I love the Rochester Marathon. I’ve run the annually half or the full since 2006. My half marathon PR was set there in 2009. Since 2009 I had started to believe that my performance was a fluke and would never be bested nor even repeated. I was wrong (I think my tally is twice that I’ve been wrong…ever).
Earlier this year I raced a half marathon against my friend Dave. His only stated goal for the race was to beat me and I could not allow that to happen. Due to his lack of racing experience and my superior ability in all things, particularly distance running, I passed him and demoralized him by pinching his ass as I flew past him. But since I am so superior I felt it necessary to extend an olive branch. I offered to pace him for this race. Truth be told I thought he could do extremely well and I wanted to see that happen (because I’m such a nice caring kind of guy). Dave accepted my gracious offer and so we raced together. I set the pace and he followed close by.
I always try to run the first two miles of a half marathon at a relaxed effort. This was no different except that I kept worrying about Dave. He kept up just fine and was just as relaxed as I was. During the first mile we chatted with a friend for a while. We were both shocked when we ran about a 6:50 for the first mile. Our stated goal was about 7:00. I was excited to see this number because we were very comfortable at that pace which meant we likely could beat our goals for the day.
The race continued the way I always run half marathons. After two miles I picked up the pace slightly but stayed a little conservative. As the 6.5 mile mark approached things would turn serious. We hit that mark feeling extremely well but I was nervous to turn up the pace. We started seeing some great splits on our watches. Though I was starting to feel a little fatigued I wasn’t worried. It was going great!
At mile 10 I saw 1:05:XX on my watch. I didn’t see what the XX was but I thought “I can run a 20 minute 5k right now, I can do even better than that, I can PR!”. And at that point I left Dave behind as I really turned up the heat going after a PR. Things got really tough but I kept thinking back to my blog post that was fresh in my mind about “giving up the good and going for the great.” I decided to give it my all.
As I rounded the corner at the back of the stadium I could see the finish clock. I watched it flip to 1:25 and I knew I had missed a PR but I gave it everything I had left and finished with 1:25:09. I was thrilled. Sure, a PR would have been so very sweet but just proving to myself that I still had some speed even after what I considered to be a terrible season of training meant the world to me. I hadn’t even trained for this race! It was not a goal race!
Dave finished a couple of minutes behind me with a 1:27 earning a huge PR for himself. The race was nearly perfect. My only complaint was a kid that kept blocking my path. It seemed to be intentional and I wanted to punch the punk in the back of the head. I even raised my fist (but only to signal my frustration to Dave). Perfect weather, great friends,