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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jacksonville Marathon - a lot of road….

This was to be my 5th attempt at the Jacksonville Marathon.

It had been my first, and most painful athletic achievement, a 4:44 in 1997. What I considered to be my best endurance sport achievement of a 3:58 in 1998… a day when I cruised for 20 miles then kicked for the final 6…

I’d toed the line a couple of other times… more recently… times when, because of being undertrained and/or overweight, my finish time had started with a 5…

But 2009 was to be different… I’d run almost 1500 miles so far in 2009… and the 20th of December had been circled very early in the year as my A race….

Long runs were in the books… I’d not run them as fast, or as well as my training plan had mapped out for me but… I had done almost every one of them on Sunday afternoons after riding for a couple of hours on Sunday morning.

The weather was near perfect at 40F and windy… my weight was down 13 or so pounds since my last marathon… and even a few less than back in 1998.

All that taken into account, I had come up with a plan… I decided to run the first mile with the 3:45 pace group… then slip away up the road and try to hold them off. Apart from that, my plan was to run… not think… not about pace… or miles completed… or miles to go… just run mile by mile until the finish.

Towards that end I lined up pretty close to the 3:45 pacer… and proceed to run the first mile with the pacer just off my left shoulder. I could hear him talking with a few of the runners in his group… I then picked up my pace just a bit until I could no longer hear them.

Things were going great… just according to plan but… I had to pee…. I ran a couple of miles… putting time into the group. Then on mile 5 I spot a tree to hide behind and stop. When I emerge and rejoin the race… guess who is just off my left shoulder… 3:45 guy… I had gained, then thrown away, a minute…

It took a few miles but I finally got far enough from the 3:45 group to where I could not hear them anymore… but I had picked up a companion. We had leapfrogged each other a few times and eventually struck up a conversation… her name was Dawn, she’s a kindergarten teacher from North Georgia and she was nailing 8:30s every mile. We talked little but for the next 14 or so miles reeled in a few dozen runners and I don’t think anyone passed us.

My JFR plan was working quite well… passed mile 20 without really thinking about it… Mile 21 brought the pain, however, and it took a good deal of focus to stay with Dawn. I hung on thorough mile 22 as well. I didn’t want to hold her back… and holding on hurt too much so I put everything I had into mile 23…. I got a half step on her and tried to hold it… In my mind I was running a 8:05… while in reality I was simply working really hard and maintaining pace. Just past the 23 marker, Dawn passed me and pulled away for good.

I can’t say I fell apart in the last 3 miles… my pace slipped by 30 seconds per mile… but I was fighting the 500 lb gorilla that jumps on your back in the final miles of a marathon. I knew that I had a PR in the bag… I just wanted to be finished… but… I had one more goal that pushed me along. I’d not clocked a 9+minute mile all day… even the pee break mile had been an 8:58.

Mile 25 was a 8:59… I told myself that mile 26 would be faster and I would run the table on this mofo with all sub 9s. I used every fiber of my being to move myself along that mile but to no avail. My Timex showed me 9:06.

The disappointment was short-lived, however, as I entered the stadium and headed for the finish line.

I hit the line at 3:43:17 and change with a chip time of 3:42:57

I was really too tired to think at the finish… Just gathered my stuff up and went home.

But today looking back… I mean… what a day… what a d@mm day!

I left it all out there on the road… and that’s a lot of road….




Lesser is More said...

Nicely done to get a big PR! One of these days I'll get the whole marathon pacing thing right too...

Matthew Smith said...

Way to go on this PR. I know this is an old post, but it's helping me understand this race a little bit better. It'll be fun to meet ya and run in the same race! I may have to shoot ya an email or something to get some details about what I can expect.