Former 2:24 marathoner, now in my late 40s and hoping to maximally flatten the curve of my slide into senescence and mediocrity • Magazine writer, book editor and authorand commentator on the sport of distance running since 1999 • Adviser and confidant of other perambulators • Paradoxical hater of exercise fanatics • Chihuahua whisperer Sentence-fragment impresario

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Doubling down

I was never one of those types who was inclined to race twice in the same weekend, but the relatively few times I've done this, it has usually worked out OK.
On this weekend 13 years ago, I ran a 5K in Gilmanton, N.H. on Saturday and the Eastern States 20-Miler on the coast on Sunday and won both. I didn't decide to run the 5K until that morning, and along with Derek Sawyer I missed the start by about 20 seconds. I caught the leaders before the mile mark (which I reached in 5:08) and pulled away from Fergus Cullen on the subsequent downhill before picking my way up the very ugly hill from about 2 to 2.6 miles. My official time was 17:05, which sounds bad even allowing for the extra 100 or so meters at the start, but the course is very slow -- dirt roads in late March in New England are not forgiving venues.
My main focus for the weekend was the 20-miler. I was given instructions byPete to run splits of about 55:30/54:00 if at all possible, as I would be gunning for the Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 2:22:00 at the Boston Marathon three weeks later. I ended up with a solid 1:49:46 in the rain, alone after seven miles, at the end of something like a 122-mile week, although my negative split wasn't as pronounced as intended.
Three weeks later I was as ready as I'd ever be to run 5:25 pace for 26.2 miles. I would need an almost perfect day to do it, both weather-wise and from within. But it turned out to be very warm, and I dropped out at around 12K -- I was on 2:19 pace, but that was because of the downhill early miles and I was never going to be able to sustain that clip. I thought I would get one more serious shot at the Trials standard that fall, but after messing up my hip in August at the infernal Bridge of Flowers 10K, I couldn't came all the way back to where I needed to be in time, and -- despite most of my lifetime personal bests coming the following year at age 34 -- in fact never took a serious shot at a marathon ever again.
This cursory write-up in a now-defunct online newsletter took some digging to find.

On becoming THAT runner, part 238

Back when I trained with the sole intent of performing well in running races, I would occasionally encounter older runners who still ran seriously, and even did speed workouts -- not so they could continue to race but so they could train with people who, well, trained with the sole intent of performing well in running races. I remember wondering if I would ever become such a high-caliber slacker.
No further comment.