On Sunday, I ran the Moose’s Tooth Marathon here in Anchorage. One year ago, I was running my first 1/2 Marathon at this same event; this year, I ran my 3rd marathon. This time around, I really wanted to finish in under 4 hours. I’ve been training hard all summer since Mayor’s Marathon in June, peaking my training with a long run of 22 miles and a total weekly mileage of 50 miles.
I knew I had to keep an average pace of 9:09 minutes/mile if I wanted to hit my goal, and I was determined to stay as close to that pace the entire race as I could. In the past, I know I’ve been guilty of starting out too fast and then really slowing down towards the end. I felt that if I could keep a nice even pacing throughout the race, that I could pull off my sub-4 goal. Through the early miles, I really had to remind myself to slow down and run my pace. Even though I feel good at a faster pace now, I knew that feeling wouldn’t last. I also wanted to go for a negative split, so I was trying to hit the half as close to 2 hours as possible. I was a litlte fast, but not by too much – I hit the half right around 1:59:45.
It wasn’t until around mile 18 when I had to start pushing myself more to keep my 9:09 pace. I knew that I still had 2 decent size hills coming up – one around mile 20, and one right before the end. I kept pushing through the last few miles, mostly keeping my pace, but really starting to feel it at this point. I knew my time was going to be really close, especially with that last big hill right before the finish.
It’s hard to feel bad about a 16 minute PR, but being SO close to sub-4 does sting a bit. I’m trying not to drive myself crazy with all the “what if” thoughts, but I think it’s natural to want to analyze the race and find places where I could improve for next time. Missing my goal by a mere 36 seconds is not even 1½ seconds per mile, which seems like almost nothing.
- What if I had trained even just a little bit harder?
- What if I had pushed myself even just a little bit harder at the end of the race?
- What if I had lost another pound or two before the race?
But as I said, I’m really trying to not beat myself up over it. It was a great race, and overall I’m really happy with how I ran. I have no doubt I’ll beat 4 hours the next time around. After a week of rain, we really lucked out with some beautiful weather for the race – hard to complain about that! And the course for this race is absolutely beautiful, following a paved trail through the woods along Anchorage’s coast. Sam from Operation Jack has even said that this is one of his all-time favorite marathon courses. Coming from someone who ran 61 marathons last year, I’d say his opinion counts for something!
Finally, I want to give a big shout out to everyone that pledged donations to TAPS based on how much I beat my PR by. This was a huge motivation for me, and was always with me in the back of my mind, every step of the way during the race. Because of these generous folks, I was able to raise another $227, bringing me to $852 of my $1000 goal. Thank you all (and everyone else who has donated) so much!