Today was my third half marathon in just over two weeks. I think it’s safe to say I’m back. Still injured, still in a lot of pain. But two important things have happened: 1) I have been healing and am steadily getting better. 2) I’ve learned to cope with the pain better – discerning that fine line between discomfort pain and destructive pain, and damn I’m going to do just that.
I made the trip out to Naples with my buddy Bryan. In 2014, I think he PR’d here when we made the trip together. This weekend I was ready to at least PTR (Post Traumatic Record). It would be redemption for Naples 2016. I had planned to run it again then, but just a few short weeks after being hit I wouldn’t have been able to run very fast anyway. This year would be very different. The night before the race I inhaled a tub of ice cream, jokingly recalling how I ran a great race at one point after doing just that. Perhaps this would be the same?
It was a chilly morning. That sucked until the race started, but that meant it was perfect PR conditions. The Naples Daily News Half Marathon is a flat, fast and highly competitive race. There is a lot of shade, and while there are several turn arounds, they are on cul-de-sacs, so they are not sharp turns. It’s great for a PR even in decent weather. But this year wasn’t just decent, it really was ideal! I remember telling Bryan about my specific long term PR goal. I wanted Boston pace – 6:17 per mile (617 being the area code for Boston phones). I wasn’t looking for 6:16 pace, I could do that another time. I wanted exactly 6:17 as my PR for just a little while! I felt good, and was still flying high after my win two weeks ago. I was confident that healthy I could comfortably smoke that pace. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if I removed injuries from the equation, I’m at close to 6 minute conditioning. So 1:22:xx was a very reasonable target. In the back of my mind I could feel that this might be the day. Even if not, I wanted a PTR. Running the fastest race I’ve had since being hit would still be a solid accomplishment. It was time!
As we lined up at the start, I got a bit distracted chatting with one of my new friends that I’d met in Delray, and also with a random girl wearing Boston marathon apparel. Boston always gets me pumped! That’s what it’s all about! Before I knew it the gun had gone off… I wasn’t even ready. Oops! But I was in a good mood. For Boston I would run this race. For Boston at a 6:17 pace. And so I did!
Over the first few miles I felt quite good. My body was flowing. Stride after stride. Quickly, relatively comfortably… I was moving fast! Before the first turn around, I saw Bryan fly by me. “Go Bryan!” I yelled “Screw the PTR, I’m gonna PR today!” I could feel it. Today was the day! I was nowhere near the front of this race… it’s way too competitive for that. But I was right where *I* needed to be. I was running my race, and it just felt right. I remember joking to another runner nearby towards the end of the race: “It’s amazing how even when you have the race of your life, there’s always somebody ten times faster!” Yeah… I was flying, but there was some serious space between myself and the winners! But again, it didn’t matter. I was running my race, they were running theirs.
I kept going. Even though my back did start bugging me, it was on the discomfort side of the dial. I would deal with it. Today was my day! I raced past a church, where the priest was sprinkling runners with holy water! Yes, I was blessed to be here today, and to be having such an incredible race. I never looked at my splits. I just ran what felt right. I trusted myself. When I crossed that finish line, I was ecstatic! I’d not only PTR’d… I’d PR’d! I beaten the record I set in Tartu, Estonia during the summer of 2015. And I’d finished at exactly 6:17 pace! Those were my intentions. Those were my actualizations. 2018, let’s rock!