I ran and ran and ran and ran

People often ask me if I run marathons. My answer had always been, “I ran one a long time ago, but I prefer shorter races.” Inevitably, people, especially non-runners, want to know why. After all, isn’t the marathon the be all end all of running?  My answer had always been “I think the marathon race is too long.” Now that I have done my second marathon, I believe that more than ever.

The Start
The Start

My goal for the Buffalo Marathon was to break 2:40 and win a Moose Mug. (Google it.) According to all the online calculators I should be able to run a 2:36-2:38 marathon, but we all know those things are crap for predicting marathon times. Even if you use a half marathon time, you are trying to predict what you will do in a race that takes over an hour longer to run. Still, I thought 2:39 was very reasonable, and it was until mile 22.

I’m not going to give a long recount of the Buffalo Marathon, but I do want to share a few high and low points. It was a nice course, with a few more hills than I expected. I liked that we started with the half marathon runners because I had a good group of people to run with on the first loop, including the woman who finished 2nd in the half. She kept worrying about her pace because she had never raced farther than 10k before. She hoped to break 80 minutes and did so by a wide margin. Helping her stay on track for the first 12 miles of the race took my mind off what I was going to have to do later on and made the first half seem very easy.

Time for a wave
Time for a wave

The second half was a lonely affair. Aside from passing a few people and being passed by one person I was running alone. As late as mile 18 or 19 I was thinking I should really start pushing the pace a little harder. But pushing the pace harder at that point just meant slowing down less. Then at around mile 23 we began a mile and half of steady uphill and things just fell apart.

The one person who passed me in the second half said,

“Mile 24 is a good one!”

“Is it downhill?”

“No it’s uphill, but there is good crowd support!”

At that point I would have traded all the crowd support in the world for a stretch of flat road. Not that I don’t appreciate the people who came out to cheer us up that last bit of hill, but unless one of them was going to carry me up it I wasn’t going to stay on pace to break 2:40.

8 miles to go.
8 miles to go.

The one thing that kept me moving those last 2 miles was the thought, “I worked too damn hard for this shit.” It just kept going through my head over and over while my feet burned, my quads ached and every step was choice to take one more or stop.

Still some work left.
Still some work left.

At mile 26 I got to see Lisa and the girls. Seeing them and hearing them cheer for me was absolute bliss. It was the only thing that was going to get me to move slightly faster and hold off a hard charging masters runner.

The end.
The end.

2 hours 41 minutes and 11 seconds. It wasn’t what I wanted, but I don’t find myself disappointed. I put in the work, and I ran my race. I gave everything I had to give, and in the end I came up a bit short of my goal. It certainly isn’t the first time or the last time that will happen. Eleven years and tens of thousands of miles since my last marathon, and I finally feel like I have a performance I can be proud of. Many people have already asked when I’m doing my next one… Maybe in another 11 years.

Final Results

11th place overall

10th male

2nd masters (I got 1st masters prize money because the 1st masters finished 3rd overall)

5k 3.1 mi 0:18:50 (6:04 pace)
10k 3.1 mi 0:18:44 (6:02 pace)
15k 3.1 mi 0:18:38 (6:00 pace)
20k 3.1 mi 0:18:51 (6:04 pace)
25k 3.1 mi 0:18:46 (6:02 pace)
30k 3.1 mi 0:19:04 (6:08 pace)
35k 3.1 mi 0:19:16 (6:012 pace)
40k 3.1 mi 0:20:18 (6:32 pace)
Finish 1.4 mi 0:08:44 (6:23 pace)

Time: 2:41:11 (6:09 pace)