Wow, where to start? At the beginning I guess. Last November, I was asked to be a Coach for the 2:07 / 4:15 Half Marathon / Marathon Pace group for the Spring Dave’s Marathon In Training (MIT) program. I quickly said yes, then, after the fact realized, that I was going to have to train a group of runners to complete a marathon in 4 hours and 15 minutes which would be a 26 minute Personal Best, as my previous Marathon PR was a 4:36. Okay, better get to work!
Our 16-week program, which consisted of a Tempo Run on Tuesday, a Track Workout on Thursday and a Long Run on Saturday morning, began on Tuesday, January 2nd.
I had been training straight through since the previous MIT program ended in November, because I had a Marathon at Disney scheduled for Sunday, January 7th. I had a Sub-Coach lined up to cover for me for the first Saturday long run, but the Head Coaches ended up canceling it for sub-zero temperatures, which would become a recurring issue (weather) for this MIT Session.
Some pic’s of my group and our many Group Runs.
Every MIT session has a theme and this session it was Music related. Take a Band Name and make it running related. We had the “Flock of Runners“, “Blink 26.2“, “Notorious MIT“, and several others. One of our runners came up the idea of RUN DMT (for Dave’s Marathon in Training) a parody of the RUN DMC Group of the 80’s. We developed a Logo and even had shirts and head bands pointed, we were styling!
The 16-weeks flew by and before you knew it, it was race weekend. We had our traditional Carb-Loading Spaghetti dinner on Friday night, then Race Expo, Packet Pick Up on Saturday and the Race on Sunday.
During the course of this training cycle, all of those that signed up to run the Full Marathon, either moved up to faster groups, down to slower groups or decided to drop down to the Half Marathon distance, leaving we with only Half Marathoners running this race from my group. Which is not a problem and in most cases I was part of the decision marking process for their moves.
So on Race Day, I was only obligated to run the Half Marathon as a Coach, but I had trained for the Full and I felt that I needed to lead by example, so I’d be running the full Marathon. Number 3 for me.
The Race started at 7:05 am, the first mile was right on pace. My goal was to pace them at a 2:07 pace through the split (half / full marathon) off at mile 7. As planned, I left them at 1:07:58 and the goal was 1:08:01. I would later find out that some had finished above the 2:07 pace and a few just under that pace, but overall a very good showing.
For me, now I was without my group for support, which was the first time this session that I didn’t run in a group. While it was a big race and I had many other runners around me at all times, it was different, but I knew that would be the case, so I pulled up my ear buds and just started to listen to my music, again, something I had not done all season.
After leaving my group and my pacing responsibility’s, I started to pick up the pace, something I would later regret. I was logging mostly 9:30 miles through mile 15, I had a 2:05 first half, my Half Marathon PR is a 2:01.
At mile 16 it was warming up, so I decided to stop and pull off my compression undershirt and just run with my singlet. I knew that when your body temp rises it saps your energy and I was on a real energy conservation program for this race. As I came out of Olander Park and hit mile 17, I was running directly into a steady 15 mph head wind. Mile 17 is mostly flat, but I knew the course well, and mile 18 and 19 consist of a long steady uphill and into a strong head wind today. So the question became, what to do? Try to maintain my pace and possibly burn too much of my energy stores or back off the pace an try to save energy for later in the race?
Well, I chose the first option and held my pace. May never know if that was a good call or not.
By the time I reached mile 20, I was feeling the build up of lactic acid in my legs and knew that the wall was coming soon if I tried to maintain this pace. So in a mile 20 attempt to do “runner math“, yea that’s a real thing and very challenging to do, I determined that I would drop from a 9:30 pace to between a 10:00 to 10:30 pace per mile pace for few miles to see how that went.
For miles 20 – 23 I averaged a 10:12 pace, but as I hit the UT Trail at mile 22, I again was faced with the head wind. Miles 23-25 average droped to to 10:48 pace. My 4:15 goal was not going to happen and was struggling for a 4:25 pace. I mustered a 10:38 for the last mile and finished at a 4:24:09 overall with a 10:01 average pace. Not the result I had hoped for, but I’ll take a 12 minute PR any day.
I am so proud of my RUN DMT Group, they worked hard, they all put in over 350 miles during his training session, ran in some of the worst weather conditions imaginable, gave up time with their families, all to accomplish a Goal that many will only Dream of.
As the quote goes, ” The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start“, John Bringham.
Until Next Time … Happy Running!