Wednesday, March 21, 2012

3/17/2012 Rock 'n' Roll USA and pre-HAT Run

My fourth year in a row at the National Marathon, which is now the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon, was another fantastic time.  As I continued to try cramming valuable training in for HAT post-injury, RnR was to be my last training run before taking a week easy leading up to the race.  It came at the end of a pretty heavy training week.  I was running a lot and got a couple good track/speed/hill sessions in, but felt generally lethargic on a couple of long runs.  I looked back at my training log to the Fall months and wondered how on earth I ran how I did.  I don't think my fitness level is that much lower than it was in the Fall, but some of the runs I did training for JFK seem impossible now.  I guess that's to be expected, sort of, and that I'm in a different part of the training cycle now, so hopefully I can get back to that level later this Spring.  Anyway, pacing 3:30 on Saint Patrick's Day with David and Capt Smith was a lot of fun.  It was mostly comfortable and never did I worry about not being able to run the even pace, but there is no way I could have run a 2:49, which is what happened in November at the end of a longer string of higher mileage days/weeks than these past couple weeks. 

Whatever, despite all that, I'm still really excited for the HAT Run this Saturday.  This is the first race that I have had the intention of racing since JFK.  I'm really excited to see the full HAT course, and to see how I can run against whoever else shows up.  With how I'm feeling right now, how training has gone the last couple months, and looking at the list of entrants, placing in the top 10 seems like a reasonable goal.  I'd really like to do well, as it is a kind of "hometown" race for me, only about 20 minutes from home.  I'm a little nervous, though; my legs have felt heavy and tired the last two days, and now there are two more days before the race.  Regardless, though, I plan to show up on Saturday and run as hard as I can, and that's what has me excited.

It's looking now like the streak of wet, muddy 50k's is going to continue! is showing 70% chance of thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday.  I was really hoping to run a dry 50k this weekend since I intend to race, but another mud run would be fun too and will certainly make things interesting on that course.

Highlights from pacing RnR USA include:
  1.  Solid group through 20 miles, after which point runners began stringing out, but many hang on to meet goals and PR.
  2. Helping people BQ is always exciting and really gratifying.
  3. First marathon run in a tu-tu.
  4. Good training run on tired legs.
  5. One guy in the group who had been with us basically all race was starting to feel really gassed around mile 25.  Leading up to the 26 mile mark, he hit a wall and slowed drastically.  We encouraged him and watched as he grit his teeth and found an impossible finishing kick at mile 26.0.  At about mile 26.1, I turned around and witnessed a precise moment when his legs locked up and completely failed him as he collapsed to the ground.  Capt Smith and I ran back to help him up.  He couldn't even stand on his own, but his sights were set on the finish line less than 100 meters away.  I've never personally witnessed someone fighting through such pain in a race.  As Capt Smith and I each held an arm and helped him along, we kept him from collapsing again while he's knees practically scraped the asphalt with every step.  When he reached the line, he fell to the ground again, and he was completely drained and unresponsive.  His eyes were open, but he wasn't speaking.  We carried him to the medical tent where he was taken care of.  It was an inspiring finish and I couldn't help but feel proud of him.  Although I don't even know the guy, I watched him give literally everything his body had and more in order to meet his goal.  I don't know if it was his first marathon or his 50th, a personal best or personal worst, but it was an extraordinarily inspiring effort.
Thanks David P. for the photo!
 Can't wait for another fun day on the trails with a few hundred amazing folks this weekend!

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