This was my fifth marathon. A distance is swore I would never – NEVER – do. Where the Half Marathon is a challenging distance, but still doable, the full marathon is straight pain cave nonsense. The elite runners – the folks who have sponsorships to do this stuff – do this seemingly at will. Sure, they’re training, but it’s also their job. For Joe Average, this stuff is hard work.
It’s me. I’m Joe Average.
Where the Green River Marathon kind of snuck up on me, my relationship with the DeMar race was different. I was no more trained for it – hell, Green River was my long run for this race – but I knew it was coming. A clubmate was opting out of the race and offered to sell the bib. I bought it probably less than a month before the race – maybe? I don’t remember the timing if it was before or after Green River, but it was no where near where one would normally have a training plan. But, it was a good opportunity for a weekend away, a little time to explore some local trails, check out a pickle festival, and have dinner with my daughter and her beau on their anniversary.
Much like Green River last month, the day was truly New England beautiful, and I really wish I had been able to take the time to snap a few pictures along the way because the scenery was nothing short of ethereal.
I took a slightly different approach with this race than I did with Green River. Where last month I was working on a “proof of concept,” this time I knew what I could pull off. Now, GR was a significantly downhill course to the point that the first couple of miles were just unpleasant holding back. Here, I took what the course gave me. If it was downhill, I ran the down hill. If there were rolling hills, I did what I did. In retrospect, I feel like I should have been able to run a faster race last month, but that whole training thing just kind of eluded me and, well, that didn’t happen. On this day, I knew I could run the race, I felt good doing it and I enjoyed the day.
For the most part, the race was really solid. I kept a sub-8 minute pace for a pretty good portion of the first half and kept it under 9 to about mile 18 when the wheels came off pretty good. My cadence really diminished after mile 18 – over the 26 miles I averaged 180 SPM, but those 8 miles really tell the story and it’s not pretty, bottoming out at that 10 minute mile at 21.
I’ve really been focusing on being kinder to myself and having better internal dialogues. None of the “woulda, shoulda” or “If only,” that said though over the last two long races I really think that if I had taken the time and really buckled down, I could have had a couple of really strong races. I mean, I trained for Baystate in 2019 and I finished a half minute slower than I did here – here after not training on any plan at all, no track workouts to speak of, just every day running. My overarching goal has been to be “race ready.” Largely, that meant half marathons, but I think I’ve demonstrated to myself that I’m actually marathon ready. I could jog the course and finish with a respectable time. What if I raced the course? Entering 2020, that was my plan: to BQ at Green River. Then…well then the world changed. Now that we’re returning to something closer to normal, I think I want to give that another shot.
Now, you’re supposed to be able to embed Facebook live videos here, and even bookmark a starting point, but WordPress doesn’t like the idea that the video may be owned by someone else, so I’m left to give you this link and tell you to check out 1:46:29 of the video.
All I know is that the last few miles were a struggle. Straight struggle. As mile 26 clicked off on my watch, I knew I had a little more than .2 left based on the calibration between the mile markers ad my watch, but then I started seeing my tribe on the sidewalk. Those friendly, familiar faces cheering me on was EVERYTHING. I couldn’t have asked for anything more and it was amazing.
It just so happened that September 26 -the day of the marathon – would have also have been my dad’s 90th birthday. Now, the organizers leave a place on the registration page for the runner to customize their finisher’s public address announcement, so I took the opportunity to acknowledge that occasion. No one listening needed to know that Dad is no longer among the living, but hearing the dedication meant everything to me.
When I finished the Boston Marathon, I found myself surprised by the flood of emotions that I had at the finish. I was so physically diminished that I had no bandwidth to self regulate and found finishing to be super emotional. It was an experience I’d yet to have before and had not experienced since. Until this moment.
I took my finisher medal and the bottle of water I was offered, walked over to one of the granite posts nearby, and did my best to hold back tears. I put my head down and felt the feels. That was something I honestly didn’t expect.
Place, Place/Gender, AG, Gun Time, Chip Time, Pace
2021 Clarence DeMar Marathon 3:46:36
2021 New England Green River Marathon 3:46:52.5
2019 Baystate Marathon 3:47:10
2018 Marine Corps Marathon 4:03:17
2019 Boston Marathon 4:05:47