4/3- The All American Marathon was my 25th Full. I’m going to take a departure from my normal race review due to time restrictions, and the realization that lately I just don’t have the time or energy to sit down and focus on a full account. I haven’t had the desire to blog as much lately, leaving me sort of at odds with how best to review my races, and share information that may be helpful to others in choosing events. I’ll just let my fingers do the typing and see where it leads……
I’ve raced the All Amercican Full all three years of its existence. It’s such a fun and inspirational event, growing in numbers every year. I’ve had a close affiliation with the race, this year taking the lead in the final month for the pace team.
I worked the pacer table at the expo the day before the race, meeting tons of enthusiastic runners. It was a chance to meet folks on the pacer team, and talk all things running related including the course, best spectator viewing spots, course elevation, etc… It was a lot of fun to be involved in this way.
Race morning came, my son and I took off early from the house for the 45 minute drive to Fayetteville. He was pacing the 2:00 Half, me the 4:00 Full. The best part about this? Since we were pacing the same time, we could run side by side for nearly 10 miles until the courses split! Race day weather would introduce a new challenge for me, and others. Temperatures were great, but it was very, very windy. I’ve run in the absolute bitterness of 8 degrees at the Asheville Marathon, near 80 degree temps at Rock n Roll Raleigh, rain in Hilton Head and Asheville Fulls, some wind in Charleston, but this wind was different. Headwinds of 20mph, mostly sustained, with gusts up to 30 mph. It wasn’t until we were about 6-7 miles into the race that I really understood how difficult this day would be.
Dylan and I enjoyed our time together, perfectly pacing 10 miles through Fayettevile, onto the All American Freeway and on into Ft. Bragg. Here are some awesome photos from someone overhead on one of the overpasses.
I realized as the courses split, that this day was going to test everything I had. It would take every ounce of energy I could muster just to cross the finish line. Turning onto Ft. Bragg, the winds got even worse. Knowing the course, I was yearning to hit Pope Airfield, where I knew we would turn, and hopefully (finally) get to take advantage of tailwinds. Just as he turn came, the winds died down, and with it my spirit. I had never worked this hard to maintain pace. I knew in my heart without a bit of help in my favor from the wind, the extra effort already expended would kill my race. So, let’s add mega wind to my list of hates for race day weather. The wind killed the races of about 300 runners that day in the marathon, as the list of runners that started the race but didn’t finish it, was immense. More than I had ever seen.
By mile 20 I wanted to walk off the course. I’ve never done this, but I wanted to. I had absolutely nothing left in the tank. All of my energy was drained from fighting the wind, and then it picked back up. More headwinds…. Really? Unbelievable. How can I pace this, when it was really just a death march to the finish? I was going to finish, but didn’t want to throw any runners off as far as pace, so although disappointed, took off my pacing shirt and ditched my pacing sign. I was in the race still, but only for me. Only to finish.
I have never felt so drained in my entire life, but I did eventually finish. My marathon #25 now barely completed, and now my personal worst marathon finish. BUT….I finished. I was embarrassed, and disheartened by my performance. I could barely stand, and felt like I could pass out of pure exhaustion any moment. Luckily my son was there to lend assistance if needed. It took me about 20 minutes to feel recovered enough to take the slow walk to the shuttle, and back to the car. The weather defeated my pace goal that day, but didn’t defeat my finish. I finished my quarter century marathon that day in a dismal 4:17:34. My worst by 4 minutes over the Outer Banks Marathon a few years ago.
Over a week has passed since this event, and my time to reflect has left me with this thought. I pushed through the conditions, and finished a marathon. A friggin marathon. Sometimes I take for granted just how difficult running a marathon is even in perfect conditions. On that day, the weather was not perfect, my performance was not perfect. Who cares! I FINISHED!