Despite the rain, I felt great. I wasn’t sure about my pace at the start and didn’t know what kind of time I might achieve. At mile 2 the race clock showed 14 minutes and some change. At 3 miles, it was at 22:10 which meant I was doing somewhere around 7 – 7:10 miles. Not bad. At the 5 mile mark, I was at 36 min and some change. Only 2 minutes slower than my Shamrock Shuffle time two weeks before. Was I really running this well?
At mile 10, I passed through the balloon laced line at 1:13. By the half-way point when I saw a 1:38 on the clock, I wondered,
Could a Boston Qualifier be in the cards today?
Wishful thinking. In my 12-year marathon career, I’ve never, ever had a negative split. Perhaps it’s improper training or maybe I just don’t have heart. But I never seem to be able to suck up the pain and get faster in the second half of the race. It’s more a survival story for the second 13 miles of the marathon. I wish I knew how to change that.
By mile 20, I slowed significantly and was just hanging on. “Why didn’t I train harder?”
The crowds continued to cheer loudly but my swagger was gone. No more cheeky grins. No more winking. No more high throwing high fives with the little kids. No more sign tricks. No more nothing. All I could do was focus on finishing. A 9-minute mile pace would get me a sub-3:40 marathon. Not great but with a bit more effort maybe I could hit the 3:30 mark.
A “Hey Perry” midway through mile 23 interrupted my homunculus battle and pulled my disembodied self back into my head. It was John Kelly.
He looked only slightly better than me and appeared to be slowing to run with me. He must have been telepathic because in my mind, I told him he should not let me slow him down but should finish strong. Moments after I thought it, he pulled away. He had a chance to PR and I didn’t want to jeopardize it. (He finished close with a 3:31).
True, this would be the first time he bested me in a marathon. It would also be the second race in a row that I lost to him. And while he is younger and weighs less, I still have a spot in my head that believes I should finish ahead of him. I’m the seasoned running veteran. The marathon is my race. Now, it’s his too.
At mile 24, my time was 3:17. If I could just peal off a couple of 7 minute miles, I’d be able to crack the 3:30 mark. Unfortunately, my body’s ability to do 7 min miles disappeared about 13 miles ago. 8 minute miles? Maybe, but probably more like 8:30s.
In mile 25, I realized that I hadn’t had a drop. Just over one mile away from perfection. This was no time to get cocky however. There had been at least 4 other marathons in which my first drop came in the 25th mile.
The final stretch was great. The crowd was rowdy and the cheers roared. I saw the clock and pushed hard to pass the finish line before the 3:35 switched to 3:36. I didn’t have much kick left but enough to pass a few people. When I turned off my watch it read 3:35:46. My official time was 10 seconds faster.
I did it.
Finished the London Marathon (my 24th) with no drops and no stops. A perfect joggle. And I think I even beat Fred Flintstone.
Overall, I was satisfied with my effort. I would’ve liked to have gone faster but considering all the factors like traveling, the tough winter training, the soreness of my legs, and the fact that I made it through without a drop, I’m happy. I was also happy with John Kelly’s race. I know he trained harder for this one than any before. The work has paid off.
Just a bit of advice about traveling for a marathon. If you’re going to do a marathon while on a vacation, be sure to run it first. You don’t want to spend your entire vacation time anticipating the race.