ed. note: I originally wrote this for a forum I frequent, but am bringing it here as I slowly try to write about all of the stuff I have done in the past few years.
I think I signed up to run the Richmond Marathon back in April with the full intention of training for 18 weeks using Higdon’s Intermediate II or Advanced I program. My goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Thanks to being Old As Fuck™ (45), I only needed a 3:25. Possibly doable!
That said, I also decided not to tell many people because I have a solid history of signing up for races and not training enough or at all. True to form, in the 18 weeks leading up to the marathon, I ran 34 times for a total of 219 miles. I only had four runs over 10 miles, with the longest run being 14 miles. Anyway, you get the idea. I didn’t train enough. Yes, I had a lot of cycling in there, so that definitely helped my cardiovascular system. Anyway, I was too lazy to defer to next year so my plan was to maybe have a medical emergency on the course so that I could at least get my money’s worth out of the registration fee. I was also going to drink a lot of beer at the Expo (latter mission accomplished).
Without going all travelogue, Richmond is a great, up-and-coming city with lots of shit affluent people like. Microbreweries, gastropubs, independent coffee shops, bike lanes, etc.. It also has shit no one likes, including hipsters, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.
Anyway, during the Fall months, almost anywhere on the east coast is going to beautiful and Richmond was no exception. The leaves were a million colors. While the temp was in the upper 30s at the 7:45am gun, it wasn’t soul-suckingly cold. In fact, the wind cooperated and I was comfortable in running shorts, a light long sleeve base layer, and gloves. I also had a t-shirt sleeve on my head as an improvisational throwaway skullcap, but it did such a good job keeping my ears warm and the sweat out of my eyes, I never took it off. In other words, I looked like a fucking doofus. I also wore some hand me down Nikes from my father in law – a few years old with a thousand miles or more on them. Basically part tribute to my FIL and an ineffectual “FU” to the running shoe industry. Or something.
My goal was to run a 7:30 pace, but I went out fast and latched on to a group which was probably looking to run a three hour marathon. Our splits over the first 10 miles had us at around 6:50/mile. It was weird, but I felt good so I revised my plan to something way more irresponsible: hold on as long as possible and then finish on fumes and tears.
This plan worked great until mile 19 when the wheels came off. Or the legs. Yes, there was a voice in my head that actually thought I had an outside shot of averaging 6:55 miles for an entire marathon.
I did not.
Cardio was fine and my heart rate actually went down for the last 7 miles, but my legs and anything attached (feet, back, kankles) just weren’t having it. I walked through some water stops and stretched a little and otherwise cursed myself whenever I thought for even a second about stopping. My average pace started creeping up 6:55, 6:58, 7:01, 7:06. Once I got to 7:11 with two miles to go, I knew that I was going to have to dig deep. I literally closed my eyes during a few stretches while I was trying to visualize finishing. The people along the route were predictably great, and one spot was handing out beers. I had a beer, of course, because my personal discipline is for shit. I also spilled half of it on myself, a smell which reminded me that I had been at much, much lower points than this. So it actually helped!
Fortunately the finish was straight down hill, so any illusion I had of my quads ever working again was mercifully ended. I did manage to scuttle across the finish in just a shade over 3:10, which is NOT good enough to qualify for Boston if you are 35-39 (you have to be under!) Again though, I am ancient, so it was good enough for me to be a fair bit ahead of the 3:25 mark I needed. I finished 13th (out of 249) in my age group (45-49) and 175th overall out of 4,056.
Anyway, that’s it. I really can’t walk that well, but I’ll heal up. I was so under trained it was ridiculous. But I qualified for Boston 2018 and I am definitely doing it. I am also going to run Richmond again because, well…I’m an idiot.
Don’t be like me.