Remembering 9-11

Posted: September 11, 2011 in Training
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It was shortly before 8:45 a.m. As I prepared for a final report meeting with our clients at Boston College. As I flipped through some notes that I prepared, our client Beth came down the hall with tears in her eyes and said to me, “They got the twin towers ….”

I had no idea what Beth was talking about, but I felt something in the pit of my stomach that told me that things would never be the same again.

About 30 of us would crowd around a television set in Chestnut Hill, MA and watch along with the rest of the world as horrible turned to horrific.

I would be stranded in Boston for a couple of days, wondering when I would be able to make my way back home to Dawn in Austin.

I drove a rental car to Pittsburgh to stay with Dawn’s family, then flew home on Saturday morning.  There were less than 10 of us on the jet that morning, the first flight out of Pittsburgh since the attack.  It was a surreal moment, one that I thought about over the course of my 21 miles on Sunday morning, preparing for the New York City marathon – 10 years after the tragedy.

For the long distance runner there are days when you are able to keep your mind free of heavy thoughts and just log mile after mile.  Those runs are very enjoyable and seem to go by in the blink of an eye.

But runs like Sundays tend to stay with me.

A 21 mile run, capping off a 65.5 mile run week.  Our most mileage ever in a single week.

Monday – 6.2 Miles racing at the Austin Triathlon – 6:15 pace.

Tuesday – 8.3 recovery miles – 7:30 pace.

Wednesday – 10 Miles at Marathon Race Pace – 7:09

Thursday – 10.2 Miles of Hill Repeats

Friday – 1.4 mile swim

Saturday – 10 Miles Marathon Race Pace – 7:02

Sunday – 21 Miles – 7:27 pace

Not all long runs are the same.  Some are steady state where you try to run even splits mile after mile.  Some are progressive runs, where you run slow at first and gradually increase your pace.  There are negative split long runs, where you cut the run distance in half, running the second half faster than the first.  Then there is the fast finish long run.

The goal in the fast finish long run is to run the first 75-80% of the run at a comfortable pace.  Not too fast, not too slow, just nice and steady.  Then over the final 4 – 5 miles you drop the pace to goal pace, then faster to close out strong.

This is a tough workout physically and mentally as you are starting to tire you know that you have your hardest running ahead of you.  In my view it more closely mimics the marathon than any other workout.

As I passed the house at mile 12 I stopped at the cooler I had placed on the driveway before my run, dropped in my two empty water bottles and reloaded with a fresh water bottle for my left hip and Gatorade on my right.  I shut the lid, glanced at the American Flag blowing on the pole above my garage and sped off for my final 8 miles.

Shortly afterwards as I crested the next hill I decided to run an extra mile today.  My 20-miler would be 21 and I would close out the final 5 miles in Finish fashion.

I thought about all of the families effected by the events 10 years ago.  The 343 New York City Firefighters that lost their lives that day, along with all of the other first responders who while others were running out of burning buildings, they were running in.

True heroes, each and every one of them.

I thought about the race 8 weeks from today, where I along with 43,000 other marathoners from around the world will descend on NYC for one of the greatest footraces on earth.  I thought about Dom and what he would make of all this NYC marathon craziness.  What kind of time would he think I would be capable of in NY?

I have a feeling he would be telling me the same thing he told me before Austin last year.

Leave no doubt.  Go out there and absolutely kill it.

As I hit the start of mile 17 it was time to push.

7:07, 7:17, 7:13, 7:05, 6:46.

As I hit the driveway and punched my GPS watch:  2:36:39.  21 miles at 7:27 pace.

Just :01/mile slower than our PR at the Austin Marathon in February.

Heavy training shoes.  Carrying my own water.  600 feet of hills.  No taper.  65 miles of running and racing.

:01/mile slower than the best we have ever been.

NYC.  8 Weeks.  We’re ready.

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