Last night, attended Church and then to dinner with Tom and his friend Scott, along with their lovely wives Donna and Diane. My deep appreciation to my newly met friends who split my bill between them.
This morning, up at 3am to launch what was intended to be the ultimate focus of this holiday. I had a good training cycle. I did not miss any training for any reason. No injuries; even my left foot has been fairly quiet. I felt strong and healthy.
I met Tom in the starting coral around 5:30am. My goal was a 3:30 marathon, which should get me to Boston again. My BQ time is 3:25, so beating it by 5 minutes was my intention. This was Tom's first Half. Hard to believe, with so many races under his belt. So, he set a very loose goal of under 1:45, but we both were pretty sure he'd do much better. In any event, our initial paces were projected to be the same.
It was pretty tight at the start, as per normal for races. Based on the results, there were just shy of 600 marathoners and 3,000 half marathoners starting at 6am. We stuck with the 3:30/1:45 pacers to begin, but they really started out too fast. The first 2 miles were 7:36 and 7:44. Not what I wanted, and it did seem fast.
At mile 2, Tom was off. He looked over his shoulder at me to see if I was following, but I had to stick to my plan. He ended up with an excellent PR event: 1:37:57 for a 7:30/mile pace. Awesome job Tom! I look forward to reading your report.
So now, I just tried to settle in to an 8:00/mile pace. I was slightly ahead of the pacer, and planned on sticking to him like glue (if he finally settled into the right pace). I ran the next 5 miles at 7:55, 7:49, 8:08, 8:07 and 7:55, so pretty much on track and feeling good.
Unfortunately, that where my GI problems started. I sure wish I could get a handle on this problem. I still can't figure out where things go wrong. But I ended up having to make 5 emergency stops along the way. Not as bad as Boston 3 years ago, but at least I had lots of good reasons to be sick when I ran in Boston.
So, during mile 8 I had to stop. That meant a 9:19/mile pace. I figured the pacer was ahead of me after that, but I never saw him again. Still, I wasn't that far off pace, and I was hoping this was a once only stop. I decided to just keep my pace and slowly close the distance. So, the next 2 miles were 7:49 and 7:54, but then had to stop again. That gave me a time of 9:18 for mile 11. By now, I had taken 4 immodium and 6 pepto bismol caplets, and I had really emptied myself, so I was hopeful that unpleasantness was done.
The next 3 miles I ran at 7:52, 7:55 and 7:49. I hit the Half Marathon mat in a recorded time of 1:46:06. So, I did the math in my head, a quick assessment of how I was feeling, and decided I could still bring this home. Other than my GI issues, I was firing on all cylinders at this point. But then, an urgent stop during mile 15 which gave me my slowest mile on the day at 9:37. Ouch. Then after running the next mile at 7:50, I had to stop again. So mile 17 was 8:26.
At that point, I figured there couldn't be much left in my GI system, and I was stoked to do what I came here to do. I had 9 miles to go, and after doing the math in my head, I figured I could still pull this off.
So, the next 4 miles I ran at 7:39, 7:45, 7:42 and 7:45. I knew I could do it at this point, and I REALLY tried to avoid stopping again. But nature doesn't give you that option, sadly. So, another stop during mile 22 gave me an 8:59/mile. After that, I was SO close. I didn't want to open it up just yet, but I did run faster over the final 4 miles: 7:38, 7:36, 7:28 and 7:07. Plus, of course, the final .2. Tom was there cheering me on at the end. I was a little unsteady on my feet, and more unsteady in my GI system, but I came in just 21 seconds over my intended goal for the day. I'm still 4 minutes 39 seconds under my BQ time, so I'm pretty confident I'll make the cut for the 2021 running of the 125th Boston Marathon.
I added up the time it took for my 5 stops, using an 8:00/mile as my baseline, and calculated that I lost almost 6 minutes (5:45 to be precise) because of them. Too bad - that would have put me in striking distance of beating my marathon PR I set in Chicago. Of course, it's hard to say for sure that my 5 minutes of stopping and sitting along the way didn't also preserve my energy for running harder. So, who's to say?
The weather, fortunately, could not have been better for a marathon. In Fort Lauderdale! Who knew? It was around 12C/54F at the start and it only climbed to about 19C/66F when I finished. But I only felt a bit hot during that final half hour push. Clear skies. Little wind. Beautiful sunrise over the ocean. Incredible views.
Tom, I don't know how you can pack down so much food and beer after running like that. Amazing! But thank you for sticking around for me, taking a few pictures, and coming down with me to stand in the ocean. It was all worth it, and I hope we can do something like this again. Put your name in for New York!