One day short of a full year after I ran my first marathon, I ran the second marathon of my life. I think that I have learned some valuable lessons. Probably the most important lesson was that as a runner, I am not ready to run a full marathon the way I want to run a full marathon. This time I had a goal time of 4:30 and I did not even come close to that goal. However what really happened is that I pushed the wall 2 miles farther out to the 18 mile mark and finished the last 8 miles with more running than last year.
The course started in downtown Grand Rapids and did a 5 mile loop of downtown. Then it headed out into the more rural areas and through a couple of parks before heading back into town. This course lent itself to my family being able to see me at many different points on the course.
The first 5 miles were fairly uneventful. I did stop and wait at the porta-potty at the second aid station. This cost me about 4 minutes because it was early and there was a line. My plan for the first 5 miles was to run a 10:33 pace. With the stop, I knew that I could not try to make up the time I lost while I was stopped. My pace was close to the target with 10:13, 10:23, 10:29, 11:27, and 10:17. After mile 5 the course turned toward the rural areas and the park. Here is me having a good time and still dorky enough to wave.
The plan was to run the next 15 miles at 10:13. Miles 5 through 10 are a bit of a blur, nothing really memorable except the aid station with Gummy Bears. I passed on those, sticking with Gatorade. My pace was close to the target with 10:29, 10:16, 10:07, 10:19 and 10:08. Just after the 10 mile marker, the course turned in Millennium Park and followed a paved trail around a small lake. This was probably the most beautiful part of the run. It was open to the sun, but it was still early enough that the sun wasn’t an issue. I did catch myself running a little too fast here and having to slow back down. It was just so fun around the park. In the park I ran 10:07 and 10:11 splits. We came back out on to the road and headed for Hopewell Indian Mounds Park and ran 3 more miles on the roads. I was beginning to get the 4:45 pace group in to sight but I did slow down slightly with miles of 10:26, 10:23 and 10:30.
At mile 15, I started to slow for real, with the next 3 miles of 10:52, 11:53 and 11:59. Here is a picture my wife took from a bridge over the course between mile 16 and 17.
Mile 18 was where I really hit the wall and had to start walking and running. This is what the last 8 miles looked like, walking and running.
At the 23 mile marker my family found a spot to see me on the course. Stephanie met me about a half mile before the 23 mile marker and stayed with me until we got to Tammy who was waiting by the 23 mile marker.
This was probably my lowest point in the marathon. At least until Stephanie said to me, “Dad, someday I want to run as far as you.” It was all I could do to keep from crying my eyes out. That was the lift I needed to keep me going for the remaining 3 miles.
At the one mile to go marker, I was passed by a walker and we started chatting as I jogged to keep up with her. She had flown in from Portland, Oregon and was finishing her 149th marathon. She was working her way through all 50 states a second time and had also raced on all 7 continents. Her 150th will be in 2 weeks in Athens, Greece. I later found out her name is Ginny Turner and she is in the Guiness Book of World Records. I’m feeling like a big sissy at this point. About the time she finished telling me this story, I spotted Stephanie waiting for me about a half mile from the finish.
Stephanie had promised to run the last part of the race and cross the finish line with me. We crossed the line together
and I gave her a hug.
Then the race director Don Kern gave me a hug.
The volunteers handing out medals handed my finisher medal to Stephanie for her to put on me. This was the second moment that almost made me cry.
My second marathon is now in the books. Officially, my time was 5:23:14 which was about 22 minutes faster than last year. Now it is time to reflect on what I want to do with my running. I am leaning towards working on getting faster in the shorter runs and making the Half-Marathon my big races next year. What I really want to do is get to the point where I could run a Half-Marathon at anytime.