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Jacksonville, FL, United States
In Life as well as in running the secret is Pace.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Running for Joy - Race Report 26.2 with Donna National Breast Cancer Awareness Marathon

First off…. This race needs a nickname…. That’s just too much of a mouthful. But, a great cause to be sure…

I was running because there was a race… but I was also running for Joy… Joy is an old dear friend of mine who is a breast cancer survivor… and one of the sweetest/toughest/kindest people I know.

The plan:
I was going to try to do something like the 10-10-10 plan. I wanted to start out easy and smooth, stay relaxed through the first 10 then run hard for 10 and hold on for the final 10k.

Pre Race:
Had to take a bus to the start… however, for the first time *ever* I went to a race that had too many port-o-lets.

The color coded race numbers were confusing. The literature and pre-race instructions kept saying that the Orange bibs went off before the Blue bibs. From what I could tell the orange bibs were the *ahem* walkers. I found the guy with the 4 hour pace group sign and just followed him to the start…. When we got there we were in the very front… I mean that I could have started in the first row. I decided not to and moved back about 250 places.

The Start:

I did start pretty close to the 4 hour group and kept them in sight most of the first few miles. This was really easy since I leapfrogged them every time they stopped to walk…. Yep… the pace groups were all doing Galloway… all the way.

Around mile 6 we hit the beach. At around the 7 mile mark I passed the 4 hour pace group and said under my breath “that’s the last I’ll see of you, suckers”

I had no idea how true that would be…

You see the half marathoners had been running with us so far and at 6.75 miles or so they leave the beach to head back… the marathon runners stay on the sand… well.. I misunderstood. I thought we all left the beach together then they headed south while we headed north on the road…. So… I left the beach… and ran about .3 miles with the half-marathoners before I realized my error (seeing the mile 20 sign was a giant clue).

So what to do? I’m way off course… way off pace… I thought for a second about flooring it and just finishing the ½ but… I guess I’m just too stubborn for that kind of reasoning. (See map)

I just turned around… and started running in as straight a line as possible to the closest point where I could rejoin the race. I could have run faster at this point but I was too busy kicking myself… all that training… and for what… to ruin it with my idiocy… well… I finally decided that it was what it was and I was still going to run (and finish) a marathon.

Just about this time I can see a cluster of runners ahead and a guy with a pace group sign… I had to laugh a little… but only a little… as I closed in on them I could read the sign… “4:15 Pace Group”

I had another bout of self pity there again. And the last mile on the beach was no day at the beach.

At the end of mile 8 we finally leave the beach for good… that’s when I ditched the 10-10-10 plan… I decided that I had to do everything I could to pull myself back into the race…. So a-la Forrest Gump… I started Running I basically put together eight 8:45s but it really is all a blur.

I shut my mistake out of my mind as much as I could…. I just ran… ate a gel when I felt my pace slip… had a salt tab when I felt cramps coming on… for the most part though I felt nothing… the course… over roads I’ve trained on hundreds of times was mostly ignored… I simply ran.

There were a couple of bright spots… their names are Masey and Kendall. My daughters… they were spending a rare weekend with their mom. I had given them a couple of gels and asked them to hand them to me when I passed the condo where they were staying… they were both there… waiting… I needed the gels… but a kiss on the cheek… way better.

Somewhere between mile 18 and 19 I saw Jessica, Joy’s daughter… although I did not see Joy, I heard later that she was there… cheering and taking pictures. Mile 19, however is when my pace started to slip. When the 20 mile marker came into view (“hey this looks familiar”) I could see by the race clock that I had 54 minutes to break 4 hours…

I knew that it was not to be… no… not that I was defeatist… or under-motivated… I just know my body and it was not going to happen. About that time I heard my name being yelled and turned my head to see my old friend Shawn… running along next to me… urging me forward… Another mile another smile.

So that was my new attitude… To simply run each mile the best I possible could… and smile… and help spread them as well.

My pace kept slipping… 9:30s led to 10s… but I just gave it all I had. Since this was the breast cancer Marathon there were many breast references throughout the race… “save the tatas”, “Save second base”, “lick breast cancer”, etc… somewhere around mile 22 a group of people had many such signs… and one they were waving said “Free Breast Exam”… so I slowed down… unzipped my shirt… and got checked for lumps…

The last 3 miles of the race were long… hot and boring… up a ramp, then over the Intracostal Waterway bridge… it seemed to take forever. The bright spots were passing a number of walkers from the half-marathon… more than a few of which wore the special “Survivor” bibs. I tried to give these brave ladies a smile, a wave, and a word of encouragement.

Finally the finish ~4:13…

No PR… no sub 4… but I finished.

I think I can get it next time… with a little less weight… a little better training… and a little more taper too..

Oh yeah… and not racing like a Dipsh!t…

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