Monday, 1 June 2009


Running in the back of the pack of every marathon I've done, I have had the opportunity to overhear some interesting, and often disheartening conversations between fellow runners who are about to cross the 26.2 mile finish line. The ones that sadden me are those involving people in the throws of beating themselves up for not realizing their intended goals. More often than not those expectations were time-related. I just wanted to take a moment to remind them, and those of you who may have suffered similar "setbacks", or may in the future, 26.2 miles is a helluva long way, and, no matter how convinced you are that you should be the next Kenyan superstar, sometimes the marathon just kicks your butt. There is nothing there that speaks to "failure". Remember, the first guy who went the distance between Marathon and Athens (the story goes) nearly died at the 17th mile...and DID DIE at the end. Finishing, and living to do it again, is nothing short of awesome.

Having said that... I finished yesterday's Rock and Roll San Diego in 5:17:07. My 4:56 PR from December's CIM in Sacramento still stands. Admittedly, I was hoping to set a new standard for myself, but, it was apparently not to be. Despite that, I am thrilled to have racked up another finish, number 7 in this year's 12in12. I am over the hump.

The weather was awesomely awesome. Cool, overcast, and even a bit drizzly at times. It was muggy in spots away from bay breezes, but nothing like the last time I ran RnR in 2006, when it was riduculously hot. My watch was set for 3:1 run/walk Galloway intervals, a system I was hoping to stick with all the way.

When I made the eastward turn from the edge of the harbor toward downtown, at mile 6.5ish, I knew things were going to be better this time than in '06. Back then this is where I realized my first RnR was going to suck, big time.

The big challenge on this course is the climb up the 168 freeway, closed off for us 15,000+ (new official numbers) runners. It's about a two mile climb, twice as long as Big Sur's trek up to Hurricane Point. Perhaps I should have geared down to 2:1's here, as I did at Big Sur, but I didn't. It may have been my one mistake this time around. At the start of the climb I was setting a PR pace. By the time I crested the peak, I had lost it. Not to worry, I told myself. The rest of the course is downhill or flat.

As I hit the halfway point my Garmin showed 2:30, which is pretty much the norm for me for 13.1. I had gained back a little time, but with half the race to go it was a crap-shoot as to whether or not I could maintain my pace. I did well until mile 20 (3 miles passed my blessed Mars bar break) where I realized the "3" part of the 3:1's was taking its toll. I switched to 2:1's here, thinking no matter how tired I was I could surely always find a 2 minute run in the tank til the end. That worked, and I stuck with the intervals the rest of the way. In many past races this is where I've dumped out on the intervals and walked more than ran.

The first time I ran RnRSD I was pretty new to this sport, and knew no one in the pack. This time I had lots of friends who came down from the Bay Area and beyond, with their own goals tattooed on their minds. I am thrilled to say most, if not all of them, set new records for themselves in San Diego, and are going home fulfilled. I am in awe of every one of them, and what they were able to accomplish here. You know who you are. Looking forward to many more races with you. For those runs we don't share, I will be watching, and wondering, often, just how, and yes, sometimes why, we keep doing this. But do it, we will.

Rock and Roll Seattle is next, next month.

Gotta run!


SarahEliz said...

congrats and best of luck in seattle!!

Tim Wilson said...

Congrats on a job well done!

Tungsten said...

Nice post, Michael. As always, I enjoyed reading your point of view. I was totally guilty of beating myself up after falling apart in my first marathon last month. Race day was raw emotion but, now that time has passed, I definitely am far more proud than ashamed with my finish.

Congrats on SD and continued success in Seattle!

kara said...

"26.2 miles is a helluva long way,"
I hear ya!
WTG on finishing another one.
Great report!

Anonymous said...

Great report and I almost feel you wrote those words for me. My best friend just reminded me of the first marathoner who died. I am still editing my race report and feel I need to post it just to get past it. I have said this before but you are truly an inspiration. Thank you!

Solorunner said...

oops posted that wrong...


CewTwo said...

Always a great blog with valuable insight. Thanks for sharing another Marathon. Congratulations!

Ian Charters said...

12in12 will be something special - what a year!

Very best wishes for the next 5

Kim said...

So So true with those upset about not meeting goals. That 26.2 can do some weird things to a person mentally and physically.

Your PR and mine are neck in neck. Great finish in SD! We'll be in Seattle next month. By that time, I should be hitting my 6th marathon in my quest for 12 this year if all goes well next week at the Hatfield and McCoy Marathon.

TokyoRacer said...

Old rock and rollers don't die, they just...get stronger.
I officially entered Santa Barbara so look forward to seeing you there. And you'll have done four more by're one tough dude!

leslie said...

You continue to amaze and impress me, Michael!!!

Alisa said...

Awesome job! I shoulda found you at the halfway point...we were right there together. While I didn't make my "goal" time I still PR'd and I tried not to beat myself up about it =).

Way to turn in another great performance! If we're ever in the same race again, I'll stick with you.

Marathon Maritza said...

I love the intro to this race, so true! Yet, how easily we forget.

Great job on another fabulous marathon! I can't believe you are already at 7! I am only doing 3 this year and that feels like a lot to're awesome!