Or, why was I worried??
My training run this morning was awesome. It was my best ever 20 mile run to date and it was a huge confidence boost.
I showed up at the run site (John Ball Park Zoo) around 7:30 this morning. There was already quite a few runners there and lots more arriving. I picked up my shirt and grabbed a course map. The shirt is a nice orange technical shirt (that actually fits) with a maple leaf design on the front and “Marathon in Training”* on the back. They ended up running out of shirts, so that means that they ended up with more than 150 runners – I’d guess it was close to 250 total.
I chatted with a guy who was training for the half marathon an doing the 10 mile loop. He was very new to running and this was going to be his longest run ever. There were a lot of familiar faces from the beer runs and other races as well.
Don, the GR Marathon Race Director, did a pre-race meeting to discuss the course and wish us luck. It was funny because he was talking about the how they marked the course with flour. Everyone thought that he was saying “flower” leaving them completely confused. He finally clarified that it was baking flour. In case you aren’t familiar with marking a course with flour, they basically dump some flour on the ground and then shape it into an arrow with their foot. It is nice because it is permanent enough to last for the run, but will eventually blow or get washed away. After his pep talk, Don headed to the airport to fly to Nebraska for the Omaha Marathon at which he will complete his 2nd 50 states challenge and his 203rd lifetime marathon. He is one crazy guy.
At 8:00, they started to send the runners off. Because the roads were open to traffic, they sent us off in waves to try and spread the runners out. First the 11:00-12:00 pace group went. By the time the 9:00-10:00 minute pace group was leaving, I said screw it and left with them because I was getting cold just standing around.
I started off very easily and settled into an 8:00 minute pace or so. My goal was to finish with an 8:30 pace figuring that I would slow down at the end like I normally do. I was running pretty much by myself with a group ahead of me and a group behind me. We leap frogged every now and then but didn’t really ever match pace. Every two miles or so, there would be Gatorade and water jugs with cup set out which was nice because I didn’t have to carry water.
I was feeling great during the early miles. I was hitting sub-8 miles without feeling strained at all. I tried to keep my eyes off my watch and instead just paced myself off of the group in front of me.
Around mile 12, I could hear a running approaching from behind as he crunched over the fallen leaves. I expected him to blow past me, but when he caught me, he matched my pace and started chatting. We chatted for about 2 miles or so about all those things runners talk about (race history, upcoming goals, etc.). At mile 14, I looked down at my watch, saw the pace and went, “Oh shit!” He apologized saying, “Oh, sorry, I’m probably slowing you down.” I said that wasn’t it at all – I was going way faster than I had planned.
We decided to push the last 6 miles as hard as we could and catch as many runners in front of us as possible. We ended up averaging around 7:10 pace for the final 6 miles! At that pace, I would have set a 10k PR!
I ended up finishing in 2:33:XX for the 19.9 mile run for a 7:42 pace overall. Ryan, the guy I ran with, finished in 2:30:XX because he left in the group after me. As you can probably guess, I am super happy with my time. Not only that, but this is one of the first times that I have had a splits graph like above (one that doesn’t balloon up in the final miles).
After the run, I was thinking that I would head home and see if Jennie wanted to get few miles of her own in. When I got back to my car, I had an email waiting:
“Road Id – check. That’s right. I’m off on my own little run now. Hope yours went well.”
In hindsight, I’m glad that she went out on her run by herself. She ended up doing 3.5 miles and I don’t know if had that much left in the tank.
After we were both home and showered, we headed up to Art Prize (In a nutshell: 1700 pieces of art all around downtown Grand Rapids that the community votes on. Full details here). I hope to do a full post about our time at Art Prize, but for now, I will leave you with just one picture:
They had this bike on display as an entry. You can read about them at http://www.innercitybikes.com/ if you want. If you look closely, the bike has no chain – thus no messy chain grease or maintenance. Instead, the seat is positioned above the rear wheel giving you a completely rear wheel drive bike. It is designed for simple, short, inner city travel. Too bad they weren’t offering test rides!
*The first thing my editor wife noticed was that it probably should have said “MarathonER in training”