Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sub-4 Hour Marathon Accomplished

2012-03-02 15.52.17It’s been quite a journey to get to this goal of hitting Sub-4 Hours, but I’m so glad that I stuck with it.  I stuck to a great running program by the Frisco Running Club, added Insanity, and ate healthier.

Ursula and Briana came along to cheer me on at the race.  Thanks so much to them for fighting the traffic and navigating the forests of The Woodlands, TX!  It was so great to see them at every point of the race.

The Woodlands Marathon was a pretty well run race.  There are small things here and there that could be better, but all and all, I’m very happy with how it was put on.  It was a smaller race, but it had a bigger race feel at times.  The expo was a nice quaint small size.  It was held in a church, so I guess I was already at home.  :)

staircase.svg_The course itself was a 13.1 mile loop.  It was boasted as a flat race.  By comparison to other races, it was definitely flat.  However, it had this weird feeling that it was a slight incline for the entire race.  It reminded me of one of those Escher drawings.  Maybe it was the never ending trees on the left and right of ya.  It seemed like I’d see a downhill coming, but it was for a very brief moment.

For a smaller race there were a lot of water stations and cheer villages.  There were definitely some desolate areas because of all of the trees, but the amount of water stations and cheer villages made up for it.  The majority of them cheered for you if you were in a big group or coming through solo.  They were very interactive and energetic!

Below are a couple of thoughts before the race.  Bummer that the Start Line Inflatable couldn’t be in place as it was too windy for it to stay up.  A great thing about all of the trees on this course is that you minimally felt the affect of the wind.  Loved it!  The other thing about the avoidance of the wind is that it was primarily a West-East loop race.  The shortest portions of the race went north & south.

I had a game plan of hitting even splits.  I wanted to keep the pace at about 8:50 so that I’d have time for a few breaks.  If I felt better than I could crank it up.  Here I am at mile 11 after having split times of 8:53, 8:47, 8:49, 8:53, 8:55, 8:34, 8:42, 8:52, 8:46. 

You’ve got to love my laugh when my wife says that we’ll see you at the finish.  I really knew that I’d want to see them one more time.  She is such a trooper for driving all over to see me.  That was my “Oh, baby, please… I’ve got to see you one more time” look!  :)

Shortly after I saw Ursula & Briana at mile 11, I saw Stacy from work.  It was so cool seeing her as she was down here visiting family and cheering along with them.  I had a couple of laughs with them and went back on my way.

I did enjoy the 2 loop experience.  There were no surprises concerning the course.  It was definitely thinner on the 2nd loop of runners and some cheering peeps.  We ran on mostly in a closed off lane on a 2 or 3 lane road.  For the most part it felt very safe as I stayed to the middle of the lane.

Negative thoughts were creeping in my head at about mile 18.  I kept pushing them aside and running and running.  I just kept telling myself that I could stop when I saw Ursula at mile 21.  We were texting each other back and forth during the race.  Not the easiest thing to do, but I had 4 hours to kill. :)  Also, if she was going to be out there trying to find me, I needed to let her know where I was.  One bummer thing about the race was that the pace leaders dropped their signs and didn’t have any pace shirts on.  Usually as a spectator, you can look for them and kind of know when your running is coming.

I was hurting a good deal when I met up with Ursula and Briana at mile 21, but I was so happy to see them.  As I said in the video, I was only one Insanity workout from being done… I just had to PUSH THROUGH!

Once I saw Ursula & Briana at mile 21, I had two parts of the race left to go.  First part was to get to Stacy at mile 24 and the last part was the last 2.2 miles.  Unfortunately nature was knocking and I had to take care of it at mile 22.  I hate going number 2 during a race, but couldn’t hold it any longer.  I’m so glad that I took care of it.  You can only put that off for so long before… uh… you know!

It was great to be able to hand off my water belt to Stacy at mile 24.  I felt so much lighter and rearing to go for the last couple of miles.  I finished the last 3 miles with splits of 8:42, 8:40, & 8:42.  The last half mile, I had a split pace of 7:40. 

When I checked my time at the Mile 26 marker it was 3:57.  I was worried a bit and gave it all I had to get cross that finish line.  It probably looked like I was in slow motion to people watching, but I was blazing as fast as the elites.  I wasn’t trying to finish faster than the person on my left or right… it was all about beating that 4:00 mark!  It was pure elation when I looked at my Garmin and it said 3:59.  Official chip time was 3:58:59.

I’m so glad that I pushed through and knocked it out.  It was probably the toughest 4 hours that I’ve pushed through, but I’m so happy that I experienced it.

I was an emotional mess when I finished the race.  I couldn’t find Ursula & Briana right away, which was probably a good thing.  Finishing a challenge like this is so emotionally and physically draining.  Pushing out the negative thoughts of wanting to give up, go slower, and just let it go is something else.  I fed off all of the positive encouragement that I received the days & weeks leading up to the race.

Thanks again to everyone’s texts, tweets, and Facebook posts.  It was so cool to hear a tweet on my phone knowing that it was someone cheering me on.  All of the congrats I received on Facebook was crazy cool.  I love this running community!  It’s so great to see each other push through our challenges and succeed!

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