Things were setting up nicely for a good time. As stated in Part 1, I was running free and relaxed due to open spaces and great crowd support. I was clicking off miles in the 7:00 to 7:15 range. The need to lighten my bladder was catching up with me. I knew I wouldn’t last the whole way with the extra weight and discomfort. Finally at the 5 mile point there was a line of port-a-johns. I veered off the course and made what ended up being a full minute pit stop.
Having the prior year’s experience made for a much more confident me as the run progressed. I knew I had trained at a high level for many many months and knew I would not give up on the dream, which became my internal chat. Don’t give up on the dream. I hit the half marathon point at about 1:31:30 and I started thinking a 3:05 was within the realm.
Shortly after the 16 mile point I started employing part of my plan to incorporate backwards running into the race. I chose to use it when the spectators and runners were few and far between. I still received some looks and comments. One runner said,”The least you could do is slow down when you do that to make us feel better.” I just said that I wasn’t trying to make others feel bad, but to give my forward propelling muscles a break. It worked and I felt refreshed after about 100 yards of the backwards jaunt. Around 18 miles I used some short periods of walking to assist in recovery as well. I planned to walk and run backwards as the goal was to qualify for Boston and do so by all means necessary. I had planned to run the whole way the year before and qualify for Boston. I ran all of Chicago 2001, but failed in my ultimate goal and I wasn’t going to do that again.
23 miles was the big wall point in 2001, so when 23 came and went I felt like I was going to do this. My legs began to feel tight, however the major cramping like 2001 just didn’t show its face this year. I lost some pace on the back side, but not enough to take me off of Boston’s doorstep. I kick it up running down Columbus for the last .2. I must have looked like an idiot as I waved to crowd in a hyper wrist action. At one point the crowd seemed to react with a cheer and then as they realized they didn’t know who I was, became immediately silent. I stopped waving and then powered to the finish. I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch. 3:11:24, good enough for the Boston qualifying time for a 35-39 year old male.
I accomplished the dream. I saw a guy shortly after I finished, who had worked at the running shoe store where I had purchased my marathon shoes at his recommendation. The Adidas Cairos. He also had encouraged me that my Boston dream was a possibility after I had run my first half marathon of my life in 1:37. It was pretty cool that he was the first person I knew that I saw right after fulfilling the dream we had discussed just 2 years prior. He said,”See you in Boston.”