This was the third running of the Garden Spot Village Marathon and I have done it every year so far. Because I was born and raised not far from New Holland, the site of the marathon, my current plan is to run it every year. This was my main goal race for the spring this year. It has been two years since I have attempted to run a marathon at a fast pace and I was curious to see what I could do at 45 years of age. Last year was all about running slow for a long time in preparation for my 100 mile attempt. This year I wanted to see if I've still got speed (I do still have a 100 miler on my schedule). I'm happy to say that I've still got it.
My plan was to go out at a 6:40 pace and see what would happen when I hit the hills. Garden Spot is a relatively hilly marathon (definitely tougher than my two sub 3 hour marathons) and I didn't think I would PR, let alone get really close to under 3 hours. My stated goal was 3:10, but I felt that if I hit 3:05 it would be comparable to sub 3 on a flatter course and I would be really happy with that.
After the first mile, I found a running buddy. Richard, a 52 year old from somewhere in Virginia, and I seemed to fall in at about the same pace. I wanted to religiously keep 6:40s with my Garmin but we got to talking and I lost track of pace here and there and had a few slower miles. The hills were not slowing us down, as we made up for the slower pace uphill with a faster pace on the descent. As the miles rolled by, I found my legs to continue to be responsive and our ongoing conversations helped to pass the time.
I passed my brother about halfway through (he was coming towards us on the out-and-back part of the course) and he told us we were in ninth and tenth place. We were still cruising when we got to the biggest hill of the course at around mile 22. We both walked briefly at the steepest portion. Before we got to the hill, I told Richard that he would probably lose me because by this point it was clear that he was a stronger climber than I am. He did start to drift away. My legs were heavy going uphill at this point. When I got to the top of the hill, he probably had 45 seconds on me. Going downhill and then on the flat road for the last 2.5 miles I found my stride again and was putting in a 6:40ish pace, without having to really strain.
There was a gradual rise in the last mile that slowed me down again by about 15 seconds. At this point, I knew I would be close to 3 hours but figured it would be closer to 3:01. I did not push it. I now wish I would have. When I rounded the last bend with 100 yards to go I saw the time at 2:59:52, laughed out loud, and knew I was just going to miss another sub 3. I finished in 3:00:08.
|Richard and I. Richard won the Grand Masters category.|
The key to being in shape this early in the year was the purchase of a treadmill this winter. I would not have been able to have done this without that purchase. Yes, I know I am a wimp. I hate the cold and wind and won't put in enough quality workouts outside in the winter. Oh well.
All in all, I am excited that I haven't lost anything in the last two years and believe I can still reach a marathon PR in the next few years. I believe I could go out a little faster. I probably won't get the chance to try a fast one again this year because I have too many other races this spring and the fall is a tough time to train for me.