It was either all of the McD's that we had during the drive down, or the truck stop sushi that I was going to have the next day, whatever it was, it wanted to get out.
I knew I had about a six minute buffer at the half, but I wasn't sure if I could have gotten back into a sub-7 rhythm again if I stopped and went to the bathroom. Besides, I hadn't seen any port-a-johns or woods, like at Sugarloaf, to do my dirty deed.
I tightly clenched my butt cheeks and hung on for dear life.
It was around mile 17 that I got passed for the first time on the day. Blue singlet guy came flying past me on a downhill. I thought he was a marathon relayer, but he didn't pull off to the side as we went through the final relay checkpoint at mile 20. He was looking really strong, so I wanted to keep him in my sights to keep my head in the race.
I had taken my first GU around 14, and grabbed two more GU's at 18 from the wonderful volunteers. I typically go easy on the GU, but I was downing each one pretty quickly in the hopes that it would help settle my stomach.
I was also only able to keep water down at this point, and even then, I was putting most of that water on my head to cool off. I still don't know how I got through 85+ degrees at Boston. Here I was, burning up with the temps in the 40's and under overcast skies.
Fortunately, the GU/water combo was working as my urge to poop eventually subsided without any further ill-effects, but now my mind was betraying me.
I started to have really bad thoughts like what if I just stopped running? Does any of this really mean anything? A car just went by, I wish I could get a ride for a couple of miles.
My body was basically on auto-pilot mode: Up, down, up, down. Left, right, left, right. B, A, B, A.
I went through mile 20 in 2:14, which gave me 45 minutes to run the final 10K. My 10K PR is 36:01.
This quick perspective gave me the final shot of confidence I needed to finally relax and just enjoy the final stretch.
Six miles to go and I was averaging 6:43 overall. I would have to give back more than 1 second per mile over the final 10K to be in any real danger of not making the 2:59 cut-off.
The one thing that helped a lot was knowing that the mile markers on this course were exactly dead on with my Garmin. EVERY single mile was within +-.02 of my GPS readout. Pretty impressive job by the race organizers. This is a huge benefit when you're racing against the clock, and don't have to account for a possibly "longer" course.
I had roughly 24 minutes remaining when I started on my final 5K for the day at mile 23.1. I always tell myself that I'm just one Good Times run from the finish, and I actually picture myself out on the GT5K course. Nothing like being at home to make you feel relaxed.
Blue singlet guy was now back within striking distance, and I could tell he was dying. I had not seen him take any GU's from mile 17 to 23. I had taken three by that point.
I easily passed him with 2 miles go. 17 minutes remaining.
We were now mixing it up with the tail-end of the half-marathon finishers.
I was able to pick out another marathoner in front of me by how fast he was passing everyone else. Yellow singlet guy.
The chase was on. 15 minutes to go.
I could feel the final GU kicking in as I got up right next to yellow singlet guy.
He was matching me stride-for-stride and not giving me a single inch. I had to earn this one.
I wasn't backing down either, since he could very well be in my age group, and I'll be damned if I finish out of my AG because I didn't give it my all down the final stretch.
1 mile. 9 minutes.
For the first time all day I finally felt that I was racing. This is what it's all about. Runner vs. Runner.
We both fought for the inside corner of the final turn. I went wide and gave him the slight edge as we blew past the Mile 26 sign.
A nasty climb greeted us both for the final .20 up to the finish line.
He surged past me before I countered with my own surge. I could hear spectators yell out, "he's going to catch you!"
I gritted my teeth and made one final push. I've got this.
2:57 was what I saw out of the corner of my eyes as I crossed the finish of state number six in under three hours.
It was finally over. I wasn't injured. Legs felt great. All systems nominal.
The first thing that I did after finishing was to go straight for that sweet looking blues guitar medal.
It was definitely worth the hurt today.
Official finish: 2:57:17; 19th overall; 3rd in AG
Fil ended up finishing 33rd overall in a time of 3:13:56 for his 3rd fastest marathon ever! I guess it was the McD's after all.
Congrats to the Martin's for their dual sub-4 performances, and kicking off the new year with a huge BANG!
The easy part was now behind us. It was time to get back home. Back home to get ready for Boston.