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Following a failed attempt to break 3:45:00 at a marathon in September, in an effort to gain an additional day to register for the Boston Marathon, it happened.
As we sometimes find, we can expect the unexpected. I got the 3:45 a few weeks later at Milwaukees Lakefront Marathon. I was hoping to get the 3:45, as I had been ready to run that time at the No Frills Marathon, but I messed up and did not wear my Wigwam Compressor socks and I paid the price with a 3:46:06, on the gradually up hill, crushed granite course.
What I was not expecting was a 3:35, which was my ultimate goal going into the No Frills race. Where did that come from?
Well, each one of the marathon races I did this year, starting with Boston in April, I lowered my previous races time. The first two were in hot weather, Boston a 3:56:47, and Cellcom Green Bay Marathon 3:56:18, in May.
I tried again at the inaugural Maritime Marathon, the following month, in Manitowoc, WI and brought my time down to 3:51:31, bettering the qualifying time of 3:55 required for those in my age group. Unexpectedly, I experienced hamstring cramps in the final mile and needed to stop and stretch them out.
In August, I ran my 20th Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Hurley, WI. The course is one of the toughest in Wisconsin and also its oldest. For me the hills were not any tougher than before, as I actually enjoy the variation of terrain. Using different muscles means less fatigue. There I pressed on and broke the 3:50 barrier with a finish time of 3:48:29.
All along I was thinking, I am in 3:30 shape, whats wrong with me? because the times I was trained for were not coming to me.
Then on Oct 7, 2012, I went through the half feeling good and on pace to run 3:30. Of course, I faded a bit and came in at 3:35:58.
One thing I had forgotten, was the standard I was chasing, now would be for the next age group because the window for qualifying for 2014 had opened. My age for the 2014 Boston Marathon will be 65 and that meant an additional 15 minutes or 4:10.
The pressure is now off for 14s registration as I have surpassed the 20 minute standard to be eligible to enter the day registration opens. A bonus is that the 3:35 can be applied to the 13 race and possibly move me up a corral and possibly the first wave.
Two weeks later I wasnt thinking about marathons any longer. I was at Gills Rock, the tip of the Door County peninsula that juts into the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
The seventh running of The Fall 50, a 50-mile solo or relay race has seen substantial growth, the team relay filling to capacity in 2 weeks. The solo run grew from 80 runners to 171 in one year.
For me, I was doing it for the 4th time, but it was my 175th career ultra marathon run. A special number, by most peoples standards and something I never expected when I moved up from the marathon to ultra distance running in 1985.
Because the solo event had limited numbers, the age groups had been open, for those under 40 and masters for those over 40. This year super masters was added and this included those 50 and over.
In my first 3 races at The Fall 50, I had placed in the 40+ at age 58, 59 and 61 respectively. The inaugural run in 2006, I placed 2nd overall and first masters. In 2007, I was 3rd overall and top masters and in 2009, 4th overall and 2nd masters. This year I was not expecting to place in the masters or super masters.
From the start the 50+ competitors pulled away immediately. In the first 3 miles my shoe became untied, twice, even though double-knotted. The second time I triple-knotted it. After the first stop, I could no longer see the fifty-year-olds.
I plugged away, feeling good, not fast, but steady. I chose to wear the Compressor and because of the wet leaves and cooler temperatures, decided to put a pair of Silver Wool Runner socks over them.
My feet were dry, comfortable and blister free the entire 50-miles, run mostly on roads, but a few of the aid stations were located on wet grass and I also had to cover a few foot paths with crushed gravel.
Passing a few people in the last 10-miles perked me up and I picked up the pace thinking I might break 8 hours. I finished in 8:03:51, knowing there were at least two guys in the 50+ who finished ahead of me. We met a friend, who had won the race previously and after talking realized he had turned 50. Now I thought I was in 4th place, but he thought I may have finished 3rd as one of the 50 year-olds had dropped out.
We headed for the motel for a well-deserved shower and some warm, dry clothes. I knew Id be standing on wet ground, as the awards ceremony and the party to follow, were under the big top, several large tents side-by-side, so I put on a pair of Wigwam Rebel Fusion Crew socks.My wife, Chris, who had crewed for me, joined me for the ceremony and celebration. As we walked into the tent someone informed me I had taken 3rd. I received a large medallion with a ribbon, but more than that, I had the satisfaction of knowing I was the oldest person in the solo to receive an award.
Its nice when the unexpected is a good experience. It is even better when what we expect, such as a great pair of Wigwam Socks does not surprise us with something unexpected.
See you in a few miles.roy