Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Social Running

Now before you get all excited thinking that this post will either be a)witty, b)educational, or c)spiritual, please don't get your hopes up. In fact, if you are thinking along those lines, please be prepared for disappointment. As you all know (I think there are more than 2 of you now), I am none of those things. And no, I am not being facetious. I understand and embrace my limitations. To do otherwise would be to suffer a life of failure and that is something I am not psychologically prepared to do. I'd rather be the King of Mediocrity (in my own mind) than the guy who tries so hard to be so good, but it just never really happens, unless he gets really lucky, which doesn't happen all that often (I can count two times - 1)Liz agreeing to be my wife (I read a book on trickery) and 2)Conning my way into my current job, although really is it that great of a job? Well for the average/mediocre person that I am, as long as I can continue to talk a good game and pass responsibility and blame on to others, then yes, it's a swell job.)

Anyways, sorry for the rambling. I just wanted you all to be prepared for a very average, very dull Salt Lake City Marathon report.

I finished in 3:26:32 or about a 7:54 average mile. Now using average pace per mile is pretty deceitful when it comes to this marathon. I'm not actually sure if I ever ran anything close to a 7:54 mile. That's the thing about averages. If you're performing during the same race as two distinctly different runners, who are running two very different paces, you end up with a skewed average result that really reflects nothing about your race.

The first thing you need to know is that I knew 11 people who ended up running this. 11. Yea, I know. Did I ever think I would personally know 11 marathoners on a personal basis? Nope. I grew up thinking that my father and the people he ran with were 100% crazy and that they were few and far between. Little did I know that marathoning would become the phenomenon it is today. It has come to the masses, which is hard for the King of Mediocrity to accept, but at least the King has more subjects now. Sorry for the slippage into the 3rd person. It's annoying, but it seemed appropriate given my Royal Majestyness.

Anyway, 11 people I knew ran the race. I planned on pacing three of the runners to 3:30, which for two of them was their Boston Qualifying time. However, it was not to be so smooth. I went to the designated area after dropping my stuff off and making a port-o-jon run, but nobody was where they were supposed to be. So I stood in place for 5 minutes after the gun went off watching everyone I knew run by and then at last one of the 3 appears. Do not fret faithful readers. Although the clock had started, there are these magic things called mats that are able to magically sense when your shoe, which has a little chip in it, crosses it and your official start and end times are tracked by this chip. Chip time. It's wonderful. So I didn't lose 5 minutes, except for being 5 minutes behind the other two who were going for 3:30.

I really wanted to push it and make up the 5 minutes, but I also didn't want to kill the other guy shooting for a 3:30 in the process. As a primer for the unmarathon initiatied, the marathon is broken in three phases. First 10 miles - very social, everyone is happy, talking, blah, blah, blah. Second 10 miles - less social, people still feel good, running strong. Last 6.2 miles - no talking, serious pain, survive.

So back to me and my friend. I could tell immediately that it wasn't his day. He was just tired. His muscles were fine, no pain, but he wasn't going to be able to average the 8:01s necessary to make a 3:30. We had spoken prior to the race about our strategy around this considering that there were other people running that I wanted to support and had said that if we fell off pace for two miles that we would have an honest discussion about if he could make it up or not. If not, I would go and support the other two.

Before we get to where we separated, let me just say that starting 5 minutes after the gun was in all respects, except for one, outstanding. I saw everyone else, including my dad and a friend from Kansas that I hadn't seen in a year, as we ran by. We would run a few steps together and then push on. It was very nice. I'll get to the one non-outstanding moment in a minute.

At about mile 9, we fell off pace. Two miles later, we had our discussion and he told me that he just didn't have it. It was time to go. I told him to have a good race, passed two others in our group who were close by and told them to have a good race and then I was off. Now at this point, I estimated that I was 7 or 8 minutes behind the other two, so if I wanted to catch them and I did, I really did, that I was going to need to run swiftly. You know, like a deer. So run swiftly I did. 6 minute mile after 6 minute mile. I passed the 3:40 group after about a mile. The 3:30 group based on where we were in the race was only about 5 minutes ahead. Charge, charge, charge. Well, making up those five minutes was the one unoutstanding thing about starting the race 5 minutes behind everyone else. It was tough. It took me another 5 miles to catch them, with some of my miles being in the 6s and some of them being in the low 7s. By the time I finally caught them at mile 19, I was done. (And by the way, for those doing the math. Don't. This race report is all about perception. It's my reality. It's mediocre. Don't challenge it or I'll just need to point out just how mediocre you are as well.)

But, I had finally caught them. However, I was spent. I had not trained to run 6s for that far. I had trained to help my friends to run 8:01s. When I finally caught the other two, I didn't have much left. And we hit concrete. Let me tell you about running on concrete. It sucks. Particularly when the majority of the time you run on trails and asphalt. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. While I'm here, the course was forgettable, although the post-race party and food was outstanding. All marathoners should expect pizza and wings after running a race. The King of Mediocrity will now declare it so. It is so.

I hung on for five miles until mile 24. At that point, I let one of my friends go. After another mile, where I think I ran an 8:38, I let the other runner go. Although as I did that I smiled to myself a little. I had a little surprise for them at the end, which was the fact that I started five minutes after the gun and hence after them. Once I finally dragged myself across the finish line, we hooked up and of course the first guy to finish asked my time and I told him. He was confused and asked how I had gotten in front of him. When I told him that I had started five minutes after the gun, he looked a little crestfallen. Hey, I wasn't going to say anything, but he did ask. Such is the life of a super-competitive average person. I think it was even better when the paper and web site published results according to chip time. I know. I'm not very nice. Sorry. Most average people aren't very nice. We're too busy being angry about being average.

On Saturday if you had asked me about running a sub-3 hour marathon this year or ever, I would have said no way. Now, after much reflection on my training and how I should approach a sub-3 hour attempt, I have changed my mind. The #2 will appear at the beginning of a marathon finish time. Probably even this year.


Liz said...

"We're too busy being angry about being average."

You are so far beyond average in so many areas you don't even know it! Writing is one of those areas when you put effort into it- nice post. I love hearing details of times I am not part of. Minus those party years pre-mission. I am okay not hearing about those.

I love you. I am glad you tricked me into marrying you.

Liz said...

p.s. I like the line I quoted in my other comment- it made me laugh.

PTC said...

Party years? I have no idea what you are talking about.

It's Not Your Fault! said...

Thanks for the recap. It does not matter if you recognize it - you are way beyond mediocre. Do you know what your problem is? Let me break it to you gently. It took me a year to come to terms with this puppy...



I use to dare to compare. Now, I love whatever I choose to do. You have a stronger grasp of doing what you want to do than me. IMHO, there are masses and masses of people that could not run a marathon. You do. And you run them well – repeatedly. That tells the reader you are well above average. Trickery is in your nature... (in a good way) you try to trick people into thinking you are just ordinary... add the extra part in front and call it a day.

P.S. I need the down low about that back door message related to the place near Mission.

Mo said...

Liz, is only being nice cause she doesn't want you to be mad at her for opening her Mother's day present early. Congrats on a very mediocre run.

PTC said...

I lukewarmly accept your mediocre congratulations.

daniel said...

all future iterations of presidential fitness award testing (do the kids still have that nowadays?) should begin with the admonition: "run swiftly. you know, like a deer."

it's sure to get more pseudo-obese american children certified as physically fit.