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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My First, Best, Boston Qualifying Marathon!

1994 was the absolute pinnacle of my running career. I ran fast times at every distance from 5K and up. My mileage reached it's highest yearly record of my entire running career. As the marathon approached, my training was excellent with long weekly runs thru the summer hitting 18 miles, and my second long weekly run reaching 12. I had gotten up to 5 miles (10 repetitions) of 880's run in three minutes and fifteen seconds or less, all of which left me feeling that running the sub 3:20 marathon that I needed to qualify was realistically doable. Terry was an absolute monster bye helping my running over the summer. Since he was now running his easy paces about a minute a mile faster than me, we would run courses where there were lots of short looping side streets, and he would pick up his paces and loop them and then come back to catch me and run with me until the next loop street. It was just nice having someone with me on those hour and forty minute and two hour and twenty minute runs. Bye august and september, I increased my long run and completed three long runs of two hours and forty minutes. I felt about as ready as I safely thought I could to have a shot at my goal....
The race was on the first weekend in October. Deb and I went to NJ to stay with my bud Billybob, and drove down to the start of the race in the wee hours of the morning. The course had to be certified to be a boston qualifier, and as with the half I had run the year before, it included 8 miles on the boards, and two climbs over freeways and a turn around at mile 15. My friend Billy was planning to jog and walk out to the 20 mile mark, and run the last ten kilometers with me.
The weather was about 10 degrees cooler than the previous year, but it was sunny and windless. The first 3 miles are pretty congested, as you had 5K and 10K runners doing their out and backs, but once off the boards, it thinned with just half and full marathon runners. I felt excellent and got to the first checkpoint at 5 miles. This was in the days before the garmin watches, so as I looked at my watch, it showed a pace slower than what I expected. At the 8 mile mark, I was well ahead of pace. So, even though the course was certified, the mile markers were not always very accurate. I got over the two bridges, and hit the 15 mile turnaround feeling very good. When I hit the 18 mile mark, I had matched about the longest distance I had run in training at a much faster pace than I did in anything longer than 12 miles. So I was now in no mans land. Miles 18 thru 20 were a bit of a rough patch. I had a hard time concentrating and started wishing it was over. At mile 20, I was still on a good pace, but there was no Billy. The race was really starting to grind on me when I hit the boards at mile 22.5. As I looked to my right toward the water, there was Billy peeing into the ocean so I screamed at him and he finished, and jumped up on the boardwalk and caught up with me. He told me I was well ahead of pace, but I was starting to go to that place where you can't figure out any of the numbers in your head for lack of glucose in the blood. Billy was running next to me pacing me. It was really a help. At mile 24, people from the casinos started to tear thru the police tape that was being used next to the railing to give us runners room, and started to block our path. I swore at a few, but I told Billy I was afraid that if I ran into someone, I would fall down and die there. He spent the last two miles running in front of me yelling at folks and knocking people out of our way. I caught a surprising number of people in those last two miles, and billy was our lineman clearing people out. As I got to the last mild turn and could see the clock, I was stunned. I was closing in on 2:12, and like the previous year in the half, I attempted to sprint to the finish. In the picture, you can see billy splitting off to my left as I headed into the chute with a time of 3:10:58 for a 7:17 pace and a boston qualifying time. As it turned out, it remained my fastest time ever in 9 marathons. After sitting a while in the sun on the boardwalk, I was emotionally raw and cried a bit, and had Deb and billy help walk me back to the car. We stopped at the first Mc'Donalds we could find where I ate two big macks, a hot apple pie, and a chocolate shake. On the ride home, I started talking to Deb about the JFK 50 miler coming up in 8 weeks......And that will be the next story!

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