Earlier in the year when I signed up for this marathon it was the final part of a grand plan. Focus on speed early in the year and gradually race longer until I was ready to crush a fast time and get a Boston qualifier to cap off the year. Everything was going just as planned but for one thing. Somewhere along the way I kind of missed out on getting any long runs into the training schedule. I had decided a few months before to make the OBX half the focus of my year and I added the ATT 10 miler a few weeks before that when I should have been getting in some 20 milers. Now as race day approached looking back I had just one 14 miler since April and that was 7 weeks before race day. Hmm, I think it might get ugly towards the end.
So after getting some work done Friday am I began the long drive to Kiawah arriving for packet pickup just before dark and then headed to find my hotel and make final preparations. It was going to be a cold start but the forecast was looking near perfect. 35 at the start and low 50's for the high.
To get to the start you have to park in a grassy field just off the island unless you are a guest at the resort. I was pleased to find that the shuttles were large luxury buses and they were quick and efficient getting us to the start very quickly. I was able to get inside the expo to stay warm until a few minutes before the start which was just a short walk.
As I was lining up I found Joe Schlereth and Kathy Lee, a couple of ultra running friends so it was nice to see some familiar faces. As we started my plan was to go easy and then settle in to about an 8:50 pace and see how long I could hold that. My normal easy run pace these days is around 8:45 to 8:50 and thats about what I need for the BQ so I knew I should be able to at least get in a good bit of distance before falling apart. A smarter person would probably go slower and do some run walking with my lack of long distance this year but no guts no glory right ?
Kiawah is about as flat as possible and I got off to an easy start letting the half marathoners and fast people go on while I tried to just relax and settle in for the long morning ahead. I hit mile 1 in 8:47, slightly faster thanIi wanted or expected but it was all good, I'll just back off a little. Mile 2 in 8:45. Ok, slow it down just a little bit. Mile 3 in 8:34. Ok, maybe I won't slow down. I had to laugh to myself a little. In my conversation with Laura Frey after yoga on the Thursday before the race we discussed my race plan, I had told her I was going to hold back and just run 8:50's and not go out looking for a fast time. She said no you won't, you will be rolling 8:30's I guess she was right as I decided to just go with what felt comfortable which was mid 8:30's to low 8:40's for the next many miles.
Around mile 5 the wind picked up as forecast but it was only about 10mph and with the many twist and turns on the course and a lot of protection from trees it wasn't going to really be much of a factor. By now I was comfortable and settled in clicking off the miles almost effortlessly. Mile 10 was an 8:59 thanks to a short pee break and my split there was 1:27:00 or about 8:42 pace. This was
awesome. By now the half marathoners had split off and the field was getting spread out. Every now and then were some nice homes and then more bike path and trees.
Nothing much to say for the next several miles. I was stuck into the same groove of about 8:42 average and loving life. I'm not sure what happened with mile 14. It was a slower 8:55 but I still felt fine and then I was right back to hitting upper 8:30's again. Hmm. Oh well. Around mile 15 the faster runners were coming towards us from a keyhole loop section and I spotted Sonny Ali looking strong as he was trying to go for 3:10. We high fived and then soon after I saw Jay Soffian.
My pace and effort was still steady and I hit mile 20 in 2:54:20 making the 2nd 10 miles just 20 seconds slower than the 1st 10. Pretty consistent pacing huh? At this point I was feeling confident and surpried that I may just pull this thing off and get a BQ and with enough cushion to get me a guaranteed spot. I slowed to an 8:57 for mile 21 but that was fine. I told myself not to worry, that I didnt need any more cushion. I slowed a little more to 9:18 at 22 but still plenty of cushion and I still was feeling ok. And then BAM ! Headfirst into the wall. Mile 23 wasn't too bad but at that point my calves said, OK, we're done here.
I tried my best to convince them to keep pushing off but to no avail. It was actually a miracle that they never cramped. Each mile got longer and harder and slower but I didn't want to give up hope but I just couldn't hold pace and had to resort to taking a few short walk breaks. I was doing the math in my head but by 25 I had lost all of my cushion and the miracle BQ was not going to happen today. Now if I could just salvage a sub 4 at least. Barely. I finally crossed the line in 3:59:23 and was totally spent. I'm still amazed at how I could feel so good at 22 and by 24 feel like death !
Unlike Boston where I was walking normally after the race and Laura said I looked like I hadn't done anything, here I had to sit and then do a slow shuffle to go get my drop bag and then had to lie down inside for 15 minutes before I could change clothes. Yeah, not a good idea to do these things without the proper training.
No worries though. I m feeling great , recovering quickly and back to training and that BQ is going to come in the Spring ! Stay tuned !