I picked out this race because it was four weeks from Rocket City, which is the closest to a marathon that you should race an all-out marathon. The Middle Half beat me up for a few days and took nearly a week before I was able to do any productive workouts. I'm currently in the middle of my marathon specific phase, so I really don't want to have to sacrifice my training too much.
My ideal goal was to just get a feel for the marathon...take a GU during the race to see how my stomach would respond and to try and take a cup of water or two. Ideally, I wanted to run my first 10 miles at goal marathon pace and my last 5k run as fast as half marathon effort. I didn't really know who would show up, so all that could drastically change.
At the line, I saw Alex Moore, who is a pretty tough runner. I knew he would run pretty decently, so my goal of running 5:43s the first 10 miles was out the window. I also saw Dan Mueller, who is also a solid runner, and Bradley Chronister, who ran against me at the Middle Half. Bradley told me he wanted to try and break 1:12, so I agreed to help him with the pace.
It was kind of an awkward start. Normally, they will start with a gun or something else but the race director tried to be funny and just said "go" in a really calm, monotone voice. No one knew if he was serious or not, so we just stood there, so he said it again. I got out with Bradley, Dan and Alex with one of Dan's friends pushing the pace for the first mile. We hit that in 5:14, which was a lot faster than I would have liked to go out but it felt somewhat relaxed. We then passed Dan's friend and stuck together for the next couple of miles. Around 3-4 miles, the race moved to the greenway and Bradley and I started to pull away from the pack.
We were clicking off a lot of sub 5:30 miles and I felt really good. Bradley was having a little bit of trouble with the pace, so I was trying to talk him through it. We built about a 15 second gap on Alex and Dan but shortly before six miles, Alex made a really big move and at one point, was only a few seconds behind us.
After being on the greenway and smelling stale beer for several miles, we branched out onto some really long, boring road. As I mentioned earlier, I really didn't want to run those all out. I knew if I stayed with Bradley, he would be able to run a good bit faster than if I left him because it's much easy to fight for the win instead of trying to not get third. We were almost at 10 miles and he was under 1:12 pace, so I pushed hard for about a mile to build a gap on him to make him try to forget about me and worry about Dan and Alex behind him. During that move, I probably ran around 5:10-5:15 pace and still felt pretty strong.
After gaping him, I was able to back off the pace a good bit. There was a pretty decent sized hill towards the end, which hurt but I just cruised the rest of the way. I crossed the line in 1:11:32, which was a minute slower than my half marathon last month but the effort was tons easier and I felt really strong after the race. I really believe that I could have broken 1:10 today, which is a motivation booster for my marathon next month.
Mile splits: 5:14, 10:49 (two miles), 5:24, 5:29, 5:28, 10:53 (two miles), 5:23, 5:21, 5:42, 5:36, 5:33, 41 (.1)