Woah! Holy Shit!
The build up to this goes back a few years and 10 marathons of trying. Swinging at sub 3 has been getting old. My PR was 10 marathons ago. It's enough to wonder why I bother but I'm stubborn.
Apparently marathon training cycles in the summer are better than in the winter. No time wasted going to the gym so easier to fit in doubles. Easier to supplement with some light and easy cycling. I didn't bother any fancy lead up races. I knew what needed to be done. It was better to sacrifice racing for training anyway.
The weekend before I got hit by a decent cold with lots of congestion and wasn't sure how much it would affect me. Through the week it faded but wasn't gone by race day so I had plenty of hacking and spitting.
Since this was Baystate the plan was to just run 6:50s. Easy as that. But it was windy. I had to modulate my effort dialing back in the head wind and slight inclines and pushing with the tail wind and any declines. The mental focus of watching my pace was unending.
Miles 0-4 were straight forward and I started smartly and then 4-8 required extra focus in the worst of the headwind. At mile 8 I stopped to take a nice long leak just a few steps from the course. This was after stopping to tie my shoe at about mile 5. Miles 8-12 were decent rolling and I could relax the effort with a slight tail wind. Here and there the wind swirled back into my face but not that bad.
I hit the half at about 1:29:52 and realized I was on pace but knew I needed another sub 90 and that wasn't going to be easy. Miles 14-18 sucked badly into the headwind. It was a balancing act of not pushing too hard and still staying on pace. Somehow I managed. Turing back to Lowell at mile 18 was a huge relief. With the tail wind I was able to catch a bit of a break, if you can call it that. I kept it rolling and was just hoping to get to the Rourke Bridge where I could count down the last few miles down from there. I tried to imagine I was finishing the Baystate Half Marathon since I had good memories of that last year.
I managed to get to 4 to go and reasoned to myself just one mile at a time. I had a sense at every point that I had one more mile in me so I wasn't going to panic as long as I kept realizing that.
From Mile 22-24 the cluster of runners I had been chasing started to fall apart and I ended up passing all of them. I was so focused I barely realized it as it happened, just that they had all gone by 24. At this point I was happy to have run the half last year as the final miles were fresh in my head. With 2 miles to go I passed an old lady running the half with a Run For Our Sons shirt and called out to her. I think she thought I was a crazy person but I was essentially delirious.
The second to last mile was just focus to get to the last. During the last mile I crossed the 1 mile to go sign and according to my watch I had to run it at 6:45 so I held that pace for dear life.
Fortunately I was able to hold that pace and carried on to the finish with 16 seconds to spare. Crossing the line I was pretty emotional. I had put too much energy into breaking 3 over the yeas and it was a BIG DEAL. It took years and over 10,000 miles of running averaging 2,000 per year. It took many, many races of experience. It took near ideal race conditions.
It's still sinking in.
Splits 1:29:53 / 1:29:51
Final Time: 2:59:43.9
Divison Place: 7
Nutrition Notes: Day before I had pickles with my lunch and probably drank 2/3 cup of the pickle juice. Night before was Penne with broccoli and italian sausage. Breakfast was english muffin with p,b & j & coffee. Race fuel was 1 snickers "bite" every mile for first 12 then two Gus, miles 15 & 20. Only drank water, about a half cup at each stop.