Monday, May 2, 2011

It Was About Angie's First Marathon

We ran Birch Bay 30K a month ago. After the race, at lunch, I asked her: "Have you ever considered running a marathon?" She said: "No, and I will never run any distance longer than this". I grabbed my delicious hamburger and before biting it I said: “You are ready for it” and got back to my burger business without mentioning that day anything else about the distance.

I don’t proselytize about running. If somebody is not a runner, I don’t talk him/her into it. My son likes up to 5K, I don’t tell him to go to 10K. I have a good friend that runs half-marathons and doesn’t plan on going for a full. I don’t bug her to double the distance. I know a girl that likes to run 4 miles, 2-3 times a week, and doesn’t like racing, I don’t chase her to participate in one of the countless 10K we have. For all those cases, to change to the next level requires a different training, different commitment, and different mindset. And I don’t bug any of these people, because I get bothered when people try to get me into ultras. My boundary is the marathon, end of story.

Now, who wants to race a 30K as a boundary, especially when is more of an international distance rarely available in the US? A race that you can race once a year if you live in the Pacific Northwest, or a handful of times if you travel around the country?

Additional conversations during the following week, in regards 20 miles being the max long run for marathon training may have gotten her thinking. 1.4 miles more than 30K and that’s it? Yes, that’s it. For a person that already runs 15-17 miles as long runs, the physical part of the training was covered. Certainly, she was going to miss something. She didn’t have 16 weeks of mental training; she only had 4 to think about it.  But physically she was more than ready. She went for a successful 20-miler, and she was in. My only advice was how to taper: distance wise, nutrition, hydration, and resting. 

Four weeks after the 30K (i.e. yesterday), she ran her first marathon: Tacoma City Marathon. Her goal was a 4:45 which I knew she’d beat (HM: 1:57). However, I agreed with her. The first marathon is about learning the process, digesting the distance, and finishing. While in the start line she asked for the last minute advice. I told her: "Start slow for the first 5 miles and then go as you feel".

I had scheduled a 20-miler, the last one before my marathon. My plan was to run the half marathon, continue against the marathon course for 3.5 miles, and then come back with the marathoners. She would text me when she’d get to mile 20 so I could join her about mile 23 and run with her the last 3 miles. The marathon started earlier than the half, helping a little with the synchronization of our timing. I ran 18.2 miles and stopped to wait for her. The wait was not going to do any damage to my 20-miler. When I spotted her at mile 23.5 I asked her: How do you feel? She said “good”. Boy, if she looked good; she was running around 10:15 min/mile. I plugged back my earphones (no plan on distracting her) and paced her. I attached an imaginary cord between our wrists, which had to stay tense. If she pressed the pace, I’d do the same. If she slowed down, I’d slow down. Never looked at her, but at her shadow. At mile 24, I knew she could push it a little, so I did. She was in perfect shape. Avg 9:40+. At mile 25, I pushed more, she slowed down a little, so I did. It was her race, and needed to be good. Then, a push, 8:45 pace. At mile 26 I told her “only half a track” and I sped up. I exited before entering into the finish area, and saw her crossing the line at 4:25. I cried.

My run? It was good, a comfortable 2:10:36, 11/40 in the division, but for me, the day was not about my 20th Half Marathon, or having to run my last 20-miler before my 6h marathon. It was about those amazing 2.6 miles, being able to pace her, and paying back what others have done for me before. It Was About Angie's First Marathon.

Niece Angie & I at Hotel Murano, Tacoma, WA

With niece Angie and her mom Linda (my sister in law)

1 comment:

Irish Blue said...

I'm sure you've been a HUGE inspiration to Angie. That is so cool that you could push her to such an awesome finish...yet in a way that was about her and not you. I love that about you inspire just by being you - no pressure required.