Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Quest for the Sub 4 Marathon: Go! St. Louis

When I decided to run my first marathon back in 2010 I had no expectations of ever running marathons for time. I only wanted to finish one and I was done. Reading back through my blogs you will see that not only did I run more than one marathon, I quickly became frustrated with my times. I finished marathons but in my mind I wanted to get better, not just finish. I trained harder each time to no avail. After running Disney in 5:02 in January I decided I was going to change my training, my nutrition, and my attitude! Sub 4 was the mark. I wanted to get there. In my mind sub 4 made me a "real" runner. Though I had finished 10 marathons I wanted to prove something to myself. I wanted to prove that I could overcome that barrier. At St Louis last week, I finally did!

This race was my original choice for my April marathon. To be honest, looking through the marathons in April, I liked the medal better than any of the others that were an option. I know, other things should be more important in deciding on a marathon to run but I like the bling!

After running the marathon and exeperiencing the event, I have to say I am glad I chose this one. It was a great event. It wasn't so large that you felt overwhelmed but it wasn't so small that you missed out on the excitement of a larger event. The expo and packet pick up were set up well, the course wasn't too hilly, and most importantly, the crowd support was great! I would recommend running this event to anyone looking to check Missouri off of your 50 State list.

Brian and I made the six hour drive to St Louis on Saturday making it in plenty of time to get our packets from the expo. We stayed about six miles out of downtown to save funds on a hotel room. We were glad we did it that way. It was easy to hop on the Metrolink and get right downtown to the events. On Sunday morning we got off the Metrolink about a block away from the Start Line. We couldn't have asked for a better drop off spot.

As the race started I knew my strategy. I had practiced it at Knoxville and I knew exactly what I wanted to do. As I had in my previos three marathons, I was going to run the first three miles at about an 8:15 pace and then move into a 4:1 walk/run ratio. As soon as I started running I knew I felt good. I tapered into this race which I hadn't done in a while. It was quickly evident that my legs were fresh. The first few miles were relatively flat so holding my pace wasn't that difficult. I finished up my three miles right at 24 minutes and felt confident that I could hit that 4 hour mark.

I really enjoyed this course. We obviously started within eyesight of the famous St Louis Arch.
I ran through the Budweiser facililites where they had one of the Clydesdale's out. I also ran by the new Busch Field, home of the Cardinals. Finally, the course took us through several parks and neighborhoods. In most marathons there is a section of the course that is just boring. Outside of a few stretches of road between parks or neighborhoods, this race was interesting most of the way through. They had entertainment at about every mile and the crowd support was great. There were very few areas that didn't have spectators cheering you on. One highlight was the Priest showering Holy Water on runners as they passed. I ran to the left to catch a few drops myself when I saw him. And no, it didn't burn me as it hit me!! I'm not that bad! :)

Though this course wasn't hilly at all compared to either Knoxville or Atlanta, it did have a few inclines that were lengthy. There weren't any massive hills but when they did come, they lasted a while. Considering I had some good hill training under my belt, I handled these hills relatively well. One of the things that really affected my running was the wind. There were even a couple of downhills where it was harder running downhill than uphill. Luckily, it was an off and on deal. The wind didn't blow the entire time.

My body responded really well to my training and my nutrition plan. I felt good the entire race and my legs never felt fatigued during the race. I guess one of the big battles that I have always fought during a marathon is the mental battle. The last couple of marathons have been a different story. I haven't struggled with the "Will I finish?" question. Knowing that I am in no danger of not finishing, helps me concentrate on strategy and form. I have a plan and I am sticking to it. So much different than in previous races. It paid off big time on Sunday!

There was one glitch in the process in St Louis though. At mile 14, I had to stop to pee. I couldn't hold it any longer. That one glitch cost me a full two minutes! I have never really struggled with potty breaks but I guess I've never really worried about a two minute stop either!

Finishing Go! St Louis in 3:59:36 is a huge accomplishment for me. I told my buddy Adam before the Flying Pig last year that I wanted to break 4 hours someday so I would feel like a "real runner" in my mind. I broke that barrier Sunday and for some reason it feels like I am. I know 11 marathon finishes does that in and of itself but it was just a personal mental thing for me! I finally did it. The big negative about it is that I now own a PR under 4 hours. That means I have to work that much harder to PR now. I'll take that negative though! Also, if you had asked me two months ago if I had ever thought about Boston and I would have laughed at you. Now, I look at my times and I see the imoroivements over the last few months and I see a glimmer of hope. My qualifying time for Boston after October 15th will be 3:15. Though it is a stretch, I really feel like it is in range. I'm going to try my best to get there in the next year or so. It's gong to take hard work, mental toughness, and a continued commitment to my nutrition plan but it's now a thought at least!!

Shout out to Brian who also finished his sixth marathon in six months. Brian is a machine and he is on this journey of one marathon a month in 2012 with me. We both moved to the second star level of Marathon Maniacs by finishing this race! Thanks Brian for keeping me going!

One last thing. As I did back in 2010, I will be a St Jude Hero this year. Take a look at my page and donate if you can. It's time to beat childhood cancer once again!

No comments:

Post a Comment