When I logged into my blog the other day it dawned on me that I had not written anything about my running in almost a year. The last race recap came from the Go! St Louis Marathon last April. So many things have changed in my life over the last year. My family moved from one of the most beautiful places in the world, Chattanooga, TN, to one of the other most beautiful places in the world, the Alabama Gulf Coast. I've had a career change. And finally, I've come full circle in my spiritual journey. The one thing that has remained a constant, outside of my beautiful wife and children, has been running. I would love to blog more about my running and it is a self discipline that I am working on building. To me, recapping a race not only helps me think through the events and learn from them, but hopefully it will inspire someone else to start running and change their life for the better!
Six days ago I ran the Mercedes Marathon for the third time. I also ran the half in 2011 making this the fourth year in a row that I have competed in this great event. Just four short years ago I ran my first full marathon at Mercedes. Every time I run this course I can remember what was going through my mind in 2010 as I passed each mile marker. It's really quite amazing the difference in what I was thinking then and what I was thinking last weekend. For example, in 2010 I can remember thinking at mile 21 after just coming out of Five Points, "How am I going to even walk to the finish?!". This year, I was thinking, "Ok, if I can maintain an 8:15 mile for five more miles, I can finish at 3:50!". What a difference! I love this event and even though I tell myself every year that I'm going to run a different one next year, I always end up back at Mercedes.
One of the reasons I love running Mercedes is that I get to see so many of my running friends. Many of them were there for me when I first got started and kept me encouraged while I was struggling through the Couch to 5K program. Others, like Tara Bates and Bobby Bellew that you see in the first photo, have been lifelong friends. We grew up together and it always seems that life keeps us in touch with each other. I'm glad running has found a way for us to all connect again. Still, there are others that I have met on my running journey that have really been an encouragement to me.
In this picture on the right you see my buddy Michael Gann with me. I met Michael through social media and since have run many marathons and other races with him. He is a huge encouragement to me on so many levels. He is an amazing runner but more importantly, he is a great Husband and Dad to a wonderful family! What a great example he is. He is also like many fellow runners that I know, he often raises funds for so many great causes as he runs. At Mercedes he ran the relay on Team Daniel and the Dynamites. Here is the link to their site: http://www.imathlete.com/donate/TeamDanielTheDynamites They are almost at their goal of $10,000 raised for the Bell Center in Birmingham!
There are so many others that I could talk about seeing at Mercedes but one group I cannot leave out is the Anniston Runners Club. I have been a member of ARC since I first started running and I will always be a member no matter where I live. In my opinion, it is the best running club out there. It has some really amazing people in the club and they are all so encouraging. It seems that no matter where I go to run a race, there is some representation for ARC. (Of course, that could be due to the fact that I run so many races with the Bullet Brian Mount, Paula Roberson, and Erin Thielker but that topic is for another blog post!) Here is a pic of the ARC group in our annual pre Mercedes photo!
Now for the brief race recap. In the past month I have shifted my training method and started training to HR instead of pace and distance. I am working with Coach Glenn McDaniel with PRSFIT (@mcdnielg) and it has made a huge difference. It has been a mental struggle for sure with all of the "slow" runs but it is working. In the past, as some of you know, I have employed the "walk/run" method supported by Jeff Galloway. Though it worked for me in the past, on Sunday I did not have to walk to keep from fatiguing. I kept my pace at a steady upper Zone 2 and moved into Zones 3/4 towards the end. I finished the race at 3:51:42 which knocked a huge 8 minutes off of my PR for the marathon distance.
As I started the race I had one "real" goal in mind, it was to stay under 4 hours. I really felt like that was in the bag without any major complications. I guess "secretly" I had a goal of finishing at 3:50. My mind ws telling me it wasn't going to happen but I knew from my training runs that the pace was something that wasn't a struggle for me on longer runs now. Knowing the course well always helps but this race felt different. After messing up before the start and having to retrieve something from my already checked bag, I settled into a groove pretty quickly. I had to start in the corral with the 13 min mile pacers making me have to weave through traffic a bit longer that I am used to doing. It all worked out though because I feel like that traffic kept me from bolting out too fast like I normally do.
By about mile 6 I knew I had a good shot at my 3:50 goal. I was into the first loop of the hilly part of the course and I was able to keep my HR steady for the most part. It is always fascinating to see so many folks ruin their entire race in this section. They run all out on the hills and they are spent for the next time through. I paced myself well and came out of 5 points feeling really good. At the half I was on a pace that was a bit quicker than I expected. I was averaging 8:41 miles and still felt fresh.
As I made my way back into the hilly section of the course on the second loop I made a huge strategic mistake which ended up costing me the 3:50 mark. I felt like I could make up some time coming out of the Highlands if I slowed down a good bit on the hills. I made myself slow down big time. Coming into mile 22 I still had a shot at hitting 3:50 but I never could maintain the pace necessary to make it back up. I finished strong and felt good about my effort. A finish time of 3:51:42 is something that I would never even imagined a year ago. I had a long term goal of finishing Rocket City in December in 3:45. Obviously, I need to stretch that goal a good bit. The new goal is 3:15 at Rocket City. and yes, that would be a Boston Qualifying time for me!
With the new training method, a healthy diet, and a continued use of great nutritional and supplement products (Visit www.mrhump.net to see what I am talking about. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions) I really feel like a BQ is in this year's cards. Only time will tell but I am sure going to try. #commitmenttoconsistency