To set the marathon stage, The Marquette Marathon is a small marathon in an even smaller town, my hometown, Marquette, MI. Race date was Saturday August 31st, 2013. I ran my first marathon there in 1981, I think in 3:02.
Jen and I drove to Marquette on Friday. After a late start, we pulled into Marquette (following a 7 hour drive) at 7:45p local time...shit, expo closes at 9:00...and I still need to register!
Good dinner, good sleep and I'm ready to rumble.
Saturday morning, race day, and I feel grand. I have a good breakfast (NO Diet Pepsi), and we head to the start. No Garmin today, I'm going to run off 'feel' and just let my playlist guide me.
The plan (?) is to run 7:40's from the start, be consistent and run 3:24:59 to hit my Boston time by the 5:01 over mark, allowing me to sign up on week 1. Well, plans change...
Favorite shoes, (Mizuno Precision)...check; gel flask full of PowerGel, favorite Brooks shorts and Brooks/BP tech top and a loaded iPod...I'm ready.
With my gel, as well as my hydration, I stuck to the plan...7 gels total, early and often...I was one of the only runners to take a gel and 2 cups at mile 1.5 :)
Standing at the start line, doubt is heavy on my mind...minimal training, limited quality, sore left calf, family health battles weighing heavy with me... "How am I going to run 26+ miles at 7:40 pace when I have only done 1 run beyond 9 miles in the past couple of months?" ...but at some point, you just need to get it done. I have years of base, and years of experience...what will be different about THIS marathon? Nothing...dammit, Derek, just put your head down and push...you need Boston, you and Jen need Boston.
As we begin the 2 loop course in and around Marquette, most of our miles will be run on paved bike trails...a gradual climb from miles 3.5-5/16.5-18...could it be any more beautiful than this? Marquette really is paradise. A town of roughly 20,000 residents, situated on the shores of Lake Superior and home to Northern Michigan University and the Olympic Training Center, and apparently, a very supportive community, as we had an endless supply of spectator support on the course.
...Mile 1, 7:02, mile 2, 6:59...mile 3, 7:04...what the hell? Why did this feel so easy? "Slow the hell down, Derek!" 7:11, 7:06...10 miles in 1:10:40 and the half in 1:33 and change. "Hey, toolbox, what about the 7:40 plan?" Well, the course is fast, weather is amazing...and that playlist... How long can I hold this crazy pace? Can I hold on and finish 20 minutes under my Boston qualifying time?
This race is reminding me a lot of the 2006 Baton Rouge Beach Marathon, there I also needed a Boston time after pacing my ex to a Boston time at Chicago only 6 weeks earlier. I came into that race, as I did Marquette, undertrained, no mileage, no quality, yet ran an opening half in 1:26 and finished 5th overall and as the Master's Champion in 3:05ish, a race that still has me scratching my head.
Mile 14, 7:13, 15 in 7:11...? In hindsight, my race went South with a strong push on mile 18, an uphill mile that I worked hard...too hard. 7:08 for 18 and then 6:59 for mile 19...and then I was done.
I hit mile 20 in roughly 2:24, 7:12 average...a huge Boston cushion. The rest of the run was a jog/run/walk through aid stations, keeping a close eye on the watch so I kept my 10:00+ Boston time.
3:17:54. RESULTS The time was good enough for 28th overall, 3rd in my age group. (Pretty sweet AG awards!)
Negative splits? Ha...1:33:38 and 1:44:16, but looking back, it wasn't that ugly of a finish...with my fitness, I couldn't hold on to the opening pace for 26.2, so by the time I hit 21, it was damage control...so did the wheels really fall off physically, or mentally did I know I wasn't going to hit the 20:00 under time and just shut it down? A question I can't answer.
A race I highly recommend, and a town you need to visit! www.marquettemarathon.com
Post race...I need a Pepsi Max.
Next up, marathon #107 at Big Cottonwood Marathon in Salt Lake City, UT on September 14th, 2013.