St. Louis Rock n’ Roll Marathon 2011
I did it.
I ran my 5th marathon on a whim last Sunday. This is something I would normally never dream of doing. I had trained all Summer long for Chicago, but after warm temps and a disappointing 4:00:12, I had a crazy idea and found myself, 5 days later, looking at the course and elevation profile of the STL RnR marathon.
Two weeks after missing my first sub-4 hour marathon by 13 seconds, could I do it? Could I set another PR and get under 4 hours? Common sense says no, but I signed up and gave it a try anyway.
I didn’t speak much about trying to get sub 4. I didn’t want to hear any negative talk (also known as common sense), so I kept fairly quite about it. I decided this time to start with the 4 hour pace group and just see what happened. I told myself (and my wife) that I would be satisfied with anything under 4:15. I was about to pull a little stunt and simply finishing with a respectable time and not injured was all that was really important.
I started with the 4 hour group in corral 7 and immediately they were going too slow, so with the help of my trusty Garmin 305, I pushed on myself. I attacked the downhills when I could and ran a very comfortable 9:00-9:05 minute per mile pace (I ran 8:45s at Chicago thru 18 miles).
I felt like I was pretty far ahead of the 4 hour group when, suddenly around mile 15, I heard the unmistakable sound of about 20 runners running at the same pace begin to overtake me. Hmm? I was ahead at this point and was surprised to see them. I was pretty sure they were banking time with a few considerable hills yet to come.
I hooked up with the group and pushed on through some very tough miles. 18 through 20 or so was a GRIND. Relentless, never-ending, slow climb. Just when i thought it was done, I turned a corner to find it continued up. The second half of this course is way more challenging than the first.
I made it until around mile 23 and then I had to start taking short walk breaks. I was still on pace, so I’d take a quick break and then run a bit faster to keep the 4 hour mark within reach.
I watched my Garmin as my average pace slowly dropped from 9:02 to 9:03 to 9:04. It was starting to slip away. Was it going to happen again?! I couldn’t let it happen again. I couldn’t get this far and give up. I ran, took a quick walk, ran, took a quick break, repeat. The 4 hour pacers were still well within sight.
Mile 25. It was virtually all downhill from here and looking at my watch I had 10 minutes left. I pushed through the last mile and actually yelled “No!” at the cramp the appeared in my left calf as I made the last turn towards the finish. As Jens Voigt would say “shut up legs.” With about a tenth of a mile to go there was my amazing, supportive wife and my little boy. Mindy gave me the very serious “GO” look with a thumbed “get going” motion…
I did it. Unbelievable. After 3 serious attempts at a sub 4 hour marathon, I made it. 4:01:30, 4:05, 4:00:12, 3:59:14. I’m so glad to have this monkey off my back. I also did it in incredible (don’t try this at home) fashion. 2 marathons in 2 weeks. The second faster than the first. A sub-8 hour double marathon!!