Saturday, May 2, 2015

Chasing Redemption

As would inevitably be the case, as more time passes, I’m better able to reflect on my race, but I have less to say.

As a matter of fact, I ran 6-7 minutes slower than I wanted to run in Boston on April 20. I am disappointed that I spent 10-12 hours a week running, plus another 3-4 hours doing things related to running, for almost four months, to come up short of my goal. That being said, I am not terribly disappointed in my race.

For this race, I trained differently than I have in the past. I ran a lot more volume, but a lot less intensity. I trained more alone than I have in the past. I was more tired than I’ve been before training for a race. I also have been in a much different place personally and professionally than the last two times I’ve tried to run a fast marathon. And this is the third fastest marathon I’ve run before. I’ve only been under 2:30 twice, and before going under, my PR was 2:32:17. So I ran 15 seconds faster than that.

Even writing that though, right now, I don’t understand how I’m not more upset. If I’d run 2:32:02 in Arizona in January 2012, I would’ve been devastated. The same is true of Chicago 2012. But for some reason, right now, running 2:32:02 in Boston 2015 doesn’t seem like a complete failure to me.

I ran hard. I raced hard against the competitors around me and against the clock. I did not listen to the pundits talking about the weather who said that people should scale back their goals and expectations. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. I didn’t put in all of that time, all of that work, all of that energy (and all of that money) to give anything less than 100%. So when my mile splits were slower than I wanted them to be, I tried to pick up the pace on the next mile. I couldn’t worry about the miles that had already gone by, so I focused on the ones before me, trying to run under 5:35 as much as I could. When I got to the hills, where I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to run as fast, I pushed anyway. My legs were cold and my muscles were tight. I did all of the work for about 12 miles of that race for the people around me, and when I got to mile 21, I just lost it.

And I could have stopped. A lot of people would have. I know a lot of people who have, and did on Monday. That is their choice, but it was not a choice for me. I kept going… I kept fighting. I thought that I could continue to run under 6-minute miles. I was wrong. My legs continued to cramp, and I slowed. But I continued, and I finished. And it wasn’t a bad time. Charlie passed me with 5.5 miles to go and put 2 minutes on me. That’s about 22 seconds per mile faster that he ran after passing me. If I’d run 6-minute miles, I would have been right at 2:30. If I’d been under, I would have been in the 2:29s. After coming through the half in 74 minutes, I thought that I could run 2:28. I know that these are just numbers and are completely hypothetical, but it’s the way I’ve rationalized the race as an acceptable one.

A lot of people think 2:32 is great. 8 years ago, I was one of those people. Maybe it was great for the conditions, but 88 other men ran better than I did in those same conditions. I don’t know. I just don’t. I have mixed feelings about it, but that’s inevitable when you don’t reach your goal. I don’t know the next time I’ll run another marathon, and I don’t know what it will be like to train for another one in the future. That’s one of the harder pills to swallow. I went all in for this one, and came up short, and I don’t know when I’ll get to chase redemption.

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