They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Seems to me that's one good reason why marathon runners are considered insane (besides the obvious ones, of course).
Saturday morning, I ran my fourth marathon and for the first time, I ran a marathon I'd already run before. A marathon that'd already kicked my butt before. And yet, there I was again... begging for more.
Insanity at its finest.
To be fair, the technical results this time actually were different... 14 minutes and 35 seconds different, to be exact (which was the improvement I made on the same course from two years ago). Even better, I set a new marathon PR on Saturday as well by clocking in at 4:19:22, more than seven minutes faster than my previous personal record.
I should be ecstatic, right? Well... I am. Sort of. But here's where the insanity comes into play.
At mile 20, I was on course to shatter my PR, not just clip it. The first 18 miles of the course were downhill and despite my efforts to keep my legs in check, they were on fire. Even the weather was working against me with a strong 15mph tailwind pushing me even faster down the canyon. Over and over again, I checked my GPS for my pace and over and over again, I had to force myself to SLOW DOWN. It was all an effort in vain, however, and although I managed to keep things from going wildly out of control, I failed miserably at disciplining myself enough to stick to the negative split strategy in order to finish strong.
It all felt sickeningly familiar.
Two years ago, I did the exact same thing. I built up a full head of steam the first 18 miles running downhill only to crash and burn and lose a PR in the final six miles. For all intents and purposes, it should have been a lesson learned... if I were sane, that is.
In the end, I still got the PR I was coveting on Saturday morning, one that has eluded me since I ran my first marathon more than three years ago. And while I'm annoyed with myself that I can't seem to find the necessary discipline to avoid the Crash and Burn that would've resulted in a much bigger PR, I'm still supremely pleased with my accomplishment. Perhaps I'm the kind of runner that will only make PR's in small chunks at a time... and that's okay. At least the numbers are going in the right direction and that's reason enough to keep trying.
I don't know if I'll be back to Top of Utah. Although I love the event, I just don't get along with the course. I'll be researching marathons in the coming months that will be much more forgiving of my insistence to start out too fast. If it has to be an uphill marathon, so be it, as long as there's enough flat or downhill at the end of it to finally turn my legs loose.
It's the least I can do to repay them for all the hard work they do at the hands of a lunatic.
Warm orange Powerade never tasted so good. If my tank top seems a little... errr... off kilter, it's because my last energy gel (out of four total) is still stuffed in the right side. I've never felt so voluptuous.