As 2009 draws to a close I thought it would be appropriate to look back on the year that was. On Friday I will provide a “sneak peek” into some of my goals for 2010. January 1, 2009 fell on a Thursday and marked the first week of marathon training for the Pittsburgh Marathon that would be held on May 3rd. The ramp up to Pittsburgh represented my most serious training effort to date in the hopes of finishing with a BQ (Boston Qualifying) time. For my age group that meant finishing with a time of 3 hrs. 20 min. 59 sec. or better.89 training runs, covering 687.2 miles over 18-weeks to make a run at a Boston time. I remember posting my training plan to the refrigerator and looking at each of the runs ahead. There would be no excuses, no skipped workouts, no complaining and no failing I told myself. I would eat right, get my rest and put myself in a position to qualify. At that point it would be left to the weather, the day and fate – but I was going to work hard to give myself the best chance for success.
As weeks turned to months and race day approached I really felt like I had a great shot. I was able to run my three 20-mile training runs incident free and ahead of race pace – if I could hold it together for 26.2 miles I should finish with a time just under 3:20:00.
Race day temperatures were right in my sweet spot as I love to run when the thermometer is showing 45-47 degrees. Overcast skies, very little wind and a slight chance of rain in the forecast. I could do without the rain – but when it comes to race day, you have to take what you get.
As the miles ticked by and I hit the hill at Forbes (mile 13) and I looked down at my GPS we were right on target with a split time of 1:37:40. The much publicized hill at Forbes came at a great time for me as I always feel strongest between miles 12 and 16. The climb turned out to be more “hype” than “hill” as I only gave away 17 seconds on the incline which I would be able to make up on the decline between miles 22 and 24 if I could push through mile 20 without incident.
Once again fate smiled on me as the rain showers showed up right as I crested the hill at Forbes and kept me cool throughout the final 12 miles of the race. After a brief fight with my body at mile 21 (this commonly referred to as hitting the wall) occurred when my body was changing it’s fuel source from glycogen (a very efficient fuel) to fat (a very inefficient fuel). Typically I struggle for the better part of 3/4 of a mile before my mind, legs and body sort out their differences and allow me to push through.
]The final two miles at Pittsburgh were some of the most enjoyable I had ever run. Well ahead of my time I was able to really focus on form, pushing through the end of the race and actually hear the shouts of encouragement from the spectators. Running under the overhang at the Pittsburgh Convention Center and seeing my time ticking forward from 3:17 I knew we had it. 3:17:43 was the final mark and we had made the field for this year’s Boston Marathon.
In June I was bitten by the race bug again as recovery from the Pittsburgh race went better than I could have expected. I was back running just 4 days after the marathon and was back to a typical 30-mile training week in just 3 weeks. On June 20th I toed the line at the Holland, TX 5K and ran a very strong time at a great event finishing 9th overall and winning my age group in 19:47:3 (6:23 pace).
You can access the Holland race results here: http://www.coolrunning.com/bin/res_load/res_print.cgi?r=09/tx/Jun20_Hollan_set1.shtml
With Boston still several months away over the summer my wife Dawn and I learned of our friend Dom’s diagnosis and priorities shifted in the blink of an eye this Fall. The possibility of running both the Boston Marathon (April 19, 2010) and the Pittsburgh Marathon (May 20, 2010) just 13 days later in Dom’s hometown became a reality on August 28, 2009. http://www.runfordom.com/ Each day since then has been dedicated to spreading the word about our effort to help Dom and his family as well as arriving in Hopkinton, MA with the goal of not only completing Boston – but then covering another 26.2 miles only 13 days later.
We have come a long way in 2009 with 1,667 running miles logged since the start of the year. Ironically the distance between Austin, TX and Boston, MA is 1,692 miles – virtually the same distance. We have a long way to go in 2010 – miles to cover, races to run and dollars to raise for Dom and his family to help fight this terrible disease.
To the 115+ followers on Twitter, almost 1,000 viewers of this blog, 125+ friends on Facebook and all of our Run for Dom donors both current and future – I want to let you all know just how much your support and kind words over the past year have meant to Dom, his family and to me. You are all making a difference as we Run for Dom in 2010. Please come back on Friday when we look at what 2010 has in store – until then, I wish you and your families a happy and healthy 2010. Happy New Year!