2nd marathon in the bag. I'm happy to improve on my 2:29:15 from Kentucky Derby, and I feel happier about this PR than the 30ish second improvement might indicate. I wanted to be more aggressive over the last few miles. I wanted to push my limits over the final stretch, to see if I could sustain a long drive to the finish, or see if I could hold it together if it went south. Obviously I didn't get my stated goal of sub-2:27, but this is progress all the same.
Weather was cold (33°F at the start) and a little breezy, but much better than the 15-20 mph winds the forecast showed early in the week. Miles 11-18 were breezy. That stretch wasn't much fun.
The splits tell the story pretty well (watch recorded 26.44, but I was only about 0.1 off the mile markers until the last few miles):
5:40, 5:38, 5:30, 5:33, 5:40, 5:28, 5:35, 5:38, 5:35, 5:39, 5:37, 5:45, 5:31, 5:41, 5:46, 5:37, 5:36, 5:38, 5:31, 5:28, 5:30, 5:40, 5:38, 5:49, 5:56, 6:06, 4:19 to the finish
My early pace yo-yo'd a bit and I struggled to find a group. I started conservatively like I wanted and dropped down a lot when the elite women went by. Decided that wasn't a good idea and slowed back to 5:40. Then dipped again catching a pair of women HM'ers who held 5:35s to the split at mile 7.5. 5:30 felt fine, but those miles may not have been the best thing early on.
Self-check at the course split said the pace didn't feel great. Aerobically fine, but legs were uncomfortable. I took that as a bad sign but opted to take hope in the aerobic feedback. I tempered my time expectation a little and worried I might blow up early. I briefly considered scaling back the pace, but that was only for a moment. I wanted an aggressive pace, and I was okay with going through a blow up if it happened.
After the split I had a hard time finding people to run with. I caught a guy in mile 9 who went 1.5 miles with me but then started to drop back. We reached the 10-mile marker in 56:02, and I felt good about that. Sub-2:27 pace. The next miles were got harder, as expected. I glanced behind but didn't see anyone nearby. One guy in the distance ahead but otherwise alone. 11-13 were a little windier than I'd hoped, and 13-18 were about as windy as I expected. Less than 10mph, but it adds up over those miles. I had a 5:41 and 5:46 back-to-back and just kept telling myself it would get better when the course turned at 18.
Every self-check through here gave me the same info as at mile 7. Aerobically fine. Legs uncomfortable. Not sure how long I can hold a good pace. The turn finally came just before mile 18 and brought relief from the breeze as we turned towards downtown. There was a pack of 3 women not too far ahead, and I put them in my sights. It was time to go. It only took a small increase in effort and 19-21 went 5:31, 5:28, 5:30.
By mile 22 the pain in my legs was real. However, I had 2 decent miles (5:40 & 5:38) and thought I might hold it together. But the small rolling hills over the final miles were enough to break whatever I had left. 24-26 was 5:49, 5:56, and 6:06. My right hip flared, which I'm sure was due to my deadened legs compensating with whatever muscles could fire.
Afterwards I hobbled into the convention center and lay on the ground shivering and waiting for my body to return to some semblance of normalcy. One of the med volunteers pressured me into going into the medical tent, and I reluctantly went. I just wanted a blanket. Took awhile to get out, but the fluids and blankets helped a bunch.
This race was tough. Tougher than Kentucky from start to finish. My one regret is not finding a group, but I feel like I didn't have much control over that. The elite women were too fast, although they did have a van blocking the wind for them. I thought that wasn't allowed, but it was hard watching that wind block pull away. And behind them there was a big void.
Goals for the next training cycle: Improve 5k/10k fitness and get in more quality long runs. I optimistically believe 5:30 can be marathon pace for the next one.