The Buildup – What buildup? I thought Boston was a bit of a joke, but this one takes the cake. Whether it was because of monitoring my foot or working a ton, the miles just weren’t there this training cycle. I averaged 39.8 miles/week in the 11 weeks leading up to this race, cracking 50 miles 3 times and 60 miles once. Wow. I did, surprisingly have a couple of good races (Bar Harbor Half and Roger Willey) after essentially taking the entire summer off from racing which made me feel ok about my speed, but having gone “long” (15 miles…ha!) only 4 times, I was worried about what would happen later on in the race.
The Taper – Hit 62 miles 3 weeks out and started a much more relaxed taper keeping in line with the whole training cycle, haha. Went 28-30-25 in the three weeks leading up to the race and focused much more on intensity than mileage. Took a couple days off for a sore foot in there as well. Like Boston, managed to really lock down the diet and core work and raced at 171 again.
Raceday – It was really different being able to wake up and get ready for a marathon in your own apartment. I could definitely get used to that. Woke up at 5 to get my first bagel down and just laid in bed after, knowing that I wasn’t gonna fall back asleep. Had another bagel at 6 and washed it down with a very small amount of Gatorade. Stomach wasn’t feeling 100% so I skipped any Larabars and opted for very little in the way of fluids pre-race. As always, no water. Being able to walk to the starting line of the marathon was pretty cool. Even cooler was the face that it was 50 degrees and we had a WNW wind which NEVER happens at MDI. This meant a tailwind in some very favorable spots. Ran into Frank King who was running his first marathon on almost nonexistent training, with no fuel plan, and an even worse idea of how to run a marathon. He kind of tagged along while I said hi to some others (Ty, Torrance, Kassie, Beardsley, Tristan, McCarthys…etc). I love the start of MDI…so many familiar faces really makes it easy to relax. National Anthem, Thunderstruck, the cannon, and we were off.
The Race – Having run MDI the last four years and parts of the course countless other times, I break it into very distinct segments when I race it. So that’s how I’ll break it down:
Start to Blackwoods – (6:02/6:10/6:05/5:57/6:01/5:58) WHAT?! I never would have even thought of splits like that had I trained my ass off for this thing, let alone what this cycle had been like. Headed out with the McCarthys and Herr for the first mile and felt good, I mean REALLY good, despite running sub-6 pace for most of it. Figured it was the tailwind and just let it roll. Saw the MDI kids, turned the corner at the Tarn and immediately felt the impact of the wind at my back. I knew I was running faster than I should, but it just felt so EASY. Going up the Tarn hill I was in solo 5th as things had sorted themselves out a bit with Nick long gone, Tristan and McCarthy together, and Herr somewhere between them and me. Got caught going down the backside of that hill just before Mile 4 by Steve and a kid named Grady Jackson (from Boston via Scarborough) despite running 5:57?! Ran with Grady through the water stop and Otter Creek and we chatted a bit. Told him I was gonna back off a bit through Otter Creek and promptly ran 6:01 and 5:58 haha! He wanted to know about my “hometown hero” status so I explained it to him. Told him that the crew at Mile 6 would be even rowdier than what we’d seen till that point. They didn’t disappoint! Slammed a Gu down as I passed Blackwoods (and Judson directing traffic) and was about 50 feet away from Jena before she realized it was me and went apeshit while handing me/dousing me with Gatorade. Good times, haha.
Cooksey Drive – (6:11/6:15) Alright, I said, time to settle down, run tangents, and get into a groove that actually makes sense. I was glad to get away from Rt 3 and spectators for a bit as I hoped it would calm me down. Cooksey is one of my favorite parts of the race as I catch many early starters who offer support and it has two absolutely stunning views that always make me smile as I run by. Towards the end I started to feel like I was working a bit which made me a bit nervous. Mile 8 is really early to feel like that. Enjoyed a couple of ride-bys by Bob Carroll and headed into Seal Harbor.
Seal Harbor to The Asticou – (6:02/6:14/6:17) Not gonna lie, this is one of my least favorite sections of the course. First time we hit any hills that I’m not hopped up on adrenaline for so it always feels like a bit more work than anything up to that point. Could see across the way and saw that Herr had caught the other two and they were now packed up heading into the hills. Picked up a Gu from Dad and saw Eric at the beach which prompted an “I’m FLYING” as I ran by which was met with a bit of a confused look, haha. Thought I had slowed down but a 6:02 said otherwise. Got a nice surprise when I saw Cooper at a water stop dressed as a clown. Again, felt the hills more than I would have liked and was worried as a headed towards Northeast and took down my second Gu that I had gone out too fast. Stomach wasn’t feeling great still, but managed to get the Gu down without incident. Just not my favorite stretch. At all.
Northeast Harbor to the Half – (6:12/6:08) Grabbed a Gu from Dad and made the turn towards Northeast trying not to panic at my current pace. Thankfully, Bobby Jordan drove by and very calmly told me to relax, back it off if I needed to the next 3-4 mile, and regroup from there. Made it through downtown and turned onto Sargeant Drive and felt the first blast of what was a BRUTAL headwind. Hit the half in 1:20:36, yes that’s an actual split. Oh boy…
Sargeant Drive – (6:20/6:22/6:26/6:24?) I love Sargeant Drive. Most days. I slowed down, but with an easily 20 mph headwind, that is to be expected. Focused/distracted myself from how iffy my stomach was feeling by running tangents and looking forward to the constant updates from Bob Carroll. He let me know that just past the half I had about 40 seconds on a couple guys and then the lead woman wasn’t far behind them. Ummmmm, what?! Leah must be FLYING, but honestly I didn’t concern myself with that. Hit the section down by Somes Sound and the wind just about stopped me in my tracks. Distracted myself looking for anyone ahead of me, but surprsingly there wasn’t anyone. Figured I had lost my shot at moving up but told myself to keep pushing just in case. “Give yourself a chance…” was the prevailing thought. Was actually ok with the wind…I just prayed that it would stay that way and be a tailwind the last 10k. Took my Gu much later than usual (just before 17) and fought with my watch as it told me I ran a 7:01 17th mile. Ha, nice try watch. Bob rode up just before the end of the road and told me I had crushed it in the wind and that the guys behind me had been destroyed. Good news, now what about the guys in front of me?
Sargeant to Somesville – (6:24?/6:07/6:18) By far and away my least favorite section of MDI. Hate the boring road but hate the camber more than anything. Usually detroys my feet and ankles. Well, luckily this year I came out of Sargeant with Tristan in sight and I knew I had to go after him. Louie told me the gap was 1:10 (about 10 seconds less than going into Sargeant so that was good) but more importantly, I could see Tristan grabbing his lower back from time to time. Told myself to be patient, we still had 8+ miles to go, and reel him in slowly. Got a surprise visit from Tunney around Mile 18 and he thoroughly enjoyed hearing about my half split. Screamed at me (cuz that’s what Tunney does) to “Embrace The Beast.” Couldn’t help but be a little jacked up by that. Saw Newett at Baxter Rd and I think even he was surprised at how well I was doing. As was Warren when I passed him at the Campground. Tristan crawled up that hill and the gap couldn’t have been more than 20 seconds as that point. Snagged a Gu from Dad and headed for the stoplight.
Somesville to Southwest (6:12/6:29/6:25/6:48/6:21/6:33/1:20) Made the turn at Somesville and my only thought at that point was Tristan. Got a Gu down while going through town and saw Louie on the backside who mouthed “You’re runnning this guy DOWN” as he drove by. Passed Tristan in front of a big crowd right at the Mile 21 marker and ran scared the next mile till someone told me the gap was 40 yards and growing. Mile 22 was a blur and I was really starting to tighten up while going past Echo Lake. Couldn’t let off the gas, though, just in case Tristan had rallied. Took a hit from my bottle that Dad had ready around 22.5 and tossed it to Louie who told me McCarthy was 2:20 ahead of my but dying hard. Brushed it off to be honest…no way was I gonna pull back 2:20 on McCarthy with 3ish miles to go. Well, crested a little bump in the road a couple hundred meters later and lo and behold McCarthy was WALKING! Thinking it was too good to be true, I held my breath, all the time waiting for him to start running again. Never happened. Passed him right at Mile 23, he offered some words of encouragement, and BAM, I was in the money at MDI! Mile 24 was a very painful blur (always my slowest MDI mile…not next year, just wait) and knowing I really just had to get to 24.5 before the massive downhill is always a huge mental boost for me. Knew from looking at my watch (novel idea I didn’t try two years ago…) that I had 1:08 to play with to break 2:45. Didn’t really feel all that great, but decided to hammer as best I could from Mile 25 to the golf course before looking back (for the first time all race) and not seeing anyone. Admittedly let off the gas a bit while running on the crappy dirt surface at the finish and picked it up a bit heading into the finish chute. Always have to look good for the fans J Crossed the mat in 2:44:17 and am still in a bit of disbelief 4 days later. PR by 2:42. Sub-2:45. 3rd place at MDI. WOW.