Thanks to a last minute cancellation of Army Reserves Drill this weekend I was able to go down to STL and register for the Go! St. Louis Marathon at the expo! I went down hoping to be able to get in the full, at worst getting in the half.
Both my main training partners were registered and have been training for the full. Thanks to them being wonderful people I tagged along with them and was able to sleep in a nice comfy hotel just a few blocks from the starting line.
The course was really nice and had numerous rolling hills. I’m a fan of hills and don’t really like long flat runs, so this worked for me. Today was supposed to be a high winds day, thankfully it held off real bad till after the race was over. It got pretty breezy in some spots, but it felt good. It did get real hot today. High 70s to low 80s during the run.
I know those temps aren’t all that high, but when it’s been in the 30s in the morning and that’s when you do most your runs, it’s blazing. It hurt me some, and it really hurt my two training partners. We all three were gonna run separate paces so we didn’t start together. Kelly Fox won back in ’05 so she had an elite entry which put her right up front. Duffy paced her that day and had trained super hard for this marathon, but he’s not “elite” so he started just behind the elites. I started back a bit further then them two. The plan we all had was to run our own race, and if we ended up running together then we would. Both those two are stronger and faster then I am, so I figured I wouldn’t see them till after the race.
I took off at a comfortable pace and stayed on a track to cover the distance at a 3:15-3:20 pace. I hadn’t done the math before hand, but looking at where the pace setter was that’s what I was doing. Around mile 15 or so I started hitting my wall. Way too early for me. I slowed a bit and started to jog through the aid stations. I was still running mostly mid 7 minute miles, but not low any more. I heard the 3:20 pace group coming up behind me so I figured I’d better run with them at about mile 17. I ran at the front of that group and was set to run a 3:20, giving me a nice big PR. That was till I saw my buddy Duffy just ahead of us at mile 20. Duffy was shooting to go sub 3 so I really did not expect to see him. In fact it broke my heart to see him cause I knew he had blown up and was hurting.
I decided to screw my PR and help my buddy out. Him and I have easily ran hundreds of miles together, you don’t spend that much time running with someone then leave them behind in a race. His spirits were up and he was smiling. Surprised me but made me super happy. It takes a mature runner to accept that you won’t hit your goal, adjust fire and keep the spirits up. We spent the last 6 miles running easy, walking the hills and water stations. We kept each others spirits up the whole way. Even though it was the slowest 6 miles of my race (by clock) they went by the fastest.
Duffy and I crossed around 3:32. For me slowing waaaay down and running with a friend that blew up I was only slower then my PR by about 3 minutes. The fact that Duffy blew up and was suffering bad and was only off by my PR by that much is a statement to how great a runner is. He had started cramping by about mile 3, and hung in there till 16 when he slammed into the wall.
Our friend Kelly (did a sub 3 a few months ago) finished in about 3:15. She started walking the water stations at mile 10. Again, she walked portions and took it easy and still rocked it with a great time. Duffy and Kelly both have my deepest respect as runners (and people too). I’ve learned a lot and become such a better runner running with them all the time.
Full Disclosure: I watched Back to the Future Part III while writing this. Side note if you didn’t know; ZZ Top is the band that plays during the town festival. I love all three of these movies. They take the grandfather paradox to a whole level that makes my brain hurt.