Well I did not break four hours. I am not totally bummed out, though. I still get to pursue the goal of breaking four hours and I intend to break this barrier.This was a rather unique Marathon. We started in fine weather on a nice crushed gravel trail. From the start of the marathon we had no mile markers. I was able to use those on posts along the trail for reference. At approx 3.2 miles I was at 30:37. Here I was running with a nice fellow named Ted and I said I was going too slow so I kicked it up a notch. I had decided to go for the four hours! Still unable to raise the bar, a 9:43? Mile 5-a 8:47. I ate my fig newtons and half power bar. Plus I had taken fluids. The first water station was a forbearer of things to come. No one handing cups...we suffered a real lack of volunteers. The trail began to get rougher. Larger stones, cattle guards, I actually turned my ankle twice...no harm.
I felt good! Mile 6- 9:13, mile 7-8:40, mile 8-8:44, mile 9-8:16, mile 10-9:12, (1:33.16) I'm thinking I can do it!
Missed mile marker-so mile 11 and 12-19:23- Problems I encountered? No volunteers at water stations. We had to stop and pour our own drinks, no problem, trail was taking toll on me.
Mile 13-9:16-(This was actually 13.2 due to the way we started.) 2:01.55. I'm still within a shot of four hours!
It was here that Ted passed me. I was in a bad patch. Mile 14-10:23, Mile 15-9:48,
mile16-9:36, I was losing it, and I was thirsty! No water station!!
Two guys besides Ted passed me during this phase...both ultra runners. The first guy I lamented to him how thirsty I was...he offered me a drink from his belt, I said no, he insisted, I drank! The next one was Rob! Rob you looked good! Rob said he was in a recovery phase, I passed back by him and didn't see him again.
Mile 17-10:36, Mile 18- water!! I drank, and I drank, and I drank some more-12:01. Here I knew 4 hours was lost. Big dog on trail, and I mean big! He didn't bite, but man was he slobbering!
Mile 19-10:46, I am really trying to get composed. I want the best time I can get.
Mile 20 no marker-but Sandy was there with my e-gel. I stopped and drank water. Two elites in the ultra had caught me, but we drank together. When I saw my Sweetheart coming towards me as I was running up to that stop I just about started balling! I was so disappointed that I wasn't going to break four hours. She kept telling me that doesn't matter that I was near the front? "There aren't that many people in front of you you are doing great."
Saw mile marker, it was mile 21-23:03 for two miles....not good! I was feeling good but hurting a little. I decided on a strategy: 70 right foot strikes running, twenty walking fast, repeated all the way in! Mile 22-11:21, Miles 23,24,25,26, no markers at all...time 39:34! That little system worked good!
Here's what happened on those last four miles. We came off the trail, thank goodness! It had beat me up good! We were now on asphalt, YAY!!! To my amazement I saw three white shirts in front of me, very catchable! By the way, no water at all from 20.5 on in, I began to catch these guys, one by one, also, I was passed by a super strong looking guy, one of the ultra runners, we shared words of encouragement. He won first in his age group.
The last guy I passed was Ted! I got him back! I was encouraged. My little system was working. Up a hill, turned North, back on trail, asphalt. Where in the tar nation is the finish. My calves are toast! Finally! Down a little hill, back up and through the finish line. No clock.
I hear this... " Mark Zimmerman, number 53, age 53," a pause, then a lady yells out, "first in age division!" Huh? No way! Sure enough! I've got the plaque to prove it!
Made a lot of friends, Tammy from New Mexico, Dave from Denver, Ted, who got second in age division (mine).
I could be bummed but I'm not. I finished with a 4:19.08. Unofficial. I will live to race another day. I realized some truths as I ran. I will begin to employ them in training and racing. What are they? Must log a few more miles. Long runs need to simulate marathon conditions. Sorry. Train slow-run slow. The body must be trained to run the pace you want to run. I will do more pace runs with deeper distances.
Thanks for all your support and thoughts. I thought about you guys as I was running. So no dice with the four hours, but a first place? Which is better? Peace!