Chapter 16: Life, Dreams, Goals, and What Next?
Pre-race: Well it has been a long time, >2.5 yrs. So why the break? I’ve been asking myself that for the entire break and really do not have an answer. But what I can say is that turning 40 last December forced me to look at my life’s goals and try and find something new. Also, it helps to have a running buddy in a similar stage of life who opted to run the Marathon Majors and remind me of some of my old goals. The goal I am talking about here is that of running Berlin. This is something that started in December of 1996 when I visited Germany as part of a language class at Knox. Leaving the US for the first time to go to my family’s fatherland was definitely a great experience and seeing the Brandenburg Tor and knowing the marathon finishes in the garden on the other side sealed the deal. But somewhere along the road of life I had forgotten about this. Well that changed with a prod from Josh and I finally started running with a purpose again. Now with a multi-year break it was definitely slower than I had ever been in the 25 years I’ve been running distance, but I was running again!
What about the training? That used to be a page or more in these race reports but really all my training consists of now is just running. What I mean by that is that there were no track workouts, no hill repeats, no time trials, and no pace runs… But there were some good miles! Started the year off with 40-mile weeks and more or less kept that up for the entire build up to race day. I had a couple slip ups but was soon hitting 50-mile weeks, 60-mile weeks, 70-mile weeks, and I even hit one 80+ mile week for the first time since January 2010!!! In total for my 18-week training program I logged 1,021 miles which puts me at my 6th highest mileage of my 16 marathons. This is almost twice the miles I ran for the 2016 Birmingham Marathon, but most of them at 9:30 min pace range. Key training runs that broke that slower trend and gave me some confidence going into the race were a nice 17 miler in Hong Kong (7:55 pace) and a 20 miler in San Antonio (8:36 pace). But all said and done I put in the miles and all that was left was traveling over the Atlantic Ocean and getting to the race.
That said getting there is half the battle. Despite being my 16th marathon there were a lot of firsts. One of which was actually getting into the race. The lottery for many of these races close the day the race opens. Unfortunately, I’m also no longer fast enough to qualify for a guaranteed entry, so I had to do the next best thing and sign-up for a charity spot. The charity I chose was Team for Kids. The goal to make the entry was $2,000. If you are receiving this you are likely one of those who donated and if not in money at least in moral support, so Thank You!
Once in Germany, thanks to another friend, huge thank you to Christian, I then transferred to Berlin where I met up with Josh and we headed to the race expo to get our race numbers. We did a little sightseeing but did not want to tire ourselves out before the race.
One thing we did do was meet up with a new colleague who took us to a beer garden founded in 1837. We had some good German beer and sausage. Then he took as on a brief tour showing us where the wall used to be and explaining to us a lot of the changes that have occurred since re-unification. All and all we had a great time. After that all that was left to do was get a good night’s rest.
Race Day: Well thanks again to Josh we were staying close to the start. So, we got up and headed over stopping briefly for a picture in front of the gate and went to our respective corrals for the start. I managed to use my last marathon time to get in the C group, which is meant for 2:50-3hr finishers. This surprised me as I was looking for an E group start. In any case it was good because it put me ahead of the crowds but also meant I had to be cautious not to get pulled out too fast. This gets to my goal setting for the race. Now I have always set three standards for myself prior to the gun. This race was no different but with such a long break and no real workouts to gauge off of I was pretty clueless. That said my must have C goal was under 3:30, my B goal was 3:20, and my A goal was under 3:15. However, I really had no idea what I could do and with my best training run putting me in the 3:30 range I really thought that might be the best I could hope for.