by ryanhall | Apr 20, 2010 |
Marathon day is always a surreal experience for me. Years of preparation go into building up for a marathon and for the last six months it has been the goal driving every training run for everyday (I only missed one day of training and took Christmas off). As I was sitting on the bus taking me out to what now feels like my second home, Hopkington, I was reminding myself to live in the moment and savor every minute of the experience, and that I did.
Yesterday I made many memories that will last a lifetime. I love jogging to the starting line because we go through the middle of the masses to get to the front and they are pumped. I felt like I was leading them into battle as I high fived frenzied crowd and gave a few yells of enthusiasm. Then we all waited together for those long moments before the gun fired.
This year the plan was to run free and to run full of joy. I wanted to have the freedom to go in and out of the lead and the freedom to run my own race. I was also focused on really enjoying the race and letting as much joy flow out of me as possible. I always run my best when I am having fun and living with joy is the good life. Now, a day later, I feel that I accomplished these two goals.
So here is my play by play of the race in each 5k. I felt good in the first 5k, taking the lead and running 4:50 pace as comfortably as possible. Knowing the course and how I felt weeks ago running 4:50 pace I was able to hit my splits very closely. I knew that if I could maintain 4:50 pace I would have an excellent shot of winning the race. As it played out I would have only ended up on the podium but who would have known that anyone would be in 2:05 shape on the tough course that Boston is. I remember in the first 5k a guy on the side of the road yelling encouragement at me and then tacking on to the end of it, “but don’t lead the whole way.” I just laughed to myself and continued to “be me” out there.
I continued to lead comfortable through the second 5k. This year I felt much more comfortable and confident in the lead. We continued to stay on 4:50 pace. Things were working out just as I had hoped and I felt like I had a good chance at staying at 4:50 pace.
Somewhere after 10k the first move of the race was made. As I checked my Garmin and saw that we were already running plenty fast I decided to stick to my game plan and made the conscience decision to let the pack go. My confidence remained high and I made a point to take in the amazing crowd along the course and the surroundings that I have grown to love over the past three weeks.
By the 15k mark I had caught back up to the lead pack that was continuing to get smaller and smaller. Instead of settling in the pack I passed on the far right hand side of the road and kept the pace constant. I was glad to rejoin the leaders and my neighbor and teammate Meb.
When we hit the screaming girls at Wellesley the energy was so high I couldn’t help myself but to give them back something so I cupped my ears around my ears to encourage an even higher decibel level of screaming. The noise was off the hook! Last year the first move was made at Wellesley so I wasn’t able to enjoy it like I had hoped. I was almost surprised when the pack was content to let me lead through Wellesley and enjoy the energy.
We charged on toward the half way mark and I continued to lead through a split of around 63:27. I was impressed with our split. We were right on schedule but there was still a large pack. Shortly after half way another hard move was made by Merga and this time there was less of a conscience decision on my part not to go with the move. This time my body was telling me that if I went any faster I was going to suffer in the hills of Newton and would risk the chances of a blow up. I continued to stay close to my 4:50 a mile target as the pack threw down some impressive splits.
When we hit the hills the pack was still in sight but then they hit some very impressive splits and were soon out of sight. The hills felt tough but the crowd support was amazing. I ran past the Bentley Track Team as they chanted my name. Sara and I stayed in Waltham and had met the team one day on the track. They had picked the perfect spot to cheer from, as I was desperate for any energy I could get.
When we hit the graveyard mile guys were starting to come back and I had worked my way up to sixth place. I still couldn’t see the leaders, which was surprising me as I had felt like my splits through Newton were still very good. Off in the distance I could see Meb and another runner coming back. I was disappointed that it looked like an American would not win again this year but I was still optimistic that you never know what will happen in those dramatic last 10k. The crowd at BC was crazy as usual.
The last 10k was all a blur. I passed a Kenyan coming down the graveyard mile and then caught Meb just before mile 25. At this point I didn’t care too much about my splits. I was just trying to turn it over as fast as I could. My hamstrings were on fire. Everything hurt but I tried to enjoy the moment as best I could despite the pain. Running has taught me how to enjoy even the not so pleasant moments.
One of my visions for the Boston Marathon was to enjoy the final run down Boylston. In my minds eye I had always pictured myself winning the marathon but as I prepared my heart before the race I had decided I would celebrate my run and the fact that God is good all the time in both victory and defeat so when I hit Boylston street I let my joy out and started airplaning through the street. It wasn’t until a fan on the side of the road pointed up the street to a faint yellow jersey still 100 meters down the road that I had mistaken for one of the women elite runners and yelled “Go get Merga” that I realized I had a chance to get on the podium. I put my head down and drove with my arms as hard as I could. I felt like I was in one of my many bad dreams where I am trying to sprint and moving in slow motion. With 100 meters to go it was becoming apparent that I was going to run out of real estate.
Looking back on the 2010 Boston marathon I am in a paradoxical state of content yet still hungry for breakthrough. Having the bar raised to a 2:05 on the Boston marathon makes me want to taste that same breakthrough for myself; especially considering the winner this year was 5th here last year. I rejoice whenever there is breakthrough because it helps pave the way for my breakthrough. Another spring in Boston and another great experience, yet I am hungrier than ever for a victory on these roads. As one of my favorite Bible verses says, “Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.” The sun rose on April 20th and so did I as I laced up my Asics and headed out the door for yet another run full of joy, hope, and life.