As the fluctuations of 2015 continue, it is not all bad. Occasionally, there has been the upswing surprise. You could say this past weekend was one of them.
Not sure if the world has heard yet, but I repeated at champion at the Bucks County Marathon on Nov 15th that starts and finishes in Washington Crossing, PA. The skinny version is that I won in 2:39:00, slower than last year's record time of 2:31:53. To be honest, the 2:39 was a complete surprise.
Aside from one 20 miler in Sept when I was trying to push myself to be ready for Steamtown (we all know what happened or I should say didn't happen there), I had not done anything over 16 miles. Even then, they had only been the past two weekends prior. (1 @ 15miles, 1 @ 16miles) Part of trying to push was to gauge my ability to line up for Stone Mill 50 on the 14th which was a race I had been looking to. However, on many of my longer runs I've experienced tightness in my groin leading to a slowdown in the latter miles. Both of those long runs had this. What this resulted in was an email to the Stone Mill RD saying I would not be able to run it. I just did not feel I had 50 miles in me without something really bad happening. Call it my spider sense finally telling me to not do something stupid.
(In fact, the few weeks after the Steamtown decision, I have been focusing in on getting back to a good schedule of running right when I wake up. For too much of the year to circumstances, I had been trying to be flexible for sanity's sake. Since I've been pushing myself to get up and out 1st thing, I've been feeling better about many things. Sure, I may be tired but as I do it, my body will get back to where it was as the mind will be sharp.)
So what do I do? Something else potentially stupid. In talking with BCM RD, Pat McCloskey, I told him I was thinking of coming out but was not sure how I would do. He didn't care. I could have finished last. He just wanted me to come out and not be a wuss. Lets call that a swift kick in the pants. The type of kick I did need. I needed to really test myself without pressure. As those who know me, I have a good knack for applying lots of pressure on myself. It can be both good when there is confidence and bad when there is not. Thankfully, Pat's encouragement took the pressure off. Well with the exception of getting Bib #1.
One item, I've neglected to mention was that on the 14th, (day before), I signed up to run a 5K trail race put on by REI in Smithville, NJ. I wasn't going to do that hard just as a shake out run. More or less, it was a nice little run in a park I had not been. Went modest in terms of pace but helped me get loose for the next day.
Sunday morning, I got up and drove to the marathon. Pat mentioned a runner had put down 2:30 as a time. He didn't recall the name but I found it on the list and knew the guy was fully capable. Now where a bit of luck comes in....individual did not show. Hopefully, it was because he had found another race and not due to injury. I warmed up a tad as in to the bathroom and back before getting to the starting line. Before I knew it, we were off. And once we got 10 feet beyond the starting line, I was unchallenged. My first mile was sub 6! I felt comfy and told myself I was going to run comfortable and not look at my time every mile. In fact, I looked at my time at 10K, 10M and HM marks before looking again with 6 to go. Ok, so I did check one more time 3 minutes after the turnaround when I saw second to see how much of a lead I had. (6 minutes for those math majors at home.)
At the 20 mile mark, Pat asked how I felt. I may have uttered a verbal 'sucky' of sorts. I was holding together well but I felt my lack of distance and speed beginning to work against me. My last couple of miles into the finish were slower than 6:30. Amazingly, I held on to my pace pretty well. My second half was only 2 minutes slower than my 1:18:33 on the way out.
I'm very happy to have repeated as champ of this race. It seems like a good way to close out the fall.
May this be a sign that 2016 is going to be a good year. Some races are coming together......