My day started well, no big problems getting to the starting line. It is a one way course, finishing in Picton. Went off at the start with dgrant and Sanders, all had similar pace in mind. Speed was almost a constant 4:57 K pace. Just a few easy rollers, barely noticeable. Very pretty course, all farms and beaches. Road was closed to traffic in both directions, lots of spectators considering the rural setting. Eventually it was just Dave and I, just trucking along. Saw the halfers lined up waiting to start, I was still in a fine mood here although I realized that we were already off pace for my 3:30 whisper goal. No big. 5 K splits were all just under 25 minutes right up until 30 K, which we passed at 2:29:46. That's just faster than my ATB 30, sounded real good but. By 25 K I mentioned that it was feeling maybe harder than I would hope for at that point. I just never had quite the spring in my step that I did in Ottawa for my first full. I always knew that that was one of those perfect days when everything comes together and it all seems so easy. "It never got hard" I had said, great for a first but today it got hard. I saw Dave pull ahead at 30 k, first time a pretty face doing a double race weekend cruised by us. He didn't even say goodbye, not to me at least.
I had 2 tough Ks, first time I thought I might not make it. Then after a gel at 34, I picked it up again, got a second wind. Then just in sight of the 37 K marker and the biggest hill, my hamstring started to cramp. I ran limping for about 30 seconds, then stopped to stretch it out. Of course I thought my goal was over. 30-40 seconds stopped stretching, then I started up the big hill. The hill wasn't too bad! Maybe it was the time stopped, but I was okay again. I did the math, we know how hard that is at this point. At 38 K, i had used up my 4 minute cushion that i had at 30 K. I had to run it in at around 5:07, my overall average pace to qualify. I had only run one of those since 30 k. One last hill, just chugging. The last 3 K, I knew it was going to come down to seconds. I ran a 5:06, 5:05, and 5:08, then 400 M at 5:02 pace to finish. I believe that was the hardest I have ever run, plodding along absolutely as fast as my beaten body could muster. It's so much easier when its easy. In Ottawa my last split was a very jaunty 4:37. As slow as it felt, I passed more people in that last stretch than I had since maybe halfway. I had been repeating "I gotta do it" from Robbie-T at the 36K mark of his BQ race. That turned near the end to "this is me doing it", an original chant. I did think that I might pull it off, knew it was down to seconds. As I approached the line, I heard the announcer call out somebody's result as 3:35:54. I was still 20 seconds out, and that although that was gun time, I was gonna miss it. Yes, by 7 seconds. Gunn 3:36:14, watch 3:36:06. I knew that could be out 2 seconds either way, but it wasn't. 7 seconds.
68th Sheldon Gragg bib 185 gun 3:36:14 chip 3:36:06 pace 5:08 Male 50-59 gender 56/132 group 10/35
The one thing I know is that I left it all out on the course, I even borrowed and stole some and left that out there too. I could rethink things all night, but the bottom line is 40 seconds of stretching out a cramp was more than I had to spare. My right leg had been bothering me a fair bit since Wednesday night, just hard as a rock. On another day maybe.
I was so bagged, I got my water, blanket and medal from Heather , Jane's daughter. I laid down on the grass and closed my eyes, 2 med watchers asked me if I was sure I was okay. l assured them I was, but they wouldn't leave as long as my eyes were closed. Eventually one offered to get me a juice, I agreed mostly to get some peace. Then Dave found me, and when they saw I was talking even laying down still, they left me alone. Again, the people there were wonderful. Then came a massage, free beer, dry clothes, great meet and greet, etc. Then we went to get the car that Dave and I had taken to the start. My S.O. and friend who had done the half wanted to drive the course again to take picture, so I got back to the cottage for a shower by 5 PM. Beat.
How do I feel? Well, good question. I can probably run Boston, but those 7 seconds sure took a little away from the big celebration. I don't know whether to be disappointed or take what I got. I have wondered if i wouldn't rather have cramped up slightly more to make it out of the question then and there. Or missed it by 3 minutes, oh well try again. I mean what do you do? Spend a grand and do it all again next month by myself in Baltimore or Philly? Just do it and explain 500 times? When I was laying down on the grass after the race, I was thinking that I was never doing that again even if the mayor of Boston phoned me and personally begged me to do it. I'll get back to you on that. I know, I know, I have a lot to celebrate, a marathon PB is great news. In the end I know, it wasn't an awful race. I figure, it was just an average marathon, which means painful and tough as hell. I've said, 10 times tougher than my first. Now I know what everybody was talking about.
ETA: Thanks to so many, Dave the partner in crime, all my flat mates esp. the dog watcher, I thank you, Heather thanks you, and Bud thanks you; my fan club everywhere esp Hula Girl, Devalera for literally going out of his way tho make the meet and greet.
Edited October 23: I just got the email,
Dear Sheldon S. Gragg,
This is to notify you that your entry into the 112th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2008 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.
Pop that champagne,
I'm going to the game! Woo-hoo!