Sunday, January 17, 2010
Looking back, I was pleased with how well I executed my race in Phoenix.
Based on my race performances and workouts during November and December, Coach Jack Daniels and I had a good idea of the pace (and time range) I should plan to run. We discussed starting very conservative early on and going for a big negative split. I have been successful in past races running a faster and more aggressive second half. For Phoenix I was also prepared to run my own race and not worry too much about other athletes. I am used to training and working out on my own here in Flagstaff, which has helped me learn patience, self-reliance and develop good racing instincts. I feel that training independently also works to my advantage; I do not need to rely on any other athletes to help pace me.
I knew what to expect on race day. It was a chilly Phoenix morning when I switched into my new Team MarathonGuide.com singlet and Brooks T5 racing flats. I knew it would take the early miles of the race to get warmed up. I was not worried with my slow pace at the start (5:20 pace for the first 3 miles). I stayed composed and ignored the lead group's erratic pacing. Around 4 miles I began to get more into a comfortable rhythm and left the chasing athletes behind. I followed my breathing and my sensory data was indicating I was at the right effort (running 5:07-5:10's). I took my Cytomax bottles at the early stations and made sure I was well-hydrated (just as I had practiced in workouts). Over the next 9 miles I began to catch casualties from the lead group. I reached half-marathon in just over 1:08:00, feeling very strong but still wanting to be patient and cautious. I didn't notice a change in effort, but began to split 5:00-5:06's.
I felt ready to push by 25K, but intuition told me to wait. At mile 19, I began to get excited and could see the lead pack and press car in the distance ahead of me. I knew at least a few more athletes would fall off the back. My next
3 miles were between 4:50 and 4:55. I passed a few badly fading Kenyans during this stretch, which gave me more forward momentum. I felt difficulty at miles 22 and 23, but was still maintaining 5:00 pace. I saw my girlfriend standing at the 40K mark, and seeing her at that point really helped divert my attention away from the waves of discomfort I was beginning to experience. Even with fatigue accumulating, I kept pressing. I did not settle once moving into 6th place. I knew my family, coach and Flagstaff housemates would also be waiting for me at the finish (all have been huge sources of inspiration and support). As the finish came into sight, my emotions were overtaking me. I thought back to when I started running after college in hopes of running the marathon. My journey in the sport has not been without difficulties, but I felt such joy in my final strides that made all the trying and discouraging times these past years worthwhile. I drew a sign of the cross and thanked God.
Overall I'm proud of my performance and how I ran. 2:14:32 is a good debut, although the bar in American distance running continues to be raised. My performance puts me in good company on the all-time American debut list (#24 in front of Craig Virgin's 2:14:40 and behind Ryan Shay's 2:14:30). Though I am still very much a student of the sport and the marathon has been a huge learning experience for me. I believe there is so much room for improvement, and at 25 years old, I see myself having plenty of time to develop and mature as a marathoner. I have truly enjoyed all the work and energy I've invested in marathon training, and I am grateful to have family, friends, coaches and sponsors to faithfully support my running aspirations.
to the First Marathons page