It feels exactly the same. Back then, it was 6:50 pace. Now it's more like 8:40. But it feels no different whatsoever.
Today I ran the Northern Ohio Marathon with friends Michelle Wolff and Maureen Oblander. The race started and finished at Mentor Headlands State park, and took place mostly on city streets in Painesville, Mentor and Willoughby. The weather was a marathoner's dream come true: mostly 50's with very little wind and not too much sun.
All I wanted to do was to maintain a steady pace. After last week's marathon, I was thinking nine-minute miles would be nice. It would be nicer still if I could pick it up ever so slightly in the second half. And my double-secret probation goal was a sub-3:50 - an 8:40-ish pace. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The early miles were fun. I ran with Michelle for a while, and then Paul Lang and his nephew. The roads were wet from an early drizzle, but the cool air felt good. By about mile 10, it was drier, and I was running mostly alone. At this point we ran through a car dealership, near a dead deer that was actually partially on the bike trail we were running on, other dead animals and bazilions of orange cones.
Yes, there were orange cones galore. For many of the middle miles were on the sides of the road where fairly busy traffic was maintained in both directions. Our coned-off space wasn't very wide, and it was canted (that is to say, slanted) quite a bit. I didn't much care for it.
The last eight or so miles were closer to Lake Erie, affording some nice views and some less busy roads. Miles 21 to 23 included a nice limestone trail through a park. Of course the finish back at Headlands State Park was quite nice, as most finish lines are.
My pace quickened to some extent around mile 10, mostly because I didn't like those cones and the narrow running space. I hit half-way at about 1:56, and I managed to pick it up even a little more after that. Mile 20 was about 2:55. Could I pick it up faster still?
Yes, I could, and I did. After passing Mo and telling her to not forget to unleash the beast, did some unleashing myself and passed some more people, including a couple guys who turned out to be in my age group. The last two miles were my best ones: 8:00 and 8:10, and the final half mile (the course was a quarter mile long according to my Garmin) was at 7:42 pace.
The final time was 3:48:15. That's 50 minutes off my PR, but it truly felt like my many of my best ones did. All those years ago.
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