On the day after the Alien Half Marathon Pooh found himself with 10 weeks until the Marine Corps Marathon and still holding onto doubts about whether or not he could approach the real goal he had in mind. He had posted a goal of running a sub 4 hour marathon to the outside world, but the coaches and those who knew him best (all his BRFs) knew he had a little more ambition than that and all let him know that sub 4 was well within his grasp. To those friends he said that he was quietly shooting for a 3:55 and perhaps even a 3:50. It is important for Pooh to visualize himself running fast enough to achieve a goal and he just wasn’t there yet.
Of course the only way to get there was to stay laser focused on the goal and give full effort to every training run. And it was to be the most challenging 10 weeks of physical training Pooh would ever endure because the pace for the “easy” training runs suddenly got faster and the long runs got longer and added surges and fast finishes. Not to mention the speed training getting even more intense. So with all that in mind Pooh tightened up his red vest, dug into some hunny and attacked every run.
There were good days and not so good days. But Pooh soldiered on day after day with the support of his family and friends without whom he would never have made it through most of the hard workouts. Some days it was all he could do to make the distance and others were spectacular successes. Some days it was a chance meeting with his BRFs that got him through a tough run. Other days it was just pure stubbornness that forced him to press the button on the Garmin and start the legs moving. Every day was another adventure but the tide was starting to turn along with the leaves and the weather because periodically Pooh could start to see himself running at an 8:45/mi pace at mile 18 of the MCM. And then suddenly one day, which day he can’t quite say but he would point to October 6, 2013 as a very important run…
… October 6 was the run Pooh was looking forward to the least. It was the 20 mile fast finish run. He was still haunted by the failure to complete the 18 mile fast finish run on September 9. There were a number of reasons why he had been unable to complete that run and Pooh knew it was more than likely a blip on the radar due to having been ill and not fueling properly or hydrating properly but it was still in his mind that to achieve his goal he was going to HAVE to be able to finish fast and the only other fast finish run had been a disaster. So October 6 had been circled on the calendar and that day had come. The plan Pooh had in mind was to wear exactly the outfit and gear he planned to use for the actual race except to use his new red singlet to test it out in case race day was warm and the yellow t-shirt was too much. Things were complicated by the fact that Pooh had run a 5K race the previous day and run a personal best time despite knowing he should have taken it easy on the hilly course and the shutdown of the parks but Pooh was able to find a spot to place his supplies that he would pass every 5 miles and carry all his fuel in his pockets and hydration belt pocket so all was in place for the assault on 20! The run was supposed to look like this: 3mi @ 8:45/mi or slower, 5mi @ 8:30, 7mi @ 8:15, 4mi fast as you can, 1mi easy (8:55-9:40). Pooh hydrated every 2.5 miles, stopping at the road bag to refill the water bottles and take on some G2 once, and fueled every 5 miles also taking the fueling stops to stretch and once talk to the Park Rangers who had come out to monitor and make sure people didn’t go into the Park. They didn’t like doing it and hated having to keep the parks closed. After the run was over Pooh looked at the data and found that this is what he had accomplished:
3mi @ 9:42/mi
5mi @ 8:30/mi
7mi @ 8:11/mi
4mi @ 8:11/mi
1mi @ 9:19/mi
At first he was a little disappointed by the inability to accelerate for the last 4 mi segment but then looked at it as a very successful run from which he learned a few lessons such as to fuel every 4.5 miles. But most importantly it would be redemption from the failed fast finish run earlier and the first time that Pooh remembers thinking of a fast pace at the end of the MCM as a “when” rather than an “if.”
Pooh had pushed himself harder than he had ever thought possible and found himself knowing that he could achieve his goal! Well done Pooh, you silly old bear!