A different type of race

There were no illusions for me about outstanding performances or fast times entering Sunday’s marathon.

Inside my mind, I knew my training wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be. My mileage and quality of workouts leading up to the race weren’t up to my usual standards. The rigors of moving, getting settled into a new job and home, and trying to fight through some motivational challenges, partly stemming from some physical issues, just didn’t set me up for the type of success I’d generally expect.

Still, I entered the marathon with a good attitude: My goal was to just feel well during the race, enjoy the opportunity to run and log a long training run in hopes of jumpstarting my training for later this spring and summer.

The result was a subpar time, but a very enjoyable marathon. My official time was 3 hours, 28 minutes, 57 seconds. My watch, which I forgot to take off auto stop, said 3:27:16. The difference normally would be a second or two, but this race was different.

Just after the first mile (and a half hour start delay), I decided to visit a portable bathroom on the course, costing me time and momentum from a 7:14 first mile. Much later in the race, I stopped again, this time to address a shoe issue. About mile 17, I felt a lace digging into the top of my foot, and about a mile later I finally stopped to address it. At that point, I was more concerned with finishing the race without any significant injuries.

At this point, I’m still processing what can be learned from my race, outside of the lack of mileage and speedwork leading up to it. During the past few weeks, I considered dropping down to the half marathon to avoid a disappointing time, but chose to go the 26.2-mile route. A slower time would do a couple things for me: Still give me a good base for future training, and irritate me enough to motivate myself for a serious training regimen in the months to come.

And while the time is more than 10 minutes slower than my last marathon, I’m not really disappointed. I’m able to run and enjoy this sport, even the day after. From peak fitness just last September, to my slowest time in 2 1/2 years, will not sit well with me.

There are some lingering questions to find the answers to: my normally steely stomach gave me a few problems during the race, as it has in the past month, and I haven’t figured out the reasons. I’m left to wonder if I pushed myself enough on the course. And the lack of a tuneup race really makes a difference when dialing in the pace.

But the best part of the weekend was being able to run and hang out with other friends, some of them who had terrific performances and exceeded their expectations.

As for this runner, it’s time to ramp up the training and start preparations for the next marathon.

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