet. For the first time I took an assessment of where I was physically. My quads were dust. But - I had no chafing. No blisters. No nothing. Within about 10 minutes I was up to find my kids, get my bag, and hit up Roscoe's for some real food! This one was history! Next please.