I really enjoy doing math, yes I know I am a nerd. To pound home this point a little more, any vehicle I drive in I prefer to have a calculator within arms reach. Oddly enough my wife is completely okay with me typing numbers into a calulator while driving, but the minute I use my cellular telephone she turns into a 105 pound complainer. Most times I can do my figuring mentally, although sometimes this does not turn out so well. An example of that happen this past week at the Goshen College track practice. I mentally calculated paces for the team to run, only to be off by 10 seconds per 400 meters. A minor error I know, but apparently they were not happy trying to run 40 seconds per mile faster than they were suppose to. I can only assume if I would have double checked my work these athletes would not have been so grouchy. One would think I was smart enough to know basic formulas. For some reason I forgot this equation is true everytime:
(Time off from running) + (Marathon) = Slow Time
This winter I got lazy. There I admit it, glad to get that off my chest. I frankly just did not train hard and took a lot of days off. Actually already in 2012 I have had 8 days of no running. I know this might come as a shock to some people, and it is with great shame that I confess to this. I have only done 1 speed workout since the end of October. How is it that someone who has been coaching athletes to personal records this winter could fail to work hard himself? Probably the same way that a State Champion in mental mathmatics could screw up when figuring split times for his athletes to run.
A few months ago when flipping through the Marathon and Beyond magazine I stumble upon a neat article about the Lost Dutchman Marathon. That feature story did a great job of selling the race to me. I was convinced to run in it, as were probably other readers, hence the race sold out in record time. Turns out the race is better than any story can report, it is one that should be on any persons "Bucket List" of marathons. Now I could go into a boring discertation about my travels to the race, the food I ate, the motel I stayed in, and all other minor details, but how about we just skip ahead to the marathon start line.
The marathon started at an easy pace for this out of shape runner, but it felt like things were going in slow motion. After running for what seemed like a very long time I assumed we had missed the first mile marker. My watch indicated we had only been running for 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Five guys were running tough up in the front pack. The lead biker, assessed the situation and stated an obvious question, "Who is going to win this thing?" I did not participate in the voting, but the majority of the athletes pointed to a bearded guy who was wearing his hat backwards. Turns out this athlete humbled me 9 years ago when he was a college senior and I was a sophomore, maybe today I could turn the tables on him.
Somewhere near mile 3 I turned to Gary Krugger, a crazy marathoning machine, and said, "I am about to go all Wardian on these guys!" That was in reference to Michael Wardian, the best marathoner and ultra marathon in the WORLD. A slight adjustment to my pace and soon it was just me and the lead biker, or so I assumed. A small herd of long horn cattle had decided to come out for the marathon. Six bulls or cows stood in the road with one calf on the side of the road. I doubt that happens very often in large city marathons.
The lead biker was great. He is a local judge and knew the area very well. For the entire race he gave me insights into various news and happenings in the area. He talked about the local colleges, famous accidents, the different types of cacti that we were passing, how the roads out there are paved with recycled tires, and of course he told me about the course. "You see that hill up on the horizon, you are running to the top of it then turn right." We stayed together for the majority of the 26.2 miles, only seperated when one of us had to use the porta potty and change clothes, luckily it was him and not me!
My goal going into the race was two-fold. I wanted to stay mentally engaged in the race and go under 2 hours and 30 minutes. I failed at both. The course drops in elevation for the first half which allowed me to get a half marathon split around 1:14:28. The second half had a couple of miles directly into the wind, this slowed me about 45 seconds per mile for 2 miles. The last 10k I put it in the BIGGEST GEAR I had left, which was topped out at 5:34 to 5:40 per mile. It was now mathmatically impossible to run under 2 hours and 30 minutes, but maybe I could salvage a respectable time.
A broke the finish line in 2:31:02, which once again proves the above math equation correct. Time off from running always equals slow race times. I was lucky enough to win, my 39th marathon win. I wonder if those athletes who boldly voted against me early in the race are sticking with their candidate? After the race the race directors had me and the female winner, Leah Thorvilson, stand next to a Hillbilly and his Mule for photographs. Prior to the photo I saved Leah from some embarrassment by pulling her underwear out of her cleavage. Yes you read that correctly. We stood proudly next to this Hillbilly, which growing up in the hills of Missouri I could tell this was a true blooded Hillbilly not just an actor. He kind of reminded me of some of my high school teachers, and no I am not making a joke about Missouri ladies having beards.
The race winners received a neat painting of the area, but more importantly at the awards I finally got to meet Rick Simon, one of my facebook friends. He ran a strong marathon. We took a few photos, chatted some, and when it came time to leave the race headquarters he offered up a ride. I was very grateful for transportation back to my motel, which was 8 miles or so from the race finish line.
I will not be running a marathon again for several weeks. I know some athletes create articles on their blogs tooting their horns about new sponsorship deals, what type of food to eat, or how best to touch your toes when stretching. It is good that they give us an insight into the life of an elite athlete, but I do not have the time for such things. I prefer to dedicate my time to my family and athletes I coach, but if you are interested in knowing what I will be doing this next month I will give you a clue: It involves training hard. In conclusion here is a quote from one of my favorite songs...
"And to the fans, I'll never let you down again, I'm back.
I promise to never go back on the promise, in fact."
I am healthy again and ready to train hard. I promise to not embarrass myself or my family by running subpar marathon times. I am not interested in being an athlete who travels the country just to run average marathon times. Come on lets do this together....