This report is the real deal. The other was just a stopgap until I could get a little time to write this one. Truth be told, I should be working on a presentation for my class on Wednesday night. But, who am I to keep everyone waiting on that? Besides, it's the last presentation that I might ever give for school. I mine as well keep up to the lofty standard that I have set for myself (procrastination till my death).
The Day Before
I had planned to stay with Nate in Allentown at the HoJo... But, I got a disconcerted call around noon saying that he couldn't make the race after all. Major bummer for him... All that training and no outlet. That sucks....
So, instead of driving up the day of, my wife and daughter decided to drive up with me on Saturday and keep me company. That was nice. Although, sleeping in a room with someone who is racing the next day vs. sleeping in a room with your daughter aren't quite the same thing. But, I digress... It was great to have them along.
We tried to go to dinner at Carrabas... but it was pretty darn packed. When you have a 19 month old, you learn to avoid stuff like that. So, we settled for Friendly's (one of my least favorite restaurants in the world). It was close and not busy. Both pluses in the "I've got a hungry kid" column. I proceeded to eat the worst night-before meal ever. Chicken finger sandwich, fries and a sundae. Awesome!!!
Finding the race was as easy as pie. It was one turn and we were headed towards the parking. Unfortunately, even though we left early, it was pretty packed around the race (duh). So, I ended up having to jump out of the car to head towards the race for my pre-race routine (stretch, jog, go to the bathroom, repeat as many times as possible).
My wife and daughter made their way back and by some miracle actually saw me before I headed to the start line. Since it was a stadium finish, there wasn't much worry of not being able to find each other after the race.
Having run only one half-marathon before, I was kinda nervous. But, I wasn't as nervous as the first one and not nearly as nervous as I was for the full marathon. I would have to rate it as regular race nerves. Then, I was chatting up the guy next to me who had run the race on multiple occasions... He described it as a pancake with a couple blueberries (flat with some small hills). That made me much less nervous.
The first 6 miles or so was pretty downhill and I started out on my course. It felt fast, but I knew that I was in an easy part of the race. So, I wasn't going to sweat it that much. I came through the first mile in 8:51. But, I looked at the clock and it said 9:27. Phew... I forgot that it didn't adjust for me not getting through the start line when the clock started. Duh.
The second and third mile just skated along. I was still enjoying the dating stage of the race (courtesy Nitmos). I kept thinking that I was going too fast. But, it was definitely too early to tell. I was enjoying it so much that I missed the 2 mile marker. Only have a split at three. So, I came in at 16:32 for those two miles (8:16 pace for the math challenged).
From there it was kind of a blur. The next thing I remember is crossing the 5 mile mark and thinking the wheels were most certainly going to fall off (came in at 42:22 or 8:28 pace). I had some tightness in my hamstrings and was getting a little worried that I had gotten out too fast. My PR at 5 miles is 40:16. So, that's pretty fast when you have 8 miles left.
The next mile came in pretty close again (8:28) and mile 7 was even faster (8:06). I started to wonder whether my legs were going to fall off or if I was going to break 1:50. It clearly had to be an either or at this point.
I continued to roll on, seemingly unfazed by the distance. Mile 8 came in at 8:50 and Mile 9 at 8:11. Huh, how about that? Still staying pretty close to goal pace. And, despite a pretty good number of hills in Mile 10, I came in at 8:54 for that mile too.
Then, the unimaginable happened.... I ran a 8:13 eleventh mile... Whaaaaa? I don't know. Really weird. I think this was the mile that they had a violinist and a guy singing Frank Sinatra. I think that was a little late in the race for that kind of music, but anyhow. Just added to a strange mile. Old blue eyes cheering me on? Maybe.
But, the rest of the race became a lot more difficult at this point. I just kept repeating the "you can run 2 miles in your sleep" mantra all the way to the finish. Mile 12 was my first (and only) over 9 minute mile at 9:16. The final 1.1 came in at 9:19 (8:28 pace). The ending was very cool. We ran up a small hill past some asian drums (bum, bum, bum, bum.. ok, i'm not sure if I'm affecting a mental image for you, but I am getting one). Then, into the stadium for 3/4 of a lap around the track. I even had energy to pass 4-5 people at the finish.
New PR!! Official time, 1:51:45. A full 3 minutes faster than my previous PR. Sweet!! I guess I'll have to remember this for my next big race. I do think that it's easy to get a little crazed during the taper. Maybe I'll be a little more optimistic next time.
*** Placing update- 977/2923 overall (Top 33%), 73/148 age group (Top 49%)