The challenge of a significant physical journey on foot unleashes some primitive connections to our identity as human beings. Jeff Galloway, Marathon
Two days ago I ran marathon #2, Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. In my write-up of marathon #1, I spoke of the learning curve. Take away points were: line up early or you're going to have to pass a lot of people (which is on some level an energy suck); be tough at mile 18 when you start thinking about what a ridiculous endeavor you've undertaken because you're going to be ok; and, finally, when your mind's telling you to walk, tell your mind to shut the heck up, because even though you think it's going to make you feel better, it's probably going to make you feel worse. Upon completion of marathon #2, I might also add, go ahead and set a goal, even if you might fail. My only regret about Grandma's 2011 is that I went into it ambivalently in terms of a finish time. As a result, I fell just short of one of my big goals in running: completing a marathon in 4 hours.
I am, on some level, being a little hard on myself. The only real reason we signed up for this was because we didn't get into the half. Crazy fools that we are, we decided to just tackle the whole darn thing. Training was focused simply on finishing, and in the process of training we came up with our game plan for the race: run the first half at a very comfortable 9:30-9:45 pace, then pick up in half two and see where we land. I had the following text message exchange with Becca, who was coming to cheer us on:
Becca: Hey Anne... This is Becca :) What is your goal pace for Saturday? I'm trying to figure out where to look for people.
Me: I hope to run 9:30-9:45's for the first half, then pick up the pace for the 2nd half to 9:10ish. That's a very roundabout way of saying probably 9:40ish!
Me: You could also read it as 'I have no idea!'
Somewhere along the line that plan went down the tubes...
We rode to the start line with fellow YMCA runners Alayna and Tanaegh, who did have a set goal of finishing under four. Long story short, we ended up in the starting corral with the four hour pacer. I had no intention of hanging with the pace group, it just seemed like a logical place to line up. Chris and I started together, and we immediately let the pacer and our buddies run off into the distance. Still in sight, just not really anywhere near us. After two or three miles, Chris asked, "How are we doing on pace?". I replied that we were a little faster than we'd planned, but that we were slowing down. As is typically the case in a marathon, those first few miles felt real, real good. Splits from my Garmin for the first six: