Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Marathon

On Saturday, November 12, I ran the Richmond Marathon. My finish time of 3:08:04 was good enough for 143rd place out of over 5200 starters - in the top 3%. My time was also good enough for 2nd in my age group and good enough to beat my Boston Qualifying time by nearly 37 minutes. Problem is,,,, my time wasn't good enough for me. I missed my goal significantly.

The few people close to me know I don't care anything about awards for beating other people. And I don't care much about Boston either. Just not my thing. Instead, I set time goals for myself - times that are challenging yet achievable. At least when I set them I believe they are achievable. At Richmond, I had a goal of 3:00:00. I also had a back up "I can live with goal" of 3:05:00. I bombed on both goals.

A 3 hour marathon is a 6:52 pace. At my age and ability, I knew the 3 hour goal would be difficult. But after I had run the Davidson Half Marathon in 1:25:00 and the McMillan calculator verified my 3:00:00 goal was achievable, I decided to go for it. I felt I had trained well with multiple pace runs at a 6:45 pace, so I was confident. However, on race day I was behind my goal times from the start and struggled throughout the entire race.

So what happened? It's hard to say.
Maybe it was health. I had a pretty rough cold leading up to the marathon and had to take a heavy dose of medicine the night before in order to get any sleep. However, I felt better race morning.
Maybe it was stress. My work has been a nightmare over the last month.
Maybe it was ability. I've never been a great marathoner and although I've run a few under 3 hours, perhaps those days are behind me.
At this point, I don't know exactly what happened. I know it wasn't my mind. My mind got me through the last 8 miles when my body was screaming to stop.

Probably more importantly, where do I go from here? Do I make another attempt at a 3 hour marathon? I'm aging with limited marathoning ability so maybe I should lower my expectations. But I struggle giving up on a goal I think I can meet. So like all marathoners, after a few days of recovery, I'll most likely analyze what went wrong and how to fix it. Then I'll decide where to go from here.


  1. Tim... I wouldn't be terribly disappointed with that time of 3:08:04. The North Carolina state marathon record in the 55-59 age group is 3:06:05 and hasn't been broken for 17 years (set in 1994). I think breaking that record is very possible for you.

  2. That's a great point about not being interested in beating other people. If that's all this sport was about it wouldn't hold nearly as much allure to me. On the other hand, seeing what others have accomplished can give you some sense of what is possible. You are going beyond what many people believe is possible, and that is awesome, even if you think you can do better than that.