Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mohawk-Hudson Marathon 2009

I arrived home late last week and needed to sort through photos and get my thoughts together on how to describe the marathon.

First..... I qualified for the Boston Marathon. That was my goal in running this race again. As someone said to me, "now you can cross that off your 'Bucket List'!"

I have always believed and advised other runners to go out and have FUN. Don't worry about your finish time, just do your best. Easier said than done! This was the first marathon I've run that had a specific goal attached to my time. I have never run with "pressure" to achieve a specific time. It made me a bit "stressed" as the days leading up to the race got closer and closer.

Race day dawned and I could not have asked for better weather conditions. At 8:30am, the official start time, the temperature was 40 degrees. The forecast high as 55 degrees. The skies were a bit overcast and there was a slight breeze. Throughout the marathon the sun would shine brightly for a mile or two, then disappear behind the cloud cover. As we ran along the Mohawk and Hudson River's, the wind seemed to be brisk, but did not hinder the run.

Although I may have only mentioned it to a few people, I believed I had trained sufficiently to run a sub-4:00 hour marathon. That would be my secondary goal for the day.

This is a small marathon. Just over 700 runners finished the race. I started about mid-pack to ensure not going out too fast, or hindering faster runners. (Too bad about 150 other runners didn't do the same). Although I had warmed up with a jog around the park, I didn't want to take any chances of pulling a muscle prior to getting my legs fully warmed up. I reached the one mile mark at 9:00 minutes, feeling relaxed and confident. A 9:00 minute per mile pace would give me the sub-4:00 hour marathon I was seeking.

I don't record all my splits. I had goals for the 10K, half-marathon and 20 mile marks. I reached the 10K in just over 52:00 minutes. Still feeling relaxed and in control, I reached the half-marathon in 1:54. I passed the 20 mile mark at 2:58, I felt confident that I would finish in the 3:55-3:58 range. Shortly after that point I felt a slight pain in the area of my left knee. It seemed to be the IT band, possibly caused by the mostly downhill route. As the miles passed the pain increased. I wasn't "hitting the wall" as commonly occurs, only my knee was an issue. I took frequent walk breaks and attempted to manipulate my knee in the hope of correcting the problem. No luck! I knew with every walk break my goal of sub-4:00 was slipping away. It was at this point that I reminded myself that in order to qualify for Boston, I need a finish time under 4:15. I remember reaching the 25 mile mark and glancing at my watch as it reached 4:00:00. I was disappointed, but still had my qualifying time in sight. I "sucked it up" as the saying goes and pushed through the final 1.2 miles. I knew when I crossed the finish line I had qualified for Boston. Official finish time 4:09:56, also a new PR.

As I walked away after the race, I found my family and friends who were there to greet me. I was experiencing mixed emotions. I had qualified for Boston, but my time goal was not met due to the issue with my knee. I have never experienced that particular pain and it subsided post race.

The response from my family and friends has been wonderful. This past Saturday, my running group gave me a "surprise" party. Thank you all! All of this will finally sink in and I will return to running and decide a strategy going forward.