I had a fantastic time running my second George Washington Birthday Marathon. Three years ago I ran 3:14 here and really enjoyed the laid back feel of the race. This year's race did not disappoint, and I had a solid run in 3:04, which was good for 6th place and winning my age group.
My running was not good at all in the week leading up to the race. I may have been too exuberant in the prior week and pushed too hard. All throught last week, my legs were tired, and I had all sorts of aches and pains.
I took it very easy throughout the week and ended up feeling pretty decent on race day. I took off towards the front of the pack and tried to stay relaxed. I was pretty pumped to see the first two miles go by in 6:40 and 6:33. I couldn't help but smile after that. It felt good to be out there racing and feeling good on a beautiful day. It seemed like it had been too long since the 50K I raced in December. I do love racing!
I intentially dialed back the pace a bit and very consistently hit most miles in the upper 6:40s. Most of the course is 3 loops that are a little over 7 miles. I came through loop 1 at mile 10 feeling fantastic. Soon enough I hit the half marathon in 1:29.
I started to struggle holding pace around mile 15. "No problems", as a wine steward from our summer cruise to Bermuda would say. I knew I was not at 100% with little serious running over the prior 1.5 weeks, and I was not planning to go 100% anyway. This was supposed to be a hard training run and not an all out effort.
The old Will would have kept pushing really hard, likely would have blown up towards the end, and would be too worn out from the race given that the National Marathon is only 4 weeks away. The old Will was not the smartest.
Instead, I dialed it back right away to the 7:00-7:15 range and held there for a while. I slowed down a little bit more in the late miles, but overall I kept pace pretty well . Even the 3/4 mile steep hill starting at mile 25 was doable, though I will say that whoever designed the course to have that right at the end is very, very mean. I finished strong with plenty left in the tank and felt fine after crossing the finish line.
This was a great race and shows that I've come a long way. When I first ran 3:04 at Philly in 2006, it took everything I had and left me injured for months afterwards. Yesterday I was able to run 3:04 on a really hilly course (probably runs 4-5 minutes slow) without going all out. Today I felt fine and biked a little over 20 miles to loosen things up.
The time I am shooting for at the National Marathon will still be extremely tough for me, but I do have a bit more confidence now after yesterday.