Please go here to pledge towards my fundraising effort for the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund. If you’ve already pledged, share my blog or this link with your friends and family: http://bit.ly/1dUyKWN. There’s about 6 weeks until the Boston Marathon and we’ve raised almost $3,500 if I hit my goal of 6 hours for the double marathon.
Thanks to We Are Athletes! Racing Team for the photos.
I went to Long Island for the Caumsett Park 50K (which was also serving as the USATF 50K Road National Championships) knowing that if I had a good day I could be in the mix for the win. My best 50K time was 3:00:10, run over a year ago completely solo. The winning time for this race usually seemed to be in the 2:55 to 2:56 range, which I knew I could do, especially with people to run with. The only question was who else was going to show up.
Turns out the winners from the past six years were there, including the course record holder (Michael Wardian, an ultramarathoning legend) and the guy who just barely missed the course record last year (Joe Gray, who also ran under 64 minutes at the Houston Half Marathon in January). There was $200 on the line for the win, but an extra $1,000 for the course record, and as soon as I saw those guys there I knew it would be a record-breaking day.
The three of us separated from the rest pretty quickly, running a relaxed but quick pace. There was a little back and forth conversation, showing that we were all well within ourselves. The race was 10 5K laps, and I had done the math and knew that course record pace was 17:30 per lap. The first lap was a little slow (17:52), and Wardian picked it up a little to start the second lap. I was just trying to think about each lap as they came, instead of trying to worry about whether I was going too fast for a 50K. Obviously, with a marathon PR of 2:29 set only two weeks prior, I would have to run a marathon significantly faster than I ever had, and then add 5 miles at that pace in order to be near the course record. However, based on my recent training I really felt it was possible. I figured I’d find out in the next 9 laps.
The second lap was 17:11, which brought our average back down to around record pace and the next two laps were 17:15 and 17:16. Wardian started to fall back a little bit on the 4th lap as Joe and I maintained the pace. When we hit the half marathon in about 1:13, I mentioned that I was on PR marathon pace. I’m sure Joe thought I was either joking or about to be in serious trouble but I was still really comfortable.
Lap 5 was 17:22 and as we were halfway through (and under record pace) and I was still feeling good, I dropped the water bottle I’d carried for the first half and decided to push the pace a little. The next two laps were 17:03 and 17:02 and in that 10K stretch I had increased my lead over Wardian and created a significant gap between me and Joe. The next lap was 17:16 and at the end of that one I realized that Joe had dropped out. My legs were starting to feel pretty heavy but the “surge” had done its job.
There was an official marathon split (you could use it as a Boston Qualifier but you had to finish the 50K) and I hit it in 2:25:55, which was almost 4 minutes faster than my two week old PR set at Mercedes. The last 10K was rough but I was doing math in my head (always risky at the end of a long race) and after I finished the penultimate lap in 17:30, I knew I only had to run about a 20 minute 5K to get the record. I was able to maintain a decent pace and finished with a 17:43, for a 2:53:33 course record and huge personal best.
Overall, this was the best race I’ve ever had. I ran a huge personal best in the marathon and the 50K and won a national championship! This is a guy who made it to the state meet two times in high school (running in the slow heat in outdoor track and getting the pity clap in indoor track) and never made it to nationals in college (in Division 3!). It feels good to finally see the results of many years of consistent hard work and no recent injuries. I know there were no Mebs or Ritzenheins or Halls out there but you can only race the people who show up.
Up next is another 3 weeks of heavy training, followed by the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, and then the taper for the Double Boston Marathon. It’s been a long season but it’s easy to stay motivated when I keep seeing positive results.
Huge thanks to everybody who has pledged money so far for the Be Strong Stay Strong Fund. The total amount pledged right now is $2,483.20, plus $16.25 for every minute I run under 7 hours for the double marathon. If I hit my goal of 6 hours, that’ll be $3,458.20! There’s just over a month until race day, please get those pledges in and share this with your friends and family! Go here to pledge.