Sunday, January 21, 2001

RR Gulf Coast Marathon

Race Report
Gulf Coast Marathon
Clearwater, FL

I have to interject a brief marathon story/trip report in front of the
wake-up call because I am so pleased with the run I had Sunday morning. For those not interested in running or athletic challenges just scroll down to the wake-up call.
I felt I needed to run one or two marathons in January and February before we take off on our next marathon adventure to Spain and Africa in late Feb. (I am going to run a marathon in the Sahara Desert!)
Anyway I didn't want to travel too far for these 'training runs' so I
selected a race in Clearwater, FL on 1/21 and a second one in Ocala, FL on 2/4. On Sunday morning in Clearwater the weather was clear, sunny, very cool (40 degrees at the start) and windy thanks to another cold front sent down by the tundra dwellers/snowbirds. The cold and sunny was OK but the wind made conditions difficult. It actually helped in the first half where it was mostly tailwind and I was surprised/pleased to cross the half in 1:44 - my fastest half since Dec 99! At that point I knew it was going to be either a great day or very ugly in the second half! At 14 miles the course turned back north directly into 20 to 25 mph headwinds for the last 12 miles! Unfortunately I was not able to find anyone to draft behind so I just had to keep slugging it out against the wind. At 20 miles I had slowed just a tad so that I was exactly on an 8-minute pace (2:40).
At that point I did a gut check and determined that I still felt OK because I knew that I was going to have to dig real deep and accept 50 minutes of pain to break 3:30! But I also knew that feel-good days and chances to break 3:30 don't come too often anymore so I decided to go for it! I would either make it or go down valiantly in flames in the last 10K! My only low point and concern came as I reached mile 24 and read 8:50 for the last mile? I felt that I had not possibly slowed that much and the mile marker must be wrong? I felt that my only option was to pick up the pace and continue on to the next mile marker. I was right for I reached mile 25 in 6:45? That was all the incentive I needed! I knew that I would make it barring a complete collapse
in the last mile. I dug even deeper - into that extra hidden spare tank of reserves that is only there on feel-good days and shouted "piss on you wind - I am the better man today"! I crossed the finish line in 3:28:32 for my fastest marathon since January 4, 1997 -4 years and 64 marathons ago!!!! So maybe that old saying is correct? "You never get older -you just get better"!