This was the week of the Cleveland Marathon, my tenth marathon and my first real shot at a sub-3-hour time. My goal was to run Cleveland in 2:55. The result: a 2:58:28 and an overall finish of 33rd! I am extremely pleased with this result, especially given how much energy I expended all week having fun with Anne and our son, Noah, who doesn't like to sleep between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. I said in my last post that I was dedicating my performance at Cleveland to Noah. Well, the photo below says it all.
I am also very grateful for all the support and encouragement I've received from readers of this blog, my fellow Cleveland Southeast Running Club members and other runners, my parents, my brother, my entire family, and my wife, whose unconditional love and support made it all possible.
I've written more about the Cleveland Marathon below. First, a recap of my taper week as it happened:
5 miles easy on the treadmill
Our first day home from the hospital. Pretty tired but excited.
8.4-mile track work at the Solon High School track with Frank D., Wayne V., Mark G., and Steve H. Completed 3x1600s at 6:10, 6:30, 6:15--a little faster than I originally planned. Felt fresher than Monday but still tired and missing that extra jolt I usually have.
4.5 miles easy on the treadmill
Felt pretty good
4.25 miles easy on country roads
Felt totally run down from a long, long, long night in which I got next to no sleep. Felt nauseous, tired and very discouraged, like everything I'd worked for going into the Cleveland Marathon was going down the tubes, but yet at the same time happy as could be and having a great time with Noah and Anne. Talk about mixed emotions....
4.5 miles easy on the treadmill
Felt good after 9 1/2 hours of sleep the night before. Afterward I enjoyed a huge spaghetti dinner (as part of the carb loading process) with Anne and my parents. I wish Noah could have joined us.
Off / carb loading
Enjoyed a huge bowl of brown rice and vegetables for lunch, and then a huge bowl of spaghetti for dinner. For the spaghetti, I chose to forgo the normal whole-wheat pasta for white pasta for fear of GI issues during the race.
2:58:28, 33rd overall, 6:46 pace and a negative split in the second half
I basically ran anywhere from 6:38 to 6:49 miles, with just one 7:00 minute mile at mile 24. I got to the half in 1:29:19--about 2 minutes slower than originally planned--and ran a 1:29:09 in the second half for my first-ever negative split. Going into Cleveland, I never even considered the possibility of a negative split. This was without question my best-ever marathon--my first time breaking 3 hours and beating my previous PR of 3:05 at last October's Columbus Marathon by 7 minutes. The biggest difference between this marathon and previous efforts was how I felt the last 10K. Although I was hurting, I just had that extra something I needed to keep going strong. My split times during the last 10K tell the story:
24: 7:00 (tough head wind)
26.2: 8:53 (1.2 miles)
Going down the home stretch, I didn't have a whole lot more in the tank, but I had enough to cross with a time I was really proud of. I owe a big thanks to Kam L. (2:38), Mark G. (2:43) and Steve G. (2:49), who all finished with awesome times and came back to encourage me as I made my way to the finish line. For me, it was all about desire and wanting to make my family and running club proud.
As happy as I was with my own time, I was just as happy for my good friend Jeff U., who at 52(!) years-old ran a 2:57 at Cleveland, finally achieving his longtime goal of breaking 3 hours. His performance was made even sweeter when you consider that only a month ago he bonked badly at mile 24 of Boston while at sub-3 pace. It took a lot of courage and character for Jeff to come back from Boston and run Cleveland the way he did--which was flat-out awesome. Jeff and I basically ran the whole Cleveland Marathon together--always within earshot of each other--but from mile 21 to 24 were side by side, encouraging each other. Sometime just after mile 24, he dropped the hammer and got ahead of me, finishing a minute before I did. We celebrated and, I think, really shared the joy of a hard-fought race.
At SERC's after-party, I met ultrarunning great Howard Nippert, one of the all-time 100K ultrarunners who has anchored the US national team for many years. He was in town to run Cleveland, finishing the race in 2:38, and was invited to Barb B.'s house by Mark G. He seems like a very nice guy and meeting him was pretty cool.
Total miles for the week: 52.85
The Mohican 100 miler is a little more than a month away. This week I'm going to take it easy, and then next week try to start ramping up again for Mohican, with a hopeful 90-100 mile week the first week of June. With a newborn to take of, this will not be easy. In all candor, I've debated whether Mohican is really practical this year, but I will stay the course.