So I didn't break 5:00 like I wanted. And somewhere around mile 20, that became OK. I still PRd, by about 10 minutes, give or take, crossing the line with a bounce in my step at 5:14 chip time. And I'm happy with it. Around mile 21ish, I had to step carefully and walk more than run, because the mist that started about mile 20 became full-out rain, and it was slippery and slidey. And that was OK. It was only a pain because I couldn't see with my glasses all sploshy.
I stuck with the 5:00 Clif Bar pace leader (Marie, who was awesome and incredible and inspiring, and who deserves a post of her own) until midway through mile 19. And then the same thing happened that happened last year (and the year before), and I hit that point in the course where i had to walk a bit, and they kept running, my group of 5:00 pacers. And Marie's little stick with her balloons on it stretched further and further away from me, until they were out of sight and out of hearing range. But I still felt strong, so I knew I'd PR even if I had to walk some, and I made peace with not breaking 5:00. And I ran more than I walked in those last six miles, and I sure ran harder and faster than I did at the end of the Waco race. I was strong, just not strong enough to maintain an 11:27 pace for 26.2. And yet, I finished. And I have the same medal and finisher's shirt I would have gotten had I come in 14 minutes faster.
It was a self-imposed monkey that I had on my back, this 5:00 or bust business. I thought I had to settle that score with myself before I could turn completely to triathlon training. But somewhere along there (around that damn freaking lake), I realized that just because I'm a 5:14 marathoner instead of a 4:59 marathoner doesn't mean that I can't train for a sprint tri. I'm visiting the nutrionist on Tuesday, and that coupled with the cross-training that a sprint tri will require will help me lose the last 26.2 pounds (yeah, don't think I didn't get the grand irony in being 26.2 pounds from ideal when I stepped on the scale this weekend!) to reach my goal. And by becoming a stronger athlete, I will become a faster runner. It will happen. And it will happen on my schedule.
I'm not ever going to break any land speed records. Or water speed records, for that matter. But by toeing the line and racing smart and getting to the finish, I will become a better athlete, and I will improve. My finish today is a full 15 minutes faster than my first marathon, and nearly half an hour faster than my last one. How can I look that horse in the mouth and be unappreciative? The weather turned sucky toward the end, and it was cold as hell on the start, but beyond that, it was a fairly good day for a run. And unlike a couple of folks I know, who really wanted to race this season and can't, I was blessed with a strong, healthy body that allowed me to cross the start line, and the finish line. Not as strong as I'd like, and not as healthy as I'd like, but stronger and healthier than I was two years ago, and sure as heck stronger and healthier than I was five years ago. And that's the whole reason I'm out there. That and the bling. :)
So I"ll take the PR. And the shiny, pretty thing. And the satisfaction of a run a little faster than my last, and that I put out all I had today on the course. Right around mile 25 and change, I passed a couple of girls, one of who was obviously struggling. And I looked at them, and I honestly meant it when I said, "This was fun!"
So I didn't break 5:00. That just means I have to try again, sooner than later. Somewhere I've got to figure out what happens to me at mile 19 that makes the wheels come off, and I might have to get some help to figure it out. It might just be running a few 22-milers in training, whereas I've been following a finisher plan that only has me running one 20-miler. It might be incorporating some actual speedwork. It might be getting back to yoga. Or, maybe just losing the weight will help. I'll figure it out, but do so, I first get to run another marathon!