“If you can dream it, you can do it“, it read on one of the banners a supporter was holding up high on the side of the road. and I was starting to repeat those words a few times in my head. I know that I would not be breaking my goal of a sub-3 hour marathon today, however, why not aiming for a new personal best.
Given the fact that I work pretty long-hours during the week (as well as often on the weekend), my training routine is far from ideal. So, I flew to Milan with little expectations and solely with the goal of enjoying my day on the road.
The temperature on Sunday was perfect, yet it was quite windy and rainy at times. At 9:00am sharp the marathon commenced. Unfortunately, still in the starting box, I had to realize that for whatever reason my heart rate monitor would not connect with my watch, which meant I did not really know whether I was running below or above my capacity. For those of you that are not too fond with this matter, basically every individual has a maximum threshold pace at which he or she can sustain a specific pace over a given period of time. Should you be running faster, you are “overpacing” i.e. your “engine” will most likely burst. On the other hand, should you be “underpacing”, you are simply not performing at your maximum capability. Nevertheless, from experience and training, I kind of know at what pace I am able to sustain and last longest.
After quite a disastrous Frankfurt Marathon, where I overpaced on the first half and pretty much fell apart from KM25 onward, my goal for the Milano Marathon was to run a well-balanced race without aiming for a specific finishing time. Eventually, I found my rhythm and felt good. I passed the KM10 mark after 44:08 minutes and I became part of a group of runners, which was aiming for 3:10 hours. I joined the bulk and followed their pace and completing the half-marathon in 1:33:39. Eventually, I started to slightly pick-up the pace and separated form the pack with three to four other competitors. We were able to put some distance between us and the 3:10 people, and I began to rethink my goal time of the day, planning, expecting and hoping to come in after around 3:06 hours.
Yet, with the finish line around 10-kilometers away, I started to feel my body getting tired and my legs wanting to stop running. The magical KM30 mark with its so called “hammer man” became the turning point of my day. Until this moment, I was running a pretty even race with an average pace of 4:27 minutes/kilometer at every split time (KM5, Half Marathon, KM30). Then, I was forced to drastically slow down and I was struggling to keep up the pace. Eventually, the group of 3:10 marathonis rolled past me. As much as I tried to keep up, at some point I was unable to sustain the pace and had to let go of the group.
I continued following my own speed and watched the pace drop on my watch. I can tell you that the moment, when your body is slowing down, and people are running away from you, while others are overtaking you, is pretty mind-boggling. Yet, it does not matter and you need to focus on yourself trying to bring your body up-to-speed. Today, I partly succeeded. While my goal of a 3:06 hour finish was gone, I re-calibrated and aimed to arrive at around 3:15 hour, and so I did! My official finish time: 3:15:47 hours.
After finishing the marathon, I was thinking back to the poster, “if you can dream it, you can do it.”. With that being said, I will continue to dream, while putting in the miles to make it happen. 2:59:59 hours, bring it on.