Comrades Marathon in South Africa has 'Up Years' and 'Down Years' - referring to the direction of the course. For me, Lakefront Marathon has 'Up Years' and 'Down Years' referring to emotions. This was an 'Up Year'.
In 2001, Lakefront Marathon was my first marathon. I was hoping for about a 4:22, hit the wall at about mile 17, and finished with a 4:37. First marathon. Felt horrible. Guess that was both an 'Up Year' and 'Down Year'.
In 2002, the day before Lakefront Marathon, I got a call that my dad had been taken to the emergency room. I decided to DNS, and traveled to Michigan to be with my dad. I later learned he was terminally ill. Down Year.
In 2003, my second marathon, though thinking heavily about my dad's failing health, I improved to a 4:10. Within a couple hours after finishing, I was on the road to Michigan to be with my dad for his final hours. He passed away 2 days later. Down Year.
In 2004, Lakefront was my 5th marathon, and I broke 4 for the first time with a 3:52. Up Year.
In 2005, at about mile 15, I stopped to use the bathroom of a friend of a friend, whose house was very near the course. I felt so terrible, all I wanted to do was lay down on the floor. I made it to mile 17, DNF'd and cried. Down Year.
In 2006, I ran Chicago. No fall marathon for me in 2007. Grand Rapids in 2008.
In 2009, I did the marathon relay. Our team earned second place. Lots of friends ran also. Up Year.
2010 could have easily been a down year.
I signed up for Lakefront with the intention of pacing dear running friend Dennis Hanna to a sub 4. My goal fall marathon was going to be Erie on September 12. Dennis got plantar faciitis over the summer, and then a secondary calf injury. When he was able to return to running, he only had time to rebuild his mileage. Speedwork was out. He decided to take a raincheck on my offer.
Meanwhile, I had a great run in Erie - a PR 3:09:45. I followed that with back to back marathons a week later. I took it easy for the next 2 weeks - only easy running. On my last long run, 20 miles 8 days before Lakefront, I ran very slow, and felt pretty lousy. I kept doing short easy runs, and my legs continued to feel sluggish.
First looks at the weather looked great. Perfect temps and a tail wind. The cynic in me figured it was only a cruel tease, and by the time the day actually came, we would have 20 mph headwinds instead, and rain or snow.
As race day approached, I tried to predict a finish time. I really had no idea. I decided I would just run for comfort, what ever that pace ended up to be. I hoped it would be around an 8 minute pace, but was seriously worried that I'd crash and burn and end up crying on the side of the road. Again.
The day before, the weather forecast still looked perfect. Upper 40s to low 50s, sunny, and tailwind of 5 to 10 mph. I went for an easy 3.7 mile run, and legs still felt sluggish. Dinner was leftover chili before a night of bowling. Though it was still a fun evening, I bowled even worse than usual.
Race morning, I got up at 4:30am. Left the house at 5:30am to pick up Dennis. We drove to the designated runner parking, and took the bus to the start. I felt okay. Dennis reported that he wasn't feeling well. Nothing specific, just general yuckiness.
We arrived at Grafton High School, visited with Armelian friends, including Duane Tate who has finished all 29 Lakefront Marathons. We also chatted with Chris Ponteri, director of the InStep Indoor Icebreaker Marathon. He was going to be cheering out on the course.
At about 7:30, we headed out to the cool air for one last potty stop, dropped off our bags, and then went our separate ways to the start. I line up near the 3:30 pace group. Dennis joined other Aremelian friends, including Jim A, who was comfortable with his goal of a sub 4 today.
The first few miles of the course are slightly down hill, and with the tail wind, its easy to feel great for the first few miles. And I did. I was comfortably running about a 7:15 pace, and found myself in the 3:10 pace group. I stayed with the pace group, and continued to feel strong. At about mile 19, amazed that I was still feeling good, I sped up a bit, and pulled away from the pace group. With about a half mile to go, I caught up to Mary Bolich, 1989 winner of the Lakefront Marathon. She was looking strong, but said she was fading a bit. I finished with a 3:08:17, and Mary B finished just 15 second behind me.
I felt great. I was so excited about another unexpected PR. I had run negative splits. I didn't fade in the last 2 miles like I did at Erie.
And this was just the beginning. I quickly gathered some post race snacks, and headed to mile marker 26 where Webmaster Bill was taking a few pix. I changed into some dry clothes, and waited for fellow Armelians to finish.
First was Karen D of the relay team. Then Kara with her first marathon and a BQ 3:40. Next was Greg with another BQ with a 3:43. Then Jim A came by with a comfortable sub 4 at 3:58. Then to my complete surprise, Dennis was only a minute or so behind Jim. He finished with a gun time of 4:00:40. A PR by 5 minutes, but we did not yet know if his chip time was sub 4. Dennis had decided to leave his watch at home, and ran just by feel.
Shortly after finishing, we made our way to the results, and learned that Dennis did in fact run his first sub 4. 3:59:37!
Duane Tate finished his 30th Lakefront Marathon, and received a special award. One of 3 people to run all 30.
I received an age group award - second in my division, and 8th female overall. Friends cheered for me while I accepted my award.