I am a little late posting this, but it was intended to be posted on the 17th of October...
Well, 17 has always been my lucky number, and on this iconic day of my birth, I look 17 more days until the New York City Marathon. I think the one mistake many runners make is the constant self-assessment of their training. I too have fallen victim to my own observation as I've created an eyeglass into the past months calculating what went well and where I went wrong with my training. I've already pinpointed it to when I started my teaching job, and the immense amount of time spent at school. I could go further back to the summer heat that kept me comfortably away from logging mega miles. Either way, I still feel the fitness is there and I can run a great race considering the circumstances. I will (and have run a half marathon) on October 21st, as part of the Duke City Marathon weekend, and my last big marathon workout. I planned on racing it as a marathon pace workout, and the success of it couldn't have been better.
The Duke City Half Marathon:
From the start of this race I had two goals: 1) to run it as a workout, 2) win it. Once the gun went off at 7:30 am, I took the lead and started to keep a comfortable pace. My first mile in the Duke City was 5:23, and right away I could feel two Africans sitting on me. I didn't want to worry too much about it, since I was just going to run my own race, but deep down it really bugs me, especially since there's no money involved in this race. Why wouldn't you want to work together and run a decent time together?! Well, this guy didn't want to help out at all. I lead the next 6 miles in, 5:21, 5:19, 5:17, 5:12, 5:17 & 5:12. After mile 7, and after one of the African's faded, the Moroccan put in a good surge on me over the next 2 miles. I could only maintain a 5:21 and a 5:20 for the next miles. Also at this point in the race, the half marathon flips around and runs back into the crowd of other runners. So, after mile 9 and about 20 seconds back from the Moroccan, I decided I could still run a good effort and not kill myself before New York City. I start to clip off a 5:19, 5:18 and another 5:18 for miles 10, 11 and 12. By this point, the leader is slightly fading, but he still feels too far away. All the 10k runners that we are passing on our way back to the finish are cheer me along with encouraging words to "catch him", as if by saying something will automatically create a hidden energy source in me. Well, it kind of motivated me as I was able to drop a 5:09 last mile and attempt to kick towards the finish.
With about 200 meters to go, both myself and the Moroccan are finishing strong, and I was able to gain on him to finish 1 second behind him. It's a bit discouraging to lead a race for that amount of distance, only to be used. I distinctively and deliberately remember slowing down to grab water and allowing this Moroccan to take the lead. But instead, he would slow down to a pace that I didn't feel was honest. At times, I would run next to him to work together instead of right behind him, as he would do, but the pace would still falter. As you can tell, I am a bit frustrated with this, especially since NO money was at stake. I wish I had another gear to out kick him at the end, and snag a hidden prize purse; but in reality, neither scenario happen. My time of 69:45 was a solid effort and indicator of where I am at. And of course, the only indicator of a marathon, is to run one... Which is what is going to happen in 12 days!
More to come on my thoughts on how to race this thing!